Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Conspiracy theories!

1.) Matthew and Michael Dickman aren't twins - they're the same person, made to look different in photographs. (You heard it here first!)

2.) The inspiration for Donald Allen's The New American Poetry 1945–1960? Palgrave's Golden Treasury, first published in 1861.

3.) Pierre Martory... doesn't exist! He was invented by John Ashbery. This explains why none of his books have ever appeared in France.

4.) Kenneth Koch actually wrote the poem usually attributed to Frank O'Hara, "A True Account of Talking to the Sun at Fire Island."

5.) Negative reviewer Jason Guriel was not (contrary to his assertions on Harriet) present at the Six Gallery in San Francisco where Allen Ginsberg read Howl for the first time. But Kent Johnson was. He suggested the venue.

6.) So much depends upon a little red rooster. Spring & all.

7.) Jack Spicer stole funny lines from Allen Sherman (they went to high school together).

8.) Nobody reads poetry anymore because it's harder than, say, a Harry Potter novel, plot and all.

9.) The scary conficker thing, embedded into this blog post, was actually created by the same folks who invented Issue 1.

10.) A recent U.S. government study shows that this is the END for poetry... and also the automobile.

All in good fun, eh? Happy April Fools' Day!


Chien Bâtard said...

Very funny, Don. Fun is good. Fun is quite necessary actually.

Tho so is action!

Anonymous said...


I *could* accuse you of ageism for the Six Gallery reading reference. Thank you. :~)

I know it's April 1st and all that, but on the "conspiracy theory" regarding the authorship of "A True Account of Talking to the Sun at Fire Island", there are, yes, some really strange and unanswered problems about that poem. I had a public back and forth with Tony Towle and Bill Berkson about it some months back, I think you know, and none of their (quite indignant) rejoinders at all settled the oddities and lacunae, I'm afraid. Berkson's curt and awkward attempt to dispense with the ambiguities as mere "folderol," in fact, ended up making things even more apocryphal.

Granted, I'm only speaking of currently unanswered *questions* and coincidences around the poem, and not at all claiming that I'm sure Koch wrote it. But I'd argue those questions are weird enough to bracket the matter of its authorship for now and justify the term "mystery"-- a term, incidentally, first coined in relation to the poem by O'Hara's roommate at the time, Joe LeSueur, in his own acute bafflement concerning its provenance.

And by the way (and I say this with his permission), the estimable critic Lytle Shaw, author of Frank O'Hara: The Poetics of Coterie (Iowa UP, 2006), agrees with me that the questions are completely interesting and valid...

Have you ever seen this passage from Koch's "Homage to Frank O'Hara"? Innocent, probably, but somewhat peculiar, too, in context:

Sometimes it seems to me I am possessed by the
spirit of Frank O’Hara and should write his poems
as he would have written them now but
the only ones I know are ones he’s already written
and those are what these turn out to be.

I'll be writing more about the general matter sometime soon. Still doing some looking.