‘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...]

Cold Turkey Press Publishes Portrait of Nelson Algren

TICKET TO NEW JERSEY: A Portrait of Nelson Algren [Cold Turkey Press, 2014]

This is a byte of self promotion. A byte? Haw. From the jacket blurb: Who could resist a study of a writer that begins, “if his writing had taken a flying fuck into a deep canyon, it was always balls-to-the-wall”? Jan Herman has borrowed the ghost of Algren’s golden arm with which to write this riveting, gonzo mini-biography of the man Hemingway called “the best novelist in America after William Faulkner.” Algren was being translated by Jean-Paul Sartre while he was sleeping with Sartre's wife and he preferred to spend time in boxing gyms … [Read more...]

Touring ‘Poetry Army’ Charts History of Radical Verse

A Poster for 'The Poetry Army' Tour in the U.K.

A posting by the Stop the War Coalition: From The Peasants’ Revolt to recent events at Tahrir Square, this incendiary performance celebrates radical verse in all its glory down through the centuries. The longstanding collaboration between poet Heathcote Williams and performer Roy Hutchins, encompassing such hits as Whale Nation and Autogeddon, continues as Hutchins combines forces with local actors, poets, and musicians to give voice to a host of radical writers, such as Shakespeare, Shelley, Ginsberg, Blake and Pussy Riot. Here's a … [Read more...]

Mc Neill’s Diagnosis: ‘Reflux’ in the Metaphysical Sense

'Reflux' by Malcolm Mc Neill [Apophenia, 2014] (back cover)

Updated: See video below. Malcolm Mc Neil is up to no good again -- I loved it the last time -- with a new book of essays, titled Reflux. I take that to mean he's describing a metaphysical case of esophagitis. In other words, as a toddler of my acquaintance, pointing to the vomitus on her blouse, might say: I fwowed up! And then she laughs. And that makes me laugh. The book's subtitle? Some Things Just Won't Stay Down. The publisher is Apophenia, another term of metaphysical endearment. Apophenia is an imprint of Paraphilia Magazine, … [Read more...]

Malcolm Ritchie’s ‘small lines on the great earth’

Malcom Ritchie's 'small lines on the great earth' [Longhouse, 2014] (front cover)

... showed up in the mail. It's a pristine book of gem-like beauties, the poems finely cut and paired with the author's drawings. small lines on the great earth is divided into six sections. The section titles strung together make the perfect Malcolm Ritchie poem on their own. Like so: small lines on the great earth in these lines is my reclusion an iron fish rusts beyond this silence within each wave the dead cicada Longhouse Publishers & Booksellers, West Brattleboro, Vermont Malcolm Ritchie was born in London, in … [Read more...]

‘Glory, in Our Time, Smiles Only on the Rich …’

'Le Docteur Destouches' [Cold Turkey Press, 2014]

Apparently not much has changed since Céline wrote that 82 years ago in Journey to the End of the Night, his first semi-autobiographical novel. The narrator Ferdinand Bardamu is talking about the Joseph Bioduret Institute, which "is clearly the Pasteur Institute," according to Ralph Mannheim, who translated the novel. Here's the complete passage: Glory, in our time, smiles only on the rich, men of science or not. All those plebians of Research had to keep them going was their fear of losing their niches in this heated, illustrious, and … [Read more...]

Carl Weissner’s ‘Death in Paris’ Published as an e-Book

'Death in Paris' by Carl Weissner

UPDATE: The book is now easily and inexpensively available in paperback. It's lousy to promote anything on the Amazon these days because its effort to control the book trade has become repulsive. But here's the rub: Death in Paris, by the late Carl Weissner, is now available as a Kindle e-book because Amazon has made it amazingly easy for a colleague of mine to post the thing. This is the blurb: Death in Paris draws on the genre trappings of detective fiction, but any notion of conventional storytelling dissolves as rapidly as the … [Read more...]

Hard Bop: Sacha Perry in the Dwayne Clemons Quintet

Sacha Perry was the pianist in the hard-bop Dwayne Clemons Quintet at Smalls on Thursday night (May 22, 2014).

"Pianist Sacha Perry is widely known among musicians in New York as one of the brightest pianists on the scene. He studied with Barry Harris and quickly excelled in ability at the most difficult and subtle harmonies. He has been playing at Smalls for eight years, appearing with Across 7th Street, the Chris Byars Octet, Mike Mullins, Zaid Nasser, Grant Stewart, and fronting his own trio. Sacha is one of the world's foremost experts on the music of Elmo Hope, Bud Powell, and Thelonious Monk, and counts them, along with the late pianist Frank … [Read more...]

‘Unstoppable’: On Dismantling the Corporate State

'Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State' by Ralph Nader

I'm a huge fan of Brian Lamb's 'Q & A' on C-Span. Listening to Ralph Nader speak to Lamb last night about Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State, Nader's new book, was typical of the broadcast's educational brilliance. The discussion, or rather the story as Nader told it, of Nader's "upbringing and the experiences that have shaped his career in consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and politics" was also typical: not just enlightening but invigorating, and what I found not so typical of … [Read more...]

‘People Power vs. Money Power’

Written by Heathcote Williams, narration and montage by Alan Cox, with photos by Adrian Arbib. Professor Nanjunda’s Direct Actions “What India needs today is the Gandhian formula for progress, not the presence of the West which is interested in stealing our wealth.” This was Professor Nanjundaswamy’s war cry As he fended off corporate kleptocrats And made war on genetically modified crops And trashed Colonel Sanders’s outlets. He knew they threatened to “affect India’s food security” And in Bangalore swore, “they do India no … [Read more...]