Stuck in the Middle , Somewhere

I’m about halfway through Philip Whalen’s Overtime and finding more and more ties to those aspects of Beat poetry that I don’t find very endearing. At times I feel like I am trying to read a lifetime of entries for some guy's blog in a week, including page-long rants in CAPITALS. I MEAN, HOW LONG CAN YOU SIT THERE LISTENING TO SOMEONE WHILE HE YELLS AT YOU ABOUT NOTHING? Now, it might have been great if I had read this over twenty years time, but this isn’t what I expect in a poetry book. Cut the CRAP, man. GET ON with the GOOD STUFF.

Here’s a SHORT example of the crap that, unfortunately, links Whalen to some of his friends:

A Penny for the Old Guy
FOR ARAM SAROYAN

nickel nickel dime
dime dime nickel quarter
(quarter two-bits)
quarter quarter four-bits
quarter quarter quarter six-bits
nickel nickel nickel fifteen cents
six bits & a quarter dollar buck
dollar dollar dollar dollar dollar fin
fin fin sawbuck
Double sawbuck twenty
5 times twenty is a bill

bill bill bill bill bill
YARD
bill bill bill bill bill

with much assistance from Lewis Welch
3:iv:6

Lord, how much “much assistance” can it take to write something like this?!! NOT MUCH, if you ask me. And this book had an EDITOR? I wonder what he was SMOKING ?

The trouble is that about the time I start to give up, start skiming pages, I find something I really like, something I wouldn’t have wanted to miss:

3 Days Ago
It quit raining and I could spend some time on the beach turning over pebbles, low tide and heavy surf, slow flashes of sun behind clouds. No translucent agates: jasper, a dark- jasper-flecked carnelian that'll have to be cut and polished to explain why I picked it up.
I waste all this time proving the splendor of the world, everybody wants out of it or wants it ugly before they'll believe it's really here
X

2 thoughts on “Stuck in the Middle , Somewhere

  1. Now, Loren, listen to a Penny for the Old Guy with your ears. It is a little sound poem, and Lewis Welch would have encouraged Philip Whalen to stick with the sound and not make prosaic syntactical sttructures out of it, which is more like PW’s usual style. WShalen was a once-off, a unique man and poet, who brought the pages of Evergreen Review alive for me many decades ago.

  2. Ther are endelss excuses and rationalizations offered for why a particular “Beat” “poet” is actually a poet, and their pretentious scribblings “poetry”.

    It sure is hip, the conformity of rejecting punctuation in the name of a massively malunderstood crock incorrectly labeled “Zen” or “Zen Buddhism”.

What do you think?