ON “DEAD LIONS” BY A D WINANS

(Published by Punk Hostage Press)

REVIEWED BY NEELI CHERKOSKI

Poet A D Winans is a native San Franciscan who came of age during the heyday of the beat generation in His hometown. The beat poets along with Kenneth Patchen and Charles Bukowski had quite an influence on the direction he would take in his own poetry. It’s a poetry of the streets and a poetry of the common language, going back to Walt Whitman. Over the years, Winans has written about some of his literary heroes, always with passion, always with a deep understanding of how the tradition of poetry is passed hand-to-hand down the generations. It is a great moment to see a few of his essays, or portraits, collected in one volume.

Dead Lions is aptly named. Winans has chosen to write of Alvah Bessie, that heroic screenwriter who was one of the Hollywood 10, a victim of the Communist scare of the 1950s engendered by Senator Joseph McCarthy and others. There are tributes to three poets as well, Bob Kaufman, Jack Micheline, and Charles Bukowski. One might read the text and feel as if they had been wandering through a portrait gallery. That is how keenly Winans does his job. I came away from reading this book with a new sense of all of these people. The three poets I knew well. Bessie is known to me only from a distance in the context of the persecution.

What really makes Dead Lions an important book is the intimacy Winans brings to the page. It’s that same sense of the intimate that is in his own poetry. Kaufman, Micheline, and Bukowski we’re true literary outsiders. For each of them it was a long pull to be given notice from the literary Community. Winans knew Bukowski in the days when he was a creature of the little poetry journals and a major figure in the Mimeo revolution of the 1960s, which now seems so long ago. He knew Bob Kaufman in North Beach hanging out with him at bars and cafes. He was closest to Jack Micheline and that comes through in his book. For Winans Micheline’s defiance of literary propriety was an important signal to younger poets. Once again, Whitman is echoed. Jack’s « barbaric yelp » was the ticket to freedom from academe.

I was particularly taken with Winans’ portrait of Bob Kaufman. He offers a good deal of biographical information that one rarely finds. He writes, “Kaufman considered himself a Buddhist and believed that a poet had a call to a higher order.” As one of Bob’s intimate friends, I remember him quoting from ancient Buddhist texts as we sat around the kitchen table in my apartment. He was never loud about it. Winans tells us, “He was an oral poet who didn’t write for publication or expectations of fame and fortune, which is what drew me to him.’

This is romanticism and it is charming to witness. I think of Nelson Algren’s book title, “A Walk on the Wild Side.” It reminds me of the poets Winans admires. He wraps up the Kaufman piece with a description of the pubic outpouring after his death as more than one hundred people marched through North Beach in tribute to the poet’s life.

Winans has written extensively on Bukowski. Once again, it was the rebellion in « Buk » that Winans admires, and he pays him tribute. This piece is filled with up- close and personal recollection. Winans indulges in a bit of psychological profiling, including Bukowski’s mistrust of friends. In contrast, he writes: “His first book, Post Office, was written in nineteen days. The book is filled with laughter that shines through the pain of working at a dead-end job that kills a man’s spirit and physically breaks him down. I know! I worked for the San Francisco Post Office for five years.” It was after reading this novel that Winans became an avid fan. The snapshot of the times he spent hanging out with Bukowski are memorable, including a jaunt into one of the famous San Francisco watering holes, Gino and Carlos, a venerable poet’s haunt. He recounts taking Bukowski to the Caffe Trieste in North Beach. The L A. bard would not enter. He just commented that the habitués were sitting there waiting for something to happen. “Hank, “as Bukowski was known to his friends, comes through with full flavor. One finishes the essay and wishes for more. Perhaps Winans will find the time to expand this interesting portrait of the raucous poet.
Jack Micheline comes through as the quintessential literary barbarian. Some biographical information quickly gives way to anecdote. Jack is plunked onstage by Winans and we watch him in court and jail, in one bar after another amid quotes from the man himself. Winans has a good memory and may have scribbled some of Jacks words down in a notebook. Describing the old days to A D. Micheline said, “Poetry was everywhere. Every day Kaufman and I read a poem. It is not part of history, but I was arrested for pissing on a police car the same night Kaufman was arrested outside the Co-Existence Bagel Shop.” It was the fervor of Micheline’s attack on our safe and sound society that Winans admires, and it comes through remarkably well. It is another one of those useful handbooks of poetic sensibility, with the added bonus of having insights into the life of Alvah Bessie.

*** The signed copy of the book can be purchased from the author (reserve yours by writing (ad1936@juno.com) at a discounted price of $14.29 that includes free shipping. An unsigned copy of the book is also available at Amazon at the same price plus whatever shipping they charge.

https://www.amazon.com/author/a.d.winans
ttp://winansfansite.blogspot.com
http://ackerawards.com

A.D. Winans: Poem For An Unknown Soldier

Poem For An Unknown Soldier
 
Now just a fading memory
on a blood drenched beach
in Normandy 
 
flies buzz around you
a sand crab feasts
on an open wound
Eighteen to young to drink
but old enough to die
 
faded memories relived once a year
like old time religion
 
no more war for you
no more dreams
no lover to hold in your arms
no family to embrace you
no friends to break bread with
your youth consumed spit-out
in the stink hole of the
immaculate war machine
 
your home an invisible grave where
you can’t hear the crying over the
counting of the money
on Wall Street 

 
 is there life after death
or does the mind become an atom
take residence in the black hole?

 
back home there are baseball games
hot dogs and beer
the singing of the National Anthem
families will gather around a barbecue
cats purr dogs wag their tail
boot camps turn out new recruits
for new wars
 
your reward duty to the master
a folded flag for next of kin
a grave at Arlington Cemetery
where worms feast at your bones
 
 

On Robert Crumb and Zap Comix by Charles Plymell

Outlaw poet, writer, Beat associate, artist, printer, dock worker, and in general, a hell of a friend, Charley Plymell (not on facebook, but @ Pam Plymell) turns 80 this weekend, on Sunday, April 26.

