Wednesday, March 12
David Hess and Jonathan Mayhew in the past couple of days mentioned two poets I have always read with pleasure, Joe Ceravolo and William Bronk. Recently, Joe Massey asked if someone would describe Ted Berrigan's book "So Going Around Cities." I sent him the following description which he excerpted on his blog. (I realize most blog entries are short- Laurable pointed this out to me- but mine are long. So far I haven't received any complaints. )Here is the complete letter I sent to Joe Massey:
Ted was a friend and I was in two of his workshops; in the late 60's and early 70's. He helped me get some of my first poems published.
I found my copy of -So Going Around Cities- in Paris in 1985. It is a lovely shade of red, hardbound, black flyleaf, and has gold lettering. It is 403 pages long. There is a dedication page that reads as follows.
"The poems are arranged in chronological order, which seemed important to the accuracy of such a book as this, one which might easily have been titled "As Much As Was Possible of The Story So Far." But the individual sections have been allowed to tell their own stories, so calling for some deviation from strict calendar order. The several stories go to making the one story, of necessity overlap, and have been allowed to do so. "My" story in that generally there has been an "I" that, in doing the telling, has by nature located itself in the center of the action, though by no means is I [italics[ always the central character, let alone the hero. My sense, for that matter my ambition, has been to create a character named I, [italics]
In the poems, that, when the actual writing goes on, is speaker, hearer,
notater, perceiver, even judge when that is called for.
There are a number of poems scattered throughout the book which have not been published in any other book; so they are new and selected, The final section is all new poems, as is at least half of the section titled EASTER MONDAY. And, happily, since the final construction of this book, I do have more. Be seeing you.
New York City
There is a page at the end
THIS FIRST EDITION OF SO GOING AROUND CITIES WAS DESIGNED BY GEORGE MATTINGLY
WITH JOURNAL ROMAN & ITS CARAMOND LIGHT TYPES SET BY DAVID MATTINGLY WITH COVER PAINTING (UNTITLED) BY DONNA DENNIS & TEXT ILLUSTRATIONS BY GEORGE SCHNEEMAN WITH MECHANICALS BY ALAN BERNHEIMER & WAS MANUFACTURED BY MCNAUGHTON & GUNN, INC., I SALINE, MICHIGAN, SPRING NINETEEN EIGHTY
[I've never seen the cover painting by Donna Dennis nor the illustrations by Geroge Schneeman.]
The book is dedicated "To Alice, To Anselm and To Doug" [no doubt the late Douglas Oliver, whom Alice Notley married long after Ted died.]
The first poem in the book is
Seven thousand feet over
The American Midwest
In the black and droning night
Sitting awake and alone
I worry the stewardess...
Would you like some coffee, sir?
How about a magazine?
No thanks, I smile and refuse.
My father died today. I
Fifteen hundred miles away
Left at once for home, having
Received the news from my mother
In tears on the telephone.
He never rode in a plane.
The last poem is
SMALL ROLE FELICITY
For Tom Clark
Anselm is sleeping; Edmund is feverish, &
Chatting: Alice doing the Times [italics] Crossword Puzzle:
I, having bathed, am pinned, nude, to the bed
Between Green Hills of Africa [italics] &
The Pro Football Mystique [italics]. Steam is hissing
In the pipes, cold air blowing across my legs...
Tobacco smoke is rising up my nose, as Significance
Crackles & leaps about inside my nightly no-mind.
Already it's past two, of a night like any other:
O, Old Glory, atop The Empire State, a building, &
Between the Hudson & The East Rivers, O, purple, & O, murky black,
If only...but O, finally , you, O, Leonardo, you at last arose
Bent and racked with fit after fit of coughing, & Cursing!
Terrible curses! No joke! What will happen? Who
Be served? Whose call go unanswered? And
Who can 44 down, "Pretender to
The Crown of Georgia" be...
David Hess asked recently about Joe Ceravolo's book "Fits of Dawn." I happen to be the proud owner of a copy of "Fits of Dawn" that Berrigan personally had bound in dissertation style black covers with the title embossed in gold caps on the cover. Here's a little bit:
fail fail he route non ai-je allay
apple fierce joying like
confide blossom ete-armed recite of barely
Wolves and the metal, Family of
it is post lake enemy Perhaps
envocal motionless leave unhopped
sun trains drinking.
Away! so wet OH
crow fog and rio feeding
Naive ground askingly flesh
gurgle Away cropped fix
texas spoons of death
Obelisk rose of
Lunge. please stabs quoted
spill ago tree ago
Oh bait! Harangue! Stall!
fete-skys soon. The lowest eaten.
Road! Yes bread, idea wife punch-
solace avenue WAIT!
Whether somewhere bullet path fingers
singing the roofs What a lot Oh
what a ride, caves, And