‘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...]

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...]

Nelson Algren on “the American writer” . . .

NELSON ALGREN [foto: Steve Deutch]

uh, before Amazon ... “The American writer as often as not is a middle-aged man with a wife and children, two or three books behind him, and eleven dollars in his pocket. He’s up against a conglomerate that deals in millions. He will take what they offer.” —– Nelson Algren, 1980 … [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...]

‘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...]