Category Archives: Writing Life

links and asides about writing craft, writer’s lives, creative processes and publishing + discourse about literature

Memo: Poets and “Major Media”

In reply to someone’s “hot take” about how major media doesn’t give a shit about poetry (whatever)…. I replied: 

Do any poets give a shit about major media? 

Roll your own chap books, build your own culture, wander widely to find your audience, make *things* every day, stick poems to message boards in grocery stores & telephone poles next to lost cat flyers, mail 500 poetic postcards a year, find the renegade youth to mentor, transcribe stories from grandmothers, but every used great copy of poetry you come across for $3 and abandon them on buses with a note, go *everywhere* just to find coffee shops with a good table in the back corner and write so fast you’re inky pens run out.

Then paint poems on post boxes, make a painting of the poem on the post box and do an exhibit with other paintings of post boxes with poems (preferably at a goat farm in the country)…

Strangely, people show up, people ask questions, people want to be part of whatever it is that they’re doing even if you or them don’t understand it.

Doing these things, I find very little time for erstwhile mass media or even submissions to *highbrow* literary journals (plus rejection letters need a return address and well, I don’t always have one).

Poetry is for you to create and share with those who seek the goods. Carry on accordingly. 

Quote: “A poet makes himself a visionary” Rimbaud

snippet of poetry by me (Dave Olson) for illustrative & amusement purposes 

“A poet makes himself a visionary through a long, boundless, and systematized disorganization of all the senses. All forms of love, of suffering, of madness; he searches himself, he exhausts within himself all poisons, and preserves their quintessences. Unspeakable torment, where he will need the greatest faith, a superhuman strength, where he becomes all men the great invalid, the great criminal, the great accursed–and the Supreme Scientist! For he attains the unknown! “

Arthur Rimbaud 

 

The History of Female Fire Lookouts (via Smithsonian)…

More about history of Fire Lookouts and their mountain perches, this one from the Smithsonian focusing on intrepid women doing the lonely work by Dina Gachman, March 29, 2021

Hallie Morse Daggett became the first female to serve as a Forest Service fire lookout. (Forest History Society, Durham, NC)

“Women have earned their place in the history of forest fire lookouts,” says Dixie Boyle, a longtime lookout and author going into her 34th season. She staffs a tower in the Cibola National Forest in New Mexico’s Manzano Mountains. Men like author Jack Kerouac brought attention to the job when he wrote about the 63 days he spent as a fire lookout in the summer of 1956 in books like The Dharma Bums and Desolation Angels, but it’s women like Hallie Morse Daggett, Helen Dowe and Boyle herself who deserve our attention.

Helen Dowe watches for fires from the Devil’s Head Fire Lookout in Pike National Forest, Colorado, in 1919. An Osborne Fire Finder is on the table. (Corbis via Getty Images)

Source: The History of Female Fire Lookouts | History | Smithsonian Magazine

Quote: Jerry riffs about Jack

“wake now discover that you are the eyes of the world”

 More Jack Kerouac riffs (in case you’re not getting enough) this one from the mighty Jerry Garcia

“I can’t separate who I am now from what I got from Kerouac. I don’t know if I would ever have had the courage or the vision to do something outside with my life – or even suspected the possibilities existed – if it weren’t for Kerouac opening those doors.”

Jerry Garcia, remembering Jack Kerouac who was born in Lowell, MA on March 12, 1922

Hats for Brautigan Books (for Marty and Willis)

Richard Brautigan’s “So the Wind Won’t Blow it all Away” and “In Watermelon Sugar” on the kura shelf with hats from Oman and Nepal

Hats not required for books unless requested.

