Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Re Vision and 70s Outakes from Re Vision

"Re Vision: Outlaws, Lone Wolves and Made Poets: Bay Area Poetics from the 70s to the Present is available here. It is the talk I gave at the SPT Aggression conference. Below are some of the outtakes. There is a bit of overlap with the essay.

Triumph of Flora, 1980, The Pilot Hill Collection of Art by John Fitz Gibbon

“Begin with Tharmas Parent Power” Blake, Four Zoas. For me that is the teacher and artist John Fitz Gibbon who taught Art History at Sacramento State in the early 70s. He made me a poet. So my story starts with love and with John’s idea of paradise, the garden of love or good government. He thinks (and acts) allegorically, putting on art events at his place in Pilot Hill in which everyone is naked and there are themes like the Judgment of Paris, the Peaceable Kingdom or, as above and from later, the Triumph of Flora. So I begin, allegorical and naked, to see my life as a history painting, and me in it and I begin to write my first poems. Also at Sac State I hear Allen Ginsberg during Gay Liberation Week. I hear Diane Di Prima and Alta who is the publisher of Shameless Hussy Press. When Diane Di Prima reads it is from Loba and I am struck by the image of this female lone wolf.

Loba,Part 1, Capra Press, 1973

“…she grinned/ baring her wolf’s teeth.” Diane Di Prima, Loba. Women’s Liberation is going full out and instead of thinking that I will grow up to be a wife and a high school English teacher, I begin to imagine a different destiny for myself, as a poet. I read Philip Whalen and Gary Snyder to find out how to do that. Loba is in the back of my mind. I take a Bob Dylan class. He and the Beats are my first living poets. I read Philip Whalen’s On Bear’s Head with the same transfixed passion I later read Jack Spicer. For the first time since I was a kid, I begin to write poems. Influenced by my Dylan class, I think of them as ‘talking blues.’ I think of the writers I like as outlaws and of being an outlaw as my duty. The first two poems of mine that are published, in 1973, appear in a stapled zine called Nevermind. Among the contributors are Alta and Laura Chester. My poems are titled “On Being Fired From the Job of Housekeeper for Immoral Acts” and “An Examination of the Anima in the Work of Bob Dylan.”

Nevermind, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1973, edited by Melinda Barry & Ingrid Swanberg, cover by Barbara McGee .
I transfer from Sac State to Cal, study with Tom Parkinson, first meet Robert Duncan in Parkinson’s class, study Blake with Donald Ault, have a class with Svetlana Alpers to which Patty Hearst doesn’t show up after she is kidnapped by the SLA. Behind me in the big auditorium of the giant survey class, one of her friends says to the other, “Patty kidapped?”

At the time, I am writing by looking at art and spend a huge amount of time at the Berkeley Art Museum. I admire Joan Brown. I see the poster of her Wolf in Studio painting everywhere. I go to her office hours at Cal but find I have nothing to say. You can’t simply say, “I think we share the same lover or I wanted to meet you because I want my writing to be in some way like your art” so I don’t say it but that’s what I want. I am in a Rhetoric class taught by Leonard Nathan and am invited to be part of a reading group with Leonard Nathan and Josephine Miles – possibly at the house of Lawrence and Justine Fixell. This is quite an august group but the experience scares the hell out of me and I only go once. Miles is an influential teacher and the first woman to be tenured by the English department at Cal (much later I learn she was a friend of Jack Spicer). She was very disabled by arthritis, and had to me, a kind of Linda Hunt in Dune feel about her, but I don’t study with her or connect with her work. I also don’t find that Donald Ault thinks much of contemporary poetry so I don’t join his Blake club. Hot on the trail of my new identity, I need to be with people who believe in contemporary writing and its power to change oneself and everything else. I am already with Jerry Estrin at this point and we are sort of lone wolves together. But Ault’s sense of Blake has enabled my own work and I call my individual major “The Practice of Poetry” from Blake’s statement in his engraving the of Laocoon.

“Practice is Poetry

If you leave off you are lost” William Blake

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Blogger Kevin Killian said...

"[Josephine Miles] was very disabled by arthritis, and had to me, a kind of Helen Hunt in Dune feel about her, but I don’t study with her or connect with her work." Our two great Oscar winners are often mistaken for one another, but I believe you are probably thinking of Linda Hunt not Helen. If, in the future, you would like to have your celebrity references vetted, my office is always open to you, Laura.

9:46 AM  
Blogger Laura Moriarty said...

Yes, yes. Silly me. Linda Hunt it is. In the future I will certainly avail myself of your offer, Kevin!

10:10 AM  
Blogger editor @ uglybrandnews dot c0m said...

Hi Laura:

It's great to see photos from The Triumph of Flora.

Good to read your blog.

David Newman
San Francisco

5:15 PM  

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