Saturday, February 28, 2015

Ron Mann's 'Poetry in Motion' (1982)

Ron Mann's Poetry in Motion is a fun documentary sampler of poets, poetry, readings and music. As one might suspect, it's a mixed bag -- I fast forwarded through a couple performances  -- but overall a groovy experience (no joke).

Bukowski opens the ball, drinking, smoking and musing at home: 

Reading the poets has been the dullest of things. Even reading the great novelists . . . I said Tolstoy is supposed to be special? . . . I really try to understand. I mean, and many of the great poets of the past, I've read their stuff, I've read it -- all's I get is a goddamned headache and boredom; I really feel sickness in the pit of my stomach. I say, there's some trick going on here . . . this is not true; this is not real; it's not good.

Bukowski's quips are interwoven throughout the film, providing comic relief.

The performers:

Amiri Baraka (who just died in 2014) with sax and drums
Anne Waldman 
Ted Berrigan (who died in 1983)
Kenward Elmslie
Ed Sanders (also of The Fugs)
Helen Adam (utterly strange and interesting)
Tom Waits (early on)
William S. Burroughs
Christopher Dewdney
Michael Mcclure (who co-wrote "Mercedes Benz" with Janis Joplin and Bob Neuwirth)
Ted Milton
Robert Creeley (died in 2005)
John Cage
Four Horseman (a poem made of noises)
Michael Ondaatje
Jayne Cortez (died in 2012) with  guitar, bass and drums
Diane DiPrima with piano and slides
John Giorno
Ntozake Shange with piano and dancers
Gary Snyder
Allen Ginsberg with Canadian band The Ceedees (guitar, bass and drums)
Jim Carroll (died in 2009)
Miguel Algarin
One of the surprising highlights is Ginsberg singing, off-key, an outraged and joyous punk-like catalog of global injustices that feels completely contemporary. Let's just say that he would not have been too surprised by recent developments.

DVD extras include an interview with the director and Poetry in Motion II (more on the latter soon).

Today's Rune: Protection. 


Charles Gramlich said...

I need to read some more Bukowski. I read Love is a dog from hell and still don't know whether I liked it or not. IT was memorable, though.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

This sounds intriguing, but one would definitely have to be in the proper frame of mind.