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Teacher asks for 16 line poem: Kid writes one that’s not to be sniffed at
04.10.2015
07:05 am

Topics:
Amusing
Drugs

Tags:
poetry
education

01teachpoem.jpg
 
A teacher set pupils a task of writing a sixteen-line poem. This was one student’s effort:

#Deep

Some poems will leave you perplexed,
But this poem is just profane,
Here are four lines of text,
And twelve lines of cocaine.

 
00poemcoke.jpg
 
Almost worthy of a teenage Bart Simpson…though (of course…) our young poet adds the disclaimer: “I don’t actually do cocaine.”
 
Via reddit

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Jimmy Cagney’s poetry: From bad to verse

00cagpoetneyjc
 
When I was a child, summer holidays meant Jimmy Cagney movies on TV: White Heat, The Public Enemy, G-Men, Each Dawn I Die, Angels With Dirty Faces and so on. Cagney never looked like he was acting, he became whatever character he played, which explains why he was once asked, “Well, did you turn yella that time you went to da electric chair?”

Orson Welles once told chat show host Michael Parkinson that he thought Cagney was “maybe the greatest actor who ever appeared in front of a camera.” I tend to agree with this—as no doubt did Marlon Brando and Stanley Kubrick who were both major fans of the brilliant, diminutive Irish-American.

Like many of the characters he played, Cagney was tough. He was born into a poor working class family in New York’s Lower East Side in 1899. He worked hard, held down several jobs, and was always ready with his fists should the need arise. His fighting skills were such that family, friends and neighbors came to Jimmy to knock out any troublemaker. But Cagney was also disciplined and assiduous. He was a vaudevillian, a song and dance man first and foremost, who learnt his trade working up through chorus lines and repertory companies before being spotted by Al Jolson in a play with Joan Blondell and cast in a movie Sinners’ Holiday. Cagney went to Hollywood for three weeks’ work, but ended with a legendary career that lasted over 31 years.
 
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I’ve been reading his autobiography Cagney By Cagney (which I recommend) and in amongst his tales of career, family, early left wing politics—he was considered a communist because of his support of the unions, and was the target of a planned Mafia hit until actor and friend George Raft put a stop to it, though he switched allegiances to Reagan in the 1980s—his deep love of the country and concern for the environment and his fine talent for anecdote, Cagney revealed his liking for writing poetry. To be fair, some of it is okay—funny, amusing, enjoyable—but then there are those poems—like the one on the passing of friend Clark Gable—that maybe should have stayed in the bottom drawer:

The King, long bled, is newly dead.
Uneasily wore his crown, ‘tis said;
Quite naturally, since it was made of lead;
On those who gathered about his throne,
Y-clept Mayer, Mannix, Katz, and Cohn
He spat contempt in generous doses,
But whatever he gave, they made their own.

Unhappy man, he chose seclusion,
To the unremitting crass intrusion
Of John and Jane whose names meant dough
To Louie, Eddie, Sam, and Joe.

This is a small slap to the Hollywood producers “who controlled his destinies.” Cagney hated the exploitative nature of the Hollywood system.
 
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Cagney began writing in his Broadway days in the 1920s—“a habit triggered by reading Stephen Vincent Benet’s magnificent John Brown’s Body.” He was also influenced by William Blake and Robert Burns, who gave “food for thought” for when he tired of Hollywood and Hugh Kingsmill’s Anthology of Invective and Abuse, which inspired his putdown of a Tinsel Town ass-kisser:

Where once were vertebrae is now a tangle,
From constant kissing at an awkward angle.

Throughout his autobiography, Cagney dipped into one of poems whenever he felt like it. Though he claimed few of his verses were ever written down, he had “quite a number stored in [his] memory.” These ranged from:

A pheasant called in a distant thicket,
And lovingly my old friend said,
“I hear you, I hear you.”
And he loved that bird, till he gunned him dead.

To:

A lady spider met a fella
And made all haste to date him;
She loved him with a love sublime,
Up to and including—
The time, when in ecstasy,
She ate him.

Of course Cagney was just enjoying himself—relishing the pleasure of words. But his poetry often dealt with serious issues, like the poem he sent to the Irish Times under the pseudonym Harley Quinn on the damage industry was doing to the environment:

You want to see the Shannon like the Hudson
Or the Liffey just as filthy as the Seine?
Bring in the arrogant asses
And their garbage and their gasses—
The pollutants plunging poison down each drain:
Killing everything that’s living
For which nature’s unforgiving,
And the punishment will certainly fit the crime.
Where man, the creeping cancer,
Will have to make the final answer
As he smothers ‘neath his self-created slime.

 
More on Jimmy Cagney and his poetry, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Dreading Valentines Day? Have a laugh at Karl Marx’s godawful corny love poems!
01.30.2015
12:17 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Class War

Tags:
Karl Marx
poetry
love


Yeah, but your poetry, dude…

As a socialist with a somewhat inconsistent commitment to Marxist orthodoxy, I’m often asked to what degree I will defend old Karl, and there’s no easy answer. For example, I’m sympathetic to central planning, though I have my doubts for its real-world potential under our current technology. I wrestle with the labor theory of value, but also find myself unable to mount a suitable critique. But if you’re just asking if there’s anything about Marx I find completely indefensible, hey, I can assure you that his terrible schmaltzy love poetry keeps me safe from the sin of idolatry.

We are talking about some terrible, corny, super-earnest high school boy in love stuff here, and I’m not the only one that finds Marx’s deepest affections majorly cheesy. In Edmund Wilson’s landmark history of socialist thought To the Finland Station: A Study in the Writing and Acting of History, he has this to say of Marx’s mooning romantic overtures to his future wife.

