Showing posts with label American literature. Show all posts
Showing posts with label American literature. Show all posts

Gregory Corso



Gregory Corso was born in New York City on 26 March 1930. His mother, sixteen years old when Gregory was delivered, abandoned the family a year later and returned to Italy. Afterwards, Corso spent most of his childhood in orphanages and foster homes. His father remarried when Gregory was eleven years old, and he had his son stay with him, but the boy repeatedly ran away. He was removed to a boy's home, from which he also ran away. His troubled adolescence included a stint of several months in the Tombs, the New York City jail, for a case involving a stolen radio, and three months of observation in Bellevue. At seventeen, he was convicted of theft and sentenced to Clinton State Prison for three years
     During his incarceration, he read avidly from the prison library and began writing poetry. After his release in 1950, he met Allen Ginsberg, through whom he also became acquainted with William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, as well as other New York writers and artists. In 1952 he worked for the Los Angeles Examiner and later served as a merchant seaman. In 1954 he unofficially attended Harvard University, where students contributed to the publication of his first collection of poems, The Vestal Lady on Brattle and Other Poems. Two years later he joined Ginsberg in San Francisco, where Lawrence Ferlinghetti published
his volume of poems Gasoline. In 1957 Corso joined Kerouac and Ginsberg for a series of unconventional readings and interviews. Since that time he has traveled extensively, especially in Mexico and Eastern Europe. He taught briefly at the State University of New York at Buffalo and occasionally during summer sessions at the Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. His major publications after Gasoline include The Happy Birthday of Death (1960), The American Express (1961), Long Live Man (1962), Elegaic Feelings American (1970), Herald of the Autochthonic Spirit (1981), and Mindfield (1991). Though he never gained the truly widespread fame that his fellow Beats enjoyed, his work continues to have an impact on contemporary poetics. His poetry has earned praise from many. Jack Kerouac is quoted as saying (on the back cover of Corso's Gasoline) "I think that Gregory Corso and Allen Ginsberg are the two best poets in America and that they can't be compared to each other. Gregory was a tough young kid from the Lower East Side who rose like an angel over the rooftops and sang Italian songs as sweet as Caruso and Sinatra, but in words. 'Sweet Milanese hills' brood in his Renaissance soul, evening is coming on the hills. Amazing and beautiful Gregory Corso, the one & only Gregory the Herald. Read slowly and see." Bob Dylan has spoken about how Corso's "Gasoline" awakened him to new possibilities of the written word. Gregory Corso died on January 17, 2001 at the age of seventy years old.


Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Gregory Corso  

William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Alan Ansen, and Gregory Corso, 


Transformation & Escape
I reached heaven and it was syrupy.
It was oppressively sweet.
Croaking substances stuck to my knees.
Of all substances St. Michael was stickiest.
I grabbed him and pasted him on my head.
I found God a gigantic fly paper.
I stayed out of his way.
I walked where everything smelled of burnt chocolate.
Meanwhile St. Michael was busy with his sword
hacking away at my hair.
I found Dante standing naked in a blob of honey.
Bears were licking his thighs.
I snatched St. Michael’s sword
and quartered myself in a great circular adhesive.
My torso fell upon an elastic equilibrium.
As though shot from a sling
my torso whizzed at God fly paper.
My legs sank into some unimaginable sog.
My head, though weighed with the weight of St. Michael,
did not fall.
Fine strands of multi-colored gum
suspended it there.
My spirit stopped by my snared torso.
I pulled! I yanked! Rolled it left to right!
It bruised! It softened! It could not free!
The struggle of an Eternity!
An Eternity of pulls! of yanks!
Went back to my head,
St. Michael had sucked dry my brainpan!
Skull!
My skull!
Only skull in heaven!
Went to my legs.
St. Peter was polishing his sandals with my knees!
I pounced upon him!
Pummeled his face in sugar in honey in marmalade!
Under each arm I fled with my legs!
The police of heaven were in hot pursuit!
I hid within the sop of St. Francis.
Gasping in the confectionery of his gentility
I wept, caressing my intimidated legs.




