The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Spotlight on … Ted Berrigan The Selected Poems of Ted Berrigan (2011)


‘“Mess and Message,” the final three words of a poem in Ted Berrigan’s 1969 book, Many Happy Returns, describe perfectly and succinctly what makes his poetry compelling. The message of his poetry is the mess that is life. Appropriation figures in large and fascinating ways in this message. The very words “mess and message” are copied, as is the entire poem in which they appear, “Frank O’Hara’s Question from ‘Writers and Issues’ by John Ashbery”. Berrigan produced surprisingly numerous kinds of meaning by pilfering all sorts of pre-existing sentences, fragments, and whole passages of writing (literary and prosaic), not to mention visual imagery.

‘Berrigan understood that from time immemorial poets had imitated, if not downright copied, earlier poets in order to establish their literary genealogy. A helpful genealogy of appropriative writing—with the earliest example dating to the late nine- teenth century, and including Ted Berrigan—was recently drawn up by the poet and art critic Raphael Rubenstein, who aptly puts himself into the genealogy, just as Berrigan would have done. Berrigan participated in, while at the same time making a joke of, the self-creation of a lineage that is a requirement of inclusion within history—and is necessary to but will not guarantee fame, as Libbie Rifkin argues. His self-consciousness about both his own lineage, and the function of lineage in general, may well stem from his sense of being a literary “outsider.” An outsider, not in the sense that the avant-garde artist is an outsider to mainstream society, but an outsider in terms of social and academic pedigree.

‘While Berrigan felt his working-class background set him apart from his idols, appropriation afforded him a method of inserting himself into their lineage. In other words, appropriation was a means for creating a level playing field on which he could comfortably move.

‘In his piece “Interview with John Cage,” first published in the collaborative volume, Bean Spasms (1967), Berrigan transformed Warhol’s “everybody should like everybody” into “everybody should be alike”, producing an intriguing paradox. Copying words would seem to correspond to being alike, or with sameness. Yet Berrigan’s various kinds of copying, with their deliberate or accidental mis-copying and with their recontextualizations, show us that this sameness never occurs. This paradox fascinated Berrigan from early on; in one of many notes on “style” in his journals, dated December 27, 1962, he quoted at length from Gertrude Stein’s Composition as Explanation, including this passage on the apparent contradiction of likeness: “Romanticism is then when everything being alike everything is naturally simply different, and Romanticism.” Berrigan illustrates by example that the truth of who anybody is forces itself out no matter what. We are left with “mess and message” instead of with a neat machine-made copy.

‘This mess and message of Berrigan’s poetics of appropriation have made it difficult for some critics to know what to do with his writing. In her 1973 overview of contemporary poetry, critic Marjorie Perloff—a great supporter of the work of Ashbery and of O’Hara—complains that Berrigan’s poetry is “self-indulgent” and that it has the “superficial O’Hara trappings,” but that unlike O’Hara’s poetry, “nothing adds up”. Two decades later, another critic, Geoff Ward, repeated Perloff’s judgment, asserting that Berrigan’s writing is too dominated by O’Hara to contain a unique voice. One critic even put Berrigan and Padgett’s volume, Bean Spasms, on a list of publications that librarians need not bother to acquire. Slowly, though, the critical scales are beginning to tip in the other direction, and the recent publication of the Collected Poems has given some critics a better sense of the breadth and complexity of Berrigan’s work.

‘If in Berrigan’s poetry “nothing adds up,” as Perloff would have it, then perhaps we ought to say that in life itself, nothing adds up. Perhaps Berrigan’s messy contamination of life with art, and of art with life, has made Perloff and other critics uncomfortable. Or perhaps the honesty of this contamination is the source of their un- ease. The people who knew Berrigan well all have described the full-blown nature of the contamination. Ron Padgett has noted that for Berrigan, writing was “something you did when you read the sports page or ate a donut. It was something you did when you sat at your desk and thought about the gods. It was something you did with scissors and Elmer’s glue”. The poet Ed Sanders put it this way: “Berrigan was one of those wall-to-wall poets. He was the guy who made up the dictum that there are no weekends for poets”. It is the consistencies between, and fluidity of, art and life that characterize Berrigan’s poetics of appropriation and that give it the power of truth.’ — Reva Wolf



Ted Berrigan Homepage
Audio: Ted Berrigan’s readings @ PennSound
‘“Time And Time Again”: The Strategy of Simultaneity in Ted Berrigan’s “The Sonnets”‘
The Ted Berrigan Papers
‘Collage Education’ by Richard Hell
‘On The Selected Poems of Ted Berrigan’
‘Ted Berrigan. Plagiarism and / or the Found Poem. A Creative Writing Lesson.
Ted Berrigan @ goodreads
Book: ‘Nice to See You: Homage to Ted Berrigan’
Audio: Ted Berrigan at Bard College, 1982
‘You Were Like Skyscrapers Veering Away: My First Time with Ted Berrigan’s Sonnets’
Book: ‘Ted Berrigan: An Annotated Checklist’
‘The Selected Poems of Ted Berrigan’ reviewed @ The Believer
The Ted Berrigan Scholarship
Podcast: ‘Words: Program No. 14: Ted Berrigan and Ron Padgett’
‘Jim Carroll’ by Ted Berrigan
‘Notebook (Paul Cézanne, Ted Berrigan, &c.;)’
‘Ted Berrigan’s Birthday’
‘SONNET WORKSHOP’ by Ted Berrigan
Book: ‘Talking in Tranquility: Interviews with Ted Berrigan’
‘Ted Berrigan and Foreign Film’
Video: Kenneth Goldsmith reads Ted Berrigan’s “Train Ride” in front of Alex Katz’s Upside Down Ada
Buy ‘The Selected Poems of Ted Berrigan’



Ted Berrigan reads Sonnet LXXVI

Ted Berrigan talkin shop & reading “Whitman in Black”

Anne Waldman and Ted Berrigan read their poem “Memorial Day,” ca 1973

A Reading to Celebrate: The Selected Poems of Ted Berrigan


An Interview with John Cage by Ted Berrigan


TED BERRIGAN: What about Marshall McLuhan?