In the summer of Karl’s eighteenth year, when he was home on his vacation from college, Jenny von Westphalen promised to marry him. She was four years older than Karl and was considered one of the belles of Trier, was much courted by the sons of officials and landlords and army officers; but she waited for Karl seven years. She was intelligent, had character, talked well; had been trained by a remarkable father. Karl Marx had conceived for her a devotion which lasted through his whole life. He wrote her bad romantic poetry from college.

If that sounds a little blunt, it should be noted that Marx himself acknowledge that his love poetry was mawkish. Here are some of my favorite lowlights from one of his many volumes dedicated to Jenny—this one actually called, The Book of Love:

TO JENNY
I
Jenny! Teasingly you may inquire
Why my songs “To Jenny” I address,
When for you alone my pulse beats higher,
When my songs for you alone despair,
When you only can their heart inspire,
When your name each syllable must confess,
When you lend each note melodiousness,
When no breath would stray from the Goddess?
’Tis because so sweet the dear name sounds,
And its cadence says so much to me,
And so full, so sonorous it resounds,
Like to vibrant Spirits in the distance,
Like the gold-stringed Cithern’s harmony,
Like some wondrous, magical existence.
II
See! I could a thousand volumes fill,
Writing only “Jenny” in each line,
Still they would a world of thought conceal,
Deed eternal and unchanging Will,
Verses sweet that yearning gently still,
All the glow and all the Aether’s shine,
Anguished sorrow’s pain and joy divine,
All of Life and Knowledge that is mine.
I can read it in the stars up younder,
From the Zephyr it comes back to me,
From the being of the wild waves’ thunder.
Truly, I would write it down as a refrain,
For the coming centuries to see—

Yeah, you’ll notice a lot of his works use her name. It’s a bit like going through a middle schoolers notebook and reading the same name over and over in swirly cursive with little hearts. This one actually has the exact same title.

TO JENNY
Words—lies, hollow shadows, nothing more,
Crowding Life from all sides round!
In you, dead and tired, must I outpour
Spirits that in me abound?
Yet Earth’s envious Gods have scanned before
Human fire with gaze profound;
And forever must the Earthling poor
Mate his bosom’s glow with sound.
For, if passion leaped up, vibrant, bold,
In the Soul’s sweet radiance,
Daringly it would your worlds enfold,
Would dethrone you, would bring you down low,
Would outsoar the Zephyr-dance.
Ripe a world above you then would grow.

Translation: Girl, I am so into you.

LOVE IS JENNY, JENNY IS LOVE’S NAME. MY WORLD
Worlds my longing cannot ever still,
Nor yet Gods with magic blest;
Higher than them all is my own Will,
Stormily wakeful in my breast.
Drank I all the stars’ bright radiance,
All the light by suns o’erspilled,
Still my pains would want for recompense,
And my dreams be unfulfilled.
Hence! To endless battle, to the striving
Like a Talisman out there,
Demon-wise into the far mists driving
Towards a goal I cannot near.
But it’s only ruins and dead stones
That encompass all my yearning,
Where in shimmering Heavenly radiance
All my hopes flow, ever-burning.

Okay, I’m gonna stop short on that one because it goes on for about 1000 more lines and every single one of them sounds exactly like all the others. It’s like, dude, we fucking get it.

So if you’re single and living in dread of having no sweetie for Valentine’s Day, just remember—love makes syrup of even the greatest minds.

Thanks to Ross Wolfe

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The Kerouac of Kitsch has died: Rod McKuen R.I.P.
01.30.2015
04:46 am

Topics:
Pop Culture

Tags:
poetry
Beat Generation
Rod Mckuen


 
Rod McKuen died Thursday. He was 81. Cause of death was pneumonia.

Rod McKuen was to Jack Kerouac what vending machine coffee is to espresso. He was a safe suburbanite version of a beatnik, Maynard G. Krebs with a slightly better work ethic. McKuen’s pasteurized prose was more suited to a Holiday Inn lounge than a North Beach jazz joint. And while McKuen wrote prolifically and read in a husky Chianti-stained voice that oozed consonants and vowels like candle wax no one would mistake his louche slackery for good poetry. But there was something soothing and pleasantly sunny in his style that evoked a certain Southern California grooviness easily mistaken for Zen wisdom. If you read a line slowly enough and pause periodically for dramatic effect almost anything can sound profound. McKuen mistook vagueness for mysticism and evoked the erotic with all of the sexuality of a stuffed chihuahua. Fifty shades of beige.

McKuen was syringed into that moment in the sixties when Timothy Leary’s acidity and Hugh Hefner’s cum-drenched Playboy philosophy refluxed into an uncomfortable mix of free love, drugs and very expensive architecture. If Malibu Beach had a poet laureate it would have been Rod. Imagine a love child born of the interspecial mating of Lee Hazlewood and Jonathan Livingston Seagull. With his windswept blonde hair and Jesus spats, McKuen was a lachrymose beach bum that Serge Gainsbourg would have gladly beaten to a suntanned pulp.
 

Bob McFadden & Dor “The Beat Generation” (composed and arranged by Rod McKuen, 1959)
 
McKuen possessed a weird kind of kitschy goodness, a Hallmark Greeting card version of hipness that was as heartwarming as one of Margaret Keane’s big-eyed orphans. He was too nice of a guy to get riled up about even when his bad poetry was selling millions of copies of books while a cat like Bukowski was working in a post office.

If Rod McKuen had been a rock song he would have been Friend And Lover’s “Reach Out Of The Darkness.” And that’s kind of a cool song - hard to hate, hard to get a bead on, just slipping under the threshold where things can turn from something innocuous into something that can drive a man to homicide.
 

