Saturday, March 22
Some have said that blogging about anti-war activities or opinions or writing on the poetics list about such things is redundant. I don't agree. One of the most important functions of these activities is to offer an alternative to a mass media approach to information dispersion and opinion formation. That said, I don't have much to report about today's convergence beyond what has been generally reported. A group of poets met at Gotham Book Mart as planned around 11 am. Anne Waldman and Ammiel Alcalay very effectively led the small group on a circuitous route, eventually to Broadway from about 47th Street on down, turning eventually at Union Square towards and down 5th Avenue to Washington Square Park carrying a banner stretched widely across the street, held aloft by 2 or 3 marked "Poets Against the War" that was cheered by many on the 40 or so block walk. At one point the poet Ron Padgett helped with the banner. We shared funny stories about high school assemblies that carrying the banner reminded Ron about. Many poets familiar to bloggers and listees were there including two I had not met before- Hilton Obenzinger and Joe Safdie. Hilton O and I reminisced about 60's magazines like "Strange Faeces" where I remembered reading his work that long ago and he reminded me about "Big Sky." Joe Safdie and I talked about blogging and the list. He is a warm and kind man from Seattle who knows my friend the poet Nico Vassilakis. Someone handed me a quite beautifully printed paperback called "A Brief Illustrated Guide To Understanding Islam" by I.A. Ibrahim. I had brought along a book by Anne Waldman that I've had for a long time (it was published in 1970) that I've always wanted her to sign titled "Baby Breakdown." I promised her I would carry the banner if she would sign it (this was a joke, as I planned to do both if I could anyway). She graciously agreed, and made sure I carried the banner. While she was holding the banner aloft, (we had to stand still for about an hour and a half because we were towards the end of the line and the line stretched from 47th Street all the way down to Washington Square Park) I told Anne how moved I was by her reading the other night at the Paula Cooper Gallery. When I told her I felt that she was channeling Allen Ginsberg, especially when she was chanting Blake, she told me she really missed him. I had spoken with Hilton O so long that Ron P seemed to have given up on me and Toni taking the banner back. Toni and I proudly carried the banner for the rest of the way down to Greene Street. Time seemed to stand still, many memories emerged from years past. Nada Gordon copied page after page of slogans that she plans to use as source material for a poem. I chatted with Gary Sullivan, Mitch Highfill, Lee Ann Brown who was wheeling her baby daughter Miranda in a stroller, Maryann Shaneen, Drew Gardner, Katie Degentesh and a longtime friend, the film maker Ed Bowes. I noticed Simon Pettet there also, but didn't get a chance to chat with him. There were at least 350, 000 more people there I don't yet know by name. When some of the poets were no longer around any longer to help with the banner (it was huge!), probably because we had to wait around so long, other demonstrators volunteered and helped us carry it. Of course, the feeling was nothing like the last convergence on that freezing day in February. The bombs had not started to drop yet, the casualties had not yet started to mount. Nathaniel, who had created the banner and also a beautiful large copy of Guernica that he and another poet had been carrying, somehow found us in the crowd and took the banner back. Also Toni had been carrying a small Guernica poster we had found at the February convergence that she had given to Mitch, who apparently gave it to someone else, and which found its way back to us at the Cafe Orlin where Toni and I had dinner later on! (A lot of synchroncities about Guernica today.) At one point a stranger came over and told me another story about Guernica. He had pinned up the poster for a friend with a nail after it had kept falling down in the friend's apartment. On the anniversary of the event the painting represents, it fell off the wall on top of him. Toni and I made it down to Washington Square and were nearby the area where some of the arrests were about to take place. We cheered on those who were about to commit acts of civil disobedience and finally left, although one policeman sarcastically urged us to follow him to the area where some of the arrests were about to take place. Probably because someone thought I was planning to get arrested since we were so close to the action, that person tossed me a "Buck Fush" t-shirt. We found out later about 85 people got arrested right at the southeast corner of the park where we were chanting with the crowd, not long after we left. This was about 5 p.m. Although it was a gorgeous day, and even though I smiled at a lot, I did not and do not feel very uplifted, but just as upset as I felt when the first bombs dropped. "We all live in a military state" sang the demonstrators as they moved towards the police to provoke their arrests in acts of civil disobedience. They are right. Now what remains to be seen is: what else can be done about this?