Friday, March 23, 2012

i've been misled by many influences

almost every significant creator riding the crest of a wave. i once took a class in shakespeare's contemporaries, ben jonson, christopher marlowe, etc. the prof said, "imagine william listening to the others and thinking i can write a better clown than you! " i often wonder what influence san francisco and north beach had on me? as an aging teenager, i wandered in and out of the co-existence bagel shop, mike's place, city lights, starting in 1956. a lit prof in berkeley brought alan ginzberg to class and he read from kaddish, which he'd been o revising in the quad. in retrospect, beardless, how incredibly young he looked. 

who was that teaching assistant who read my first poems? later he became a legend in poetry circles, jack gilbert, views of jeopardy. 

and what about josphine miles, a poet and teacher crippled in a wheel-chair who encouraged me, hearing my first efforts? for better or worse, youth needs inspiration from a crowd. no wonder new york the mecca. all in all, i spent three years on Manhattan, beginning in 1962. back and forth across america by bus and car, not even having read on the road.

or what about being a firelookout? i'd visited my first, cone peak, at eleven in 1951. and i applied to montana at seventeen, in the heart of the beat era. i'm not even sure i knew then snyder and kerouac had been tower-sitters. gary, to this day,  asked time and again about his two summers on desolation peak. and here i am working on my  fifty first year and forty-ninth season. actually, i didn't know any of these guys. that probably removes me from my role as the last beatnik, despite the virus entering my blood, never to leave. 

maybe it's important to be able to see yourself as part of a generation. i'll have to go back and read some of my own poems: