Friday, October 26, 2007

Utopian Poetic Statement from the 1960s That Will "Blow Your Mind"

This was an interesting piece from New Poetry, a contribution by Tad Richards. It provides a window into the revolutionary and utopian rhetorics of the late 1960s. Was this the voice and style of Robert Duncan? It shares certainly traces of a Ginsbergian ethos and style (notice the occasional absence of indefinite articles). What to say? It's impossible to imagine such a statement written today; part of the reason is that the rhetoric of the peace movement itself has shifted, has toughened into a kind of thinktank pragmatism. Are we better off for this shift? What do you think? As for me, time to get back to my robot pedagogy...

Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2007
From the Hot Whiskey Blog

I was just searching around in The New York Review of Books' archives and found this collaborative letter from 1968:

To the Editors:

We assembled poets respectable enough to travel across the planet to Stony Brook hereby announce to the public that we are all victims of closed vision, crippled mechanical consciousness, and bad poetry mouthed by all governments and propagandized thru controlled mass media.

That police state military tyranny, sexual repression and laws against expansion of consciousness by joyful music naked dance and high natural herbs threaten further evolution of the race. Joy to all poets' wives and lovers in every country (Herbert).

That no government except the invisible commune of poetry has become conscious that man's usurpation over all nature is an egotism that will destroy human as well as whale kingdoms thru ecological disruption of the planet surface.

That revolutions of consciousness manifested in human society by younger generations present should be protected from armed dinosaur repression and black magic violence perpetrated by the state; that everywhere Stony Brook to Vietnam the state is the cause and source of violence, state violence is preventing peaceful change. Student violence exacerbates some people (Cooperman). Poets fighting on suburban lawns drunk is also real. (Ginsberg).

That Black Power is the active American conscience, the African soul rising within our nation to force the European soul to love and the marriage of races in a new humanity. We must all work for the wedding of Asia and our continent. For Asia sulks in rejection and pride and only begins to roar in pain (Duncan)�that Black Power is an ideal vision of African Divinity resurrected to save the white rational races from suffocating the entire planet in dung colored gas�We ask return to true tribal structure in which men use society rather than be used. (Oppenheimer)�

That the U.S. utopian* war against attempted state* utopias in China and Cuba as well as Vietnam is a bring down for the entire human race�that good old Dr. Spock and friends have made pure poetic statement aiding and abetting younger bodies to avoid War Theater, that the assembled poets commit the same holy deed.�

That the new consciousness articulated by longhair revolutionary student generations Prague New York Paris Madrid Santiago everywhere on earth begins the fulfillment of human anarchy (withering away of state [Guellivic]) and communal utopia prophesized by poets for millenia�Academies should return to wisdom study in tree groves rather than robot study in plastic cells�Bless the Universe!

Robert Duncan G. E. Kimball III Stanley Cooperman Holly Stevens Donald Hall Jerome Rothenberg Ed Sanders Joel Oppenheimer Eduardo de Olivera John Logan Mackson MacLow T. Weiss Anthony Hecht Denise Levertov J.D. Reed Donald Justice Allen Ginsberg Louis Simpson Nicanor Parra George Hitchcock Robert Vas
Dias Tim Reynolds *Zbigniew Herbert *Czeslaw Milosz Anselm Hollo Clayton Eshleman George Quasha George A. Williams Tom Gatten Milton Kessler Jim Harrison,Dan Rowe Allen Planz Ann London A. J. M. Smith Ron Loweinsohn

Is this possible? Would Don Justice have signed a letter like this? Would Ted Weiss? Anthony Hecht? It seems out of character. Anyway, it's quite a list (even if you include Mackson MacLow). -- Tad Richards

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