Saturday, 9 April 2011

John Giorna (b.1936) - Life is a killer



John Giorna was the star of the Andy Warhol movie Sleep (1963). He  has became known as a leader in the development of poetry as a performance and entertainment medium.He has done through his own performances and also with his Giorna Poetry Systems, which have bought him international audiences. Giorno poetry Systems is now a widely distributed spoken word record label, and subsequently Dial-A-Poem which he created in 1968 extends poetry into the medium of mass communication.
When composing his poetry, Giorno  imagines an audience in front of him. "Spoken word " he wrote. " using breath and heat, pitch and volume, and the melodies inherent in the language, risking technology and music, and a deep connection with the audience, is te fulfillment of a poem. It's the entertainment industry ( you got to sweeten the deal) - transmitting an awareness of ordinary mind. As someone said to me after a performance, 'I hate poetry. But I love poets who sweat.' For me performing poetry is sustained sexual activity in a golden age of promiscuity, You can never be too generous."
His books include The American book of the Dead (1964),Balling Bhudda (1970), Cancer in My Left Ball (1973), and You Got to Burn to Shine: Selected Poetry and Prose  (1993).
His record albums and CDs include Biting off the Tongueof a Corpse (1975) and ( A Diamond Hidden in the Mouth of a Corpse ( 1985). He performs solo and with the John Giorno Band.
A pervading macabre sense of humour underlies his work and a strong outsider Queer sensibility.A collaborator with Mr William Burroughs himself, his confontational work and his energy has been an influence on other  performance poets since and rock bands have been quenched and influenced by his ideas. He has also been a long time practitioner of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Bhuddism. In the last 20 years or so he has been active in the AIDS Treatment project, which gives cash grants to poets and artists with the disease, He lives in New York City.Recenty he has collaborated with the Spanish rock singer Jarvier Colis.

Life is a Killer

Everyone says
What they do
is right
and money is
agood
thing
it can be
wonderful.

Road
drinking
driving
around
drinking beer,
they need me
more than
I need them,
where are you guys from,
stumbling off
into the night
thinking
about it
stiumbling off into the night
thinking about it.

When I wax
15 years old
I knew everything
there was
to know,
and now that I'm old,
it was true.

I got dragged
along on
this one
by my foot,
if I wasn't so
tired
I would have
a good
time
If I Wasn't so tired
I'd have a good time
If I wasn't so tired I'd have
a good time.

Tossing
and turning,
cause there's
a nest
of wasps
coursing
through your
bloodstream
cause there's a nest of wasps
coursing through your bloodsream.

If you think
about it
how could
it have come
to this
if you think about it
how could it have come to this,
it's coming
down the road
the red
lights,
and it's
there
and it's there
and it's there
and it's there.

Try your
best
and think
you're good,
that's what
I want
being inside you
that's what i want
being inside you
that's what I want being besides you,
endless
thresholds,
and you hope
you're doing
it right.

How are you
feeling good
how are you
feeling
good
how are
you feeling
good
how are you feeling
good
how are you feeling good,
you need
national
attention.

Cause essentially
all you
ever accomplshed
was snort
some smack
and sit
on a zafu
watching
your breath.

How the hell
did I end
up doing
this
how the hell did
I end up doing this
for a job?

I can't say
I don't need
anybody
cause I need
the Bhuddas,
and there's nothing
I can say
about them.

Everyone is at
a complete
disadvantage,
you're being taken
to dinner
at La Coter Basque
and youre eating
9 lives
liver,
and drinking
wine,
the women
they are taking
prisoners.
I'm not going
nowhere, I rippefd up
my suitcases
I ripped up my suitcases.

Crank me
up
and keep me
open
crank me up
and keep me open
and keep me open
crank me up and keep me open,
nothing
recedes
like success.

Whatever
happens
it will seem
the way
it seems
now,
it doesn't matter
what you
feel,
how perfectly
correct
or amazing
the clarity,
everything
you think
is deluded
eveything you think
is deluded
eveything you think is deluded,
life
is a killer.

1982

Quotes from ' You Got to Burn to Shine: Selected Poetry and Prose,
New York, 1993.