So I’ve been communicating with a madman named Bob Holman. He owns the Bowery Poetry Club. His poetry resume is insane! He first published in the late seventies, a collection of poems called Tear to Open. Of course it’s a big damn inconclusive metaphor. Every couple of pages was stuck together at the edges, so you had to rip the connection apart to read every turned page. Part of the idea is something like ‘creation is a violent act,’ although that could be misleading. Paraphrasing just can’t sum it up here. He delivered a reading of this book at the MoMA soon after it was released. Since then, his career has been such an astoundingly intense ride that I’m not going to try to bulletpoint it here. Suffice it to say that he’s won several emmy’s for poetry documentaries, written numerous books and essays alone and in collaboration with some of the brightest poets of our time, been a founding member of some of the most original poetry movements in recent history, traveled the world lecturing, and now teaches at Columbia, and I believe NYU. But he is so unconventional, in manner and in mind, that the idea of him being part of any institution seems absurd. I’ll stop singing this man’s praises, but the sheer range and eccentricity of his accomplishments are truly rare. Just check out the link when you click on his name above.
Anyway, this man is my guide into the uncommon world of contemporary NYC poetry. I was exchanging emails with him earlier tonight and I said, “Everybody is looking for the next big thing, but I feel like having this expectation is absurd.” He wrote back, “Poetry is the Last Next Thing.” As cryptic as that is, I think I know what he means, and it was close to what I was thinking. There is such a wealth of poetry going on out there, that if I set out recording it, searching deeper and further for something new, certainly the document I leave will be an interesting portrait of the way NYC poetry is today. Furthermore, and I will also illustrate this point via a conversation I had, my roommate (who was a stand up comic) said, “there all different kinds of comics. Some are college kids and they have those crowds. Then there are thirty somethings who seem like they do it to release some of life’s pressures, and they have those corresponding crowds (to paraphrase).” And that’s just it. The story isn’t about poetry – meter and verse and such – it’s about the people that make it and that follow it. All different crowds, as diverse as New York. Certainly there are some characters out there.