Aram Saroyan

Do you have an extra cigarette?

image of a long road that fades into the distance taken from inside a car
long road

Have you ever heard Aram Saroyan read his poem “Biography”?[1] It is a poem in which he recites every year from his birth to the current year in his usual steady, calm cadence. I’m a bit fascinated with this poem; I seem to bring it up often. It really can’t be beat. It’s a pure poem. I heard him read it in 2007 (I think) at Poet’s House in New York. There are a hundred things to say about the poem, how the simplicity of it belies the fact that it describes something huge, i.e.

C: A journal of poetry

A collage

C cover by Joe Brainard
“C” cover by Joe Brainard, courtesy of Fales Library Avant Garde Archive

C: A Journal of Poetry  first appeared in May of 1963, edited by Ted Berrigan and published by Lorenz Gude. It became an influential showcase for the work of New York School poets and artists — like Berrigan himself, along with Ron Padgett, Joe Brainard, Kenneth Koch, James Schuyler, John Ashbery, Dick Gallup, David Shapiro, and others — it was a predominantly male list, though Barbara Guest and a few others (including Alice B. Toklas!) made appearances. The Fales Library has only a partial collection of the journal; all of the images included below are from that archive. To match the scattershot nature of the image collection, this commentary will be a collage of quotes from friends and fellow poets of Berrigan's in Nice to See You: Homage to Ted Berrigan, edited and introduced by Anne Waldman for Coffee House Press in 1991.  

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