{In this case: Richard Brautigan x 2 (of several but not all) > many lost along the way, including my favourite “Rommel Drives Deep Into Egypt” and his book from Japan “June 30th June 30th”.}

How to rent fire lookout tower…

(Just another) article about Fire Lookouts, origins, backstories, notable residents and how to rent… by Ben Goldfarb (original date Sept. 4, 2020)

Edward Abbey, the late author and environmental activist, worked as a lookout in the Grand Canyon (and by all accounts did an abysmal job). The poet Gary Snyder, stationed at Sourdough Mountain in Washington, described “Looking down for miles / Through high still air.”

++

Snyder extolled the lookout life to his friend, Jack Kerouac, who spent a summer on Desolation Peak and mined the experience for material in his novels. Although he’d expected quiet contemplation, Kerouac spent his tenure swatting bugs and craving cigarettes so badly that he smoked coffee grounds in desperation. “Many’s the time I thought I’d die, suspire of boredom, or jump off the mountain,” he lamented in “Desolation Angels.”

++

I am not, in general, in favor of human-built structures on otherwise untrammeled landscapes. It brings me joy to see derelict chalets dissolved to moldering timbers or roads vanish beneath thimbleberry and huckleberry.
But I’ll make an exception for fire towers, which, during this tragic, disorienting summer, have brought me and Elise bliss and perspective — and, I suspect, provided thousands of other people with the same pleasures. Even Jack Kerouac could probably use one right now.

Source: How to rent fire lookout tower: via CNN Travel

Quote: “book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse,…” Baudelaire

“A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors.”

Charles Baudelaire

 

Richard Brautigan: Poems and Telegrams

“Poems are telegrams of the human soul”

– Richard Brautigan

I would get this tattooed but then I’m not allowed in the Hot Springs so, just sharing it this way instead.

PS he’s rather overshadowed by some of the “beats” but really the guy I emulate most in my humble efforts

Note: thanks to Franco Coco Denis on FB

The Houseboat Summit: February, 1967, Sausalito, Calif. Featuring Timothy Leary, Gary Snyder, Alan Watts and Allen Ginsberg

The Houseboat Summit: February, 1967, Sausalito, Calif. Featuring Timothy Leary, Gary Snyder, Alan Watts and Allen Ginsberg

Angus MacLise – The Kathmandu Cycle | Sea Urchin Editions

This cassette is SOLD OUT, but i want it and to learn more about Angus MacLise, ergo::

American poet, percussionist, calligrapher, actor, occultist and publisher Angus MacLise (1938-1979) counts as one of the central figures of the ‘counterculture’ of the 1960s and 1970s. MacLise was a member of La Monte Young’s The Theatre of Eternal Music, contributed to the early Fluxus newspaper VTre, founded the Dead Language Press together with his friend Piero Heliczer (in some of whose films he appeared), was the Velvet Underground’s first drummer, and co-founded the legendary Spirit Catcher bookstore in Kathmandu. MacLise produced scores for the underground classics Chumlum by Ron Rice and Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda by Ira Cohen and, together with his wife Hetty McGee, edited Aspen Magazine #9 in 1971. Maclise married Hetty soon after he had left (or some say had been kicked out of) an early incarnation of the Velvet Underground in 1965 and had moved to California, where Timothy Leary led their wedding ceremony in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. No sooner had the couple finished their work for Aspen Magazine in 1971 than they travelled to British Columbia, where they wanted to settle down but were refused visas. They eventually found a new home after having followed the hippie trail to Kathmandu, Nepal, where their son Ossian was recognised as a reincarnated Lama by the Karmapa, the head of the Karma Kagyu. Angus MacLise was a heavy drug user and his addiction to opium and heroin in combination with a relentlessly creative and fiercely uncompromising lifestyle proved fatal. MacLise, only 41 years old, died in Kathmandu in 1979 and was cremated there according to the traditions of Tibetan Buddhists.

