[In the aftermath of Bernard Heidsieck’s recent death, I can only look back on the years when I knew him well, at first in a series of international sound poetry events in the 1960s & 70s, in which I always felt myself as an outside but very happy participant. In Paris Diane Rothenberg and I often visited with him &Françoise Janicot in their apartment on the Ile Saint Louis, but I also remember rendez-vous in New York & San Francisco, Glasgow & Verona, wherever those adventuresome & peripatetic times allowed us all to be together.
[What follows – my introductory note & Richard Johnny John’s account of his life as a traditional singer & songmaker – was originally published in Alcheringa, the journal of ethnopoetics that Dennis Tedlock and I co-published & co-edited in the early 1970s.
Translation from Japanese by Hiromi Ito & Jerome Rothenberg
It was Sugaru of the Little Boy Clan who was the chancellor of the Emperor Yuryoku, as vital to him as his heart and liver. One day when when the Emperor was residing at Iware-no-Miya palace and was having sex there with his wife, Sugaru burst into the chamber and the Emperor, feeling shame, broke off his foreplay. At that moment they heard thunder and the Emperor told Sugaru: Go forth now and send a summons to the God of Thunder. Sugaru replied that he would go. The Emperor then proclaimed: Go forth and send a summons to the God of Thunder.