July 4 – America


America (I wanted to..) – video-poem by Matt Mullins

“America”, Allen’s classic 1956 poem, sadly timeless in its recognitions, both resigned and still positive in its assertions  – “America when will we end the human war?” – “America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel”

Back in 2011, we posted the ubiquitous mash-up of the poem with a recording of Tom Waits “Closing Time“, and were delighted to receive this (from its creator (Ralph Beard), a couple of years later):

“Every now and then I do a search on this thing just to see what’s been written about it over the years. It’s not doing too badly for something I cut together on a whim back in 1996 using  very primitive copies of Cool Edit and Sound Forge. (The sound is a little tinny from the old noise removal tool). You’re right, by the way, the levels are all over the place at points and it kind of runs out of steam at the end. But it’s remarkably effective for something that only came about because I was changing CDs, and went from one to the other. It wasn’t till I cut it together that I heard the live version of a reading where it’s performed as a crass comedy routine. Then again, it was never meant to go any further than my computer. I shared it to a friend on Soulseek 1999 and it made it’s way from there. Funny how some things can live on even if you don’t mean them to”

No kidding! – that link (via Mike Chase Eaton) has racked up 95K views (last time we looked)
and here‘s another (via Chris Agg) – 74K for that version

Matt Mullins’ film version revisits it and reconfigures the poem for the 21st Century

Robert Knox does something not dissimilar – (“America” – how’s this for pre-visioning the paramilitary far right? – “why are your libraries full of tears?”)  – (“Allen Ginsberg’s America (and Ours)”)

Beat scholar and our friend Jonah Raskin provides an interesting little footnote – the poem in its original publication and the “lost ending”

and see here for an earlier pre-“America” “America” of Allen’s – “Betrayed, Betrayed!”

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