During his stay in Kathmandu in the 1970s, MacLise occasionally made trips to the west. Together with his wife and son and in the company of Ira Cohen and Petra Vogt, he travelled to Paris in 1975. And one year later he read poems during the Millennium Poetry and Multimedia Performance in New York City. The recording of this reading, dubbed directly from the master tape, has now been released on cassette by Counter Culture Chronicles. Against a background of Nepalese music recorded by MacLise himself, the poet is heard reading seminal works in a sensitive, at times even vulnerable voice. This cassette is in all respects a genuine and rare countercultural gem from René van der Voort’s amazing label.

Source: Angus MacLise – The Kathmandu Cycle | Sea Urchin Editions

 

Quote: Farewell Letter > Gabriel Garcia Marquez

NOTE: For reasons of health, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Colombia’s illustrious Nobel Laureate for literature, has declared his retirement from public life. He has terminal cancer and sends this letter of farewell to friends and lovers of literature.

This charming, beautiful last letter from the dying writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez is too beautiful, heartfelt and inspiring to not read.

As such, read on and go hug, kiss and tell people you love them:

** Farewell Letter **

by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

If God, for a second, forgot what I have become and granted me a little bit more of life, I would use it to the best of my ability.

I wouldn’t, possibly, say everything that is in my mind, but I would be more thoughtful l of all I say.

I would give merit to things not for what they are worth, but for what they mean to express.

I would sleep little, I would dream more, because I know that for every minute that we close our eyes, we waste 60 seconds of light.

I would walk while others stop; I would awake while others sleep.

If God would give me a little bit more of life, I would dress in a simple manner, I would place myself in front of the sun, leaving not only my body, but my soul naked at its mercy.

To all men, I would say how mistaken they are when they think that they stop falling in love when they grow old, without knowing that they grow old when they stop falling in love.

I would give wings to children, but I would leave it to them to learn how to fly by themselves.

To old people I would say that death doesn’t arrive when they grow old, but with forgetfulness.

I have learned so much with you all, I have learned that everybody wants to live on top of the mountain, without knowing that true happiness is obtained in the journey taken & the form used to reach the top of the hill.

I have learned that when a newborn baby holds, with its little hand, his father’s finger, it has trapped him for the rest of his life.

I have learned that a man has the right and obligation to look down at another man, only when that man needs help to get up from the ground.

Say always what you feel, not what you think. If I knew that today is the last time that that I am going to see you asleep, I would hug you with all my strength and I would pray to the Lord to let me be the guardian angel of your soul.

If I knew that these are the last moments to see you, I would say “I love you.”

There is always tomorrow, and life gives us another opportunity to do things right, but in case I am wrong, and today is all that is left to me, I would love to tell you how much I love you & that I will never forget you.

Tomorrow is never guaranteed to anyone, young or old. Today could be the last time to see your loved ones, which is why you mustn’t wait; do it today, in case tomorrow never arrives. I am sure you will be sorry you wasted the opportunity today to give a smile, a hug, a kiss, and that you were too busy to grant them their last wish.

Keep your loved ones near you; tell them in their ears and to their faces how much you need them and love them. Love them and treat them well; take your time to tell them “I am sorry,” “forgive me, “please,” “thank you,” and all those loving words you know.

Nobody will know you for your secret thought. Ask the Lord for wisdom and strength to express them.

Show your friends and loved ones how important they are to you.

Send this letter to those you love. If you don’t do it today…tomorrow will be like yesterday, and if you never do it, it doesn’t matter either, the moment to do it is now.

For you, with much love,

Your Friend,
Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Quote: J. Kerouac, I needed solitude and just stop the machine of “thinking”

…I came to a point where I needed solitude and just stop the machine of “thinking” and “enjoying” what they call “living,” I just wanted to lie in the grass and look at the clouds
 
— Jack Kerouac
Alone On A Mountaintop
Lonesome Traveler
Photo Note: This is the Fire lookout on Desolation Peak in the North Cascades of Washington State where Kerouac spent 63 days in the summer of ‘56. Taken from an on line article. More great pictures from John Suiter’s Poets on the Peaks, 2002. h/t Kenneth Morris