Interview with poet, editor and publisher Michael Rothenberg, co-founder of 100 Thousand Poets for Change

"Music is also an important window to the political, social and environmental world. It is a reflection and measure of our health as a civilization, an essential tool for growing the mind and healing as is poetry."

Michael Rothenberg: The Poet Of Change 

Michael Rothenberg is a poet, editor and publisher of the online literary magazine BigBridge.org, co-founder of 100 Thousand Poets for Change, and co-founder of Poets In Need, a non-profit 501(c), assisting poets in crisis. Born in Miami Beach, Florida in 1951, Rothenberg moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1975 and co-founded Shelldance Orchid Gardens in Pacifica, which is dedicated to the cultivation of orchids and bromeliads. While in Pacifica, he helped lead local environmental actions that stopped major coastal developments that would destroy wildlife habitat.

He has published 19 books of poetry including Nightmare of The Violins, Favorite Songs, Man/Woman (a collaboration with Joanne Kyger), Unhurried Vision, Monk Daddy, The Paris Journals, Choose, My Youth As A Train, Murder, Sapodilla (Editions du Cygne-Swan World, Paris, France, 2016) and Drawing The Shade (Dos Madres Press, 2016).  Indefinite Detention: A Dog Story, was published in 2013 by Ekstasis Editions (Victoria, B.C., Canada), and in 2014 by Shabda Press (USA). A Spanish/English edition of Indefinite Detention: A Dog Story, and the poetic journal collection, Tally Ho and the Cowboy Dream/The Real and False Journals: Book 5 are scheduled for publication in 2017 by Varasek Ediciones (Madrid, Spain). His work has been published widely in literary reviews and included in anthologies.                                   Photo by Terri Carrion

His editorial work includes several volumes in the Penguin Poets series: Overtime by Philip Whalen, As Ever by Joanne Kyger, David’s Copy by David Meltzer, and Way More West by Ed Dorn. He is also editor of The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen published by Wesleyan University Press. His songs have appeared in Hollywood Pictures' Shadowhunter and Black Day, Blue Night, and TriStar Pictures' Outside Ozona. Other songs have been recorded on CDs including: Bob Malone's The Darkest Part of The Night (Caught Up in Christmas) and Bob Malone (Raydaddy's Blues), Difficult Woman by Renee Geyer, Global Blues Deficit by Cody Palance, The Woodys by The Woodys, and Schell Game by Johnny Lee Schell. His poetry books and broadsides are archived at the University of Francisco, and are held in the Special Collection universities libraries.

In 2011, Rothenberg and his partner Terri Carrion co-founded 100 Thousand Poets for Change. 100 Thousand Poets for Change is a global poetry and arts movement with an emphasis on peace, justice, sustainability and education. 100 Thousand Poets for change assists poets and artists around the world in organizing and planning events in their local communities, which promote social, environmental, and political change. Over 500 events take place in 100 countries each year. Events include poetry readings, music and dance concerts, art exhibits, art and activism workshops and street demonstrations. Rothenberg currently lives in Tallahassee, Florida.

Interview by Michael Limnios

Photos: Michael Dickel, Ondi Mcmaster, Terri Carrion / All Rights Reserved

What experiences have triggered your ideas most frequently? How does music affect your mood and inspiration?

More than anything nature, and political, social and environmental issues have triggered most of my work over the years. And travel. Travel always gets me writing. I write a lot of poetic travel journals and poetic diaries. They are a source for a lot of my individual poems. I see the journals themselves as long poems as well. With the journal poem, (see Basho, Japanese Poetic Diary), everything is possible. The juxtapositional logic that is established in a poetic diary sets up an energy and reality that is magic for me. It is as if the mind has its own story to tell (Philip Whalen wrote: "This poetry is a picture or graph of a mind moving, which is a world body being here and now which is history . . . and you.") and so my job is just to take it down. And maybe clean it up a bit. Travel, the adventure of the unknown, the movement of life outside the window while riding in a car, plain, train is always inspiring. On the road, everything is now, everything is new. For me, poetry includes everything in life, the kitchen sink, nothing is inappropriate.  Triggers are everywhere all of the time, so there is never a shortage of things to write about. And since everything and anything can happen in the journal, the journal has become my poetry practice and “form” of choice. Nature, especially the tropics, seems to jumpstart my creative juices. Florida, where I was born and where I am living now, has also always been a creative watershed for me.

