Friday, March 31, 2006

The Stakes: Defining American Literature

The stakes are nothing less than that. Is American literature the voices of the people, the land, the streets? Or is it that imposed from on high by bureaucrats in institutions and academies?

The mandarins of lit, as represented with the Miller Hall group, see literature as the society sees approved art-- of, by, and for the upper classes and maintained in exclusive museums which do nothing so much as point out the art's separation from the social world.

The stakes for underground writers are very high. We're fighting for our history-- to retain traces of our words and ideas. We're fighting against a society that would wipe us and our words out; that would extinguish every shred of memory of outsider writers. Only the approved kind will stand, according to the wishes of some. Ginsberg, a stray outsider who made noise is being embraced and absorbed by Insiders as a way to defang what he stood for; to smooth the disruption of the Beats against status quo culture and leave no ripples in the literary pond.

Mark Doty speaks in the current American Poetry Review about Ginsberg's dissent against "spirit-crushing monolithic Moloch." Re-read the Moloch passages of "Howl." Moloch today is a thousand times stronger than it was in Ginsberg's time. The corporations are a thousand times more intrusive and omnipresent. They own rebellion itself!-- which has become merely a commodity; they own the t-shirts and the hipster poses of the slave captives of consumerist culture.

The literary world today is a thousand times more conformist than it was in Ginsberg's day, when he put the words to "Howl" onto a page. There are a thousand more things now to Howl about.

63 comments:

King said...

A word about DIY. I've been DIY my entire life! I've seen countless great writers and poets (ever hear of Jim Gustafson from Detroit?) die and vanish, their words vanishing with them. Their words-- the TRUE literature of our time.
How do we save our words?
Do we put them in time capsules, as the awesome zeen writer Violet Jones is doing to try to preserve SOME shred of the existence of the great explosion of zeens in the 90s?
Why don't the mandarins celebrate THAT movement?
Is it too close to home?
Too current?
Too real?
They embrace instead a token from fifty years ago whose words are already preserved.
As I've said before, they celebrate nothing so much as their own dominance.
We in the ULA didn't create this monopolistic civilization; we're just trying to deal with it.

King said...

I'll tell you this:
BECAUSE American literature by and large today belongs to a tiny sliver of the populace, the true story of America isn't being told.
The destruction of an entire class of people isn't being told-- the story I've witnessed with my own eyes the last twenty-five years; a story which is ongoing.
One has to believe that the mandarins wish this story would vanish forever, unrecorded; saved on scraps of paper sold at garage sales.
I've talked about this often with writers like Michael Grover and Frank Walsh.
I assume I'll be dead within five years-- and act accordingly.
For me, increasingly, there is in this economy no place.
Hell, I died seven years ago in an apartment fire in Detroit. I'm just hanging around to stir things up.
Some writers in this society have nothing to lose. I live out of a suitcase and a storage facility.
I'm challenged by life on a daily basis-- as are so many others I see around me.
What are the mandarins to us-- those who've never been challenged during their entire existence?
How could they ever debate us? read against us? compete against us were it not for their control increasingly of all of society's resources?
Howl? Who has something to howl about?
We'll be howling! You can count on that.

M.D.G. said...

King you know that I know who Jim Gustafson was. I believe I showed you one of his Poems in an anthology I had and we read it correct? This is my question to you sir. What constitutes an underground writer? I'm sorry King I cannot sit back and watch you push this phony as a street Poet that spouts more academic giberish than the Norton Anthology. What merit does he have as a writer? Is he a writer or just a showpony. He can have poetic wrestling matches, he can read Ginsbergs poems, the question is can he read his own and truly be entertaining. I'm sorry I have to start this Karl you know I like you and respect you. I told you a long time ago you have to be careful as to who you associate yourself with. If you are gonna push a peice of shit like Frank Walsh who is just like the president, all phony and spiritual in talk, and quite the opposite in action then you have no room to talk about what other people are doing. Remember my job here is only to expose the truth in a world of lies and illusions as should be any Poets job these days. So lets begin shall we?

M.D.G. said...

Don't use my name in the same breathe as his King. He is not in the same league as me. Besides that he is a thief and a liar and just a big phony. You may not mind being associated with Frank Walsh, but I do.

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

Just got a letter from Cousin Greg. Funny how that stamp that "JAIL MAIL" on there. He's doing 10 on trafficking 5 lbs. or more and PFO II (Persistent Felony Offender).

King said...

Mike, all you're doing is showing yourself to be a divisive force. This is counterproductive to any sense of an underground-- and kind of proves where the problem lies in the dispute you have with Frank.
Why attack a fellow undergrounder at a crucial time, when we're trying to unite against the establishment fakes?
By so doing, you serve the purposes of establishment fakes.
Action?
There will be action April 17th-- real action.
You were invited to participate.
Frank is complete underground-- supporting himself by working odd jobs.
He's been working class all his life.
That he tries to bring poetry to the people is all to the good. This is what ALL poets have done since time immemorial.
(At least since Shakespeare, who was a poet and also an actor.)
BTw, I saw Gustafson read in Detroit more than once while he was alive-- he lived in the same building as my ex-lit co-editor Max Sitting. Gustafson died in that building, at too young an age.
Life is too short to hold grievances. Your problem is that you walk around with them-- and just end up alienating people who've wanted to be on your side.
Like so many writers, your biggest enemy is yourself. Someday you'll figure that out.
Peace. Out.

King said...

p.s. Please don't tell me whose name I can or cannot use. I've gone where I wanted and said what I wanted to say since I was a young man, and will continue to do so. Thank you.

M.D.G. said...

Divisive force me? Whatever Karl, that's just your own propaganda working. You will think what you want of me. I have read at two ULA readings and I stole the show at both ones and you cannot deny facts. You are just mad cause you could not control me. You would not even know Frank Walsh if it wasn't for me. If someone had done to you what Frank Walsh has done to me, you might hold a grudge too. The fact is all he does is use people. He used me to network with people like you. He tried to use me to create the Poets Union website and when he realised i would not do it without having an oppinion he went crazy. That is your idea of bohemian and underground? A parasite? You've told me that yourself about Frank Karl you know it's the truth. If the Beats had done these things to each other they would have killed each other off. And if you really wanna talk about holding grudges I am still getting reports of Franky goin around Philly blaming me for shit. But I'm the divisive one. You've been listening to Frank my friend. You do not represent the underground meerly focus our attention of insignificant things like readings of Howl, while we've got bigger fish to fry out there. Maybe I would attack any univercity named Columbia, but not for that reason.

King said...

You're a good reader, Mike, when you practice, but please don't overrate yourself.
Let me know sometime about all the big fish you're frying.

King said...

"Franky called me bad names and then he took my lunch money and then he was mean to me and he's been saying bad things about me to other kids, and . . . and . . . snif!"
If you have a problem with me, e-mail me privately, but otherwise this isn't the time or place for it, and you well know it. Thank you.

M.D.G. said...

Over rate myself? You son of bitch. You've done it now Karl. My job as a Poet is to expose the fake with reality. Remember that. Enjoy your reading with your lame readers.

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

More drama here than the penitentiary....heh, heh.

Jeff Potter said...

My take on the Grover / Walsh conflict is that it shows how diverse the underground is and what the ULA opportunity is.

We're intense folks and we don't all get along. Who cares, we can still get some good work done.

I met G and W and heard them both read and they're different kinds of gunpowder. It's something to see!

The good thing about the ULA is it presents situations where very different, highly flammable people can do something together without giving up independence. To what extent we cooperate depends on how much we can stand each other.

G and W are obviously not synergizing right now. Even though they're both maniacs they WERE INDEED synergizing when I saw them read together. It would be good if they could fly a flag of truce at special events where they'd make a bigger impact together than ever on their own.

The ULA exists to make those opportunities happen in various ways. It's our only way to push the scene over the barriers. Afterward, do your thing, settle your scores.

King said...

Mike, you're the guy who told those Swarthmore people you wouldn't read if I was included! This after I blew you out of the water at both the Blue Grotto (when you lamely tried heckling me) and at Nat's art gallery thing.
It is what it is.
You're consistent-- others like Walsh have lower lows but also higher highs. You've never wanted to admit how good his "Reagan's Brain" poem is. (Too insecure in your own art and talent to do this?) That crazed rant of his might be the best poem of the kind SINCE "Howl."
Anyway, as I said, this is no place for this kind of discussion. You seem to like initiating arguments with people. I've told you before not to try arguing with me-- you'd be out of your league.
Best of luck wherever you're at!
Sayanara.

King said...

(p.s. Mike couldn't see that my casual mention of him was a peace gesture. Such gesture still stands. . . .)

the MP said...

MU!

the MP said...

MU!

the MP said...

MU!

M.D.G. said...

