When Phong Bui asked me to edit the Critics Page of the Brooklyn Rail I felt I could not refuse, since its the only art magazine I read anymore. Ezra Pound said culture is news that stays news, and for me the Brooklyn Rail is the news.
Poet Charles Stein teaches art writing at the MFA program of the School of Visual Arts, New York. His work comprises a complexly integrated field of poems, philosophy, art theory, mathematics, translations from ancient Greek, drawings, photographs, lectures, conversations and music performances. Born in 1944 in New York City, he is the author of fourteen books of poetry. He holds a Ph.D. in literature from the University of Connecticut at Storrs.
“Im exploring the world at large and my interior dialogues at the same time.”
Gerd Stern is a poet, painter, sculptor, and media artist. His oral history, From Beat Scene Poet to Psychedelic Multimedia Artist: 19481978, was published by The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
We talked for hourssurrounded by his books and objectsabout language and its origins, about technology, US-Mexican politics, and primordial societies, themes we were pursuing in the translation of his texts.
You want to keep the classical, as one root, and have respect for the beauty of that particular cultural contribution. But then, I support not freezing a culture, especially if it’s not mine, in some attempt to keep it pure.
Growing up in Lowell, Mass., I often took the train to Boston to visit Gordon Cairnies Grolier Poetry Bookshop in Harvard Square, hoping to encounter an authentic poet.
Raised in the redwood forests of Northern California, Eric Walker turned up in San Francisco at the age of 15, his poetic identity very much intact. He believed he was the reincarnation of Arthur Rimbaudhard to deny when confronted with the astonishing flow of words and images, not to mention his stunning physical beauty.
Jazz, at its best and most essential, is a way of making music that is embodied in the musicians, in what they are imagining and playing in the moment. A fundamentally oral tradition, and one of the most sophisticated of its kind, jazz is far less ably served by written and recorded documents than almost any other kind of creative human activity. Jazz is the players; know jazz by following them, seeing them, hearing them.
When I lived in San Francisco (1977 79) the person I most wanted to meet (after Bob Kaufman) was Jordan Belson. But he had already become quite a famous recluse and all attempts were rebuffed.
Whenever I am asked which Dylan biography one should read (if you are only going to read one) my answer is always Clinton Heylin's Behind the Shades Revisited, the 2001 revised second edition of his probing and provocative 1991 classic.
Poet, musician, and translator, Louise Landes Levi was an original member of Daniel Moores fusion orchestra and experimental theater troupe the Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company in Berkeley, in the late 1960s, where she played alongside Angus MacLise and Terry Riley in outdoor productions that included Balinese gamelan, Tibetan ceremonial instruments, actors, puppets, and chant. Four decades later, Levi continues to practice this tradition in her own way.
Hard to sum up the Dylan show last week, but in short it was great, for all the reasons big music shows are usually not. It was layer upon layer of weirdness, a sense of dramatics somewhere between kabuki and Artaud's Theater of Cruelty. It was definitely a performance, but it was also terribly real.