Long-Awaited ‘Algren’ Bows at Chicago Film Festival

'ALGREN' a documentary by Michael Caplan

Is this Nelson Algren's moment? If it is, I don't think he'd give a damn -- not personally -- considering he's gone and how long ago that was. I also don't think he'd appreciate what has become a cliché of the Algren myth -- the forgotten writer. Sure, he's forgotten. Most writers are. And of those who are remembered, many are less worthy than Algren. But let's not forget that in his time he had moments of glory that even the worthiest writers may never have. Maybe the cliché will be retired at least for a little while with the premiere of … [Read more...]

Long-Awaited ‘Algren’ Documentary to Open in Chicago

'ALGREN' a documentary by Michael Caplan

Is this Nelson Algren's moment? If it is, I don't think he'd give a damn -- not personally -- considering he's gone and how long ago that was. I also don't think he'd appreciate what has become a cliché of the Algren myth -- the forgotten writer. Sure, he's forgotten. Most writers are. And of those who are remembered, many are less worthy than Algren. But let's not forget that in his time he had moments of glory that even the worthiest writers may never have. Maybe the cliché will be retired at least for a little while with the premiere of … [Read more...]

Poet Says, ‘Ecstasy Can Postpone Every Deadline . . .’

‘Love in Old Age’ by Heathcote Williams [Cold Turkey Press, 2014]

Love in Old Age Someone I've known since I was twelve Happened to tell me the other day, 'We're now on the shady side of the hill. 'Not many more days to play.' But I found myself pretending I hadn't heard what he'd said -- The implication being so unsettling: He was saying we'd soon be dead. Then he pressed the point by asking me, 'Thought how you'd like to go?' I said that I hoped he wouldn't mind But I'd been planning to say 'No'. 'You can't! You're mad! It's against nature!' I said, 'I can do what I like. 'You see, … [Read more...]

A Message From My Orwellian Phone Carrier

Orwellian Message from Verizon

The email arrived with this message: "At Verizon Wireless your privacy is our priority." How nice. So I read on: "We're enhancing our Relevant Mobile Advertising program in a way that can help marketers reach you with messages ..." And here I thought privacy was defined as "the state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people." I can opt out of their program by signing into the Verizon website with my password, which I don't have. Or I can phone, in which case I will be required to climb a phone tree. An … [Read more...]

Supervert’s ‘Vision of the Future’ Has Arrived

'POST-DEPRAVITY a vision of the future' by Supervert 32C Inc. [2014]

It is possibly Supervert's most impressive book beauty to date, judging not only from the immaculate white-and-black antiseptic look of it and the heft of it -- the text comes to 240 pages -- but also, obviously, from the read of it. At one level POST-DEPRAVITY is a page turner (literally) and at another a densely reasoned philosophical proposition (indicated by the letters S&M R&D on the book's spine). Set in a hospital, the story updates notions of perversion beyond Sadean for an age beyond technology with characters like Dr. Francis Malenkov … [Read more...]

‘An Old Man and a Young Man in Gaza’

The brutality of the Israelis in its savage response to Hamas rocket attacks has been documented in photographs so horrendous I can't bear to look at them. Listening to "An Old Man and a Young Man in Gaza" -- as read by Alan Cox in a recent radio broadcast on the KPFA program Cover to Cover with Jack Foley -- had me feeling no less shamed but more bitterly enlightened. The poem, by Heathcote Williams, ends with these lines: Israel's vision of itself was once
 As a ‘light unto the nations.’
 It has no need of the fearful hatred, Fueling its … [Read more...]

‘Killing Kit’ to Be Staged in London Try Out

First Staging: 'Killing Kit' at The Cockpit, in London, Sept. 21, 2014

Heathcote Williams's first new play in many years is to open Sept. 21 at The Cockpit, where it received a reading last February. The company advertises itself as a radical fringe "theatre of disruptive panache, angry critique and useful, progressive ideas for the future." "Killing Kit" traces "the volcanic life and mysterious death of Christopher Marlowe -- poet, playwright, and proto-punk; sworn enemy of Queen Elizabeth’s court and of her Church; a gay spy ensnared by the Tudors’s secret state, and William Shakespeare’s greatest influence." … [Read more...]

Cold Turkey Press Does a Nelson Algren Fight Card

Cold Turkey Press: 'The Gloves Came Off' [2014]

I was having such a great time re-reading one of Nelson Algren's "lesser" books -- Who Lost An American? -- that I scanned a little excerpt from the second story, "Down With All Hands," and sent it to Gerard Bellaart. It struck a nerve. He sent back one of his choice Cold Turkey cards. In some cases the stories in the collection read like a burlesque -- satirical, cynical, and above all, funny. "Down With All Hands," while still a parody, has a serious spin to it, as you can see from the excerpt, and was first published in The Atlantic … [Read more...]

‘Dying’s Annoying,’ a poem by Heathcote Williams

'Dying's Annoying' by Heathcote Williams

Ever since the death of two close friends, my staff of thousands has had trouble sleeping. Recently a suffocating moment of enlightenment troubled it further. The staff was contemplating an obvious but astonishing fact: When a body expires the person attached to it vanishes. The person has dematerialized. It's hard to wrap your head around that. It's not science fiction. … [Read more...]

Sanders: ‘Book of Glyphs’ = ‘Smile-Book of Grace-Joy’

'A Book of Glyphs' by Edward Sanders [Granary Books, 2014]

Granary Books has just published a facsimile edition of Ed Sanders’ first book-length work of glyphs, which he created in Florence, Italy, in 2008, using colored pencils and a small sketchbook. The publisher notes: Though each piece stands on its own, collectively the 72 glyphs convey, with characteristic humility and humor, many of the themes Sanders has explored over his long and diverse career, including history, myth, activism and pacifism. The glyph — “a drawing that is charged with literary, emotional, historical or mythic and poetic … [Read more...]

Did Frank O’Hara Write ‘Captain Bada’? I Thought So

Captain Bada by Frank O'Hara [The San Francisco EARTHQUAKE No. 2, page 6]

I see there's a 50th anniversary edition of Frank O'Hara's Lunch Poems out in hardcover from City Lights Books. It reminds me of a question I've had for years about a poem of O'Hara's that I've never had answered. Back in 1967, the year after O'Hara died, the New York poet Jim Brodey came knocking on my door in San Francisco and gave me a poem of O'Hara's -- "Captain Bada" -- for a little mag I was editing. Brodey said it had never been published. I must've asked him how he happened to have the manuscript, but maybe I didn't because I was … [Read more...]