Peace Gesture? Nah I wouldn't wanna over rate myself Karl. Go on and protest your Howl reading with. Since Walsh ain't sayin alot ask him where my cd's are.

the MP said...

MU?

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

(hand up) oh lemme guess....marijuana usage...right? hee hee hee hee hee...!
if ya ain't then ya should....
ka ha ha!

M.D.G. said...

Moo!

the MP said...

Moo...t.

M.D.G. said...

Moo. . .sh

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

Moo...ns.

M.D.G. said...

moo . . .la

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

Moo...ch.

Patrick @ LitVision said...

Are you guys okay??

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

Moo...dy

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

hee, hee, hee!

the MP said...

"What's a mook?"

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

No idea...I'm playin' this straight, without the dictionary....

M.D.G. said...

Moo. . .re

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

Moo...ls

M.D.G. said...

Moo. . .ve

M.D.G. said...

You know Karl that statement bothers me. Reagan's Brain the best Poem since Howl? For being such an expert on Poetry, obviousely you do not read much. So let me help you out. The best Poems I've read since Howl. The best Poem that I have read since Howl that is better than Howl is "At Ease" by Paul Beatty. Other Poems written since "Howl" that are better than Reagan's Brain include (this excludes anything that I've written of course. I wouldn't give myself too much credit.): "Bagel Shop Jazz" by Bob Kaufman (I could go on with a list of Kaufman Poems but I'll stop there.),"Dance Of The Nigganese Dancer" by Kamau Daaood (Probably a couple more by him.), "Sounding" by Amiri Baraka (and many more by him okay "Somebody blew up america" there I said another one.) "Mein Kampf" David Lerner, "Cleveland: The Rectal Eye Visions" D.A. Levy, "So You Want To Be a Writer" Charles Bukowski, There are many more that I could choose but I will finish this list off with "On Reading Whitman's Song of Myself at One O'clock in the Morning" by Alan Kaufman. You should read more before you become an expert sir. I think you're starting to believe your own propaganda. And how could you possably say that I am attacking underground writers. Do you represent the underground or just your own selfish agendas? You are but a faction of the underground, a small faction trying to make themselves seem big. Like I said I am telling the truth, that is my job. We don't need all you self important experts around tryin' to cash in on our work. I don't even remember a reading at the blue grotto to be honest, I do remember the name. If you blew me out of the water that night then hell froze over that night Karl. That is not over rating myself. That is a fact.

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

Moo...se

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

I couldn't be further underground without being in the mool.

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

so far underground the underground won't recognize ...

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

One of my favorite poems is Suede Leather's "El Salvador".....

he writes on the river bank after his shifts at a chemical plant.

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

Frank Moly, Suede Leather, TK Livin, Gern Blanston and Frank Wilford....what a crew!!!!!!

King said...

I'm curious why you're still tagging along here with ULA happenings, Mike. Not much going on where you're at?
We're only part of the underground-- a big enough part to draw your constant interest, I guess.
Good luck fighting the Establishment in Florida. Lot of them there, I bet.
The show is in NYC. The Big Show. April 17th. The ULA versus the Establishment. All are invited-- but not everyone is ready for the big event.
p.s. Frank says you can send someone for your tapes, always could.
Your big literary feud. And what does it boil down to? Missing tapes!
A dedicated revolutionary, dropping out of the movement because he's missing some tapes!
(Historians dig up a never-before-revealed feud between Lenin and Trotsky. Seems the two hard-core dissidents cancelled the revolution. Trotsky was missing a few of his tapes! Had some quality punk rock stuff on them and all. . . .)

King said...

p.s. Most fantastic to me is the idea, Mike, that you discovered Walsh, and therefore he belonged to you. Who are you: Columbus? How can you discover someone who was already here?
Do you know that Frank Walsh was writing kick-ass articles about the corruption of poetry back in 1982! I was working nights in a railyard and just beginning my serious reading. You were likely in diapers.
You like to associate yourself with the names of famous literary revolutionaries of the past, who are now either aged or dead. When at the same time you try to discredit today's cultural rebels, those who act, you come across as merely a revolutionary-wannabe. I know that's not who you are; at least I hope not. But then why are you in Florida, when the activity's in New York City?
Are you at Cape Canaveral? Blasting off to the moon, to look there for literary Overdogs? To Pluto? That's far enough away.
The ULA is not as big as it will be. Right now we're the only exciting thing on today's lit-scene. I'm interested in change now, action now; literary rebellion NOW. DA Levy is dead-- neither you or I can change that. But Frank Walsh, Pat King, Jack Saunders, and other great people are among the living. While we're here we intend to make our OWN literary history.
Peace.

