Commentaries - May 2011

Michael Savage on Kenny Goldsmith at the White House

It's hard to imagine Kenny didn't write the script for this himself; but let me take that back, he did. A marvelous moment in the history of what Al Filreis calls "anticommunist antimodernism." Right-wing talk show host Michael Savage takes the bait, hook, line and stinker. The best such event since Fox news attacked George Kuchar for advocating bestiality in Thundercrack (did they not realize that was George in gorilla costume, not a real gorilla). But now: Kenny is our guerrilla warrior.

Talking with Kimberly Mahler of the International Poetry Library of San Francisco

 1) Tell us about yourself as a writer, educator, and editor. Who and what inspired you to pursue this path? Did you enjoy your MFA program?

I came to poetry late, after five years of teaching composition at various colleges. My initial masters degree was void of creative writing and primarily emphasized nineteenth century British and American literature, so I was more entranced with big novels (George Gissing, George Eliot), slave narratives, and Poe's short stories and criticism. With a few exceptions, the poetry rarely captured my imagination or spoke to me. It was a last minute decision to attend a Neruda workshop at Esalen Institute with Dr. Amelia Barilli that set my creative life in motion. In that short weekend, I fell in love with Neruda's literary and political life, his appetite for women and food, and, of course, his poems.  I returned two months later to attend another workshop with Barilli on Gabriel Garcia Marquez. My own appetite couldn't be satisfied. Numerous workshops with poets like Ellen Bass, Sharon Olds, Dorianne Laux, and Kim Addonizzo followed as did a few night courses at San Jose State University. In 2003 I applied to and enrolled in New England College's MFA program. This was a new low residency program that solely focused on poetry. I had fabulous poet mentors and made life long friends with other poets. While I was in my program, I wanted to start serving in my own literary community and joined the Board of Directors at Poetry Center San Jose. For three years I edited their literary magazine, Caesura. Working from the inside of a non-profit helped me build my vision and focus for IPLSF. 

Jon Stewart on Kenny Goldsmith

In his Thursday, May 12, 2011, Daily Show, Jon Stewart satirizes the appearance of poets at the White House. Along the way, he takes a shot at the jacket Kenneth Goldsmith wore to the reading. Click here for a video recording of the segment, and scroll forward to 1:02 on the counter in order to get to Goldsmith.  And here, as a bonus, is reactionary talk show host, Michael Savage, referring to Goldsmith's presentation as a sign of the downfall of western civilization as precipitated by Barack Obama.

Bill Morgan, Hettie Jones: Beat talk last night

Last night at St. Mark's Bookshop on 9th Street and Third Avenue in New York, Bill Morgan and Hettie Jones talked about Morgan's The Beat Atlas, about Ginsberg (a great deal), and about Kerouac and Ferlinghetti. My favorite literary photographer, Lawrence Schwartzwald, was there and took the photograph above.