Alchemists of the Word & Spirits of the Wood & Stone

Allen Ginsberg reading at The Troubadour, Los Angeles -- January 25, 1977 -- photo by Mark Weber ---- I miss Allen Ginsberg.  More correctly: I miss knowing that Allen Ginsberg is alive and out there in the world somewhere being Allen Ginsberg -- He was a brave & valiant (and crazy) man -- As in: Crazy, baby

Allen Ginsberg reading at The Troubadour, Los Angeles — January 25, 1977 — photo by Mark Weber —- I miss Allen Ginsberg. More correctly: I miss knowing that Allen Ginsberg is alive and out there in the world somewhere being Allen Ginsberg — He was a brave & valiant (and crazy) man — As in: Crazy, baby

ALCHEMISTS OF THE WORD & SPIRITS OF THE WOOD & STONE

Collage by d.a. levy from the collection of Ed Sanders -- photo by MW 8oct88Most of us who did not live in Cleveland first heard the name of poet d.a. levy (1942-1968) through Gary Snyder’s essay “The Dharma Eye of D.A. Levy” in his book THE OLD WAYS (City Lights, 1977)(This is really a great book, I just reread it, wow.) And so when I moved to Cleveland in June 1986 I dug around and found a copy downtown at Old Erie Street Bookstore of levy’s posthumous collection ukanhavyrfuckincitibak (Ghost City Press, 1970, publisher T.L. Kryss) and also at Mac’s Backs in Coventry found COLLECTED POEMS (Druid Books, 1976). His poetry is highly politicized, a narrative poetry of deep inner self, you can feel him on the page, and believe him. The conundrum of birth and death obsessed him. Also, he seems to have dabbled in peyote use. He also used a lot of lower-case typefaces and I’m fairly certain he was not influenced by e.e. cummings in this (nor were any of the other 60s poets who used lower case — judging from my own experience it had more to do with the look of it and the difference of it and the way it called attention to the words). Luckily, a lot of work survives. And who couldn’t like a guy who would write a verse like this: “if i write ERIE/ in pastels next to the kitchen sink &/ the mushroom stones..will some decrepit/ archeologist climb out of the drain/ with flint arrowheads or obsidian fig-/ urines wrapped in his fat handkerchief?”

I say “alchemists” because poetry is made of a cauldron of ingredients boiled down to a mere drop — a wisp of gentle breeze. Like driving on a freeway late at night. All encumbrances to the poem have fell away, a poem should be light as a feather, till the words disappear. I still prefer reading poetry on the page sitting under a tree in the vicinity of water. Such evocations of a pastoral time lost in myth.

But then again, a poem can be anything, a shopping list, a shipping manifest, an inventory of goats, a diatribe, a curse & call to arms, the babbling of the insane, a song for the dead, directions scribbled on a piece of bamboo leaf and set adrift downstream, heroic, contrary, numinous, mercurial, enigmatic, picaresque, lyrical, didactic, confessional, plainspeak, ecstatic, adjective-laden hallucinations, pipe dreams . . . . Or, as Johnny Mercer has it: “Often I think this sad old world is whistling in the dark/ Just like a child, who, late from school/ Walks bravely home through the park.”

I don’t personally care to have to puzzle out what a poet is trying to say with their words — I prefer it to be said forthwith and be done with the words.

“… literary and linguistic tradition embodies ideas and images which impose, permit and limit different ways of seeing the world — they have their own historic weight” — J.M. Roberts, Prehistory and the First Civilizations, (1998).

As well, I have come to realize that the language one speaks actually shapes their face. Speech and musculature. You know, before Homo habilis (approx. 2 mya) mankind didn’t have the mouth structure anatomy to speak, he could only shriek. Talking had to evolve.

I’ve been aware of Fred Voss since his work began showing up in the pages of WORMWOOD in the early 80s. There is a telepathic intelligence at work there.

Roy Moss had a deep resonant organ-chorded voice, if he was a singer he’d be Arthur Prysock, he could rumble out a story about taking his boys to see Thelonious Monk in the Village, driving into the city from Far Rockaway while showing me his carving tools. Roy was a friend of mine. I had done some house painting for him and Harriet. They had moved to the Rio Rancho suburb of Albuquerque in 1980 when he retired from the auto parts retail business. He listen’d to my radio show. He would coach me in Yiddish phrases that I was mangling on my show. He taught me a lot of words and even got me to revisit Philip Larkin of whom I had come to dislike strongly because of his antediluvian opinions on modern jazz (Larkin was a British jazz critic and poet). It was his son David Moss, the avant jazz drummer & monologist who gave me this wood sculpture after Roy had passed.

Ronald Baatz is a poet of the Catskill Mountains. His poems are electroplated. Trigger’d. Ithaka. Ancient and waterfalls. Another intelligence at work illuminated, sometimes playful. Ronald could probably tell us what the ancient petroglyphs are saying to us.

