Tag Archives: Beat Poetry

Make my grave shape of heart: Peter Orlovsky, 1933 – 2010

I was sad to read yesterday that Beat legend, Peter Orlovsky had passed away on May 30. Orlovsky, who was Allen Ginsberg’s life-long partner, died in Vermont as fellow Beat legend Anne Waldman writes,  “with “trach” in throat in orange sheets at the kind Vt Respite Center in Williston, Vermont (but no extra tubes/ heroic measures for this advanced cancer on his lung!), a copy of the Songs of Saraha by his pillow, photo of beloved Allen Ginsberg companion of many years on the wall, other Buddhist images, iPod of music he loved including chants by Buddhist nuns, cards from friends and out the window a bird feeder with finch and red-winged blackbirds landing/taking off.” (Read Waldman’s full tribute here)

Orlovsky’s poetry was overshadowed by Ginsbergs for many years, but his work has since earned the deep respect of readers, writers and critics. His writings were collected by City Lights Books in 1977 and William Carlos Williams described his work as having, “the kind of natural voice America would one day sound.”

Orlovsky was a true original and his presence in the world will continue to have a lasting impact on all that come into contact with his words.

His ‘Snail Poem’, has long been a favourite of mine… Here it is, along with a link to 3 other fine poems.

Snail Poem

Make my grave shape of heart so like a flower be free aired
       & handsome felt,
Grave root pillow, tung up from grave & wigle at
       blown up clowd.
Ear turnes close to underlayer of green felt moss & sound
       of rain dribble thru this layer
       down to the roots that will tickle my ear.
Hay grave, my toes need cutting so file away
       in sound curve or
Garbage grave, way above my head, blood will soon
       trickle in my ear –
       no choise but the grave, so cat & sheep are daisey
Train will tug my grave, my breath hueing gentil vapor
       between weel & track.
So kitten string & ball, jumpe over this mound so
       gently & cutely
So my toe can curl & become a snail & go curiousely
       on its way.

                                                    Peter Orlovsky, 1958 NYC            


Filed under interviews/artist profiles

Poetry & Music: Two Sides of Consciousness

With SpeedPoets rolling back into InSpire Gallery Bar today in Brisbane’s West End, I have been busily thinking about which poems I might perform with musical powerhouse, Sheish Money. It is an incredible thing when poetry and music come together; and for me it is not just about the musician interpreting the words of the poet. Just as important is the poet’s interpretation of the music.  This morning I was reading an interview with Beat Poet, Michael McClure and Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek, and I think McClure summed up the relationship between music and poetry (almost) perfectly:

When a poet and a musician share a successful symbiosis, the two sides of consciousness mesh together and the audience becomes more engaged in the work.

The side that responds to music and to the sensibility of time and beauty comes together and works with the part of consciousness that responds to words. The two working together create a larger experience for the person.

It is this belief that has driven SpeedPoets along for the past nine years and drives much of my own creativity. When writing a poem, I always stop to consider how it may sound when working with Sheish. More often than not, the end result sounds completely different to my initial imaginings, but for me it is important to give a great deal of thought to ‘sound’ during the writing process.

So if you are out and about today in Brisbane, enjoying the Autumn sun, stop by InSpire (71 Vulture St. West End) and unite your consciousness. SpeedPoets will be lighting up the room from 2pm to 5pm.

And I totally recommend reading the complete interview with McClure and Manzarek… to see and hear what they are talking about check out this performance of McClure’s poem Czechoslovakia.


Filed under events & opportunities, interviews/artist profiles, poetry & publishing