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

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Poet Power: A Forgotten Manifesto from the 1960s

Jointly written by the undersigned and published as a letter to the New York Review of Books in 1968. Reprinted here for the historical record.

To the Editors:

We assembled poets respectable enough to travel across the planet to Stony Brook hereby announce to the public that we are all victims of closed vision, crippled mechanical consciousness, and bad poetry mouthed by all governments and propagandized thru controlled mass media.

That police state military tyranny, sexual repression and laws against expansion of consciousness by joyful music naked dance and high natural herbs threaten further evolution of the race. Joy to all poets' wives and lovers in every country (Herbert).

That no government except the invisible commune of poetry has become conscious that man's usurpation over all nature is an egotism that will destroy human as well as whale kingdoms thru ecological disruption of the planet surface.

That revolutions of consciousness manifested in human society by younger generations present should be protected from armed dinosaur repression and black magic violence perpetrated by the state; that everywhere Stony Brook to Vietnam the state is the cause and source of violence, state violence is preventing peaceful change. Student violence exacerbates some people (Cooperman). Poets fighting on suburban lawns drunk is also real. (Ginsberg).

That Black Power is the active American conscience, the African soul rising within our nation to force the European soul to love and the marriage of races in a new humanity. We must all work for the wedding of Asia and our continent. For Asia sulks in rejection and pride and only begins to roar in pain (Duncan)—that Black Power is an ideal vision of African Divinity resurrected to save the white rational races from suffocating the entire planet in dung colored gas—We ask return to true tribal structure in which men use society rather than be used. (Oppenheimer)—

That the U.S. utopian* war against attempted state* utopias in China and Cuba as well as Vietnam is a bring down for the entire human race—that good old Dr. Spock and friends have made pure poetic statement aiding and abetting younger bodies to avoid War Theater, that the assembled poets commit the same holy deed.—

That the new consciousness articulated by longhair revolutionary student generations Prague New York Paris Madrid Santiago everywhere on earth begins the fulfillment of human anarchy (withering away of state [Guellivic]) and communal utopia prophesized by poets for millenia—Academies should return to wisdom study in tree groves rather than robot study in plastic cells—Bless the Universe!

By Ed Sanders, A.J.M. Smith, Allen Ginsberg, Allen Planz, Ann London, Anselm Hollo, Anthony Hecht, Clayton Eshleman, Czeslaw Milosz, Dan Rowe, Denise Levertov, Donald Hall, Donald Justice, Eduardo de Olivera, G.E. Kimball, George A. Williams, George Hitchcock, George Quasha, Holly Stevens, J.D. Reed, Jerome Rothenberg, Jim Harrison, Joel Oppenheimer, John Logan, Louis Simpson, Jackson MacLow, Milton Kessler, Nicanor Parra, Robert Duncan, Robert Vas Dias, Ron Loweinsohn, Stanley Cooperman, T. Weiss, Tim Reynolds, Tom Gatten, Zbigniew Herbert


Kirby Olson said...

Hey, I wonder if at least some of this manifesto is shameful to you at this point?

Cuba, Vietnam, and China? Oh, my heavens. Vietnamese average income per year: 324 dollars.

Boat people. Their poets slaughtered. Christians killed.

Cuba -- heaven on earth?

Tianamen Square?

Oh my goodness.

Sexual repression? Doesn't Tiger Woods' wife wish there WAS such a thing?

Oh my goodness, Mr. Rothenberg!

any second thoughts?

The CDC now spends well over half its funding doing research on sexually transmitted diseases, while people with other diseases: Huntington's Chorea, Lyme, etc., are squeezed out to face nature's death squads alone.

Oh my goodness. State violence, in an era in which individuals terrorize neighborhoods, and whole cities, and our only defense is the state?

I just wonder if you've changed your perspective at all since then!?

Goodness gracious.

vanderleun said...

Olson is correct.

jadecar said...

Thank-you for publishing this. A beautiful piece. Somewhat dated perhaps, but far from merely a period piece. Still relevant today.

Shameful? I think not.

Second thoughts? Perhaps.

Olson is wrong.

Goodness gracious?

Give me a break.

xenopoeta said...

Olson, your logic is incorrect.

The poets wrote this in 1968, and they are not responsible for Tianamen Square (sp) any more than I, as someone born in 1976, am responsible for Vietnam.

Oh, goodness, yeah, the state is so more beneficial to humankind than poets ever were.

I admit that the statement seems a little crazy, but that is because the whole fucking world was crazy in 1968, and this state, the U.S. had a big role in it.

Miles Pflanz said...

It's a shame the comments here are so backward. I was really excited when I saw this and think what's said here should hold just as much promise today as it did in 1968. Thanks for posting this great document!

vanderleun said...

Great document my foot. It's an argument for the Pit.

vanderleun said...

Decolonize your mind, Miles.