Mark Weber 3&4jan2o15

d.a. levy was a poet of Cleveland ----- The Flats, Cuyahoga River near it's joining Lake Erie, downtown  Cleveland, Terminal Tower & Sohio Building (now it's called something else) -- photo by Mark Weber --  July 30, 1986

d.a. levy was a poet of Cleveland —– The Flats, Cuyahoga River near it’s joining Lake Erie, downtown Cleveland, Terminal Tower & Sohio Building (now it’s called something else) — photo by Mark Weber — July 30, 1986

Ed Sanders rehearsing for his performance at "days of rain & fire: d.a. levy 20 years after,"  Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio -- October 7, 8, 9, 1988 -- Ed was staying  with us at our apartment in Coventry and that's my writing desk in the picture -- photo by  Mark Weber --- October 8, 1988

Ed Sanders rehearsing for his performance at “days of rain & fire: d.a. levy 20 years after,” Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio — October 7, 8, 9, 1988 — Ed was staying with us at our apartment in Coventry and that’s my writing desk in the picture — photo by Mark Weber — October 8, 1988

Reading at d.a. levy's grave: Section B, Lot 517 #1 (he shares grave with a Emma Walz), Whitehaven  Memorial Park, 615 S.O.M. Center Road, Mayfield, Ohio -- October 8, 1988 -- photo by Mark Weber --  L to R: Joel Lipmann(?), unknown, Ed Sanders, Geoff Singer -- note that Ed is reading from ukanhavyrfuckincitibak ---- that day of the conference a dozen of us went around Cleveland to  various locations specific to levy's writings and read his poems

Reading at d.a. levy’s grave: Section B, Lot 517 #1 (he shares grave with a Emma Walz), Whitehaven Memorial Park, 615 S.O.M. Center Road, Mayfield, Ohio — October 8, 1988 — photo by Mark Weber — L to R: Joel Lipmann(?), unknown, Ed Sanders, Geoff Singer — note that Ed is reading from ukanhavyrfuckincitibak —- that day of the conference a dozen of us went around Cleveland to various locations specific to levy’s writings and read his poems

Fred Voss, Joan Jobe Smith, & Marvin Malone, publisher of WORMWOOD REVIEW -- April 20, 1995 -- CSULB Long Beach, California -- photo by Mark Weber -- WR (1959-1999) was quite an influence on the American underground literary scene, be sure and see the WORMWOOD website (Marvin even managed to squeeze me into a few issues)

Fred Voss, Joan Jobe Smith, & Marvin Malone, publisher of WORMWOOD REVIEW — April 20, 1995 — CSULB Long Beach, California — photo by Mark Weber — WR (1959-1999) was quite an influence on the American underground literary scene, be sure and see the WORMWOOD website (Marvin even managed to squeeze me into a few issues)

Fred Voss is a poet of Los Angeles ----- photo by Mark Weber shot from moving car on Santa Monica  Freeway looking northwest across L.A. River toward downtown -- October 26, 1980

Fred Voss is a poet of Los Angeles —– photo by Mark Weber shot from moving car on Santa Monica Freeway looking northwest across L.A. River toward downtown — October 26, 1980

Joan throwing gang sign ---- July 27, 1990 Long Beach -- Joan Jobe Smith and Fred Voss -- photo by Mark Weber -- Joan's memoir TALES OF AN ANCIENT GO-GO GIRL has finally been published (January 2o14) last week

Joan throwing gang sign —- July 27, 1990 Long Beach — Joan Jobe Smith and Fred Voss — photo by Mark Weber — Joan’s memoir TALES OF AN ANCIENT GO-GO GIRL has finally been published (January 2o14) last week

Fred Voss and Todd Moore -- Great Bend, Kansas, Poetry Rendezvous -- August 6, 1995 -- photo by Mark  Weber

Fred Voss and Todd Moore — Great Bend, Kansas, Poetry Rendezvous — August 6, 1995 — photo by Mark Weber

Pages 1 & 2 original draft of poem "My Place" by Fred Voss -- collection of Mark Weber --  I've had this framed and hanging on the wall in my typing room for years

Pages 1 & 2 original draft of poem "My Place" by Fred Voss -- collection of Mark Weber --  I've had this framed and hanging on the wall in my typing room for years

Pages 1 & 2 original draft of poem “My Place” by Fred Voss — collection of Mark Weber — I’ve had this framed and hanging on the wall in my typing room for years

Original typescript poem by Fred Voss -- circa mid-1990s -- photo of Fred Voss & Joan Jobe Smith,  December 1994 by Linda King ------- collection of Mark Weber

Original typescript poem by Fred Voss — circa mid-1990s — photo of Fred Voss & Joan Jobe Smith, December 1994 by Linda King ——- collection of Mark Weber

3 haiku by Ronald Baatz -- August 1996 ---- from the collection of Mark Weber -- I've  had this framed on the wall in my typing room for years . . . .

3 haiku by Ronald Baatz — August 1996 —- from the collection of Mark Weber — I’ve had this framed on the wall in my typing room for years . . . .

