WHAT ANNOYS – DELIGHTS – AND IS OFTEN UNEXPLAINED.
What is ANNOYING me this week?
Losing my phone charger.
What is DELIGHTING me this week?
Father’s day – spent with my Son and Grandson.
Hydranoid Musia’s latest master mix by Mike-Six.
SOME OF MY DOINGS:
Last week saw me attend the Coventry Launch of Tony Owen’s – The Dreaded Boy. This was a special evening for me for two particular reasons, firstly because Tony thanked me personally in the acknowledgements for this pamphlet, and secondly because I have heard this collection develop over the last eighteen months and it is fantastic to the see the results of Tony’s research and exploration in to the effects of modern warfare on the soldiers, aid workers and the families left behind.
This collect breaks new ground in war poetry, because Tony gives a voice to the families and friends of the soldiers fighting or peace keeping, but never-the-less out on the front line. Unlike his namesake from the first world war, Wilfred Owen, Tony is not a soldier and he therefore, made the connection with the Mothers, Fathers, Sisters, Brothers, Wives and Girlfriends and talked about their feelings as in the 21st Century they find themselves bombarded with news footage and on-line information on the warzones in a way that we have never seen before. No longer can we say “No News is Good News” because we now live in the world of 24 hour news, we allow the war zones into our front rooms, we see the horrors from our armchairs. Those with loved ones out on the front line cannot put the war out of their minds.
Tony’s collection is a brave, honest and real. These poems do not preach, they inform and respect the reader’s ability to make their own judgments.
His poem Diamonds for Karen Woo is very powerful as is the poem on Rwanda; these are just two among a very powerful collection. Tony delivered them accompanied by a guitar player and ambient music. He was joined by local poet Bethany Norris and the City Voices Choir. There was a speech from the Deputy Mayor who reflected onCoventry’s place as a city of Peace and Reconciliation and how Tony as a local poet was building on these themes with this excellent collection.
It is published by Pighog Press, based in Brighton, it is the first of the Pighog Passport series, it is delivered as a well designed style, taking its design ideas from a passport, though slightly larger, with watermarked pages and the author’s information printed at 90 degrees. Pighog press see this series as giving the poet a passport to bigger things.
It was also great to see so many Polesworth Poets at the launch, Jacqui Rowe, Janet Smith, Barry Patterson, Gary Carr and Jon Morley, which found us discussing Julian Cope’s associates with Pooley mound or Alvecote mound as he knew it, listen to Reynard the Fox to hear Julian’s take on this wonderful place.
Tony will be the guest poet at the Fizz 9 in September, it will be an evening of intense imagery, and I am honoured to be able to host such a fine poet in Polesworth. Tony will be selling copies of The Dreaded Boy at the event, not to be missed.
Friday saw me head to Burton-upon-Trent to the monthly SPOKEN WORLDS run by Gary Carr.
There was a good turnout of fine poets; Gary Longden has written a review at:
Sunday saw me spend a wonderful day at LEAMINGTON PEACE FESTIVAL. Made special because my son and three year old grandson came with me, as a lads day out on Fathers Day.
I had originally signed up to perform for ten minutes between bands on the acoustic stage on the bandstand where the compere Barry Patterson was keeping the crowds informed, entertained and making sure they disposed of their litter responsibly. This however changed on Saturday when I was informed that a band who were booked for the 11:45 slot on Sunday could not now do the gig, so Barry asked if I, Josie Allen would join him to fill the 45 minute slot with poetry. Not one to turn down an opportunity like this, I jumped at it.
The audience was transient at the start of the readings, which saw Josie, kick off, as the time went on more and more people settled and sat to listen, such that there was quite a crowd after ten minutes.
A festival crowd is different to a poetry reading audience, they have not necessarily come along to hear poetry and therefore as the poet you have to hook them in, using all the expression in your voice to gather their interest.
I started with two poems that received a respectful applause, these poems were about refugees and time and this clearly was not hooking them in, I finished my first set with my Jimi Hendrix poem, which received a cheer and an appreciative applause. So that was it, they wanted poems about music, musicians something with a little more theatre in the delivery.
