Thursday, April 09, 2009

3 recommended books

(N.B. Any future posts will be @

In addition to the latest Iain Sinclair of course, I recommend Michael Horovitz' A NEW WASTE LAND, subtitled Timeship Earth at Nillennium, from New Departures, London, 2007, a large work of prose, poetry, photographs, cartoons, collage, commentary, notes, and invective from the man of whom Kathleen Raine had written: "He is a morally engaged poet and a trenchant critic of social corruption, not so much from a political standpoint but rather from the perspective of the "politics of eternity" of William Blake." And on faith, because I haven't seen it yet, THE MABINOGI by John K. Bollard, a new translation of the ancient Welsh text.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Leonard Cohen : An Appreciation

Leonard Cohen's poetry is more in a tradition of King David than of his mentor and friend, Irving Layton, to whom THE BOOK OF LONGING is dedicated.

Living on Hydra, with Marianna and her young son, Axel, in the 1960's, he learned to speak fluent Greek, and it is this knowledge, care, and precision, which, over 30 years later, permitted him to render Cavafy's great poem, THE GOD ABANDONS ANTONY, into the extraordinary lyric, ALEXANDRA LEAVING.

Friday, March 13, 2009

for Pessoans

Here's a little poem I had not previously seen. It's by Magda Jawor, and it's translated from the Polish by S.A. Oleksy. (initially posted by the poet then publishing as Magdalena Jawor, on her site, in February 2006. Translation posted March 2006

Ophelia Queiroz no longer wants to love a poet

You frighten me Fernando, Alvaro, Ricardo,
or are you now Alberto your cubical gaucho
who eyes his luscious pampas through the office window
who chases flocks of musings from the roofs of Lisbon.

The alien ones attract you; of some haughty hoyden
who walks a paper pavement, of some blinding blonde one
you say you espy her; really, have you eyed her?

In verse you want to drown me; you know that I, Ophelia,
won't feel the silty bottom, that the swelling river
is woven through my body, my body is soughing -
and when you print its soughing, I will drown forever.

Fernando, I forbid you to lyricize about me
I do not want a nosegay of letters so lovesick
That they will all be published as soon as death claims us


my own post on Pessoa and Ophelia Queiroz @ (nov. 26, '05).

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

2 poems

and a recent photograh by Anabela Lopes in "Cafe Central" (under "Culture") on

w/thanks to poet Michael March, posting as "Half Pint" on that site.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Marlon Brando

