New York-based poet and artist Aliah A. Rosenthal talks about the Jazz, poetry, Ginsberg and the Beats

"Poetry is the purest form of communication in my opinion. The more poetry that comes out of me, the better I think clearly and therefore even more poetry flows. It’s a perfect cycle of creation and music can make that whole process more colorful."

Aliah Rosenthal: No Hookups Blues

Aliah Alec Rosenthal, poet and artist, was born in the East Village, NYC. He has performed at The Poetry Project, Bowery Poetry Club, Naropa Institute, Carnegie Hall, HousingWorks, Nuyorican Cafe and has worked with artists such as David Amram, Anne Waldman, The Lemonheads, Kool & the Gang, Philip Glass, Steven Taylor and many others. Aliah is the son of New York writers Bob Rosenthal and Rochelle Kraut and the godson of poet, Allen Ginsberg. His new spoken word album, “Slick Bowery Sell Out”, released in summer 2016 - with Aliah Rosenthal (vox, harmonica), Iftach Kary (piano), Anto Berger (guitar), Joey Pearlman (bass), Timo Wild (drums), and Devin Brahja Waldman (sax).

Currently, he lives in New York City, and have a new book coming out called "No Hookups" on Amazon starting Sept. 20th. Aliah Rosenthal growing up on the mean streets of the East Village, an area once generally considered to be the epicenter of the counterculture in NYC - home to a vast array of artists and bohemians - the Beatniks arose from this neighborhood, Allen Ginsberg, Aliah's godfather and the father of "the beat generation" was just one of its famous residents, Punk Rock emerged from its slums, etc.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Beats and Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

For me, the Beat Generation continues to be a great inspiration with its words, madness and merry irreverence. Many things about those artists remind me that the pursuit of free self-expression and truth is important to take with you wherever you go.

How do you describe Aliah’s sound and songbook? What characterize the philosophy of your poetry?

With my poetry, I am trying to piss you off and at the same time, I want to open people’s eyes to the wider world around them. I want the words to fire fast, penetrate and sink into the skull. The songs are free jazz/ blues inspired and most importantly they support the words and give them extra meaning.

What do you learn about yourself from the poetry? How does the music affect your mood and inspiration?

Poetry is the purest form of communication in my opinion. The more poetry that comes out of me, the better I think clearly and therefore even more poetry flows. It’s a perfect cycle of creation and music can make that whole process more colorful.

"For me, the Beat Generation continues to be a great inspiration with its words, madness and merry irreverence. Many things about those artists remind me that the pursuit of free self-expression and truth is important to take with you wherever you go."

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I miss the pure musicianship of artists from back in the day. Musicians used to really play their instruments well. There were bands that produced real music – in the studios but also live on stage. The future of music? Who knows, maybe in the future we all get a computer chip in the head that bangs out monotonous McDonalds jingles.

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

Slow down the gentrification of our great cities. Stop building zombie glass monstrosities by the dozen that destroy the creative and cultural fabric of the places we all love.

What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues and Jazz avant-garde music with Beat and Outlaw poetry?

I mean Jazz really influenced the beats, from Miles to Coltrane; they were dubbed the true secret heroes of that whole generation.

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

My godfather, Allen Ginsberg, always used to say to me: “First thought, best thought”. Think about it. This is creation at its purest.

"With my poetry, I am trying to piss you off and at the same time, I want to open people’s eyes to the wider world around them. I want the words to fire fast, penetrate and sink into the skull. The songs are free jazz/ blues inspired and most importantly they support the words and give them extra meaning."

What has made you laugh from Allen Ginsberg and what touched (emotionally) you from Gregory Corso?

Growing up around Allen, I am not sure I was laughing but maybe I was, who knows. He seemed very focused most of the time and always had all ears open. Gregory Corso was way more funny to me. He used to always flirt with my Mom, often with boisterous glee and was always verbally animated which to a young kid seemed impressive.

What is the impact of Blues/Jazz and Beat movement on the racial, political and socio-cultural implications?

More freedom. More expression. More Truth. For America, these two movements have contributed to furthering the racial equality and political justice fights that the country continues to strive for.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

I want to see a T-Rex, while riding a Triceratops and dining on some Stegosaurus tartare.

 

What memorabilia (books, records, comic, poster, photo, etc.) you would put in a "capsule on time"?

Some Lou Reed records, William Burroughs “Junkie” and an Ai Weiwei middle finger photo. That should be sufficient.

Aliah A. Rosenthal - Home   Instagram

Photo: Aliah Rosenthal & Ai Weiwei, Berlin Germany

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