Because we had decided to read in rotation, reading a few and then handing over to next poet until your turn came around again, it gave me time to review my set and to bring out poems that reflected the musical themes. Poems such as Setting, which looks at Liverpool in the post Beatle era and Memphised which explores Beale Street through the eyes of the poet tourist and a true bluesman. I did several others in my three spots, finishing with POP, the poem that laments the world of copies and fakes, the brand and all things over manufactured.
Barry performed his poems from Nature, some of which he accompanied with his drum or introduced with a flute tune, his poem for William Blake who he calls Billy Blake was well received. Josie gave a song and her George Eliot poem Mary Ann on the Rocks among her set.
It was a great experience, Poetry on a Sunday Summer afternoon in the park, Poetry the Language of Peace at the Peace Festival, Three Poets lost in the zone of worldly words and taking the audience with them.
But most of all for me, a Grandfather, Son and Grandson sharing Fathers Day, that is how it should always be.
My lost poet this week is KENNETH REXROTH (1905–1982)
This week, I head back across the Atlantic to find Kenneth Rexroth. If my previous lost poet, Langston Hughes was the Blues Poet, then Kenneth Rexroth was the Jazz poet.
Time Magazine called Rexroth, the Father of Beat Poetry, (a tag that he was not endeared to, stating that “an entomologist is not a bug”). He was a great influence on Ginsberg, Kerouac et al. He was the compere at the San Francisco, Gallery 6 Poetry reading in 1955, which was the subject of the 2010 film Howl, with its ensuing court case at which Rexroth gave evidence. However if you look at the IMDB cast list for the film you won’t find the character of Rexroth, the movie makers passed him over as being unimportant.
Yet it was in part his influence as a poet that sparked the beat movement as the Beat Poets gathered around him, the spark that ignited Howl in the first place, there are resemblances in Rexroth’s Thou Shalt Not Kill, written on the death of Dylan Thomas that can be seen to have been an influence on Ginsberg’s poem.
Rexroth was born in South Bend,Indiana and spent his early adolescence on travels around the USA, mixing and befriending all walks of life, on his own journey in his own time, but reminiscent of Kerouac’s travels in On the Road and Dharma Bums, it is thought that Rexroth is the character Reinhold Cacoethes in Dharma Bums. Rexroth eventually settled in California where he was to spend the rest of his life.
His poems are about sex, mysticism or revolution or so he introduced his readings. Poems such as Floating from The Phoenix and the Tortoise published in 1944, is full of sexual imagery as the poet and his lover float in a canoe on a waterlily bed ,as is A dialogue of watching published in Defence of Earth in 1956.
He was a poet and writer who was antiestablishment and actively disliked poets such as T.S Elliot and Ezra Pound, who he saw dull academics, with Elliot and his neurotic prissiness and Pound as self indulgent.
Rexroth is one of the most readable of the American poets at the same time he has sophistication, he was influenced by poets such a William Carlos Williams, both crafted their words into a direct, controlled dialogue. His work took him to explore Japanese forms; he was one of the first western poets to explore the use of the Haiku.
He was a traveller and a free spirit, focusing on wider things rather than being part of a community; his writings are an unbiased view of the world as he saw it, free from judgment and prejudice.
Kenneth Rexroth is a worthy lost poet, who I hope others will discover and see him as the free spirit and not tag him just as the Father of the Beat poets, he is much more than that.
Links for Kenneth Rexroth.
Kenneth Rexroth Selected Poems – Edited byBradfordMorrow (Amazon Link)
The Rexroth Archive at The Bureau of Public Secrets.
COMING SOON DOINGS
Readings in July.
2nd July – Summer Poetry Day – Nuneaton.
5th July – Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s Coventry.
15th July – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.
16th July – Lichfield Festival – Lichfield. -TBC
19th July – The Fizz 8 – Polesworth Abbey.
23rd July – Love Parks Festival – Polesworth Abbey Green Park.