Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Night and Day with Allen Ginsberg and Guerrilla Poetics


"This poem may be the last best hope for real literary art. It is the cave wall where we record our passing."

So begins the bookmark placed inside my recently purchased copy of Allen Ginsberg's The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice. It was "smuggled into this book by one of our Special Operatives" at the Guerilla [sic] Poetics Project.

The Guerilla Poetics Project was a marketing strategy to bring underground poetry to the mainstream by placing broadsides in selected books. From 2006-2008 selected poems of more than 50 poets reached new, unsuspecting audiences in this manner. How the Bar None Group came to stumble upon a broadside at a bookstore in University Village in Chicago in 2015 is somewhat surprising.

Curiously — and probably by happenstance — the broadside which spoke of morning was placed next to a Ginsberg poem which spoke of the evening. Reading the two pieces of poetry together seemed like the proper thing to do...like watching The Wizard of Oz while listening to Pink Floyd. You end up with an inter-generational poetic mash up. One that I am sure Ginsberg would be keen to explore himself.


A shy and quiet mourning

On
the front porch
of my
recently deceased
grandmother's
house
sits a pastel
rocking chair
creaking
in the cool
autumn
morning breeze
accompanied only
by it's
sun-bathed
shadow
leaking memories
of her
through
ancient cracks
and wooden

floorboards.


A Nightsong

Allow my soul's most gentle piteous tears
to gift you with the terror of tenderness.
Remember loss and individual years
that edged us into silent separateness.
Remember autumn, saddest of the seasons;
remember time, remember tragedies and places
of the past dark streets, forgotten reasons
for dying or creating; then, the faces,
that each by each will turn to us and speak,
to gaze at us with flowers in their eyes,
till each becomes a lover we must seek,
and fading into loveliness, each dies.
Shadows languish gently in my sight:
disconsolate visions in the street at night.


Allen Ginsberg wrote A Nightsong in August 1945 while enrolled at the Maritime Service Training Station in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. He had been confined to the base hospital with "pneumonia in my chest for the past few weeks." In July, Ginsberg wrote a letter to Jack Kerouac stating his intentions to return to Columbia University where they had first met as students. A Nightsong last appeared in The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice. Published in 2006.

Since 2007, A shy and quiet mourning — distributed through the Secret Operatives of the Guerilla Poetics Project —  has been found in: a copy of Kerouac's The Dharma Bums in Shreveport, Louisiana; Bukowski's New Poems (4) in Belfast, Ireland; Neruda's Collected Poems in Las Cruces, New Mexico and; in a "forgotten book" in Florence, Italy.

It's author — C. Allen Rearick — who hails from Cleveland still has the tagline, "He is neither tall, dark, nor handsome" on his latest career path as a photographer.