Sunday, September 30, 2007

Maher Weighs In At The Beatnik

Now this is interesting: over at The Beatnik "Kerouac scholar" (that's how he refers to himself) and friend of the Estate Paul Maher Jr. weighs in with a rather weird attempt at discrediting the only Kerouac biographer recognised in the literary community, Gerald Nicosia. I say weird because Mr. Maher deleted three of his own comments before leaving only a link to some other site. I don't know what's over there, but I can imagine. Now, apparently, he's going around town telling people I'm publishing him as well as Nicosia. Well, no, Paul. I think the friends of the Kerouac Estate have enough of the media rising up on its hind legs like a dog hungry for biscuits, don't you? The problem with a blog page is that ANYBODY can comment. I must figure out a way around that.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Robert Zoschke Reply Published

Robert Zoschke's response to my essay WHICH ONE OF YOU BASTARDS KILLED MY SEXY LAMB? appears today at my other site THE BEATNIK (see link).

The essay has also prompted an interesting discussion over on my MySpace page, with some stellar names on the contemporary poetry scene weighing in with their point of view. Was Bukowski, as one correspondent contends, "a lightweight"? Go over and tell us what you think.

Ronald Baatz comments, in an email, that as a writer I seem to be "blossoming and exploding" at the same time. Quite a feat, don't you think?

I just wish I could finish the damn essay about myself I'm trying to write for BARTON TODAY. The money work over the past few days has turned my head inside out and backwards so many times I actually managed to lock myself in to my own flat the other morning. Ended up being an hour and a half late for work because I couldn't find my keys.

Know where they were when they turned up the next day? In my jeans pocket. For a genius I manage to be quite an idiot at times.

Monday, September 24, 2007


OUTSIDER WRITERS have just published an essay of mine called "Which One Of You Bastards Killed My Sexy Lamb?" It's an investigation of contemporary poetics in the Underground and what I and Ginsberg call "the Academies"~ which is to say, I think, the Establishment~ and it's already causing quite a stir. Got a fabulous email from writer Rob Zoschke expressing a contrary opinion: I'm seeking his permission now to publish it on THE BEATNIK.

But I'm not going to do what all chickenshit commentators do when something causes controversy and claim I only wrote it to stimulate debate. The essay really expresses what I think. Go and have a look, then come back and tell me I'm an idiot.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Poetry and My Shallow, Shallow Mind

Sometimes I worry that I might have nothing to say. When I look at the works of other poets they seem to have so much that they want to share with you. Such profound observations on life and love and loss. Some can make a meditation on something marvellously heavy out of a glimpse of a spider's web on an autumn morning. Others are bursting with joy because of the sunset or the dewy grass at dawn. I saw a thousand poetic things while I was walking home from work this morning, but for some reason, most of what I try to translate into poetry when I work from these perceptions comes over as incredibly trivial and boring. Maybe what I see as poetic just isn't. Maybe I should be a photographer instead. Or a graffiti artist. Maybe, for somebody who likes to think of himself as really deep and serious, I'm just too superficial to have the thoughts a person needs to have to write poetry that engages other people. I do skate along on the surface of reality quite a lot. Most of my pain happened a long time ago, and not only have I realised that it was largely of my own making, I don't want it back. But I can fake a deep poem every now and then. Chuck in a bit of remembered existential angst, or borrow a meaningful scenario from television. The poetry goes over pretty well when I do that.

My girlfriend, as was, before our relationship fizzled out like a firework on a wet night in an empty garden, once said I had "hidden shallows". Most of the stuff sitting on my writing desk at home brings those shallows out of hiding.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Gerald Nicosia @ The Beatnik

Outstanding new material at the Beatnik ( today: Gerald Nicosia, still the best Kerouac biographer, whose honesty and lack of ass-kissing corporate finesse (which you would've thought an asset in the Beat universe), has earned him the eternal contumely of just about everyone with an investment in the mouldering bodies of Jack and Allen, has kindly allowed me to reproduce the press conference speech he gave in June of this year after discovering that his name was being written out of Beat histories by the powers that, regrettably, be. Read it. It's explosive.

Global Tapestry Journal

The best of the British counter-cultural/ post-Beat/ bohemian print magazines, "Global Tapestry Journal", returns this week for issue 30. And I'm in it, with two rather ravishing photos taken a couple of years ago when I didn't have a big grey beard--I shaved it again recently, but grew it back again straight away-- and my hair was sort of attractively curly (I was having sex intermittently then: it gives you confidence). There's also a long cranky piece I wrote in defence of one of my favourite scribblers Hunter S. Thompson, after some ass wrote an attention-seeking character assassination of the good Doc in the previous issue.

But my appearance in the magazine isn't the only delight. For your money you also get poetry by Bryn Fortey, Chris Torrance, Eddie Harriman, Bill Wyatt, Barry Edgar Pilcher, Dave Church and George Dowden. You also get an article about Chris Challis and a review by Jim Burns. Pretty good f****** value, I'd say. Go find it, if you know what's good for you.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

New Book by t.kilgore splake.