 
Here’s Rod McKuen reading his poem “A Cat Named Sloopy” on The Mike Douglas Show in 1969.

Every night she’d sit in the window among the avocado plants waiting for me to come home (my arms full of canned liver and love).

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Muhammad Ali recites his poem on the Attica Prison riot: ‘Better to die fighting to be free’
12.10.2014
01:28 pm

Topics:
Heroes
Politics
Sports

Tags:
poetry
Muhammad Ali
Attica

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In July 1972, Muhammad Ali traveled to his ancestral homeland of Ireland at the invitation of Michael “Butty” Sugrue, who had put up the purse for Ali to fight Detroit contender Alvin “Blue” Lewis at Croke Park, in front of 25,000 fans. Ali won the fight with an eleventh round knockout.

It was The Greatest’s first visit to his maternal great-grandfather Abe Grady’s birth country, and he made a special point of visiting the Taoiseach (the Irish Prime Minister) Jack Lynch and the republican socialist politician Bernadette Devlin to discuss “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland. Ali also discussed the civil rights issues in the north of the country in a long TV interview with RTÉ’s Cathal O’Shannon. During this interview Ali also commented the brutal murderous events carried out by the authorities after the Attica prison riot.

On September 9th 1971, after hearing news of the execution of Black Panther George Jackson at San Quentin, around 1,000 Attica inmates rioted and seized control of the prison. The prisoners had taken hostage 42 guards and demanded political rights and better conditions. Negotiations progressed until September 13th, when at 09:46 hours tear gas was hurled into the siege area which was followed by two full minutes of non-stop shooting by members of the NYPD and troops from the National Guard. Forty-three were killed—33 inmates and ten staffers.

Having explained the events of the slaughter, Ali then recited his poem:

Better far from all I see
To die fighting to be free
What more fitting end could be?

Better surely than in some bed
Where in broken health I’m led
Lingering until I’m dead

Better than with prayers and pleas
Or in the clutch of some disease
Wasting slowly by degrees

Better than of heart attack
Or some dose of drug I lack
Let me die by being Black

Better far that I should go
Standing here against the foe
Is the sweeter death to know

Better than the bloody stain
On some highway where I’m lain
Torn by flying glass and pane

Better calling death to come
Than to die another dumb
Muted victim in the slum

Better than of this prison rot
If there’s any choice I’ve got
Kill me here on the spot

Better far my fight to wage
Now while my blood boils with rage
Lest it cool with ancient age

Better vowing for us to die
Than to Uncle Tom and try
Making peace just to live a lie

Better now that I say my sooth
I’m gonna die demanding truth
While I’m still akin to youth

Better now than later on
Now that fear of death is gone
Never mind another dawn.

Ali returned to Ireland in 2003, when he took part in the opening ceremony for the Special Olympics in Dublin, and again in 2009, when he was given Honorary Freeman of the town of Ennis, birthplace of his great-grandfather Abe Grady. A film When Ali Came to Ireland documented the boxer’s trip and the “huge impact [it had] on those Ali met and, some say, on the man himself.”
 

 
Via Open Culture.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Picasso’s poetry: Painting with words
12.08.2014
06:53 am

Topics:
Art
Literature

Tags:
Surrealism
poetry
Picasso

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Pablo Picasso’s first attempt at poetry was a brief thank you note to the poet Guillaume Apollinaire written in French sometime around 1906. Picasso did not take the craft seriously until 1935 when at the age of fifty-three he began writing poems almost every day until the summer of 1959. Picasso started writing at a moment of crisis when he claimed he had given up painting after his wife Olga Khokhlova had left him and a messy divorce seemed imminent. He began by daubing colors for words in a notebook before moving on to using words to sketch images.

His writing owed much to the influence of Apollinaire and the Surrealists, and he received considerable support from writers such as the Surrealist poets André Breton and Michel Leiris, the latter describing Picasso as:

“[A]n insatiable player with words ... [who, like] James Joyce ... in his Finnegans Wake, ... displayed an equal capacity to promote language as a real thing (one might say) . . . and to use it with as much dazzling liberty.”

Artist and writer Roland Penrose said Picasso’s wrote word paintings where language was used as a painter used colors, can be seen in this poem:

...the blue memory borders white in her very blue eyes and piece of indigo of sky of silver the white white traverse cobalt the white paper that the blue ink tears out blueish its ultramarine descends that white enjoys blue repose agitated in the dark green wall green that writes its pleasure pale green rain that swims yellow green…

At first, Picasso kept his writing secret, but slowly began sending long letters and poems to his friends as his confidence grew and he developed his own distinct voice and style. His writing was mainly stream of consciousness, unpunctuated word association with startling juxtaposition of images and at times an obsession with sex, death and excrement. Picasso wrote hundreds of poems concluding with The Burial of the Count of Orgaz in 1959, and two plays Le Désir attrapé par la queue (1941), which was performed by Picasso, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, under the direction of Albert Camus, and Les Quatre Petites Filles (1949). This is just a small selection culled from The Burial of the Count of Orgaz and Other Poems.

