Saturday, September 27, 2014
The Berkshire Anthology 1972
The Bog Lady photo by William Kadell
The Berkshire Anthology published by The Bookstore Press, 1972
In the days of wine and roses -- or was it bog ladies and bees? -- there was poetry coming out of the trees. People spoke it on the streets and on the phone and you couldn't go anywhere without Poetry happening. Aram Saroyan's whole book of poems, Pages, was read aloud by Edwin Newman on the 6 O'clock News. Think of that -- a book of poems read aloud to millions!
It was 1972 and a lot of that 1960s magic was still going on. In fact, the early seventies was still the 60s, if you know what I mean. As an editor I was amazed the how poets came out of nowhere and just as fast zippered themselves back into oblivion. It was one great hallelujah rebellion. The backdrop was the Vietnam War. Stage front: the Beatles, the Stones, Dylan. And all of these guys wrote Poetry.
The Berkshire Anthology celebrated this mad spirit of reinvention -- the Gilded Age meets Godzilla. The Pre-Raphaelites crash into Middle America. It was anything you want to name that was crazy and pretty and wore bangs and shoulder length hair and loved -- here it comes again -- Poetry.
Here is a poem I will always remember:
FOR THE DEATH OF AMBROSE, MY PUMPKIN
Ambrose, you're dead.
covered with mold, your sides cracked,
spitting black seeds.
I've been waking at 4 a.m., your
fumes were the center
of these tortured weeks.
How could you do it to me?
Remember how we used to ride around together,
looking at the bombed out gas stations?
The kid I didn't have, whom I named you after?
The nights I stroked your bumpty sides,
thinking of another orange-hued lover?
I haven't paid much attention lately but
the pain it gives me
to abandon you to waste basket history,
never to be caressed
by cleaning ladies.