When I was younger, I used to write with music playing in the background, but these days I tend to like to write in quiet. Sometimes music effects my emotions too much, and steers me away from being in the now. Sometimes I hear stories coming out of the music and it derails me, forces me to script the work based on the style of music and tempo of the music.  That is not to say that I am opposed to writing with music on, and that I am not willing to explore the universe that music suggests, but I prefer to write these days without the influence of music, in quiet. I am very susceptible to stimulation and so I must be cautious how I am influenced when I am writing. I guess what I am saying is that music, while I am writing, distracts me. Is that the question you asked?

So, to further answer your question, music affects me tremendously, transforms my mood and inspires me in sometimes uncontrollable ways. It sometimes makes me want to jump in the car and drive away! I consider music as something sacred.  I received my Masters in Poetry and Popular Song, and lived for several years in Nashville where I was a country song lyricist. I traveled around the USA collaborating with composers and musicians in NY, SF and LA, and I have had some songs in movie soundtracks. And for 20 years, my love for music has led me to work on a futuristic fable, The Drums of Grace, all about music and censorship.  I finally completed The Drums of Grace this year, and I imagine I will record a reading of it with musicians, that is my dream. Music must be rescued from censorship and masking by commercial, industrial, music manufacturing. Music should not be limited to being a vehicle for selling the prizes of capital. A jingle. (Though some jingles might be brilliant in their craft). Music is also an important window to the political, social and environmental world. It is a reflection and measure of our health as a civilization, an essential tool for growing the mind and healing as is poetry. I could go on and on with this subject. Maybe I will later.

What were the reasons that you started the social, political, spiritual and literature researches and experiments?

I would guess that I was born with a sensitivity towards social, political and spiritual concerns. Certainly, there were people who rattled my cage and woke me up to the possibilities that poetry offers in addressing the social, political, and economic issues of the day, but I suspect I had a predisposition to that because I can’t imagine poetry without “engagement”. And I grew up in the 60’s, so social, political and environmental concerns were everywhere in the air, on the street, in the poetry of the day, in all of the arts, on the radio, in much of the music and songs of the day. Change was the news! I can’t imagine how I could have avoided it. Or why I would want to avoid it.

And there were the great singer songwriters, like Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, who touched me as a poet, taught me as a poet. And there were the Beat poets, like Ginsberg with his “Howl”, Michael McClure with “Meat Science Essays”, Joanne Kyger and Philip Whalen with their connection to Buddhism, the poetic journal and their constant reminders about the beauty and preciousness of everyday and ordinary life, the quotidian. There are too many poets to name, too many songwriters to list, that influenced me and encouraged me and persuaded me to take on the issues of the day, Ferlinghetti and “Coney Island of The Mind”, Amiri Baraka, Denise Levertov, urging me on toward engagement, responsibility and social action. I learned that poetry could make a difference, inform and transform. There were the Romantic poets! But like I said, I think I had a predisposition embedded in my genetic character that made me susceptible and sensitive to the social world. It also might have had something to do with my upbringing as a Jew. I was taught to believe that culture, society, equality, justice, and nature matters, that we have a responsibility to be engaged and to care for each other and the world.

"Writing for me is like breathing, I can’t stop that.  The act of creation is in itself sublime. Never quit writing and remember that all art is healing and a salvation, keep the flow open."

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences and which meeting touched (emotionally) you?

In Miami Beach, Florida, where I was born, I had occasion to meet Muhammad Ali several times. My father was his attorney for a short time and he was also very close friends with Ali’s trainer and promoter. The phenomenal Ali and the world of boxing were an ever-present part of my experience growing up. Ali was always a bright light.  My father and mother were avid boxing fans and so as a family we went to see the fights all the time. I would go down to the 5th St. Gym and watch Ali train. He was my hero. And I do not say “hero” lightly. I don’t know if I have ever had another hero in my life. Everything you think about when you think about Ali, his integrity, his poetry, his brilliance, his sacrifice, his beauty, his talent, his engagement and presence in the world inspired me and made the world better. His passing is a great loss. And there was Philip Whalen. We became close friends over noodles and curries and cheeseburgers, and I eventually became his editor, see Overtime, Selected Poems of Philip Whalen (Penguin Books), The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen (Wesleyan University Press), Mark Other Place, Goofbook, Invisible Idylls (Big Bridge Press). When Philip became terminally ill I became his caretaker. Philip was a brilliant and funny man, a great poet and friend, a great spirit, always enlightening and humble. I miss him and his friendship enormously. There was nothing more fun than eating noodles with this poetic master. But then there have been other great people who I have known that have transformed my life. Joanne Kyger has been my friend and mentor for many years. She is an ongoing experience. What a brilliant poet! A great mind. And she listens to me complain and consoles me in my struggles, listens to the details of all of my personal dramas. And there was the irascible Ira Cohen, the mad multimedia shaman with his poems, photographs, films, his outrageous behavior and generous heart. Ira took me into his world generously, and reminded me that there is a Maximal world that meets the Minimal world, a psychedelic and tantric world, the world of India, that iconography, a Maximal world that meets the minimal world of Japan, Zen, the Pacific west, that I had been exposed to for so many years living in California with the poets of The San Francisco Renaissance. Ira illuminated the contrasts. I have been fortunate to know these dear poets. And Muhammad Ali!

