Jack Kerouac

Kerouac riff

Jack Kerouac: “Trying to think of a rule in Sanskrit Mamma Sanskrit Sounding obviously twins coming in here Milltown Equinell Miopa Parte Watacha Peemana Kowava.”  Here’s a remarkable recording: MP3.

Kerouac riff in text-audio alignment

Thanks to the efforts of PennSound’s Rebekah Caton, principally among others, we are now able to present the text-audio alignment of the opening two paragraphs of Jack Kerouac’s ”October in the Railroad Earth.”

Whelm lessons (PoemTalk #60)

Clark Coolidge, "Blues for Alice"

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Brian Reed (in from Seattle), Maria Damon (Minnesota), and Craig Dworkin (Utah) joined Al Filreis at the Writers House (Philadelphia) in a rare and — we think — rather fluid convergence of poetic minds prepped to figure out how to talk about an instance of verse bebop. The bop was Charlie Parker’s, as a model for languaged sound (by poet Clark Coolidge), and the template song was “Blues for Alice” (Coolidge’s poem uses the title), and among the possible Alices are Alice Coltrane, Alice Notley, and Alice in Wonderland.

Whelm lessons (PoemTalk #60)

Clark Coolidge, "Blues for Alice"

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Brian Reed (in from Seattle), Maria Damon (Minnesota), and Craig Dworkin (Utah) joined Al Filreis at the Writers House (Philadelphia) in a rare and — we think — rather fluid convergence of poetic minds prepped to figure out how to talk about an instance of verse bebop. The bop was Charlie Parker’s, as a model for languaged sound (by poet Clark Coolidge), and the template song was “Blues for Alice” (Coolidge’s poem uses the title), and among the possible Alices are Alice Coltrane, Alice Notley, and Alice in Wonderland. We speculate about Alice Coltrane and Alice in Wonderland, but as for Notley: Brian Reed finds evidence that Coolidge meant to dedicate his poem version of the standard bop dedication indeed to Notley. This leads Maria Damon to wonder about all these women dedicatees – these recipients or objects of blues syllabics — in light of such strong male performative struggles, or attempts to “get in on the try,” managed by creative men: Coolidge and Parker, or course, but perhaps Ted Berrigan too, and surely also Jack Kerouac, whose bop-inspired babble flow is very much part of the PoemTalk conversation. The key source for Coolidge’s working out of Kerouac is his important 1995 article published in American Poetry Review on Kerouac’s babble flow and his improvisation generally.

Coolidge on Kerouac

Clark Coolidge's PennSound page is one I happily recommend. I think my favorite set of recordings there is from his March 2000 reading at the University of California at Santa Cruz, hosted by Peter Gizzi. Peter's introduction — also among the recordings — is itself a fine introduction to Coolidge's life and importance to contemporary poetics. After the reading Coolidge took a few questions. Someone asked about burn-out (a writer reaching the end of writing) and Coolidge responded by speaking of Kerouac's line, Where pain don't take you by surprise. Coolidge discusses Kerouac's line and Kerouac, and then he re-reads the poem in which Kerouac's idea occurs. The Coolidge-Kerouac connection is edifying. Here's the recording. And here is Coolidge's essay on Kerouac's sound or “babble flow,” which I ask my students to read. Here's a sampling of the babble flow: "Black black black black bling bling bling bling black black black black bling bling bling bling black black black black bling bling bling...." The essay was first published in the January/February 1995 issue of American Poetry Review.

Bill Morgan, Hettie Jones: beat talk last night

Last night at St. Mark's Bookshop on 9th Street and Third Avenue in New York, Bill Morgan and Hettie Jones talked about Morgan's The Beat Atlas, about Ginsberg (a great deal), and about Kerouac and Ferlinghetti. My favorite literary photographer, Lawrence Schwartzwald, was there and took the photograph above.

Robert Frank per Jack Kerouac

"sucked a sad poem"

After looking at the photographs to be published in The Americans, Jack Kerouac said of Robert Frank thaAfter looking at the photographs to be published in The Americans, Jack Kerouac said of Robert Frank that he had "sucked a sad poem right out of America onto film." At right is one of the 83 photographs published in the book. Kerouac wrote the preface.

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