Skip to main content

RAW POWER IN 1986

One of the best memories of my college years - I was educated at a private college run by nuns - was a summer house party hosted by Adam Frank - we were around 19, and we were drinking gin and tonics, and later Margaritas.  Adam has since become a brilliant professor.  We were into A.J. Ayer, Colin Wilson, Brecht, Kafka, Welles, Freud, Wilde and, Iggy Pop

Raw Power was playing - on a turn table I believe - and I had never heard it before.  Adam was wearing a bow tie and his goofy glasses - he was tall, with curly hair, and very funny, and smart.  Also in attendance were our friends the impossibly tall, erudite and charming Misha Glouberman (soon off to Harvard), Marcy Goldberg (so slinky and clever, a secret crush of mine), Douglas Barrett, a slim, blond physical and intellectual comedian, action-packed, manic, sexually exploratory, possibly blood-stained from previous antics, and my boyfriend at the time, sort of - our Cassady.  The poet, at the time an enigmatic petite red-lipped black-clad Goth, China-plate pale, Joy Division girl Susan Briscoe, was also there, and perhaps languid, Armani-casual Fabio Bagnara, now an Italian architect, then a handsome young playboy with film star looks but a shy bookish manner belying his desirability.

There were perhaps a few others - young men and women, intellectuals on the cusp, in a hot Montreal summer, August, at a pleasant suburban home, getting drunk some afternoon, with 'Your Pretty Face is Going To Hell' playing.  I loved that irony - the mix of Kleist and punk, decorum and style, and latent youthful exuberance.  We were in love then, with the idea of ourselves as on the brink of moving on - and soon, we all would leave Quebec, more or less (Susan has stayed, and forged a literary career there). I recall us later in the day sitting on the grass in the backyard, tipsy, eroticised, talking for hours, about ideas.  The lustre of thought, youth, desire, possibility, and the anarchic power of Pop limning those hours, forever, as signal times.  I was rarely ever again so among my kind, so pleased, so full of an occasion's lazy greatness. I hope they are still alive. I have not seen some of them for 25 years or more. 'Come and take me... I am alive.... Penetration'...

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of the new Simple Minds album - Walk Between Worlds

Taste is a matter of opinion - or so goes one opinion. Aesthetics, a branch of pistols at dawn, is unlikely to become unruffled and resolved any time soon, and meantime it is possible to argue, in this post-post-modern age, an age of voter rage, that political opinion trumps taste anyway. We like what we say is art. And what we say is art is what likes us.

Simple Minds - the Scottish band founded around 1977 with the pale faces and beautiful cheekbones, and perfect indie hair cuts - comes from a time before that - from a Glasgow of poverty and working-class socialism, and religiosity, in a pre-Internet time when the heights of modernity were signalled by Kraftwerk, large synthesisers, and dancing like Bowie at 3 am in a Berlin club.

To say that early Simple Minds was mannered is like accusing Joyce of being experimental. Doh. The band sought to merge the icy innovations of German music with British and American pioneers of glam and proto-punk, like Iggy Pop; their heroes were contrived,…

THE WINNER OF THE SIXTH FORTNIGHT PRIZE IS...



Wheeler Light for 'Life Jacket'.

The runner-up is: Daniel Duffy - 'President Returns To New York For Brief First Visit'

Wheeler Light currently lives in Boulder, Colorado.



Life Jacket

summer camp shirtsI couldn’t fit in then
are half my size nowI wanted to wear
smaller and smallerarticles of clothing
I shrunk to the sizethat disappeared

of an afterthoughtin a sinking ship body
too buoyant to sinktoo waterlogged for land
I becamea dot of sand

JOHN ASHBERY HAS DIED

With the death of the poetic genius John Ashbery, whose poems, translations, and criticism made him, to my mind, the most influential American poet since TS Eliot, 21st century poetry is moving into less certain territory.

Over the past few years, we have lost most of the truly great of our era: Edwin Morgan, Gunn, Hill, Heaney and Walcott, to name just five.  There are many more, of course. This is news too sad and deep to fathom this week.  I will write more perhaps later. 

I had a letter from Ashbery on my wall, and it inspired me daily.  He gave me advice for my PhD. He said kind things about a poetry book of mine.

He was a force for good serious play in poetry, and his appeal great. So many people I know and admire are at a loss this week because of his death. It is no consolation at present to think of the many thousands of living poets, just right now. But impressively, and even oddly, poetry itself seems to keep flowing.