Jerry Back Then by David Antin
[on Jerome Rothenberg's 80th birthday]
I met Jerome in the Spring of 1950 at a small party given by a Francophil professor, where seven or eight of us sat around with wine glasses under a modest collection of School of Paris paintings, making awkward conversation about modern art and poetry, when I noticed a short noble -browed guy in a green suit sitting across from me, his green eyes blazing with the kind of disapproval I was feeling myself. This was not what we were looking for in modern art and poetry. Some time in the fall we met again, realizing we were both trying to become poets, and we started to hang out together, searching for signs of a living experimental scene, listening to folk music and jazz, and checking out modern dance and music in a culture that believed artistic experiment and exploration were over. And it wasn’t till the late 50s that we caught up with cool jazz, Abstract Expressionism, John Cage, Wittgenstein, Fluxus and Pop.