Carl Rakosi

Film of Carl Rakosi, centenarian (silent; 16mm; 5:17)

Footage shot by Nathaniel Dorsky at the Arboretum of Golden Gate Park, a few blocks from where the poet lived in the Sunset District of San Francisco. It is shot on 16mm Kodachrome. With Rakosi is his companion, Marilyn Kane. Be sure to have a look at and listen to PennSound's Carl Rakosi page. (The film is silent.)

Carl Rakosi, 1903-2004

In Jacket 1 and Jacket 25

Carl Rakosi, San Francisco, March 1989, photo John Tranter
Carl Rakosi, San Francisco, March 1989, photo John Tranter

Poet Carl Rakosi died on Friday afternoon 25 June 2004 at the age of 100, after a series of strokes, in his home in San Francisco. [Some eight months before,] My wife Lyn and I were passing through California in November 2003, and we stopped by to have a coffee with Carl at his home in Sunset. By a lucky coincidence, it happened to be his 100th birthday. He was, as always, kind, thoughtful, bright and alert, and as sharp as a pin. We felt privileged to know him.
Here are some poems and other bits and pieces in Jacket magazine, starting with a poem from Carl in 1996:

[»»] Poem: “The Citizen"
Carl Rakosi in conversation with Tom Devaney, with Olivier Brossard
[»»] Carl Rakosi: audio recordings at U Penn (a note from Al Filreis, University of Pennsylvania)

Speaking of Political Poetry

Carl Rakosi

Carl Rakosi, younger and older

Speaking of the 1930s: Carl Rakosi was a member of the communist party and, when he was merely 99 years old, several of us at the Writers House asked him to talk about the problems and possibilities of writing a politically radical poetry. He gave a halting but very thoughtful response. Keep in mind that he was speaking in 2002 about the period 1938-41. It's hard to see clearly through the fog of warring politico-poesis. Many thanks to Henry Steinberg for editing this segment. The questioner is Thomas Devaney. The whole interview with the 99-year-old Rakosi can be found here.

Rakosi at 99 (it's a long way looking back)

Many poets who lived to old age have registered in verse what it must be like to see or sense an "I" so old, so long ago, so outmoded, that such a version of the self is unrecognizable, other. Stevens' "Long and Sluggish Lines" is just one of several poems he wrote in his seventies in this vein. But Stevens died at a merely 76. Carl Rakosi died at 100. To celebrate his 99th birthday, we at the Writers House invited him to read.

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