Writing to the Poet about "Howl" and Other Things

I have spent the past two weeks writing about the end of the Fifties and reading an incredible amount of correspondence by the Poet dating to those years. I truly love letters. They tell us so much about who writes them. They are so vibrant, full of enthusiasm and the closest thing I know to real life. I always have the impression I am there myself. Re-living whatever happened. Conversing amiably with Beat poets and many others.

I must also find answers to doubts, though. Sometimes I just feel like I have a huge jig-saw puzzle to complete and, when things do not match, I return to the Poet. This morning I had to write to him a long e-mail dealing with his Dartmouth years, his Mayakovsky translations, meeting Allen Ginsberg, an amazing reading of "Howl" by Jack Gilbert and an argument with Robert Creeley.

I am looking forward to moving forward. Even if my "forward" is not literal. I have already written a huge amount of the Poets' life in the Sixties and Seventies. Truth is I feel this bio will have a jazzy feel. The outline is there, but I end up writing about what interest me most at a given moment. Rhythm is important, but improvisation matters!


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