They caught me.

They took my legs away.
They sentenced me in the firmament of an ass.
The prison of an Eternity!
An Eternity of labor! of hee-haws!
Burdened with the soiled raiment of saints
I schemed escape.
Lugging ampullae its daily fill
I schemed escape.
I schemed climbing impossible mountains.
I schemed under the Virgin’s whip.
I schemed to the sound of celestial joy.
I schemed to the sound of earth,
the wail of infants,
the groans of men,
the thud of coffins.
I schemed escape.
God was busy switching the spheres from hand to hand.
The time had come.
I cracked my jaws.
Broke my legs.
Sagged belly-flat on plow
on pitchfork
on scythe.
My spirit leaked from the wounds.
A whole spirit pooled.
I rose from the carcass of my torment.
I stood in the brink of heaven.
And I swear that Great Territory did quake
when I fell, free. 

Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones)



Amiri Baraka (born October 7, 1934), formerly known as LeRoi Jones

Perhaps the most influential African American poet of the last half of the twentieth century, Amiri Baraka helped define the Beat generation and served as a guide for the Black Arts movement of the 1960’s. Baraka’s work is simultaneously introspective and public; his combination of unrhymed open forms, African American vernacular speech, and allusions to American popular culture produces poems that express Baraka’s personal background while addressing political issues. Baraka’s poetry draws upon the poetic techniques of William Carlos Williams and Charles Olson, and upon traditional oratory, ranging from the African American church to streetcorner rapping.
Baraka has divided his work into three periods: his association with the Beats (1957-1963), a militant Black Nationalist period (1965-1974), and, after 1975, an adherence to Marxism and Third World anticolonial politics. These periods are marked by changes in the poet’s ideology but not in his poetic style. Early poems such as “Hymn to Lanie Poo”—focusing on tension between middle-class and poor black people—and “Notes for a Speech” consider whether or not African Americans have a genuine ethnic identity and culture of their own as opposed to a segregated existence that only mirrors white America. This theme receives more attention in poems of the 1960’s such as “Poem for Willie Best” and “Poem for HalfWhite College Students” which indict Hollywood stereotypes. Another collection, Transbluesency: Selected Poems (1961-1995), represents Baraka’s work since 1979.
Poems of the Black Nationalist period address questions of the poet’s personal and racial identity. The poems of this period suggest that poetry itself is a means of creating individual and communal identity. In “Numbers, Letters” Baraka writes: “I cant be anything I’m not/ Except these words pretend/ to life not yet explained.” Explicitly political poems, such as “The Nation Is Like Ourselves,” propose that each person’s efforts or failings collectively amount to a community’s character. After 1975, poems such as “In the Tradition” argue—with some consistency with Baraka’s earlier views—that although Marxism is the means to political progress, only an art of the people that insists on showing that “the universal/ is the entire collection/ of particulars” will prepare people to work toward a better future. “In the Tradition” and a later series titled “Why’s” present musicians and political leaders as equally powerful cultural activists, reinforcing Baraka’s idea that poetry is a force for change.


Wise I


    WHYS (Nobody Knows
    The Trouble I Seen)
    
Traditional

If you ever find
yourself, some where
lost and surrounded
by enemies
who won't let you
speak in your own language
who destroy your statues
& instruments, who ban
your omm bomm ba boom
then you are in trouble
deep trouble
they ban your
own boom ba boom
you in deep deep
trouble

humph!

probably take you several hundred years
to get 
out!

