J.C. Cloutier

Our endless ear (PoemTalk #124)

Jack Kerouac, 'Old Angel Midnight'

From left to right: J. C. Cloutier, Michelle Taransky, Clark Coolidge.

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J. C. Cloutier, Michelle Taransky, and Clark Coolidge joined Al Filreis to talk about Jack Kerouac’s Old Angel Midnight, a sprawling work of prose poetry consuming forty pages of the Library of America Kerouac: Collected Poems. A recording of Kerouac performing the first page is available here. His model was Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. Up late in the Low East Side, he listened for sounds coming through a tenement window from the court below and made words of them. Such making is the plot of the book. The effort sometimes results in what Clark Coolidge has called “babble flow.” Old Angel Midnight is an interlinguistic record of voices augmented by “neologisms, mental associations, puns and wordmixes” and “nonlanguages.”

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