Interview with David Stephen Calonne, author of Diane di Prima: Visionary Poetics and the Hidden Traditions, Recorded via Zoom, Sunday, June 6, 2021, 1:30pm
Diane di Prima, who died in October 2020: “Saw the role of the poet in modern times to be the creation of a visionary poetics rooted in the hidden spiritual traditions which may rejuvenate and bring humans to a higher state of love, joy, community, and awarness.” So concludes David Stephen Calonne in his brilliant book Diane di Prima: Visionary Poetics and the Hidden Traditions.
David Stephen Calonne is senior lecturer in the Department of English Language and Literature at Eastern Michigan University. Author of several works, including R. Crumb: Literature, Autobiography, and the Quest for Self; William Saroyan: My Real Work Is Being; The Spiritual Imagination of the Beats and biographies of Charles Bukowski and Henry Miller. Calonne is also editor of five volumes of uncollected Bukowski stories and essays as well as Conversations with Gary Snyder and Conversations with Allen Ginsberg, both published by University Press of Mississippi.
I was delighted to team up with postcard poet (with a new book!) Margaret Lee for an essay that has been published on the website of the Journal for Black Mountain College Studies. Postcard poets represented include J.I. Kleinberg, Judy Jensen, Tim Mateer & Colette Dutton. The legendary and ground-breaking college hidden in the hills in Western North Carolina was a preview of Aquarian Age sensibilities, multi-racial, GLBTQ+ friendly and centered around creativity. The film Fully Awake: Black Mountain College told the story well:
What a delight it was to collaborate with such a bright mind, who understands the message of the medium of postcards, light years away from the discord of social mierda like Facebook. An essay excerpt:
Sending postcards to strangers—a lost art, even quaint—has become the main gateway to the activities of a 27-year-old, literary arts-oriented, nonprofit organization. The Poetry Postcard Fest, inaugurated in 2007 by SPLAB (Seattle Poetics LAB), has become a way for poets to take their first step in aligning their cosmology and poetics. The mail art movement is said to have started with Ray Johnson in 1943, so the tradition is not exactly ancient, despite how out-of-date it feels in the age of instant communication. Jonathan Williams’ Jargon Society, Fluxus, Jack Spicer, Robin Blaser, Ted Berrigan, and others have experimented with postcards as art. Building on their insights, the Poetry Postcard Fest rests on a straightforward premise: practicing spontaneous composition on postcards allows one to attune to the moment. Poets write more, edit less, and begin to experience the depths of open form, including seriality, in the great tradition of the poets published in Black Mountain Review, including some who did not visit Black Mountain College, such as Denise Levertov and Michael McClure, and some who were influenced by projective verse, such as Paul Blackburn. READ MORE.
Michael Boughn is a brilliant poet who edited Robert Duncan’s mythical H.D. Book, studied with Robin Blaser and co-edited the dangerous website Dispatches from the Poetry Wars, now archived via Simon Fraser University, where Boughn studied. We caught up to him Monday, May 24, 2021 to talk about the late poet Jack Clarke. Michael created an introduction to Clarke’s work on the Caesura website and we discussed that and other things related to this badly neglected poet. My intro:
An introduction to a series of recordings of poems in the recent edition of Caesura Magazine says that the poet, Jack Clarke, who died in 1992, was: “Grounded in an extensive scholarship into the history and life of myth.” And his work, “according to Albert Cook who recruited him for the new SUNY Buffalo English Department in 1963, moved as far beyond his friend and mentor, Charles Olson, as Olson had moved beyond Ezra Pound.” (Clarke taught there for almost 30 years.) In addition, the introduction goes on to say, “William Blake gave Clarke his love and passion for myth, and his commitment to — as Blake urged — “create a system” rather than “be enslaved by another man’s… Clarke’s poetry is the site of deep thinking through myth toward an energetic cosmology.”
Michael Boughn was a student of Jack Clarke, is his literary executor and a fine poet in his own right and we catch up with him today via Zoom to talk about Jack Clarke’ his work and legacy and potential lessons for poets working now.