Page 4 - Litterateur March 2021
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                                  My drawing: "Chaplin is dead, but I'd
                                      wear his bowler."

                                OCTOGENARIAN ANTICS

                     From Jack's essay, "The Splendid Life of the World," a review

                                             of These Are My Rivers:

             Ferlinghetti remains, in his own phrase, a poet of “the splendid life of
             the  world”  (“Endless  Life”)—a  life  which  is  always  vanishing.  The
             questions his work raises, however, are by no means trivial ones.

             Is poetry like painting, a visual art? Is it like music, an oral/aural art? Is
             the poet a public figure, and, if so, what kind of a public figure? How is

             it  possible  to  create  a  space  for  art  in  a  country  where  art  is
             notoriously  devalued  (“In  two  hundred  years  of  freedom  /  we  have

             invented  /  the  permanent  alienation  of  the  subjective  /  almost  every
             truly  creative  being  /  alienated  &  expatriated  /  in  his  own

             country”—“Adieu à Charlot”)? What is the relationship between books
             and “the media”? How does one create an audience for poetry? What
             is the relationship of our ethnic identities to our “American” selves?

             (Immigration  is  a  mode  of  “passage”  and  colors  that  theme  in
             Ferlinghetti.)  These  are  not  dead  issues  but  living  perplexities,

             questions which any conscious poet continues to ask at this moment.
             Ferlinghetti’s work helps to create a powerful “space” in which some

             kind  of  clarification  of  these  issues  may  be  possible.  At  a  recent
             exhibition of his paintings, Ferlinghetti remarked, “I hope nobody gets

             the  idea  that  just  because  it’s  more  institutional...that  I  don’t  have
             some subversive intent, or that Eros is at rest.” To be sure, his vision
             is  of  a  kind  we  call  “Romantic.”  But,  as  Robert  Creeley  suggests  in

             Echoes, the problems the Romantics posited are still with us—we are
             all  “Romantics”:  “whatsover  [is]  ‘Rome’  [is]  home.”  These  Are  My

             Rivers is a fine exploration of the condition of America, 1955 - 1993.
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