15 august XXXV

i am now here in the nest where the lamb and the bear—the lion and the zebra—the
wolf and the panther—the fox, the winter and the summer weasel—the mole and the
chinchilla—the rabbit and the sable weave in silence above an abandoned staircase
after the party has washed the week and wrung out the handkerchief raining a
perfume that wanders in search of its shape in a sad afternoon that has so many
reasons to stretch into the oil blue of a silk duvet the corner of his eye rips drowning in
shreds the landscape he sighed in the place where the beehive yearns to form its ice


17 august XXXV

a cup of coffee courts the aroma everlasting
that corrupts the wing shaking a harmonium
caressing her timid white flesh as
kisses breeze through the window
fill the room with goldfinch words fluttering
in the ear soundless and singing
and laughing crazy trills through his veins


8-9 november XXXV

bullfighter’s
jacket of
electric light bulbs
sewn with finest
needle
mist
invented by the bull


10 november XXXV

on the dining room table above a colossal carpet color of dry blood the ashtray
packed with butt-ends looked just like a little death’s head that stuck out its tongue at
me today this very night november tenth a quarter after ten by now which with three
more should make eleven by the clock which then will strike the hour


12 november XXXV

Young girl correctly dressed in a beige coat with violet facings 150.000 – 300 – 22 – 95
centimes a madapolam combination checked and adjusted with an allusion to
hermine fur 143 – 60 – 32 a brassiere the open edges of the wound held separated by
hand pulleys making the sign of the cross perfumed with cheese (Reblochon) 1300 –
75 – 03 – 49 – 317.000 – 25 centimes openings up to date added on every second day
set into the skin by shivers kept awake by the mortal silence of the color lure genre
Lola of Valence 103 plus the languorous looks 310 – 313 plus 300.000 – 80 francs –
15 centimes for a forgotten glance on the dresser – penalties incurred during the game
– throw of the discus between the legs by a succession of facts which for no reason at
all succeeded in making themselves a nest and in some cases transforming themselves
into the reasoned image of the cup 380 – 11 plus expenses but the so academic draw-
ing model for all of history from his birth until this morning doesn’t cry even if one
steps on the finger that points to the exit but spits out his nosegay with the drinking
glass only the smell organized in regiments and parading by flag up front only if the
tickling of desire doesn’t discover the auspicious place to transform the sardine into a
shark the shopping list gets longer only from that moment on without the inevitable
stop at the table at lunch time to be able to write while sitting in the middle of so
many mixed hyperboles with the cheese and the tomato


14 november XXXV

Eugenia fragrant
little chapel of
guitar
strings
clothed in
poppy
black
carbuncles


15 november XXXV

when the bull — opens the gateway of the horse’s belly – with his horn — and sticks
his snout out to the edge — listen in the deepest of all deepest holds — and with saint
lucy’s eyes — to the sounds of moving vans —tight packed with picadors on ponies —
cast off by a black horse — and escaping now and rising like a butterfly — the
mangled belly of the mare — a little white horse — sees inside the conduit which sings
as the blood dances trickling from a faucet in her breast — a circus horse — stands upright
on his feet rear end decked out with blue and silver — white and blue feathers set on
top atop his head — between his two ears — and a pair of hands applauding —
plucks his eyes out from in front – the team of mules that block his sight — that
bounce and drag — his guts along the sand — and screws the eye of the photographer
— somewhere above the banquet table — and pulls the wire out — a little at a time —
into the out of doors — and winds it in a ball — then draws a likeness of his face so
beautiful — onto a silver plaque — that spatters — clenched fist — clean — the sun


24-28 november XXXV

tongue of fire fans the face inside the flute the cup
that singing nibbles the blue knife wound
lightly lightly
seated in the toro’s eye
inscribed inside its head adorned with jasmines
waiting for the veil to swell
the crystal fragment
wind wrapped in fold of cape two-handled sword
caresses gushing
handing bread out to the blind man and the lilac colored dove
its wickedness crammed tight against the burning lemon’s lips
with horn contorted
spooking the cathedral with its farewell gestures
swooning in his arms without an olé
a glance that blows apart the morning radio
that in its kisses photographs a bedbug sun
sucks out the fragrance from the dying hour
and moves across a page in flight
it tears the flowers into shreds and carries them away tucked in between a sighing
wing
and fear that still can smile
a knife that jumps for joy
right now this very day left floating in whatever way it wants to
this exact and necessary moment
at the summit of the well
a cry rose-colored
for the hand that casts it down
a little act of christian love


10 october XXXVI

(I)
flesh decomposing in its miserable shagreen accordion squeezing the love-torn
body rapidly spinning the wool bleeding so in the despairing place in
the crown of thorns nest of twigs at the sound of the tambourine awakened
by the miserable memory left by the vomit that smells of jasmine
glued to the back of the eye wearing cafe tables as sashes wrapped round her
neck sounding the alarm reproducing her image in all the mirrors
with all the blows struck on the cheeks of her bells the tralalala of the
tralalalettes biting the rainbow’s neck the bra of the tempest caught
in a snare now whistles between the comb’s teeth and twists in her hands
the mirror asleep on her breast abandoned to its fate

(II)
comical alphabet letter stitched on hot coal drunk from wineskin hand
distance color deleted from the list of mortals sinks claws in the
saving copper of forehead against stone if life cooks great banquet hall
feasts of cabbage smell on its knees in a corner his stew of hopes sing
Carmen sing and you Cleopatra and mice on the big fishermen’s bodies lined up
on the bank of the canal under the table open to the lie the chairs around
it rise and attach themselves to the walls of the director’s office of the
young villa Marie-Rose waiting for the frog to lick clean the hours that make
the fabric of her pretty umbrella sticky and if the weather is clear
listen to the crack when in my chest breaks the perfume of the
stick the arrow painted on the fan tossed on the bed the luminous alarmed panther
sheen of her regard with an electric aroma a most disagreeable noise
spreading a dreadful odor of stars crushed underfoot


2 july 38

drop by
drop
hardy
pale blue
dies
between
the claws of
green almond
on the rose
trellis

This selection of Picasso’s poetry, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz and Other Poems, is available as a sampler from Ubu here. Below the complete three part documentary Picasso: Magic, Sex & Death presented by Picasso’s biographer John Richardson from 2001.
 

