Jamil's Reviews > The Portable Sixties Reader

The Portable Sixties Reader by Ann Charters
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's review
Feb 01, 09

bookshelves: anthologies, beatific, drugs, life-during-wartime, music, thumbed-thru, san-francisco, secret-histories, pomes
Read in February, 2009

Dylan - "The Lonseome Death of Hattie Carroll"
Yusef Komunyakaa - "2527th Birthday Of The Buddha"
Yusef Komunyakaa - "Nude Interrogation" :
"DID YOU KILL ANYONE OVER THERE? Angelica shifts her gaze from the Janis Joplin poster to the Jimi Hendrix, lifting the pale muslin blouse over her head. The blacklight deepens the blues when the needle drops into the first groove of "All Along the Watchtower." I don't want to look at the floor. Did you kill anyone? Did you dig a hole, crawl inside, and wait for your target? Her miniskirt drops into a rainbow at her feet. Sandalwood incense hangs a slow comet of perfume over the room. I shake my head. She unhooks her bra and flings it against a bookcase made of plywood and cinderblocks. Did you use an M-16, a hand-grenade, a bayonet, or your own two strong hands, both thumbs pressed against that little bird in the throat? She stands with her left thumb hooked into the elastic of her sky-blue panties. When she flicks off the blacklight, snowy hills rush up to the windows. Did you kill anyone over there? Are you right-handed or left-handed? Did you drop your gun afterwards? Did you kneel beside the corpse and turn it over? She's nude against the falling snow. Yes. The record spins like a bull's eyes on the far wall of Xanadu. Yes, I say. I was scared of the silence. The night was too big. And afterwards, I couldn't stop looking up at the sky."

Andrew Gordon - "Smoking Dope With Thomas Pynchon: A Sixties Memoir"
William S. Burroughs - "The Coming of the Purple Better One"
Sherman Alexie - "Because My Father Always Said He Was the Only Indian Who Saw Jimi Hendrix Play 'The Star Spangled Banner' at Woodstock"
Michael McClure - from Ghost Tantras:
It was all O.K.
I suffered.
There were scents, and flowers, and textures, beautiful women.
I was a handsome man. I invented love.
I radiated genius for those who saw me with loving eyes.
I was happy -- I laughed and cried. Constantly new
sights and sounds. I trembled and sweated
at the sight of beauty. I laughed at strong
things because I loved them -- wanting to kick them in
and make freedom. When I go I'M GONE.
Don't resurrect me
or the duplicates of my atoms.
It was perfect!
I am sheer spirit."

Sylvia Plath - "Lady Lazarus"
Gary Snyder - "What You Should Know to Be a Poet"
Lew Welch - ["Whenever I Make a New Poem":]
Michael McClure - for Marilyn Monroe, from Ghost Tantras, #39
Don L. Lee - "Assassination"
Lawrence Ferlinghetti - "Assassination Raga"
Allen Ginsberg - "On Neal's Ashes"
The Harvard Crimson - "Kerouac, 1922-1969":
"WOULDN'T YOU KNOW IT? Kerouac is dead. Neal Cassady is dead, and now Kerouac, of a "massive hemorrhage." He drank too much. He couldn't seem to make the transition to the flower-power scene. He was too much the dirty bum, the dope fiend, the sinner redeemed through his sin, innocent the whole way, embarrassingly sincere, impatient, hostile, one of the most generous souls of his time, a creator of the American underground, avatar of the ones who could not fight the Nova Police because there were too few of them, and they would have been crushed: William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, Kerouac. So they ran.
"It seems that these days, after the myth of the possibility of a congenial and happy world has been ripped from our grasp by the maudlin and ranting politicos, that maybe the spirit of the Beats is the only viable one for those of us who are tired of waiting around for a fight we don't want, who agree with Kerouac that stupidity is prolific, who are just not naive enough any longer to be hip, who just want to live, and stop playing magician with the realities of our lives, pulling revolutions out of thin air, pulling our personalities from the pages of underground newspapers and half-baked talk, turning nonsense into our daily bread, like some mad troupe of sorcerer's apprentices-Cum-epileptic Luther.
"According to his friends, Kerouac was almost never tired and always hopeful. No one went to visit him in his time; we were embarrassed by our writing teachers who told us that Kerouac's prose was bad. It isn't. Now he's dead; but he was a good man, and the ideas for which he was mocked, that "bad prose" which liberated so many, are still good. We should say a prayer for him: God give us strength to be as alive as Kerouac was. Send us more to help burn away the bullshit."

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