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

Moo...ny

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

Yep, Gern Blanston thought about starting a feud with Frank Wilford when he published his first and only poem. Blanston thought Frank should have bought a case of beer for the above posted crew known as the Bourbon Crowd since he had written about them. However, since Wilford had provided him with rides after his motorcycle was crashed, he let it slide.

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

"rock the casbah.."

M.D.G. said...

I never said that I discovered Walsh Karl, but while since you brought it up, what was Frank Walsh doing before I came into the picture? Who gave him a couple of big readings including the one at the Poetry festival that I supposedly never gave him? Who brought Frank Walsh back from the dead Karl you tell me? And yes he was good enough to get readings, but no one else was gonna give them to him. I had to fight with my partner to get him a reading at the friends meeting house. I pissed off the rest of the commity of the poetry festival with the exception of Devin by saving a reading at the Rotunda for him against everyone but Devin's wishes. Because I knew I was doing the right thing. I'll even go so far as to say if Frank had not tagged along to Devin's readings in South Philly he never would have met the Hydrogen Jukebox. The point is I have gone to bat for Frank and given him oppertunities probably more than you have Karl. And by the way I am not dropping out of anything Karl. I am still writing, I am still performing, I am still putting my thing down. You don't need to worry about that. I'm better than anyone that you have and I am working for no one but myself and the people. And personally I could care less who is reading Howl, or where they are reading it. Howl did have some academic aspects to it. Let them have it. And like I said before it isn't like Poetry just laid down and died since Howl came out. There is new stuff out there. There is better stuff out there. I encourage you to check out my list and if you need some more just ask. And Karl lastly, you do remember the conversation at the bar that time there was a football game on. Who were you saying was two faced? Who were you talking all kinds of shit about Karl? And you were right. He does care about you. He is only hoping you can advance his career. The deal was to mail the CDs. I can't send anyone by there. I sent him the money for postage. I would like all of my Public Enemy CDs back and the rest of the stuff. This is not what this is all about. This is about ethics and treating each other right.

the MP said...

Grover:
The Masked Perfesser sez everything you claim in the above post is a lie or at best self delusion.
The Masked Perfesser knows all just like an Ouija board!
Suffice to say all the people you mention in your claims have since revealed to ME that things regarding X, Y, and Z mentioned above are the opposite of what you're saying here, especially the WOMEN principals. As for giving Walsh anything you can't rewrite history let alone the grand mechanics of Mythology no matter how much you animate with wires and rods the corpses of the noble dead behind your sorry ass curtain and your fear and resultant hatred and greed and lies can not protect you from the obscurity and mere critical footnotes that, unless you wise up and work to better your art and cocomittedly embrace the true spirit of cooperation and activism a movement such as the ULA best represents, you are bound to be condemned to by your own devices and design!

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

blah, blah, blah......

sheesh!

M.D.G. said...

I do not care what the Masked Persor or what Frank Walsh has to say. I have nothing to hide from. I have nothing to be scared of. I do not show up at Robins spreading my sence of "community" yelling at everyone. I have no delusions. I see things as they are. You're the one with the delusions. You have just tried to piggyback it on to me like everyone else does. You are a sick man Frank. And history is not gonna give a fuck about you or what you say, or what you say who did what to you. Not that I did anything to you, but in your own mind everybody has. The fact is that you are so insecure about your writing that you have to perform behind a mask or make up or another identity, and personality. I don't wish you any ill will. My advice to you would be to get out of that city. It would make anybody crazy.

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

Moo...rs

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

Roberta left home with a food stamp in her pocket, she was just 21.......

M.D.G. said...

Oh and Karl how did D.A. Levy die? Same way Hunter S. Thompson died huh. If someone was killing underground writers I would think that would be your concern as THE underground writers group. Maybe I'm wrong. We should just concern ourselves with the living even if that is missing part of the picture.

the MP said...