The New World

The sun is folding, cars stall and rise
beyond the window. The workmen leave
the street to the bums and painters’ wives
pushing their babies home. Those who realize   
how fitful and indecent consciousness is
stare solemnly out on the emptying street.
The mourners and soft singers. The liars,
and seekers after ridiculous righteousness. All   
my doubles, and friends, whose mistakes cannot   
be duplicated by machines, and this is all of our   
arrogance. Being broke or broken, dribbling   
at the eyes. Wasted lyricists, and men
who have seen their dreams come true, only seconds   
after they knew those dreams to be horrible conceits   
and plastic fantasies of gesture and extension,
shoulders, hair and tongues distributing misinformation   
about the nature of understanding. No one is that simple   
or priggish, to be alone out of spite and grown strong   
in its practice, mystics in two-pants suits. Our style,   
and discipline, controlling the method of knowledge.   
Beatniks, like Bohemians, go calmly out of style. And boys   
are dying in Mexico, who did not get the word.   
The lateness of their fabrication: mark their holes   
with filthy needles. The lust of the world. This will not
be news. The simple damning lust,
                                       float flat magic in low changing   
                                       evenings. Shiver your hands
                                       in dance. Empty all of me for
                                       knowing, and will the danger   
                                       of identification,

                           Let me sit and go blind in my dreaming   
                           and be that dream in purpose and device.

                           A fantasy of defeat, a strong strong man   
                           older, but no wiser than the defect of love.

Like Rousseau

She stands beside me, stands away,   
the vague indifference
of her dreams. Dreaming, to go on,   
and go on there, like animals fleeing   
the rise of the earth. But standing   
intangible, my lust a worked anger
a sweating close covering, for the crudely salty soul.

Then back off, and where you go? Box of words   
and pictures. Steel balloons tied to our mouths.   
The room fills up, and the house. Street tilts.   
City slides, and buildings slide into the river.   
What is there left, to destroy? That is not close,   
or closer. Leaning away in the angle of language.   
Pumping and pumping, all our eyes criss cross
and flash. It is the lovers pulling down empty structures.   
They wait and touch and watch their dreams   
eat the morning.

A Poem for Speculative Hipsters

He had got, finally, 
to the forest 
of motives. There were no 
owls, or hunters. No Connie Chatterleys 
resting beautifully 
on their backs, having casually 
brought socialism 
to England. 
     Only ideas, 
and their opposites 
         Like, 
     he was really 
     nowhere.



Susan Sontag


  For More Information >http://www.susansontag.com/index.shtml


Susan Sontag was born in New York City on January 16, 1933, grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and attended high school in Los Angeles. She received her B.A. from the College of the University of Chicago and did graduate work in philosophy, literature, and theology at Harvard University and Saint Anne’s College, Oxford.


Her books, all published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, include four novels, The Benefactor, Death Kit, The Volcano Lover, and In America; a collection of short stories, I, etcetera; several plays, including Alice in Bed and Lady from the Sea; and nine works of nonfiction, starting withAgainst Interpretation and including On Photography, Illness as Metaphor, Where the Stress Falls, Regarding the Pain of Others, and At the Same Time. In 1982, FSG published A Susan Sontag Reader
Ms. Sontag wrote and directed four feature-length films: Duet for Cannibals (1969) andBrother Carl (1971), both in Sweden; Promised Lands (1974), made in Israel during the war of October 1973; and Unguided Tour (1983), from her short story of the same name, made in Italy. Her play Alice in Bed has had productions in the United States, Mexico, Germany, and Holland. Another play, Lady from the Sea, has been produced in Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, and Korea.

Ms. Sontag also directed plays in the United States and Europe, including a staging of Beckett's Waiting for Godot in the summer of 1993 in besieged Sarajevo, where she spent much of the time between early 1993 and 1996 and was made an honorary citizen of the city.

A human rights activist for more than two decades, Ms. Sontag served from 1987 to 1989 as president of the American Center of PEN, the international writers’ organization dedicated to freedom of expression and the advancement of literature, from which platform she led a number of campaigns on behalf of persecuted and imprisoned writers.

Her stories and essays appeared in newspapers, magazines, and literary publications all over the world, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, Art in America, Antaeus, Parnassus, The Threepenny Review, The Nation, and Granta. Her books have been translated into thirty-two languages.