 
Via Ubu.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Freeze, you dirty dopers’: The ‘Heroin Haikus’ of William Wantling
11.19.2014
12:46 pm

Topics:
Art
Books
Drugs

Tags:
poetry
heroin
William Wantling


 
If the American poet William Wantling (1933-1974) had not existed, it would have been up to Charles Bukowski  to invent him—in fact, the two men did know each other. Wantling spent most of his life in Illinois but served in Korea and also did time in San Quentin for unspecified crimes, although it may have been forging prescriptions, which would make him the original drugstore cowboy. (His inmate number in the California Dept. of Corrections system was A45522.)

After prison, Wantling studied and eventually taught at Illinois State University. Samuel Zaffiri said of Wantling that his post-prison life was “a constant search for things which would get him drunk or high.” Zaffiri also wrote of Wantling, “He was a manipulator and all with whom he came in contact, whether best friend or casual acquaintance, were game for his wiles. He wheedled, begged, lied.” According to Kevin E. Jones, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the poet, “Wantling lied, cheated, ripped off his friends, shat in their bathtubs.” Sounds like quite a guy.

And, as it happens, exactly the guy to think up the idea of writing haikus about the heroin life. Spero was a literary magazine published in Flint, Michigan, in 1965 and 1966. The first issue featured William Burroughs and LeRoi Jones; the second issue had a tiny little booklet tucked into a tiny little pocket—the booklet was Wantling’s Heroin Haikus.
 

William Wantling
 
It should be noted that Wantling’s understanding of the haiku form was looser than yours or mine, most likely. Wantling ignores the line lengths and focuses on the syllable count, the poem has to have 17 syllables. I guess that’s why, in a beautiful bit of purposeful modesty, they’re called “some seventeen-syllable comments.”

Here are three of them:
 

THE FIX

Give me the moment
that will join me to myself
in a mad embrace

LOS ANGELES—2

I bring a can of weed.
Grady brings pills and peyote.
Party time!

THE BUST

A knock, the door
flumps down.
Shotguns, the heat screams—
Freeze, you dirty dopers!

 
At the Division Leap bookstore and gallery in Portland, Oregon, you can buy a copy of Spero #1 and #2—complete with Heroin Haikus tucked in a little pocket—for just $350.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
More heroin haikus after the jump…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Ian Curtis: Handwritten schoolboy poem up for auction

0jyicurltenn.jpg
 
As a child Joy Division’s lead singer wanted to be stuntman. He went so far as setting up a specially constructed stunt that involved him jumping off a garage roof. Cheered on by friends, Curtis donned a crash helmet and took a giant leap off the roof. He landed badly and his ambitions for a career as a stuntman were over.

Thankfully, Curtis showed greater talent for writing poetry, and it would be his lyric writing and singing that eventually brought him fame. Now, one of his original poems, written circa 1966-67 when Curtis was at school, is to be sold next month at a “Beatles Rock ‘n’ Roll Memorabilia Auction,” with a starting bid of $1,200 (£1,000).

According to Tracks Auction the poem:

...is written on a piece of lined paper and is glued into a school book called Our Book Of Epitaphs along with poems from the other pupils in the class.

It reads, “An Epitaph for an Electrian (sic), Here lies Fred the electrian (sic), who went on a very fateful mission, he got a shock when tampering with a fuse, which went from his head right down to his shoes, by I. Curtis”.

Ian has also drawn a small picture of a man and a tombstone.

Hardly T. S. Eliot but certainly not McGonagall.

The poem is described as being in “excellent” condition and measures 6.5 inches x 3.75 inches. It is contained within a larger book of poems by fellow classmates which has some wear and tear and a few of the poems have become detached from the book.
 
pmncrpm111.jpg
 
A letter confirming the poem’s authenticity from the owner and former classmate of the singer is included. The letter reads:

“I grew up on Hurdsfield Estate, Macclesfield where I attended Hurdsfield Junior School. I started Hurdsfield Junior School in 1963 where I met Ian Curtis, he was a fellow pupil in my class and we went through school together. Mr Young was our teacher when this piece of work was carried out, he himself has got a poem in the book along with myself and all the other pupils in the class. This poem was written in 1966 or 1967. I was presented with the book at the end of the school year for being head boy. At the time the head teacher was called Mr Tattasall. Ian Curtis lived on Grey Stoke Road, Hurdsfield Estate, I lived on Delemere Road, Hurdsfield Estate, Cheshire”.

As far as pop culture goes, it seems everything and anything is up for grabs, and amongst the other lots going under the hammer are Adam Ant’s 1981 “Prince Charming” shirt, Kate Bush’s handwritten lyrics for “Wuthering Heights,” various signed singles, albums, posters and concert programmes, and a shed load of Beatles’ memorabilia. I’m sure these will all make more than their asking prices and if you fancy bidding check details they are here.
 
pmncrtsjydvsnpm2.jpg
 
pmncrtspm.jpg
 
Below Kate Bush’s handwritten lyrics for ‘Wuthering Heights.’
 
bukabnh111.jpg
H/T Letters of Note
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Bukowski’s last stand: Hank’s final poetry reading from 1980
10.20.2014
09:04 am

Topics:
Literature

Tags:
Charles Bukowski
poetry

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Good and original poets spawn bad and imitative poetry.