What do you learn about yourself from the ‘100 Thousand Poets for Change and what characterizes the project’s philosophy and mission?

The main thing I have learned from 100 Thousand Poets for Change is that organizing is difficult work and I will be required to change myself. I think if you want to look at the mission of the project it is best to go to the website and look at the ABOUT menu, on the home page. That says it all.

I can reprint it here for you:

The 100 THOUSAND POETS for CHANGE MOVEMENT

for PEACE & SUSTAINABILITY!

Do you want to join other poets, musicians, and artists around the USA
and across the planet in a demonstration/celebration to promote peace and sustainability and to call for
serious social, environmental and political change?

1) What kind of a change are we talking about?
2) I want to organize in my area. How do we begin to organize?

“What kind of CHANGE are we talking about?”

The first order of change is for poets, writers, musicians, artists, activists to get together to create and perform, educate and demonstrate, simultaneously, with other communities around the world. This will change how we see our local community and the global community. We have all become incredibly alienated in recent years. We hardly know our neighbors down the street let alone our creative allies who live and share our concerns in other countries. We need to feel this kind of global solidarity. It will be empowering.

And of course there is the political/social change that many of us are talking about these days. There is trouble in the world. Wars, violation of human rights, ecocide, racism, genocide, gender inequality, homelessness, the lack of affordable medical care, police brutality, religious persecution, poverty, censorship, animal cruelty, the list goes on and on.

It appears that transformation towards a more sustainable world is a major concern and could be a global guiding principle for 100 TPC events. Peace also seems to be a common cause. War is not sustainable. There is an increasing sense that we need to move forward and stop moving backwards. But we are not trying not to be dogmatic. We hope that together we can develop our ideas of the “change/transformation” we are looking for as a global community, and that each local community group will decide their own specific area of focus for change for their particular event. All we ask is that local communities organize events about change within the guidelines of peace and sustainability.

“I want to organize in my area. How do we begin to organize?”

100 Thousand Poets for Change will help organize by local region, city, or state, and find individuals in each area who would like to organize their local event.

If you are an organizer for your community this means that first you will consider a location for the event and begin to contact people in your area who want to participate in the event. Participation means contacting the media, posting the event on the web, in calendars, newspapers, etc., reading poems, doing a concert, performing in general, supplying cupcakes and beer (it’s up to you), demonstrating, putting up an information table, inviting guest speakers, musicians, etc., organizing an art exhibit, and documenting the event (this is important, too), and cleaning up, of course.

Organizers and participants will create their own local event as an expression of who they are locally. Do they want a a concert or a jam session, candlelight vigil or a circus, a march or a dance, poetry reading in a cafe or on the subway, do they want absolute silence, a group meditation on a main street; it’s up to the local organization.

However, groups should  try to hold some part of the event, if not all of it, outdoors, in public view (not required). The point is to be seen and heard, not just stay behind closed walls. It is also important that the event be documented. Photos, audio, videos, poems, journals, paintings! Documentation is crucial. The rest of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change want to hear what you have to say about change and enjoy your creativity too! The documentation will be shared through a blog/website that I will set up, a blog/website where groups can share and announce event information, as well as post photos, videos, poetry, art, and thoughts. But an event doesn’t have to involve tons of people. It can be just you (the organizer) and your pet, on a street corner, with a sign. Just let me know what you are planning!

Every effort counts!

Each local organization determines what it wants to focus on, something broad like, peace, sustainability, justice, equality, or more specific causes like Health Care, or Freedom of Speech, or local environmental or social concerns that need attention in your particular area right now, etc. Organizations will then come up with a mission statement/manifesto that describes who they are and what they think and care about. When the whole event has taken place all the mission statements can be collected from around the world and, I hope, worked together into a grand statement of 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

Thank you for joining us!

