Tag Archives: free jazz

Giorno Poetry Systems: the dial-a-poem-poets

I was over at the Outlaw Poetry and Free Jazz Network this evening and came across this absolute gem… they have posted the complete audio of the first dial-a-poem-poets album (complete with that warm vinyl crackle) released by John Giorno in 1972. The album features poetry and experimental writing by legends such as Frank O’Hara, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, John Cage, Jim Carroll, Robert Creeley, Diane Di Prima and Philip Whalen. This is seriously transcendental stuff and very hard to get your hands/ears on the actual item, so it is great to be able to hear this amazing body of work.

This post also lead me to the UbuWeb Sound page, where you can download the complete Giorno Poetry Systems catalogue. For me this was like finding pirate treasure… all 12 albums waiting for you to unlock their mysteries…

I hope this provides you all with hours of literary kicks.


Filed under poetry & publishing

Where do the Words Come From #2 – Santo Cazzati

The second in the Where do the Words Come From? series takes a look inside the thoughts, processes and intensely musical world of Santo Cazzati.





My erstwhile careers as a concert pianist and a free jazz performer-composer left me with the frustrating feeling that I was doing nothing innovative. I felt that the cutting edge in music was in underground club music as produced by post-1984 music technology and played by DJs or in “world music” which challenged the dominant ideas of what constitutes the mainstream direction in music (the “anti-chocko conspiracy”). When I found that my powers of analysis and aesthetic appreciation of this music via a massive CD collection far outshone my ability to actually produce original specimens, I gave up trying to be a musician. But just before I did, I had started to incorporate spoken word elements into my compositions. Removing the music left me with a cappella spoken word. Many of my spoken word pieces have a ghostly trace of absent music. But I have since discovered the brilliant and suggestive music of speech rhythms, subtle vocal inflections and use of pitch variation that we all use to communicate. None of this communication appears on the printed page but can make an enormous difference to how words are intended by their speaker to be understood and how they are actually interpreted by the recipient. This is my number one influence in spoken word performance.


Writing Process:

Decide in advance the general shape of the piece you want to produce – length, subject matter, vocal sounds, attitudes. Drink a bottle of wine. Listen to music which is in a related mood. Sit at computer and write uncensored. Then eat and sober up. Go to work the next day. Then look at the crazy stuff written the day before. Retain utterly visionary and inspired grammatical incongruities. Delete all tired cliches. Read aloud, as if in performance, over and over again for several days until you find you are no longer making small changes to the text. This kills two birds with the one stone – you are editing and also practising for performance. Howzat?


Where The Voice Comes From:

In primitive times, undoubtedly, indistinct human vocal utterances would have been closer to what we now call “music”. In Ancient Greece, “poetry” and “music” were not distinguished from one another. The word “rhetoric” did not have the pejorative connotation it does today. Rhetoric was the art of convincing and moving listeners with the power, subtlety and expression of your voice. This is almost everything to me. I have issued a challenge to a talented and inventive Melbourne sound poet to see if we can read a page from the Yellow Pages and make it sound interesting and aesthetic just through the use of our voices.


Recurring Themes:

The theme, if you can call it that, which recurs repeatedly in my spoken texts, is the aural structure. You should be able to listen to my pieces, have no clue what the hell I’m talking about, or perhaps be quite antagonistic to the subject matter, and still appreciate it as a sound structure. I’ll never forget the utterly moving experience of competing in a poetry slam with poets who recited their work in Greek and Arabic. I did not understand a word (other than the really obvious like “megalo” and “Iraq”) but was deeply moved by the richness of the intonation patterns, phrasing, metre, timing, raw vocal individuality – in other words, the music of it all. Having said that, there is a strong recurring influence on the subject matter of my pieces and that seems to be some kind of countercultural critique of the stupid mainstream society we are surrounded by, whether this is reflected in the economy, politics, our sexual relations, our chance day-to-day encounters. I think I am so addicted to irony that I am incapable of a single sincere utterance. But that is a kind of sincerity, is it not?


How My Feelings Have Changed?

The absolute best thing that happened to me was when I stopped wasting my time in the soul destroying pursuit of sending written poems to journals only to be published half a dozen times while receiving form letter rejections in the hundreds. When I turned to spoken word and not printed word, I found a regular and appreciative audience which meant I had a chance to develop an individual and innovative perspective as an artist. Instant response of a live audience is tangible. But even if you do get published, it is almost impossible to gauge that audience response.



Santo Cazzati is only a spoken word artist. His texts do not disseminate in print or any other kind of written form.


About Santo Cazzati:

Santo Cazzati is a spoken word artist. The son of
Italian immigrants to Australia, he emerged from past
lives as a classical concert pianist and avant garde
jazz musician to teach at an elite Melbourne private
school which must remain anonymous in order to protect
those concerned. He performs in a range of styles,
from fast rhythmical delivery to slow atmospheric
meditation, often with a strong world music influence
and critical ironic distance.

Links to Performances

1) At ABC Online, hear “first prize ($10) winning” piece, “Ballet Class”, from Jan 2009 Babble Poetry Slam.


2) Other Babble performances can be seen as well as heard. Click on the two thumbnails “Mafia Slam : Santo” for “Rental Property Inspection” and “The Poor Struggling Landlord”. Or on “Zombie Slam : Sacrifice” for “Bulgarian Rhythms”.


3) Appearances on television programme Red Lobster include “Telly And Phone Talk” in Episode 177 and “Silk And Bamboo Charanga” in Episode 180. These pieces are on late in the 30 minute programme and unfortunately it seems that you cannot fast forward to the spot but can in any event see other poets performing in Melbourne’s grass roots scene on the way.



Filed under Where do the Words Come From?