Category Archives: Misc

My S(h)elf: Lee Harwood

I was sad to hear the news of Lee Harwood’s passing a few days ago (July 26th). He was an excellent poet and a central figure in British poetry (60s – present – and onward).  There are and will be many tributes written by those who knew him and his work. These people will have a better understanding of his work and  his lasting influence. here are a few those. 

http://hyperallergic.com/161711/why-i-am-a-member-of-the-lee-harwood-fan-club/

http://www.poetryinternationalweb.net/pi/site/poet/item/5699/29/Lee-Harwood

http://tearsinthefence.com/blog/

 

I am lucky enough to have a number of Harwood’s early collections on my shelf and one that stands out for me is ‘The Man with Blue Eyes’ which was published in 1966 by Angel Hair.

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The cover is by Joe Brainard which, along with the poems inside, shows how Harwood was writing out of and with certain aspects of American poetry most notably New York School and Beat.

the poem ‘journal. 20 may 65 london’ which was written a couple of week prior to The International Poetry Incarnation which saw the likes of Allen Ginsberg read to an audience of seven thousand people in the Royal Albert Hall. The poem itself clearly takes Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ as a starting point and reads “the new angels ……. / oh fuck these angels / an eye closed half vision / of black smoke clouds” and goes on “angel body twisted like rope / old homestead photos of fishermen / plaiting rope with creaking / papuan wood machinery”.

Another poem in the collection worth mentioning is the first one which is untitled but opens “as your eyes are blue / you move me – & the thought of you – / I imitate you”. There is also a short preface by Peter Scheldahl which states “Harwood writes about memories that refuse to fade and dreams that are never nearly enough” and goes on to describe the poems as “elegant and full of grace, which makes their human intensities bearable and their existence such a cause for awe and celebration”.

this book is now long out of print but for those wishing to read more you can buy his ‘Collected Poems’ from Shearsman here

or a shorter (cheaper) ‘Selected Poems’ also from Shearsman here

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Poetry in Motion: Poetry Documentaries

staying with poetry documentaries I watched Ron Mann’s 1982 film Poetry in Motion which features writers like Amiri Baraka, Ted Berrigan, William Burroughs and John Cage (to name a few).

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It can be watched – with Spanish subtitles – on youtube here. What was great about this documentary is the amount of footage of poets reading. The film is not just about poetry but also contains alot of poetry.

It got me thinking about how important documentary film making is in terms of gathering and preserving footage which might otherwise remain lost or forgotten about in archives. Furthermore, how documentaries can introduce poetry, poetry movements and individual poets to a wider audience. So I ask, what other poetry documentaries should I watch? Are there any on the British equivalent poetry scenes/periods (Cambridge, London, Essex etc)? What about the idea of documentaries on British or Irish poets? who would you like to see a documentary on?

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Polis Is This: Charles Olson and the Persistence of Place

I watched this decent enough documentary on the American poet Charles Olson today.

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I am always surprised by the amount of poets I meet who have never heard of Olson. This documentary is a very good, and relatively short, introduction into his life and poetry. It is entitled Polis Is This: Charles Olson and the Persistence of Place and was made in 2007 by the film maker Henry Ferrini. For $30 plus P+P you can buy the DVD.

or, thanks to the director, you can see it in six parts on YouTube

 

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