Yesterday I received t.kilgore splake's new book "A Celebration of Samantha" in the mail, and I read it in one sitting. It's an epistolary chapbook about a greybeard poet called splake (wonder where t. got the idea for that?) beginning a new love affair with a younger woman, waitress Elizabeth, who has a beguiling young daughter Samantha. Of course, this story, told gently, without phoney plot contrivances to keep you hooked, provides a framework for meditations on the past and what it means to be an older man pursuing an individualist vision--his "left bank" dreams--in a world that has no time for variety. So, familiar splake territory. But if you like splake, your appetite for his very definitive style and content probably can't be sated anyway. And if you don't, you can always do something else. Like try to write better than he does, eh? Comes fantastically presented with a set of evocative black-&-white photos.

Contact the Vertin Press for details.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Well, I've just learned that I'm going to be featured as "Poet of the Week" sometime soon at the OUTSIDER WRITERS website. I'm also going to be featured in my local magazine BARTON TODAY, after writing to the editor Colin and telling him, somewhat bumptiously, that they had a bona fide poet in their midst. Faint heart never won fair maiden, right? It's the right time for these things to happen because I've recently found a renewed focus and energy in my writing and my sense of myself as a poet, so maybe these developments will help that new vigour and self-confidence to continue for a while.

The other interesting development is that I've just received a lot of new material from Kerouac biographer Gerald Nicosia about his latest adventures in the strange and internecine world of the Beat Estates. These will shortly be appearing on the resurrected BEATNIK site (

For now, however, I'm not accepting any other submissions to Beatnik. Got so much from Nicosia to work through I want to focus my limited time at the computer on that.

Gerry reports that he is planning a biography of Ntozake Shange. A fantastic idea, I think. Anyone else agree that it's time her story was told?

Monday, September 10, 2007


In the mail today I received the new chapbook by Bryn Fortey. It's called "LYRICS BY...The Unrecorded Works of Bryn Fortey" and it's a selection, minus musical charts, of some of the best songs he has written over the years, with a succession of songwriting partners, including his late son Jim. Bryn, for those of you who don't know him, is famously self-effacing, and the self-penned introduction suggests his songwriting has been little more than the hobby of a man without talent; but it's not true. Like many an artist, perhaps, he didn't catch the breaks. But what I've read so far impresses me. I don't want to print his home address all over the internet but if anybody's interested in getting hold of a copy of the book, leave me a message and I'll email you how. It'll only set you back £3.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Post at the Beatnik

I posted my first little thing at the Beatnik in several months this morning. Just a little throwaway four-liner, but while I figure out how to get the site going again with the limited amount of time I have, it'll do. Go over and refresh your memory about what's happening there, if you have a few spare minutes today. It used to be something pretty interesting, before my house move and other calamities derailed it.

Friday, September 07, 2007


I don't know if you are familiar with the poetry of Ronald Baatz. He's one of my favourite American poets, if not at times my very favourite, having written a few poems that could stand alongside the best of anything by the poets Don Hall anthologised in his sainted volume of modern American verse. Well, now he's got a new chapbook out (relatively new). It's on Mark Weber's Zerx imprint (see links) and it's split with Mark: one half of the book features lighter poems on a range of themes by Weber, then you turn it over and the other half is a poem cycle by Ronald about his father's battle with Alzheimers. Tremendously moving it is too, without once descending into mawkishness or self-pity. He's just telling you his story, not asking you to feel sorry for him OR his dad. And it's stylistically a little different too, presented more like ordinary speech, without the illuminated images we associate with Ronald's short or longer writing. Good! It would have been a little creepy, writing something so personal with that kind of sophisticated polish. Shows Ronald is a poet of great range, as if we didn't know that already.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

An Offer

Since my poetry appeared in OTHER VOICES some interesting things have been happening. Today I read an email request to submit to a book celebrating the 50th anniversary of ON THE ROAD. Unfortunately I came to the email too late and have already missed the deadline. But it's thrilling to be asked. Shows that after all this time, all these years hacking away in journals and on the computer in bedrooms and at bus stops, I may finally have made a small dent in the literary scene.

The Beatnik Wants To Show His Face Again

I've been thinking just lately that it would be nice to reanimate the dormant BEATNIK. We were going great guns there for a while, attracting high quality poets and writers to the page. Then my move came and disrupted normal internet service. I am, for reasons detailed in earlier posts, typing these entries from libraries and internet cafes and I may have to be doing that for some time yet. So obviously I only have a limited amount of time at the computer. If I were a rich man I could sit at the computer all day. But I don't have a lot of money and I have to spend half my time working to acquire the money I've got. And some of the submissions I was playing with--well, all of them--presented difficulties when it came to the cut-and-paste process that only long and patient labour would have surmounted. You know how it is if you've tried it. You paste a well-spaced poem and it reproduces on the new page as one long sentence that you have to arduously chop up again.

And there was the small problem that I lost several quality submissions that were sitting in my email inbox when I changed internet providers (well, when I ditched the one I had to save money).

But the urge to put Blue Fred to work in some way remains. Anybody know how I can kill those cut-and-paste deveils so the process of posting a poet's submissions doesn't take longer than a beleaguered editor can afford?