Al Filreis convened Christopher Stackhouse, Maria Damon, and Devorah Major to talk about a poem by Bob Kaufman titled “Suicide.” The recording of Kaufman performing the poem — outdoors in San Francisco, in a park, it seems — can be seen and heard in one of the final scenes of Billy Woodberry’s documentary about Kaufman’s life and work, And When I Die I Won’t Stay Dead. We have extracted an audio-only copy of the poem as performed and you can hear it here. The text of the poem can be found on p. 112 of the Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman (City Lights), coedited by Neeli Cherkovsky, Raymond Foye, and Tate Swindel.
Jake Marmer and I, on the road (as it were) in San Francisco, conversed somewhat randomly on Bob Kaufman’s “CROOTEY SONGO” and Wallace Stevens’s “The Man with the Blue Guitar.” How could these two poems connect? Maybe they don’t but we gave it a try. To hear a reading of Kaufman's poem, skip forward in the video to 25:19.
Does the Secret Mind Whisper? (City Lights, 1960) a folding, five-panel broadside by Bob Kaufman, appeared on the heels of his much better-known Abomunist Manifesto (City Lights, 1959), which was later collected in Kaufman’s first book, Solitudes Crowded with Loneliness (New Directions, 1965). Secret Mind remained uncollected and out of print until Coffee House Press reissued, under the title Cranial Guitar (1995), Kaufman’s second book, Golden Sardine (City Lights, 1967), along with a sampling of poems from Solitudes and his third and final book, The Ancient Rain: Poems 1956–1978 (New Directions, 1981), as well as previously uncollected work.