Born during the Dust Bowl Days of Kansas fame, he has seen and done and written about most things — always loyal to friends, family, and truth. He seems to be at the right places at the right times, but avoided gaining any one ‘label.’

So here’s the first of a few things I’ll post this week about cp and his work and friends and stuff. First on his printing of the first Zap Comix with R. Crumb — yup.

Best to you, charley – – hope to see you soon —

http://www.vlib.us/beats/plymellrcrumb.html

My favorite reality chamber in the ’40s and ’50s was to cradle myself in the big overstuffed armchair with a stack of comics on the floor and some beside me in the chair a smorgasbord of preferences that would satisfy a reading orgy should I decide to shift quickly from Mary Jane and Sniffles, the f…

ROBERT BRANAMAN In a Show this coming Saturday

https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpf1/v/t1.0-9/10246772_10153557858803238_3692108138143747058_n.jpg?oh=5a95e6daa5548b32659dcf0f6e192484&oe=559494B1

COMBINES
March 14-28, 2015

Opening Reception: Saturday, March 14, 5:30-8:30pm
Closing Reception: Saturday, March 28, 5-7pm
Location: bG Gallery at Bergamot Station 2525, Michigan Avenue, Space G8A, Santa Monica, CA 90404.
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11:30am-6pm. Often open Sunday but call first to check.
T: 310-906-4211    E-mail: info@bgartdealings.com          Website: bgArtGalleries.com
Artists: Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, Hundertwasser, Henry Miller, Bob Branaman, Philip Vaughan, Liz McGrath, Simone Gad, Holly Boruck, Linda Smith, Nathan Cartwright, Teresa Flowers, Mike Saijo, Shiri Mordechay, Ellen Schinderman, Carol Powell, David Brady, Joanna Sadowsky, Stephen Anderson, Melissa Meier, Lizzy Waronker, Susan Moss and Neal Varnes, David Quick, more to be announced.
bG Gallery presents COMBINES, inspired by Rauschenberg’s term for works combining painting and sculpture. This exhibit includes historic and contemporary pioneers in bridging practices to create works that integrate divergent art forms.
Om Navon Bleicher
+1 310 237 6423
bG Gallery (BLEICHER/GORMAN)
bgArtGalleries.com
bG BERGAMOT STATION, 2525 Michigan Ave, Space #G8A, Santa Monica CA 90404, 310-9064211

A.D. Winans: we would have thought

 The Beat Museum has partnered with San Francisco’s famed Top Of The Mark to begin a new poetry and jazz series running from 3/3 through 4/28. The March 17 theme is «  »Poetry Through The Generations. » I’ll be reading with Neeli Cherkovski, William Taylor Jr and Cassandra Dallett. There will be two sets, the first beginning at 6:30 PM. Further details will be forthcoming.

https://www.amazon.com/author/a.d.winans

http://winansfansite.blogspot.com

http://ackerawards.com

 

Clay Wilson & Robert Crumb art on ebay

Clay Wilson

Clay Wilson

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/S-CLAY-WILSON-R-CRUMB-RICK-GRIFFIN-SPAIN-ROBERT-WILLIAMS-ZAP-COMIX-NUMBER-2-/131298921664?pt=US_Comic_Books&hash=item1e92068cc0

Clay Wilson on Facebook 

S. Clay Wilson Special Needs Trust 

A.D. Winans: Captain Jack

CAPTAIN JACK
 
I know this poet who dances with words
who does the two-step political hustle
that lacks any real muscle
 
a Waltzing Matilda poet
who glides along the dance floor
like a skilled political whore
 
a poet weaned on the game of favors
who traded in his vision
for a poetry politicians hat
but dancing for an audience
isn’t like feeling the rhythm
that rubs up against the soul
 
Buffy Saint-Marie
Phil Ochs, Woody Guthrie,
Pete Seeger, Billy Bragg
were living proof of this
 
power corrupts
the spiritual truth
the scriptures tell us this
the true poet knows this
stands tall above the dancing
with word poets
who are little more than
an instrument of a poem
far greater than themselves
*
bar room revolution talk
is little more than
an exercise in futility
take it to the streets
be like Walt Whitman
walk blood stained battlefields
real and imagined
tend to the spiritual wounds
of your comrades
quit trading favors
in twenty-eight
Baskin and Robbin flavors
 
be like the people of Egypt
who risked life and limb
for their beliefs
be like the anonymous poets of Poland
who during the height
of government tyranny
tossed poems into the public square
for the people to read
giving them hope in desperate times
 
sitting at Spec’s bar in North Beach
downing shots of vodka
and shouting,” I hate America,
is cheap political theater
 
be like your sisters and brothers
in the workers struggle in Wisconsin
marching for worker rights
love them become one with them
shout your poems from town squares
and from rooftops in solidarity
with them.
 
poet laureate’s come and go
inmates die on death row
words can not be danced with
they need to b lived
 
Whitman was the Heavyweight
champion of poetry
stood tall and fearless
among the enemy
which is never really man
but the poison in his soul
 
pride envy ego
lust for power
how can those inflicted
with this disease
write from the soul
one column of media praise
is of less value
than a single tear-drop on a poem
from a waitress in a greasy
road stop diner
 
a poet who dances with words
dances a solo dance
in a barroom with no jukebox
 
the true poet’s topic
is the people
not the poet.
*