Best, Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion

"The biggest revolution which can be realized today is for all of the world to come to a conclusion that slavery is not required, should not be accepted, that we are all born poets, everyone, and why would we become poets if we wanted to be slaves." (Photo: Terri Carrion & Michael Rothenberg)

You have been traveling all around the world. What are your conclusions? What are your hopes and fears for the future?

As I travel around the world and make new friends and learn about their personal concerns, the political, social, economic, environmental problems that are overwhelming them on a daily basis, I am both saddened and hopeful. I am hopeful because I feel that we have come to a place globally where we have an understanding that the problems we are experiencing in our own countries are often common to us all, though better or worse in different places, and that there is a possibility for mutual understanding and mutual aid in solving these global problems. I am hopeful that together, in a unified action, we can make big changes.

But then, I am saddened, as I learn from my travels, how local governments, the governments of these many nations where my friends reside, are doing very little to make things better for people, they have used globalism to join in with corporations and other nations around the world in one huge, concerted effort to soak the people of what little resources and security they have. Together these countries and corporations are making things worse. Does that sound like a conspiracy theory? Or is it simply international business?

And government censorship of the people persists. Increasingly, we hear about reactionary government suppression of free speech.  Is censorship greater now then it was in the past? Is it only that now, with the internet that we learn how poets are killed or thrown in jail for life for insulting some dictator? I suppose it has always been that way, but I worry that it continues, and the USA continues to fund and arm countries that imprison and kill their artists, their journalists, their poets for speaking out. And not just the poets and artists that they kill, but anyone who makes a stir.

And I see how easy it is for me, with a USA passport, to travel around the world, and how difficult or impossible it is for many of my friends to travel. As a citizen of the USA we are treated first class and can go almost anywhere in the world that we wish, but many of my friends are subjected to impossible travel restrictions. Visa restrictions have taken on a distinctly race and class bias. Many of my friends in Africa, Egypt, The Middle East in general, and India to begin with, are severely restricted in their travels. Governments suggest these folks would only travel because they are trying to sneak into another country to live. The travel restrictions imposed on some of these poets and artists include getting an invitation letter from an organization in the country of destination, non-refundable visa application fees, and financial status requirements to show their financial connection to their own country. The financial requirements that are established for travel often require that the artist has a bank account with huge sums of money, more money than they might earn in their lifetime. Arbitrary refusal of governments to allow visitors from these countries to travel, unless they can prove they are very well off or rich, results in a barrier of cultural flow that causes cross-cultural stagnation. When we organized the Salerno, Italy conference for 100 Thousand Poets for Change we had quite a few poets who were denied entry into Italy. Some of these poets paid hundreds of dollars for application fees and had airplane tickets to prove that they had the money to travel, and were still denied entry losing their application fees and the money they paid for airfare. How can there be a healthy exchange of art when these economic and political barriers exist? I often fear that I might never see some of my friends again because of these barriers. It is heartbreaking.

I am also saddened when I go to other countries and by contrast realize how brutal USA society is. I can see by contrast the horrifying extent to which our society has become violent, our police militarized and gun culture perpetuated as if it were only candy. Innocent people are gunned down en masse in USA streets while gun stores pop up like McDonald’s in the USA. Everywhere guns and the images of guns and the movies and television of guns and the machismo throughout the culture that encourages combat, war and violence. This is not the practice in other countries. This is alien to most of the world. And when I tell my friends that the prison system in the USA is privatized in many cases, I find out that this is not the case in other countries. My friends from abroad are horrified by this concept of prison for profit.  Travel indeed teaches me that the USA is unique as a culture and I am terrified and ashamed.

It seems that many people travel only to prove that their country is better than any other country in the world, and so they visit foreign lands at arm’s length and make a daily lists that tells them why their country is the best. It is like they never left home except to say they have been there, another prize. They treat the world as giant shopping mall and nothing more.  Of course, it is good to know the virtues of your own country, but it is also essential to add to that list those things that are not right about your country, things you might want to go home and see changed. You learn from travel.