Look at all the verbiage spewed out by those green and dappled flecked imitators after Dylan Thomas had one too many on a New York afternoon; or all the poems about PMT, swollen ankles and the indifference of men that came forth after Sylvia Plath’s sad demise; or the short men who swaggered after Charles Bukowski died, juggling six-pack and pen, writing long anaemic poetry about drinking, fighting and love. Yes, good poetry does often inspire bad poets.

It doesn’t always appear after death, sometimes it rubs shoulders with the living poet in hope of capturing some of their spark. I recall when the cool got hip to Bukowski and he appeared in Andy Warhol’s Interview talking with actor Sean Penn, that everyone including Penn was writing long three word a line poems about nothing much in particular, but this how it is if you’re a poet and you know sensitive and you gotta live that kinda life on the edge kinda thing blah-de-blah-de-blah. Suddenly it was hard to find a magazine that didn’t have some sub-Bukowskian ode in it, that looked like the stuff from high school poetry clubs and always made me think of G.K. Chesterton’s line that:

To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.

Bukowski did not give many readings during his lifetime. Biographers have claimed he hated giving readings, but did it for the two hundred or three hundred dollars to keep him in booze, smokes and a wager on the horses. But this all changed in the 1980s, when money started coming in via checks and royalties for books and film options and Bukowski no longer needed that extra couple of hundred to tide him over. Bukowski gave his last poetry reading at the Sweetwater music club in Redondo Beach, California on March 31, 1980, almost a decade and a half before he died in 1994. The whole reading was (thankfully) filmed by Jon Monday, who left the performance unedited as he believed the sections between Bukowski reading his poems gave some insight into the man and his temperament. It certainly does, as Oliver Hardy would say, and shows why the original poet will always be better than the imitators.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Jayne Mansfield reads the poetry of Shakespeare, Shelley, Browning and others


 
Shakespeare, Tchaikovsky & Me, Jayne Mansfield’s delicious album from 1963 or 1964 (depending on where you look), has never seen a CD release and it’s not available on the music streaming services I consulted. That scarcity has driven up the price: right now you can get a copy from Amazon.com for $60 and up.

Assessing Mansfield’s intelligence is something of a mid-20th-century parlor game. Quoting Wikipedia: “Frequent references have been made to Mansfield’s very high IQ, which she claimed was 163. She spoke five languages, including English. ... Reputed to be Hollywood’s ‘smartest dumb blonde’, she later complained that the public did not care about her brains: ‘They’re more interested in 40–21–35,’ she said.” Wasn’t there some meme about Jayne Mansfield enjoying the works of Immanuel Kant? Where did I get that from, some James Ellroy novel?

So how are her recitations of some of the greatest erotic poetry in the English language? Welllll, just fine, I think. I wouldn’t say she exactly reads them well—she reads them about the way you’d expect a big movie star to read them, crisply and evenly, perhaps a little too briskly. She brings a purr to the material that you wouldn’t probably get from current U.S. poet laureate Charles Wright, let’s say.

Here’s a track listing, followed by a clip of about six minutes from the album:
 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “How Do I Love Thee”
Percy Bysshe Shelley, “The Indian Serenade”
Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Good-Night”
Robert Herrick, “You Say I Love Not”
Henry Constable, “If This Be Love”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “The Lady’s ‘Yes’” -
Lord Byron, “She Walks In Beauty”
William Shakespeare, “Cleopatra”
Christopher Marlowe, “Was This The Face”
Joseph Beaumont, “Whiteness, Or Chastity”
Anonymous, “Madrigal”
Leigh Hunt, “Jenny Kiss’d Me”
Anonymous, “Verses Copied From The Window Of An Obscure Lodging House”
Thomas Otway, “The Enchantment”
Christopher Marlowe, “The Passionate Sheperd To His Love”
Robert Herrick, “Upon The Nipples Of Julia’s Breast”
Ben Jonson, “Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes”
Lord Byron, “The Lovers”
Robert Herrick, “To The Virgins, To Make Much Of Time”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “Inclusions”
William Butler Yeats, “When You Are Old”
William Wordsworth, “Daffodils”
William Shakespeare, “Take, O, Take Those Lips Away”
Thomas Carew, “Mark How The Bashful Morn”
Anonymous, “Oh! Dear, What Can The Matter Be?”
Alfred Lord Tennyson, “The Miller’s Daughter”
Charles Sackville, “The Fire Of Love”
Sir John Suckling, “The Constant Lover”
John Dryden, “Why Should A Foolish Marriage Vow”
Thomas Moore, “Believe Me, If All Those Enduring Young Charms”
Anonymous, “Love Me Little, Love Me Long”

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’: Spill of poppies commemorate fallen of First World War
08.01.2014
01:29 pm

Topics:
Current Events

Tags:
poetry
Wilfred Owen
World War I

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To commemorate the centennial of Britain’s involvement in the First World War, artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper have produced a “staggering” installation of red ceramic poppies in the dry moat of the Tower of London.

The installation is titled “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” and once finished will consist of 888,246 red ceramic poppies—each one representing a British or Colonial fatality during the Great War. The red poppy is the British symbol for Remembrance Day, when the nation give homage to the war dead. Volunteers will plant ceramic flowers each day until November 11th—the day of remembrance.

Remembrance is one thing, but humanity never seems to learn from the experiences of past wars—as can be seen by current events in Gaza. If there is any real sincerity in honoring those who sacrificed their lives, then it is in the cessation of all conflict. But sadly I doubt we are ever going to see that anytime soon.

It would also have been an idea to remember not just the British and Colonial fallen, but all of the (estimated) 37 million casualties (16 million dead and over 20 million wounded) in this horrendous conflict.

The poet Wilfred Owen (1893 - 1918) was a hero, soldier and poet, who best summed up the horror of war with his poem “Dulce et Decorum Est,” which strikes as hard now as it did when first published in 1920.

Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori
.

The phrase “Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori” means “How sweet and honourable it is to die for one’s country,” and is taken from a poem by the Roman poet Horace. It was used to encourage the young into the belief it was good to die for one’s country, or fatherland. This “old lie” is still in use today.
 
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More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Earliest known Aleister Crowley manuscript surfaces
05.19.2014
08:28 pm

Topics:
Books
Occult
Queer

Tags:
Aleister Crowley
poetry


 
In 1898, heartbroken Cambridge student Aleister Crowley’s love affair with Herbert Charles Jerome Pollitt had ended and he looked to his poetry for comfort. A small notebook of these lovelorn poems will be exhibited at the Olympia antiquarian book fair in London later this week.

Rare book dealer Neil Pearson, who discovered the manuscript during a hunt for early gay literature says:

“The verse is rather broken-backed, and vulgar where he is trying to be honest. But it was written at a time when he was feeling heartbroken and vulnerable and it does somehow humanise him – and God knows Aleister Crowley, more than most people, needs humanising.”

Pollitt was a female impersonator who went by the stage name “Diane de Rougy,” the future Great Beast 666 was just 22 when they met in 1897. Pollitt was four years his senior, a friend of both Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley, had been painted by James McNeill Whistler and was the president of the university’s Footlights Dramatic Club. “I lived with Pollitt as his wife for some six months and he made a poet out of me” is how Crowley described their relationship.

Crowley later wrote of his lover:

“Pollitt was rather plain than otherwise. His face was made tragic by the terrible hunger of the eyes and the bitter sadness of the mouth. He possessed one physical beauty - his hair ... its colour was pale gold, like spring sunshine, and its texture of the finest gossamer. The relation between us was that ideal intimacy which the Greeks considered the greatest glory of manhood and the most precious prize of life.”

 

 
According to bookdealer Pearson it is the earliest known Crowley manuscript, a collection of eight sonnets, composed in pencil in a small notebook. Only two of the homoerotic poems have ever been published. Crowley destroyed much of his earliest poetry, but chose to keep this volume, which includes titles like “He, who seduced me first” and “I, who am dying for thy kiss.”

“He destroyed the poetry because he was the priest, the master, the leader, and it didn’t suit his image to be seen as weak and vulnerable. But he kept this little book all his life, so the poems obviously meant a great deal to him.”

The so-called “Amsterdam Notebook of Aleister Crowley” is priced at £12,500 and can be viewed starting Thursday at the Olympia . Here’s one of the poems.

The Red Lips of the Octopus

The red lips of the octopus
Are more than myriad stars of night.
The great beast writhes in fiercer form than thirsty stallions amorous
I would they clung to me and stung. I would they quenched me with delight.
The red lips of the octopus.
They reek with poison of the sea
Scarlet and hot and languorous
My skin drinks in their slaver warm, my sweats his wrapt embrace excite
The heavy sea rolls languishly o’er the ensanguined kiss of us.
We strain and strive, we die for love. We linger in the lusty fight
We agonize; our club becomes more cruel and more murderous.
My passion splashes out at last. Ah! with what ecstasy I bite
The red lips of the octopus.

Crowley’s bisexuality and libertine ways led to his expulsion from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1899, clearing the way for Crowley to develop his own magical order.
 

 
Via The Guardian

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Bad Poems About Sad Sex Workers’ is your new favorite anthology of verse
02.27.2014
04:57 am

Topics:
Amusing
Sex

Tags:
poetry
sex workers

Xaviera Hollander
The original “Happy Hooker,” Xaviera Hollander, looking happy as ever
 
From the dominatrix to the stripper, from the escort to the women who perform services I’ve probably never even heard of, sex workers are often the recipients of pity, disdain, and sometimes outright animosity—not even to mention the criminalization of their profession. On the one hand, you have the camp that can’t wrap their brains around the idea that many woman choose to enter the industry. On the other hand, you have lovely characters like self-described “militant feminist” Julie Burchill, who once said, “When the sex war is won prostitutes should be shot as collaborators for their terrible betrayal of all women.”

Well, that sounds pretty pro-women, doesn’t it?

And if that kind of abuse isn’t bad enough, these ladies have to contend with being the subjects of some truly awful poetry. Luckily for us, the brilliant Lori Adorable has taken on the arduous task of curating the genre on the Tumblr, “Bad Poems About Sad Sex Workers.” Let’s take a sampling, shall we?

Lick your lips
Flutter those eyes
Shake them hips
Please all the guys

Work it harder you stupid whore
Pay these bills or you’re out the door
Don’t complain you have it easy
If you don’t mind a job that’s sleazy

Shake your ass
Make it wobble
Please these men
Make them oggle[sic]

 
I admire the stringent commitment to the rhyme scheme, but I simply cannot abide a spelling error in literary misogyny. Let’s try another.
 

conceal
hide
what you feel
inside

with eyes shut
lips closed
a pretty slut
a wicked rose

the goddess of love
she was
yet she lived not above
but deep below the dust

conceal
hide
what you feel
inside

her mother would
always tell her
to live a life without a man
is always better

— to the only whore i loved

 
Overwrought use of repetition, for when you can’t think of any more words. But let’s try one more.
 

Put those fairytales on the shelf,
No one can save you but yourself,
There’s no golden brick road,
Or somewhere over the rainbow,
Instead of ruby slippers,
She wears cheap stilettos,
Works the streets, she’s a keeper,
Of all the secrets we’re not suppose to know,
About the senators in their office,
About the representatives in the bathroom stalls,

 
I had to stop reading early because I was too annoyed by the third line to complete it. It’s “yellow brick road, you wistful idiot! Familiarize yourself with an American movie classic and the musical canon of Sir Elton John at once! Regardless, you went political (sort of), and that’s a risk I want to encourage.

