Sunday, 12 August 2012

Bob Kaufman (18/4/25 - 12/1/81) - Believe,Believe

I couldn't  resist mentioning William Blake today, today marks the anniversary of the death of this great poet and visionary. Today also marks my beloved dad's 80th birthday celebrations, apart from a tumble down the stairs recently he's doing fine. Both still continue to inspire me. I guess it was my dad, that taught me to question everything.... I don't think he thought I'd take it quite so literally though. I think he would have preferred if I had not spent so much time living on the margins.
But because of a healthy defiance of some of his thoughts too, long ago became attracted to other outsiders and outsiders who did not follow the straightened path, who's tokes of breath  inhaled from  unity's breath, whilst  embracing the dislocations  of the world's hypocricy, whilst retaining a thirst for dream. Who longed for social justice, another world.
I guess too I discovered a love of poetry too, as an act of defiance, my dad see has never really shared this enthusiam. Nevetheless  it is because of him, I found a sort of identity, an anchorage, and for that I am always grateful.
Moving on, a poet who owes much debt to William Blake, is Mr Bob Kaufman, one of the hidden masters of the beats, who's words too continue to ignite my passions.
Born of a German Jewish father and a Native American Martinique Black Roman Catholic mother in New Orleans, April 18, 1925, Kaufman grew up speaking Cajun as well as English. His maternal grandmother, who'd come to America on a slave ship fom Africa, used to take him on long early morning walks. These early experiences and influences constantly appear in his work informing it with a deep personal empathy with minor cultures as well as with a wider rang of voice that is evident in most American poetry. He spent his life committed  to a  visionary echoe, never doing anything halfway, committed to wild abandon. His work owes a debt to Blake to , his words still  provoking, so today happy birthday dad, hello William Blake...... here's to deepness and  the delights of  raw vision. Raging against conformity.

Believe, Believe

Believe in this, Young apple seeds,
In blue skies, radiating young breast,
Not in blue-suited insects
Infesting society's garments.

Believe in the swinging sounds of jazz,
Tearing the night into intricate shreds,
Putting it back together again,
In cool logical patterns,
Not in the sick controllers,
Who created only the Bomb.

Let the voices of dead poets
Ring louder in your ears
Than the screechings mouthed
In mildewed editorials.
Listen to the music of centuries,
Rising above the mushroom time.

William Blake - Angel of Revelation

The Ancient Rain: Poems 1956 - 1978 - Bob Kaufman
New Directions Press

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