Watercolor by Ronald Baatz -- July 1997 -- collection of Mark Weber

Watercolor by Ronald Baatz — July 1997 — collection of Mark Weber

Shoshone petroglyphs circa 2500 years ago (and some as old as the end of the last ice age 16,000  years ago) ---- Coso Mountain Range, China Lake -- May 18, 1985 -- photo by Mark Weber in search of  the first poems

Shoshone petroglyphs circa 2500 years ago (and some as old as the end of the last ice age 16,000 years ago) —- Coso Mountain Range, China Lake — May 18, 1985 — photo by Mark Weber in search of the first poems

Two poets of the blues having a cig: Big Joe Turner and George Harmonica Smith -- Long Beach, California --  July 20, 1980 -- photo by Mark Weber -- (that's Bernie Pearl with a pencil over his ear) -- KLON first-annual  Blues & Gospel Festival, Veterans' Memorial Stadium

Two poets of the blues having a cig: Big Joe Turner and George Harmonica Smith — Long Beach, California — July 20, 1980 — photo by Mark Weber — (that’s Bernie Pearl with a pencil over his ear) — KLON first-annual Blues & Gospel Festival, Veterans’ Memorial Stadium

Human form, circa 1990s -- wood sculpture by Roy Moss (1917-2009) -- collection of Mark Weber

Human form, circa 1990s — wood sculpture by Roy Moss (1917-2009) — collection of Mark Weber

8 Comments

  1. Of course your posting here is closer to my heart and knowledge than many of your more esoteric jazz thoughts, memories, and pictures, but I have bookmarked this dazzling, multimedia presentation to read again. You are a phenom, my love.

  2. Hi Mark, Happy New Year to you and Janet! Allen Ginsberg made a big impression on my creativity at just the right time in my life, and love your use of the word alchemists in the context of art. Well done. Last night I finally learned Clare Fischer’s Pensativa and that insane bridge, that for me anyway was always more out of my reach than Giant Steps. I learned it on keyboard (D flat major, yikes!!) so now I should be able to solo on it on flute. Now I just need some musicians to play with. I miss all you guys so much and wishing you the best of everything for 2015!!

  3. Hey Mark,
    Good to see the photo of George Harmonica Smith, I saw him at the San Francisco Blues Festival in 1978 and also many times his protégé the late machinist/blues man William Clarke who died an untimely death at age 45.Thanks Mark for those great photos of Marvin Malone and Todd Moore and of Joan and I and my holograph poem (crazy handwriting!). It’s been good knowing you all these years. — Fred Voss

  4. I remember Ed said that he and levy were “the in-betweens” (or something like that) being in-between the Beats and the hippie generation, with a sense of not really belonging to either

  5. Thanks for the reminder about Gary Snyder’s essay about levy. I took Snyder’s Danger on Peaks with me on my bike rides this summer—read it on a bench on a trail under a freeway bridge in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

  6. Joan Jobe Smith

    January 14, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    howdy rowdy mark…
    anyway, wow, whatta surprise to see pix of Fred and me along with Ginsberg!
    You sure get/get around, Markeroo… jeez, at the Troubador in 1977… I saw Buk there
    twice in 1976…
    and Fred w/Todd! ohhh, but dear god, do I look hideous in that one w/Marvin Malone…
    reason why: I was SO sick… deathly ill… even my teeth are crooked… I was bloated with edema from surgery… took months to get well… look how diff in the later one Linda King took…
    ohh–and near-death allergy to Premarin… hey, ask Janet to tell you the horrors of Premarin…
    (I took it post-hyst)… god, it nearly killed me w/abdominable IBS stuff…. I do NOT do drugs well…
    very abnormal metabolism… am allergic to everything…Mark, my hair fell out, too! stopped taking it a month after Malone pic and finally in Linda King pic my hair was growing back…

    and that old poem of Fred’s–one of his tenderest best…
    … love to you and your web… joan…thanks sweetie pie…

  7. Carol Tristano

    July 9, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Just catching up to this. So great seeing these photos – especially of Fred and Joan- two great poets. Fred’s “My Place” is so touching and I love it that you had it framed. I am currently reading Fred’s “Making America Strong”. This is a fantastic book and gives even more weight and insight into his poetry. The world he comes from is an important one to be written about – acknowledged. I’ve been reading the poetry and books (Joan’s Go-Go Tales) of these two artists in tandem. Their lives strike me as a duet that started long before they met – and I know they met through their respective poems in Wormwood Review! Their personal stories and poetry reflect something so unique about humanity – they both have true guts! The real thing.

  8. Joan Jobe Voss

    July 26, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    Carol just today posted this link to me of this so I have gazed again at my life passing by before my eyes–figuratively and literally… wow… thank you, Carol Tristano for your enthusiasm abt Fred’s and my writings… you are one of the finest artists I’ve ever met… thank you Mark for your brilliant posts abt jazz, poetry, and cool happenings in the arts we share a grand love for..

Leave a Reply

© 2016 Mark Weber

Theme by Anders Noren adapted for M.etropolis by RavanHUp ↑

%d bloggers like this: