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.
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.
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.
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.