I believe that government travel restrictions are a ways of stifling freedom and of controlling and propagandizing a heavily bordered society. Maybe this is paranoia on my part, but it seems there is a government perpetuated fear spreading across the planet. Increasingly, we witness the manipulation of the pubic by the international military industrial complex, arms dealers, and war hawks, promoting conflict to increase profits and arms sales. Governments and multinational seem to be intentionally putting fuel on the fire of racism and xenophobia. We see them selling guns to both sides of any conflict, encouraging conflict and counting their cash, then moving on to the next potential market place. Is this my imagination? My paranoia? Am I leaning to far left or being too cynical?

And we see the refusal of all governments to turn the page on global warming and move on to sustainable practices. You learn this when you go out into the world. When you travel. We can sit around and list all of the wonderful things that are being done world wide to change our sustainability practices but these things are not dramatic or big enough, not fast enough. Many agents of power are reactionary and exploitative and think nothing of the future. They use science to make a profit first, and not to learn why profiteering can drive humanity into extinction. Change must come quicker or it will be too late. I think we spend too much time choosing the better of two evils, accepting moderate transition because it makes us feel better, less fearful, less anxious, there is less to “lose”, that slow is the nature of change and we must except slow as an option, but we need to have big change soon if we are going to rescue the planet and ourselves.

"Music and literature are born out of culture, out of society, out of the earth and consciousness of humanity. The DNA of music and literature is built from daily realities, conflicts, violence, beauty, politics, and nature." (Ira Cohen and Michael Rothenberg, Hospital Library, Mardi Gras 2008 / Photo © by Ondi Mcmaster)

If you could change one thing in the world/people and it would become a reality, what would that be?

This is not a viable question for me, there is no one thing to change, all things are interconnected. I guess the bottom line of my “change list” could be if we shifted to real sustainability, which would require an end to all wars, racism, genocide, ecocide, and gender inequality, because these things are not sustainable. That would be my thing to focus on. Sustainability is all-inclusive, interconnected. I believe we need to have a greater understanding of sustainability. We must have the will to change our sustainability practices if we are to survive as a planet. I am not sure we have that will. If I could make a wish I would say, from this day on, I would wish that nobody in the world would ever be hurt again. Your question is the question of an idealist to an idealist. I am not sure anything can come of it…  

What is the impact of music on literature? What is the relationship Music & Literature to socio-cultural implications?

Sometimes we think too much about the impact of one art form on another art form as if we were in an art laboratory. Music and literature impact each other as does tuna fish and candlewax. Maybe we can make an industry out of determining the distinctions. Maybe they are one and the same. There is a relationship they share, maybe that they are simply are both a part of the phenomenal world? These disciplines come out of the same organic fountain and are interrelated and any idea of separating them is insane. And as far as the relationship of Music and literature to society and culture, it is also inseparable. I do not believe that art can be kept apart from social concerns and I don’t believe art can come out of a hat like a magician's trick. Music and literature are born out of culture, out of society, out of the earth and consciousness of humanity. The DNA of music and literature is built from daily realities, conflicts, violence, beauty, politics, and nature. This is the web of creation, there is no way to extricate music and literature from this web. In the factory culture of the industrialized world, in the cubicularization of genres and disciplines, we have seen music and art falter. There is an effort to make these creative impulses into systems and products, technologies devoid of sacredness. Music and art, dance and poetry, these arts all come from a milieu, from an interrelated fabric of life and society where all different aspects of life inform the other and nurture the other, and in order for these disciplines to prosper, survive, and be effective in the transforming of consciousness and the nurturing of humankind, in order for these disciplines to continue to heal us as human beings and guide us right in the revelation of our possibilities, they must be allowed to exist in a huge and uncompromised stew together, and the pot must be stirred vigorously. Turning these arts into specialized segments is like the specialization of the medical profession where everyone is treating a part of the body and nobody knows what is going on in the mind. The liver is healed while the foot turns green, then black and needs amputation. We need a holistic approach to art, not as an objective science, but as an organic reality. Everything influences everything. It’s time to write…

What is the biggest revolution which can be realized today? What do you think is key to a life well lived?

The key to a life well lived is compassion, I think, but it is all subjective. A process. But when I speak about  “compassion”, I do not mean compassion that does not feel pain, I do not mean a compassion that is devoid of empathy. The idea of “Detachment” in modern society is a concept that is broadly abused. If there is “detachment” that does not mean we do not feel, that does not mean we are not active in righting the wrongs of the world. We can fully understand the brutality of the world, feel and reject the brutality of the world, work to change the brutality of the world the best we can, and remain detached, not allowing these conflicts in life to stick to us like poison. Or so that seems the intent of meditation. I think this is what they mean when they say the Boddhisatva way. A life of engaged compassion. And really, what is a life well-lived? I don’t know at all. Maybe I will find out one day. Maybe never.

