I read this last night at the Poetry Project memorial for Ted Greenwald.
He is gone now Taking his body with him When all the time I thought it was The beauty of his mind I loved ["Off the Hook" in Common Sense]
I first met Ted Greenwald in 1975, in and around the Poetry Project. He was my guide to much of what interested me among the local poets: he never hesitated to say what he liked and didn’t in the poems and people around us. It’s not just that he didn’t suffer fools easily, but he was hilarious in skewing pretenses and false premises. We always had a good time talking, with my indirectness dancing with his blunt wisdom like two people doing the cha-cha on the point of a fountain pen.
First publication from The Course, a collaboration I have been working on with Ted Greenwald since July. A beautiful edition from Chax, the book includes "Breaking News" ("Séance in triple meter"); "As You Know" ("Wishful clouds / Kind of affection / Scoop out night); "Still Life with Thought" ("Venuses, desperate"); "Too Late for Tears" ("It’s not the intent it’s the effect / Matters")' "Silent Seething" ("Not we, even more slowly, but you."); and "White Lightning" ("Hotdog bungees").
In May 1972, the artist Gordon Matta-Clark installed a dumpster in front of 98 Greene Street in Soho (Manhattan). The work was called both "Open Space" and "Dumpster." The Dumpster was filled with construction debris and other material, formed into three corridors. For Ted Greenwald's contribution to the installation, he created a special audio work. Greenwald installed a tape recorder on the delivery truck for the Village Voice, his long-time day job. Six reels were recorded. One of the tapes, featuring the most dramatic action of the day, was stolen from the cab of the truck: in the middle of Times Square, mounted police galloped up to a subway entrance, tied their horses to the entrance, and ran down into the subway.
Let’s begin with the title A Mammal of Style, which of course echoes the Chicago Manual of Style, someone’s notion of the proper and correct way of rendering sensible sentences in the English language.
In the 1970s Ted and I would meet in the afternoons and talk til night. We even did a recording of a couple of dozen hours of our conversations. I owe a tremendous amount to those meetings and to our many conversations since. On this particular afternoon we talked at the bar in the back of the restaurant (I can't remember the name of the place, but it was downtown). October 22, 2007