Elise Cowen

Black daisy chain of nuns

Allen Ginsberg and Elise Cowen
What is the word from Deberoux Babtiste
the Funambule I
Desnuelu (who's he?) to choke you
Duhamel and you
De brouille Graciously
Deberaux Take me by the throat
French logic
Black daisy chain of nuns
Nous sommes tous assasins
Keith's jumping old man in the waves
morning dance of delicacy
"I want you to pick me up
when I fall down"

That's part of a poem by Elise Cowan. Cowen, though dead more than a quarter century, is in many ways more present than many of the other so-called "Beat women." She is alive in the pages of Joyce Johnson's Minor Characters and in the memories of many of Beat survivors whom she deeply impressd with her generous friendship. Janine Pommy Vega, with whom Elise lived for a time, says, "I still think about her every day. She was the smartest person I knew." More...

Elise Cowen

Sappho-Dickinson Hybrid with a Beat Sensibility

Allen Ginsberg and Elise Cowen
Allen Ginsberg and Elise Cowen

Tony Trigilio has been working this past year on an edited collection of poems and fragments from Elise Cowen's only surviving notebook. This edition will reproduce the notebook poems themselves, as they were written in Cowen's hand. Cowen's surviving family generously granted the rights to Tony to edit the book. The project, which is still looking for a publisher, will include many never-before-seen Cowen poems and will correct those that had been mis-transcribed in the past. The book is taking shape as an intriguing Sappho-Dickinson hybrid with a Beat sensibility -- an odd mixture, perhaps, but an accurate description of Cowen's varied influences.

For years I've taught Elise Cowen in my modern/contemporary American poetry course (English 88) and once created a modest Cowen web page here. Here's more about Tony.

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