The biggest revolution which can be realized today is for all of the world to come to a conclusion that slavery is not required, should not be accepted, that we are all born poets, everyone, and why would we become poets if we wanted to be slaves. It is a matter of perception and awareness of possibilities, beauty and potential, and a rejection on even the minutest level of false ideas of tradition, the chains that we have built around ourselves, that we have allowed to be fastened to our wrists and ankles by the self-proclaimed gatekeepers and masters of the universe. No, I do not think I am naïve, I know that I am only dreaming. There is only one life that I know of here on this earth, and so everything and anything must be possible.

"I learned that poetry could make a difference, inform and transform. There were the Romantic poets!  But like I said, I think I had a predisposition embedded in my genetic character that made me susceptible and sensitive to the social world." (Photo © by Michael Dickel, 2015)

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? What advice would you give to the writers of tomorrow?

“Nobody knows anything” and “Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one”. Finally, “Be careful of what you ask for, you might get it.” Wait, that’s not advice, those are “pearls of wisdom” offered to me by my father when I was a boy. I guess the best advice I would offer writers is to worry less about fame and fortune. Remember, you do this writing for yourself, for your own health and sanity, and that is the thing that matters most. On a primary level, the best poem is the one that changes you as a writer and has nothing to do with the reader or an audience. And do not let anyone stop you or discourage you from doing your work. The fulfillment of the dream is a fulfillment of the creation and not the trophy. I met many songwriters who dropped out of the songwriting practice, they stopped writing songs, when they figured out they could not get a contract with a song publishing house and that their songwriting would not transition them to rock star status and wealth. It baffled me, and it saddened me, because how could you ever stop writing simply because you couldn’t become a star? Writing for me is like breathing, I can’t stop that. The act of creation is in itself sublime. Never quit writing and remember that all art is healing and a salvation, keep the flow open. 

Do you have a dream project you'd most like to accomplish? What projects are you working on at the moment?

Currently, I am very much interested in the publication of The Drums of Grace. I mentioned that in the answer to a previous question. That has been a mission of mine, to get it into print, maybe have it illustrated, maybe even see it produced as a play, a movie, I don’t know. I would like to do a group reading of the book with an orchestra, or a band, many musicians. An animated version… You did say “dream project” didn’t you? The idealist interviewer is at it again! Thanks for asking!

Where and why would you really want to go with a time machine? What memorabilia (books, records) would you put in?

A time machine? I would like to go to the moment when oil and radioactive minerals were first unearthed and put them back in the ground forever. Also, guns, I think guns are a terrible invention. A stone should suffice…

Books? (I am in a nostalgic mood today so let’s say this selection is for interview day only, I might change it all tomorrow). Collected Keats, a few books by Henry Miller (The Colossus of Maroussi, The Rosy Crucifixion, Big Sur and The Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch), On Bear’s Head by Philip Whalen, About Now by Joanne Kyger, Moby Dick, Pierre: or, The Ambiguities and Typee, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Harte Crane’s “The Bridge”, Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Collected Poems of William Blake, Flush and To The Lighthouse by Virginia Wolf, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, Ginsberg’s “Sunflower Sutra”, The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch, Louis Unterecker’s Voyager: A Life of Hart Crane. Why not Joyce’s Ulysess? Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson, “Tulips” by Sylvia Plath, Lorca’s plays, Homage to Frank O’Hara edited by Bill Berkson, George Eliot and Thomas Hardy, Blaise Cendrar’s Gold. All of Dostoyevsky. How about a subtitled version of the Hindi film Pyaasa?

Records? Tuesday’s selection: Django Reinhardt- “Peche à la Mouche”, Complete songs of Phil Ochs, Court and Spark and Blue by Joni Mitchell, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan, complete songs of Leonard Cohen, complete songs of The Beatles, Sunday at The Village Vanguard by Bill Evans Trio, Monk Alone, Queen’s Greatest Hits, Wave by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Tristeza by Oscar Peterson, The Complete Talking Heads, Cat Stevens (“Where Will The Children Play”,  “Peace Train” and “Wild World”), Dolly Parton’s cover of Peace Train, Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”, Mahler’s Symphony No. 9, Tim Buckley (“Move With Me”),  “Libertango” by Astor Piazzolla, and at my funeral Geoff Muldaur’s “Brazil”.

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