Mr. Wilson:
Yes the gift o' gab, the gobs o' fat to chaw for me maw ist das richtig's moi! Blah, blah, blah, is musack to me horny war- painted ears. Otherwise I bust those on their high hearses with my well read slap-stick. So thank you for letting me be myself ag'in!
Grovelr:
Devin's wifey not him
you must mean
to be gossiping on the phoney
betwixt bouts o' conspiracy
Tevee, like an old lady
in a home for G-man snitches
slunk over to the side
of them bad ol' witches!
Otherwizened, the MP (admittedly a "persona" in poetic parlance!) sez:
Read Walshie's book about the Underground Literary Movement of the early 21st Century (it'll be a bit like John Clellon Holmes' "GO") when it comes out try to find yourself in there if he in fact mentions you at all.
Speaking for him since I am sure he wouldn't waste the time dealing with you or your kind himself, I, the Masked Perfesser say in closing that I will play Batman to your Penguin if it makes you feel any better and what army!

'Nuff Sd!

M.D.G. said...

Who's gonna read this book? Frankie and Karl?

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

Here at Amalgamated Insurance National Tech (AINT)we are pleased to be offering the Poets Policy complete with death and dismemberment benefits should they occur during the pursuit of verse. This is going to top our top seller "Drunken Fiction Writer policy." For those who ain't got AINT....ain't it time?

King said...

Re your Poetry Festival. Is there really a point in rehashing this? The problem was not at all you hosting your festival-- but that you excluded from participation ULA members, likely because you were sucking up to Penn and Company.
How could the ULA NOT be invited to your publications event-- when we're an organization of zeensters!
Re Frank Walsh. The fact is that you were not going to give him a place in your Festival. I still have an e-mail saved from you saying exactly that. That's when I lost it and gave you a phone call, recall, and you added him at the last minute-- his name scribbled onto your flyers by hand! Kind of degrading-- and no way to treat a fellow ULAer. (Not even 215 people would descend to that!)
Right now you're only better than the pigeons and seagulls on the beach where you're at. The Reading-- the Big Show-- is in New York! You don't really believe you're as good as you say, El Egomaniac, because if you were you wouldn't continually bail out of every opportunity at the big stage (such as when we crashed Housing Works).
But keep the tit-for-tats coming. You seem to feed on them. Not much going on in your own scene, apparently. Haven't the seagulls pissed you off yet? I'm sure it's coming! Not done enough to acknowledge your greatness, I'll bet. There you are, giving them a bite to eat, and what do you get for it? Ingratitude! It's truly outrageous. (I just hope none of them upstage you because they'll really be in for it.)
Let me know when you get a life and a poetry career so you don't have to keep watching what the ULA is doing.

King said...

p.s Did you read about the recent discovery of the Gospel of Judas? It gives the real story of what happened between the two dudes-- the cause of their feud. It had nothing to do with thirty pieces of silver. More like thirty cds! You see, J.C. was left with some and was supposed to mail them. . . .

King said...

(I feel like posting for Miller Genuine Draft and saving us from more of his routine. I already know it by heart:
"And what about DA Levy, Karl. Huh, huh? Where's the ULA now? Why didn't they stop it? And Marlowe? Someone's killing poets and you don't even care! Huh, huh? What about that? And I did all that for Frank and he still has three of my cds. Huh? Where's the ULA now, Karl, I ask you that? And someone said boo to me back in 1985 and he's in for it he really is and I'm the best and I really am and everybody cheated in Chicago and in Philadelphia so I ran down to Florida and I don't play well with others everyone knows that and people are just jealous of my genius you don't even know poetry I've read all these poets from a narrow sliver of the poetry world because they're all revolutionaries and I wanna be one too just like on television shows but not really and we're not supposed to entertain we're supposed to be poets very serious all the time so someone can kill us I still want to know why you didn't save Marlowe Karl huh huh? and, and, and, and. . . ."
Blah blah blah blah blah.
If anyone thinks they got the goods they can be at Columbia when we'll be the center of the universe.
We'll extend our Challenge to the academy fakes to include everyone in the known universe-- including all those on Pluto!)

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

the gauntlet is on the ground!
what's miller's play?
will it be on like neckbone?
I'm staying tuned.

M.D.G. said...

Center of the universe? Now you're over rating yourself Karl. The fact is no one will care. Are done takin your shots yet? I'll just sit back and let you finish. Karl, you know I don't suck up to anyone. Penn let me do a reading there because they knew I would deliver results. That was a pretty good impersonation. This one is actually accurate though, "Who's gonna buy me a beer? I'll fight all three of you. Who's gonna fight me? Come on Mike, I know you're mad at me. Just take a swing at me. Let me grab the nearest chair!"

Ricky Joe Sanchez said...

Fight! Fight!

dante's pencil

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