Among Ms. Sontag's many honors are the 2003 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, the 2003 Prince of Asturias Prize, the 2001 Jerusalem Prize, the National Book Award for In America (2000), and the National Book Critics Circle Award for On Photography (1978). In 1992 she received the Malaparte Prize in Italy, and in 1999 she was named a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government (she had been named an Officier in the same order in 1984). Between 1990 and 1995 she was a MacArthur Fellow.

Ms. Sontag died in New York City on December 28, 2004.


Anne Sexton


Sexton, Anne Gray Harvey (9 Nov. 1928-4 Oct. 1974), poet and playwright, was born in Newton, Massachusetts, the daughter of Ralph Harvey, a successful woolen manufacturer, and Mary Gray Staples. Anne was raised in comfortable middle-class circumstances in Weston, Massachusetts, and at the summer compound on Squirrel Island in Maine, but she was never at ease with the life prescribed for her. Her father was an alcoholic, and her mother's literary aspirations had been frustrated by family life. Anne took refuge from her dysfunctional family in her close relationship with "Nana" (Anna Dingley), her maiden great-aunt who lived with the family during Anne's adolescence. Sexton's biographer, Diane Middlebrook, recounts possible sexual abuse by Anne's parents during her childhood; at the very least, Anne felt that her parents were hostile to her and feared that they might abandon her. Her aunt's later breakdown and hospitalization also traumatized her.
Anne disliked school. Her inability to concentrate and occasional disobedience prompted teachers to urge her parents to seek counseling for her--advice her parents did not take. In 1945 they sent her to Rogers Hall, a boarding school in Lowell, Massachusetts, where she began to write poetry and to act. After graduation she briefly attended what she called a "finishing" school. Anne's beauty and sense of daring attracted many men, and at nineteen she eloped with Alfred "Kayo" Sexton II, even though she was engaged to someone else at the time. Then followed years of living as college student newlyweds, sometimes with their parents. Later, during Kayo's service in Korea, Anne became a fashion model. Her infidelities during her husband's absence led to her entering therapy. In 1953 Anne gave birth to a daughter, and Kayo took a job as a traveling salesman in Anne's father's business.
Depressed after the death of her beloved Nana in 1954 and the birth of her second daughter in 1955, Sexton went back into therapy. Her depression worsened, however, and during times when her husband was gone, she occasionally abused the children. Several attempts at suicide led to intermittent institutionalization, of which her parents disapproved. During these years, Sexton's therapist encouraged her to write.

    For More Information >      http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/s_z/sexton/sexton.htm


Barefoot
Loving me with my shows off
means loving my long brown legs,
sweet dears, as good as spoons;
and my feet, those two children
let out to play naked. Intricate nubs,
my toes. No longer bound.
And what's more, see toenails and
all ten stages, root by root.
All spirited and wild, this little
piggy went to market and this little piggy
stayed. Long brown legs and long brown toes.
Further up, my darling, the woman
is calling her secrets, little houses,
little tongues that tell you.

There is no one else but us
in this house on the land spit.
The sea wears a bell in its navel.
And I'm your barefoot wench for a
whole week. Do you care for salami?
No. You'd rather not have a scotch?
No. You don't really drink. You do
drink me. The gulls kill fish,
crying out like three-year-olds.
The surf's a narcotic, calling out,
I am, I am, I am
all night long. Barefoot,
I drum up and down your back.
In the morning I run from door to door
of the cabin playing chase me.
Now you grab me by the ankles.
Now you work your way up the legs
and come to pierce me at my hunger mark 
More Than Myself
Not that it was beautiful,
but that, in the end, there was
a certain sense of order there;
something worth learning
in that narrow diary of my mind,
in the commonplaces of the asylum
where the cracked mirror
or my own selfish death
outstared me . . .
I tapped my own head;
it was glass, an inverted bowl.
It's small thing
to rage inside your own bowl.
At first it was private.
Then it was more than myself. 


Anna Who Was Mad
Anna who was mad,
I have a knife in my armpit.
When I stand on tiptoe I tap out messages.
Am I some sort of infection?
Did I make you go insane?
Did I make the sounds go sour?
Did I tell you to climb out the window?
Forgive. Forgive.
Say not I did.
Say not.
Say.

Speak Mary-words into our pillow.
Take me the gangling twelve-year-old
into your sunken lap.
Whisper like a buttercup.
Eat me. Eat me up like cream pudding.
Take me in.
Take me.
Take.

Give me a report on the condition of my soul.
Give me a complete statement of my actions.
Hand me a jack-in-the-pulpit and let me listen in.
Put me in the stirrups and bring a tour group through.
Number my sins on the grocery list and let me buy.
Did I make you go insane?
Did I turn up your earphone and let a siren drive through?
Did I open the door for the mustached psychiatrist
who dragged you out like a gold cart?
Did I make you go insane?
From the grave write me, Anna!
You are nothing but ashes but nevertheless
pick up the Parker Pen I gave you.
Write me.
Write. 

As It Was Written

Earth, earth,
riding your merry-go-round
toward extinction,
right to the roots,
thickening the oceans like gravy,
festering in your caves,
you are becoming a latrine.
Your trees are twisted chairs.
Your flowers moan at their mirrors,
and cry for a sun that doesn't wear a mask.

Your clouds wear white,
trying to become nuns
and say novenas to the sky.
The sky is yellow with its jaundice,
and its veins spill into the rivers
where the fish kneel down
to swallow hair and goat's eyes.

All in all, I'd say,
the world is strangling.
And I, in my bed each night,
listen to my twenty shoes
converse about it.
And the moon,
under its dark hood,
falls out of the sky each night,
with its hungry red mouth
to suck at my scars. 



Edgar Allan Poe


Alone


From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view. 

  • Edgar Allan Poe, born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1809, live a life filled with tragedy. Poe was an American writer, considered part of the Romantic Movement, and became an accomplished poet, short story writer, editor, and literary critic, and gained worldwide fame for his dark, macabre tales of horror.


Although his writings were well received, Poe struggled financially and was also plagued with "bouts of depression and madness." Edgar Allen Poe was orphaned at a young age after his mother died and his father abandoned the family. He was taken in by John and Frances Allan of Richmond, Virginia, but Poe was never formally adopted by them. He went to the University of Virginia for a term before running out of money, then enlisted in the Army, where he failed as an officer's cadet at West Point.

  • Poe was one of the earliest American writers to focus on the short story and is credited with inventing the detective fiction genre. But it is for his horror stories that he is world famous today, great short stories that are widely known, including;The Pit and the Pendulum, The Cask of Amontillado, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Purloined Letter are amongst his most popular short stories. [also see the great short stories below this text that feature illustrations]Poe published his first work, an anonymous collection of poems, Tamerlane and Other Poems in 1827. Poe changed his focus to prose, and after many years of writing for periodicals and journals he became known for his own style of literary criticism. All the while Poe moved around between Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City.Edgar Allen Poe’s epic poem The Raven, was published when he was in Baltimore in 1835, and became an instant success. Poe planned to produce his own journal, The Stylus, but he died in 1849 of unknown causes at the young age of 40, before he could make that project a reality.Poe had many imitators, and after his death clairvoyants often claimed to "receive" Poe's spirit and "channel" his poems and stories in attempts to cash-in on his fame and talent. The attempt to cash in on his fame was rather ironic considering that Poe died penniless. His work also influenced science fiction, namely Jules Verne, who wrote a sequel to Poe's novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket called An Antarctic Mystery.Considered the quintessential American Gothic writer, Poe's epic story, The Fall of the House of Usher (1839) reveals the tragedy of Rodrick Usher, who suffers from a variety of mental health disorders not even invented or named by modern psychology when Poe wrote about them: hyperethesia (sensory overload), hypochondria, and acute anxiety. It’s a stellar tale sure to disturb and delight the reader. 

