To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Steven Kushner’s Cloud House on the Move

[note.  Since 1970 Steven Kushner (“Kush”) has been known to many of us as the founder & sole proprietor of Cloud House, an amazing & constantly expanding archive of contemporary American poetry, largely audiovisual & equal in size to most institutionally sponsored repositories of kindred materials, or even greater.  As his life work he has come to view Cloud House as a poetmuseum (or, as he likes to say, a “poetmusée”) of the spirit, carrying it with him from New York City to what has been its ongoing residence for many years in San Francisco.  To this he has also contributed as an ongoing chronicler & video artist, catching the likenesses & voices of most poets of note on the west coast & of those from elsewhere who have passed through his territory.  As I post this he is preparing to move again: a return to the east coast where this all began & a new residence & revitalized project in Catskill, New York.  The search for funding & a permanent home for this extraordinary treasure continues into the present, for which Kush’s description that follows is explanation enough.  (J.R.)]
The Cloud House/”Walt Whitman Breathes Here” is a poet-driven cultural & audiovisual archive, a poetic research center and performance space with programs of screenings, literary-historical art installations and poets theatre, engaging the greater community.
Bi-coastal in its storefront emanations, the Cloud House is a vital experiment of cultural imagination, challenging conventional forms by exhibiting poets work, mind and voice. For more than 40 years, the Cloud House has been a poetic sanctuary for the creators of the San Francisco Poetry Renaissances and nomadic poets from around from world. Integral with this archival vision is the field-documentation of poets performing in their native communities or as visitors to the fabled venues of the Bay Area, week by week, month by month, year by year for decades, creating a detailed record of contemporary poetry practice in the tradition of Paul Blackburn. The Cloud House has built an unmatched audiovisual collection, including historic recordings of poets at the core of the anti-tradition such as Allen Ginsberg, Diane di Prima and Gary Snyder.

The scope of the Cloud House is open-ended beyond what passes for poetry in the accepted genres/norms, ranging from the avant-garde to the indigenous, from the historic cutting edge to the timeless individual, from the acknowledged to the wild unknown. The Cloud House Poetry Archives encompass poets of all ethnicities, their lineages, legacies and linkages on a planetary scale and especially poet-discoveries from ethnopoetic fieldwork. The Cloud House is a center for investigatory poetics, exploring roots and branches, the origins of poets and back stories of their work. Our mission is now to establish a living museum and research center, a poetmusee based on its audiovisual & multimedia collections, to preserve and transmit the unending breakthroughs of all the East & West Coast Poetry Renaissances. This Cloud is a poetic genius toolkit and a laboratory for the formulation of a new culture, a new consciousness where poetry is at center of life and community, embodying the creative word of truth, beauty and imagination.

 The Cloud House is in the process of a establishing a new home at 452 Main Street, Catskill, New York.

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