Naive Melodies

1. Beat poet Michael McClure’s new book of poetry is called Mysteriosos. In his long and exciting career McClure has collaborated with Janis Joplin and Ray Manzarek, written influential plays like The Beard, and appeared as a character (a voice of sanity, strangely enough) in Jack Kerouac’s novel Big Sur. He’s also, in my opinion, a better nature poet than W. S. Merwin, and a whole lot more fun to read.

Mysteriosos is a wildly adventurous (typographically and otherwise) romp through existence and language. Characteristically for McClure’s work, the consciousness of the poetic narrator is not restricted to the human species, and instead generally aims for a universal or animal awareness. Sometimes this is even achieved. Check out this good book (an earlier version of which was previewed temporarily on LitKicks during our 24 Hour Poetry Party in 2004).

2. You know, I’ve often wanted to spend some time here on Litkicks examining the postmodern literary scene of the 1960s. I think the era merits a much closer examination than it currently gets among most literary experts. Here’s another cool new publication from this period: Let’s Not Keep Fighting the Trojan War by Ed Sanders, a politically serious but playfully experimental neo-Beat poet in the Ginsberg/McClure ecstatic verse tradition (though he deploys many, many other artistic influences in this attractive volume as well). Sanders often deals with history but does not appear to be stuck in the past. One piece in this book is a sketch of a flowchart, titled “Paths Through the Data Clusters in the Search For Brilliant Verse”. Indeed.

3. Probably my favorite writer from the summer-of-love era was Richard Brautigan. I don’t know if this book has been around for a while or not, but I spotted and impulse-bought Downstream From Trout Fishing in America: A Memoir of Richard Brautigan by Brautigan’s friend Keith Abbott at the St. Marks Bookstore in New York City, where some deft bookseller had thought to place it on a prominent shelf. It turns out be an illuminating read, especially the last chapter when Abbott breaks down how a Brautigan sentence or paragraph works.

4. Paradise looks like an unusual type of cinema verite film by Marc Lafia. “Look at the boy and girl, lying together in the grass, sharing grapes and grape lollipops, the presumed original and imitation sharing equal privilege of taste, neither a derivative of the other, each going with the other as well as with tongues and tastes. Bodies move on and over each other. Emotions, too,—or, better, affects as emotions are too human, too familiar; affects are indifferent to humanity, exceed humanity: affects move in, out, in, over each other.”

5. Lot of cool stuff going on in New York City. Tomorrow (Tuesday) night Slice Magazine is sponsoring an evening of Literary Jeopardy featuring contestants A. J. Jacobs, Lev Grossman, Scott Hoffman and others. The Desk Set is sponsoring a benefit called Dance Dance Library Revolution for Books Through Bars. on May 7 trend-setting is throwing a big party featuring the Golden Palominos and Rick Moody’s rock band, the Wingdale Community Singers.

6. Abandoned Books and Marginalia by Ed Champion.

7. An exhibit of Helen Keller memorabilia at New York City’s Foundation for the Blind.

8. Just plain interesting to look at: antique Russian board games from the 1920s and 30s.

9. Several Discovery Channel archeologists brushing off some rocks and grooving with a Pict.

10. How to pronounce the names of international writers. Especially useful if you’re going to PEN World Voices next month.

11. The original Prufrock-Litton building in T. S. Eliot’s St. Louis, Missouri.

12. A never-before-seen photo of Rimbaud.

13. Prison time has turned Lil’ Wayne into a blogger.

14. Jay-Z, meanwhile, reps Marcel Proust.

15. Garth Risk Hallberg, Jay Baron Nicorvo and Ted Ganoways are slapping literary fiction around.

16. Stewart Home shreds his own book. Many writers have wished to do the same.

17. Are you ready to publish that novel? (Via Bookninja).

18. Via Steve Silberman, a bunch of 5th Graders sing “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)”, a late-period Talking Heads song.

3 Responses

  1. Hey Levi – no need to post
    Hey Levi – no need to post this, but I think you have the year wrong re: the 24hrPP in #1….1994? Are you sure?

  2. I remember being very
    I remember being very impressed and thrilled by Michael McClure’s new poetry when it first appeared during the 24 hour poetry party.

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Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!