Flower Power (anti-war )


The image of the Flower-in-the Rifle-Guy, photographed at a Pentagon ‘Levitation Rally’ in 1967, has become one of the most iconic anti-war images of our time. The young man’s real name is George Harris, an eighteen-year-old actor from New York who got swept up in the real life drama of his time, the Vietnam War.



This photo, titled Flower Power by Washington Star photographer Bernie Boston, was nominated for the 1967 Pulitzer Prize.
Sartorially speaking, not only did Harris choose his turtle-neck sweater well, but his carefully placed carnation, deep in the loaded barrel of a Military Policeman’s rifle, had a kind of daring panache that any A-list stylist, then or now, would be proud of. This simple act of defiance was a brilliantly staged peace tactic, taking both the military and the media by surprise. This was Flower Power in action.
Before the idea of ”Flower Power” became synonymous with psychedelic drugs, promiscuous sex and hippies, it was a phrase coined by Beat poet Allen Ginsberg to describe a political movement of passive, non-violent protest. In his November 1965 essay, “How to Make a March/Spectacle”, Ginsberg advocated that protesters should be provided with “masses of flowers” to hand out to policemen, press, politicians and spectators.The use of props like flowers, toys, flags, candy and music were meant to transform anti-war rallies into a form of street theatre, thereby reducing the fear, anger and threat inherent to protests.

"The cry of 'Flower Power' echoes through the land. We shall not wilt. Let a thousand flowers bloom." Abbie Hoffman, Workshop in Nonviolence, May 1967

Seventeen-year-old high school student Jan Rose Kasmir clasping a daisy and gazing at bayonet-wielding soldiers. Image by French photojournalist Marc Riboud

The Harvard Hallucinogen, Dr. Timothy Leary, experimenting with flowers in his hair.

In particular, Ginsberg wanted to counter the “spectre” of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang who not only supported the Vietnam War, but equated war protesters with communists and lazy good-for-nothing bums. Today, people with views like these are part of a gang called Republicans. A word of caution for young people with strong ideals and style: Be careful when poking daisies in the face of heavily armed policemen. In 2012, you’ll be dubbed a terrorist and punched to the ground by several large law enforcers. Worse still, you’ll get tazed in the groin!
      
George Harrison (not to be confused with George Harris) could write a decent peace song.
Janis Joplin drove a flower powered Mercedes Benz to Woodstock.

We at Unique Creatures have no specific advice on this matter, but we suspect the answer lies in using creativity and boldness in some small, but powerful way. Here’s how some ordinary people were expressing their creativity and boldness in 1967: A guy called Jimi Hendrix used his guitar to mesmerize millions of people into making love and peacing out. A dude called Evel Knievel got angry and jumped over 16 cars on his motorcycle, proving it’s better to be Evel than Evil. And a band called The Beatles released an album called “Magical Mystery Tour,” inspiring millions to go seek…magic and mystery.





Hilda Doolittle(H.D)

For More Information >  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/h-d



  • Evening


The light passes
from ridge to ridge,
from flower to flower—
the hepaticas, wide-spread
under the light
grow faint—
the petals reach inward,
the blue tips bend
toward the bluer heart
and the flowers are lost.


The cornel-buds are still white,
but shadows dart
from the cornel-roots—
black creeps from root to root,
each leaf
cuts another leaf on the grass,
shadow seeks shadow,
then both leaf
and leaf-shadow are lost.



  • Eurydice

     III

Saffron from the fringe of the earth,
wild saffron that has bent
over the sharp edge of earth,
all the flowers that cut through the earth,
all, all the flowers are lost;

everything is lost,
everything is crossed with black,
black upon black
and worse than black,
this colourless light.