Richard Burton said of Brando: "He surprises me.  He's the only one who does."
The new biography, SOMEBODY (Knopf, 2008), by Stefan Kanfer is quite readable, and a good riposte to Peter Manso's 1000 page resentful hatchet-job which Kanfer calls "wearisome and creepy" but as in any biography there are a few things which need correction.
First, and most importantly, Kanfer foolishly characterizes Tarita Teripaia, Brando's third wife, mother of three of his children, the female lead of MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY, as an "empty-headed 19 year old hotel worker" which is not only surprisingly nasty but is also untrue.  In addition to her other obvious charms, Tarita Teripaia was one of the best tamure dancers in Tahiti, and although I have yet to read her book, MARLON - MY LOVE & MY TORMENT, I don't see why Kanfer goes out of his way to denigrate her.  Probably she refused to co-operate in the writing of the biography. 
Brando, despite his clear and controversial stands against racism in America and the work he did and the commitments he made on behalf of American Indians, never, to the best of my knowledge, spoke out against French nuclear testing in the Pacific, a fact which Kanfer omits.  I never met Brando, so I cannot say for sure, but I surmise it must have been part of the deal he cut with the French which allowed him to buy the Tetiaroa atolls.  Kanfer says Tetiaroa cost him only $70,000.  I was given to understand it was $700,000, but I may be wrong.   
As Brando's old friend Karl Malden had written in a letter to him: "I went to see A DRY WHITE SEASON and I don't care if you are five hundred pounds or fifty pounds.  You are a fucking genius."  Having met one of Brando's cooks while on Moorea ("time held me green and dying though I sang in my chains like the sea"), I was told that he began to put on really serious and exceptional weight due to his continually eating melting chocolate ice-cream which he couldn't get enough of.  Tubs of it arrived every day on Tetiaroa.  At least that is what his cook said.
Except of course for the Drollet family and their ohana, everyone on Tahiti and Moorea spoke highly of Brando.  But I suppose that Tarita and Brando's surviving offspring there do have the last word on this. The tragic death of Cheyenne was mourned by all who knew her.  Personally, I believe that there was a form of sexual jealousy involved in Dag Drollet's murder by Cheyenne's half-brother, Christian, but Kanfer does not go into this, and, finally, it is none of my business and is perhaps over-analytical speculation. 
Having visited Tetiaroa I can attest to its other-worldly and dreamlike beauty, and despite what Kanfer says, it remains not just undeveloped but, due to frequent cyclones, and its distance from Tahiti, and anywhere else for that matter, 4-5 hours by fast catamaran, undevelopable, thank God.  In short its amazing natural loveliness ("le bleu qui fait mal aux yeux") remains by-and-large intact.  Which is how Mr. Brando wanted it to be. 
It is of course sadly understandable that after Cheyenne's suicide "the South Seas lost their power of enchantment" for Brando as Kanfer writes. Perhaps. But had he continued to return there (as he once secretly did) he would have been subject to arrest by the French authorities as a material witness in the murder of Dag Drollet and subject to civil suit, just as Cheyenne herself, had she not returned to Tahiti, would have been called to testify in Los Angeles. 
Kanfer ends respectfully and properly and rightly: "Will Marlon retain his iconic status in the years to come?....Skeptics who think the man's impact is exaggerated can find the truth easily enough.  All they have to do is compare the leading male performances before his debut with those afterward.  Once observed, these astonishing performances cannot be unseen....By taking chances, by jumping without a net in film after film for more than fifty years, Marlon Brando rewrote the conventions of screen acting."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

letter to Ralph Maud

dear Ralph,

heard you were ill. trust you are better.

enjoyed your biographical corrective to Tom Clark; just have two disagreements with you on factual points:

(1) Olson did do a universe rubber band number. (Maud, p. 11, CHARLES OLSON AT THE HARBOR, Talonbooks, 2008.) A talk in London. I wasn't there then - was back in Buffalo, 1966, but it influenced Allen Fisher, who mentons it in an online interview recently, and who did several paintings in this field. He didn't say there were any of his (Allen's) poems specifically on it. But obviously at one point in his life, Olson had thought along these lines.

(2) The second point is less factual, more in the way of disagreement with your position re: Havelock's importance. (Personally, if invited I would have gone to that meeting/dinner; a shame you didn't, really.) PREFACE TO PLATO was the ONLY text REQUIRED for his Modern Poetry class, 9/63 - 5/64, and Olson made a specific point of referring the class to the article "Parataxis in Homer" by J.A. Notopolous (TAPA) 80, 1949, 1-23. In fact, either he xeroxed copies for the class, or encouraged us to read and do so, have now forgotten which. The article was footnoted in the Havelock text. It was a touchstone of sorts giving him the underpinning for what he "had come to know" but couldn't "prove" - i.e. the same reason he "withheld" Letter 27 from the first Maximus. So there was more to the Tom Clark Havelock speculation than you give him credit for in my opinion.

And I must add that your RD comment (p. 195) was a bit scurrilous don't you think?

w/best wishes,
bill sherman.

(page references to the Ralph Maud biography added Feb. 3rd)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


The CD recorded in Liverpool late last August (see below, post for Dec. 3, '08) with five of my poems and five songs by British guitarist, singer-songwriter, Dominic Williams, is still available.

Anyone out there who would like a copy please contact me by e-mail or by slow post @ 9300 Atlantic Ave., Apt. 218, Margate, NJ, 08402.