Excerpted from the preface to E.E Cummings: A Life by Susan Cheever, ©2014
Princeton poet Richard P. Blackmur said (E.E.) Cummings’s poems were “baby talk,” and poetry arbiter Helen Vendler called them repellent and foolish: “What is wrong with a man who writes this?” she asked.
Nothing was wrong with Cummings– or Duchamp or Stravinsky or Joyce, for that matter. All were trying to slow down the seemingly inexorable rush of the world, to force people to notice their own lives. In the twenty-first century, that rush has now reached Force-Five; we are all inundated with information and given no time to wonder what it means or where it came from. Access without understanding and facts without context have become our daily diet.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s travel journals read, not surprisingly, very much like his poetry.
This excerpt from Writing Across the Landscape (© 2015) records his thoughts attending a poetry conference at the Universidad de Concepción in Chili, in the early part of 1960:
The impression I have is that a great fat omnivorous crab named United States of America is sitting on top of the Pan-American hemisphere, sucking the marrow from its soft underside. The Coca-Colonization of the world…
I came across a trove of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s books at the used book store.
I have to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy Beat Poetry. (Ferlinghetti denies he is a Beat, but at the very least there’s a kinship.) Anyway, I guess that’s where I am at the moment.
Empty our pockets
Missing all our appointments
And turning up unshaven
Old cigarette papers
stuck to our pants
leaves in our hair.
Let us not
worry about the payments
Let them come
and take it away
whatever it was
we were paying for.
And us with it.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti intended for Junkman’s Obbligato to be an eternal work-in-progress; improvised words against an improvised jazz background.
But I do think the words stand on their own. There are several transcripts on the internet, one of which is HERE.
I love Grant Snider’s work. They’re a warming combination of art and poetry. You can visit his website HERE.
I am in love with every church
And any kind of shrine
Because I know it is there
That people say the different names
Of the One God.
– Hafiz (1315-1390)