Congratulations! You won the award I just made up for “Most Entertaining Terrible Poem About a Sad Sex Worker!”

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Punk poet John Cooper Clarke, this week on ‘The Pharmacy’
02.21.2014
07:47 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
poetry
The Pharmacy
John Cooper Clarke


 
Gregg Foreman’s radio program, The Pharmacy, is a music / talk show playing heavy soul, raw funk, 60′s psych, girl groups, Krautrock. French yé-yé, Hammond organ rituals, post-punk transmissions and “ghost on the highway” testimonials and interviews with the most interesting artists and music makers of our times…

Gregg writes:

If you do not know who John Cooper Clarke is you probably should…

Some call him a “performance poet,” others a “punk poet.” Clarke was often found reciting his rapidfire verse in unlikely places, whether it was in the burlesque bars of 1970s Manchester or opening for the likes of Joy Division, The Fall, The Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks and New Order. The man made quite an impression on audiences with his trademarked spiky black hairdo black suits and Ray Ban Wayfarers, resembling a mid 60s Bob Dylan or Keith Richards at his decadent “elegantly wasted” best/worst.

But by the early 1980s, Clarke’s radio went silent. With his vagabond friends—Beat poet Gregory Corso and Nico (who Clarke roomed with during this period)—Clarke traversed the dark Manchester underworld of drug addiction. Ultimately John Cooper Clarke came out on the other side of this darkness, revived, renewed and more prolific than ever… Now come listen in on my phone conversation interview with the Punk Poet Laureate and “Bard of Salford,” John Cooper Clarke here in the Rx…


 
Mr. Pharmacy is a musician and DJ who has played for the likes of Pink Mountaintops, The Delta 72, The Black Ryder, The Meek and more. Since 2012 Gregg Foreman has been the musical director of Cat Power’s band. He started dj’ing 60s Soul and Mod 45’s in 1995 and has spun around the world. Gregg currently lives in Los Angeles, CA and divides his time between playing live music, producing records and dj’ing various clubs and parties from LA to Australia.
 
Setlist

Mr.Pharmacist - The Fall
Miss Judy’s Farm - The Faces
Alright - The Groop
Intro 1 / I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore - Rx / The Young Rascals
John Cooper Clarke Interview Part One
Qui est in , Qui est out - Serge Gainsbourg
I Wanna Destroy You - The Soft Boys
Get In The Groove - the Mighty Hannibal
Sha la la la Lee - The Small Faces
Honey Hush - Jonny Burnette + the Rock n Roll Trio
Intro 2 / Blow Up - Rx / The James Taylor Quartet
John Cooper Clarke Interview Part Two
Evidently Chickentown - John Cooper Clarke
Dead Moon Night - Dead Moon
Digital - Joy Division
Summer Wine - Lee and Nancy
Intro 3 / Restless - Rx / the Cobras
John Cooper Clarke Interview Part Three
Femme Fatale - The Velvet Underground and Nico
Pair of Brown Eyes - The Pogues
Baby I Love You - The Ronettes
Intro 4 / There is No Satisfaction - Rx / Manfred Hubler & Siegfried Schwab
Outro

 
You can download the entire show here.

Below, Ten Years in an Open Neck Shirt, a documentary about John Cooper Clark:

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Of beer, blood, badasses and reservoir dogs: The poetry of Mr. Blonde
10.25.2013
08:28 am

Topics:
Literature

Tags:
poetry
Michael Madsen


 
Well-known character actor Michael Madsen, who most memorably played Mr. Blonde in Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 movie Reservoir Dogs, is a published poet, and he’s way more serious about it than, say, Ally Sheedy (just a single volume of poetry: Yesterday I Saw the Sun).

Contrariwise, Madsen has published a whole shelf of ‘em: Beer, Blood and Ashes, Eat the Worm, Burning in Paradise, A Blessing of the Hounds, 46 Down: A Book of Dreams and Other Ramblings, American Badass, and Expecting Rain. Madsen’s poetry fits squarely (ahem) into the Beat tradition, unrhymed, discursive sentence-like verse à la Allen Ginsberg. Sometimes he ventures into shape poetry in the manner of E.E. Cummings.

In 2005, 13 Hands published The Complete Poetic Works of Michael Madsen. 13 Hands is also running a blog dedicated to Madsen’s poetry.

Here’s a poem from Madsen’s 1995 collection Eat the Worm:
 

“Clint Eastwood”

One night in Arizona:
I was just out of jail and
walking across a parking lot
with a guy named Mike.
We both got released
at the same time.
There were some Mexicans in a car
and they wanted us to come over.
They had bad intentions, so
we kept walking.
Then Mike turned
back and said,
“Fuck you, stupid spics.”
and the—shit—hit—the—fan.
I got one in a headlock
and got a few good shots to his face.
Mike ran off and the others
made themselves happy
jumping on my back
and kicking the living—shit—out—of—me.
I held me own for as long as I could;
even walking up the street while they
kept kicking
and punching me,
yelling for me
to run,
but I thought about it
and didn’t want to give them
the satisfaction,
so I just walked and took the hits
until they gave up.
When I got to the corner
Mike was crying, “I’m sorry man…
I pussied out.”
over and over again.
My face was puffed up and
one eye I couldn’t open.
Right before we were let out of jail
I had thought Mike looked like Clint Eastwood…
all I could think of
at that moment, was that
he sure didn’t act like him.

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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