JOHN CAGE: Just this: the media is not a message. I would like to sound a word of warning to Mr. McLuhan: to speak is to lie. To lie is to collaborate.

BERRIGAN: How does that relate?

CAGE: Do you know the Zen story of the mother who had just lost her only son? She is sitting by the side of the road weeping and the monk comes along and asks her why she’s weeping and she says she has lost her only son and so he hits her on the head and says, “There, that’ll give you something to cry about.”

BERRIGAN: Yes, somebody should have kicked that monk in the ass!

CAGE: I agree. Somebody said that Brecht wanted everybody to think alike. I want everybody to think alike. But Brecht wanted to do it through Communism, in a way. Russia is doing it under government. It’s happening here all by itself without being under a strict government; so if it’s working without trying, why can’t it work without being Communist? Everybody looks and acts alike, and we’re getting more and more that way. I think everybody should be a machine. I think everybody should be alike.

BERRIGAN: Isn’t that like Pop Art?

CAGE: Yes, that’s what Pop Art is, liking things, which incidentally is a pretty boring idea.

BERRIGAN: Does the fact that it comes from a machine diminish its value to you?

CAGE: Certainly not! I think that any artistic product must stand or fall on what’s there. A chimpanzee can do an abstract painting, if it’s good, that’s great!

BERRIGAN: Mary McCarthy has characterized you as a sour Utopian. Is that accurate?

CAGE: I do definitely mean to be taken literally, yes. All of my work is directed against those who are bent, through stupidity or design, on blowing up the planet.

BERRIGAN: Well, that is very interesting, Mr. Cage, but I wanted to know what you think in the larger context, i.e., the Utopian.

CAGE: I don’t know exactly what you mean there . . . I think the prestige of poetry is very high in the public esteem right now, perhaps height is not the right yardstick, but it is perhaps higher than ever. If you can sell poetry, you can sell anything. No, I think it’s a wonderful time for poetry and I really fell that something is about to boil. And in answer to your question about whether poetry could resume something like the Elizabethan spread, I think it’s perfectly possible that this could happen in the next four or five years. All it needs is the right genius to come along and let fly. And old Masefield, I was pleased to see the other day celebrating his ninetieth birthday, I think, said that there are still lots of good tales to tell. I thought that was very nice, and it’s true, too.

BERRIGAN: Do you think, that is, are you satisfied with the way we are presently conducting the war in Viet Nam?

CAGE: I am highly dissatisfied with the way we are waging this nasty war.

BERRIGAN: Incidentally, your rooms are very beautiful.

CAGE: Nothing incidental about it at all. These are lovely houses; there are two for sale next door, a bargain, too, but they’re just shells. They’ve got to be all fixed up inside as this one was, too. They were just tearing them down when I got the Poetry Society over here to invite Hy Sobiloff, the only millionaire poet, to come down and read, and he was taken in hand and shown this house next door, the one that I grew up in, and what a pitiful state it was in. Pick-axes had already gone through the roof. And so he bought four of them and fixed this one up for our use as long as we live, rent free.

BERRIGAN: Not bad. Tell me, have you ever though of doing sound tracks for Hollywood movies?

CAGE: Why not? Any composer of genuine ability should work in Hollywood today. Get the Money! However, few screen composers possess homes in Bel-Air, illuminated swimming pools, wives in full-length mink coats, three servants, and that air of tired genius turned sour Utopian. Without that, today, you are nothing. Alas, money buys pathetically little in Hollywood beyond the pleasures of living in an unreal world, associating with a group of narrow people who think, talk, and drink, most of them bad people; and the doubtful pleasure of watching famous actors and actresses guzzle up the juice and stuff the old gut in some of the rudest restaurants in the world. Me, I have never given it a thought.

BERRIGAN: Tell me about Silence.

CAGE: Sure. You never know what publishers are up to. I had the damnedest time with Silence. My publishers, H***, R***, and W***, at first were very excited about doing it, and then they handed it over to a young editor who wanted to rewrite it entirely, and proceeded to do so; he made a complete hash of it. And I protested about this and the whole thing–the contract was about to be signed–and they withdrew it, because of this impasse. The Publisher, who is my friend, said, “Well, John, we never really took this seriously, did we? So why don’t we just forget it?” And I replied, “Damn it all, I did take it seriously; I want to get published.” Well, then they fired this young man who was rewriting me, and everything was peaceful. But there was still some static about irregularities of tone in Silence. So I said, “Well, I’ll just tone them down a little, tune the whole thing up, so to speak.” But I did nothing of the sort, of course! I simply changed the order. I sent it back re-arranged, and then they wanted me to do something else; finally I just took the whole thing somewhere else.

BERRIGAN: What was your father like?

CAGE: I don’t want to speak of him. My mother detested him.

BERRIGAN: What sort of person was your mother?

CAGE: Very religious. Very. But now she is crazy. She lay on top of me when I was tied to the bed. She writes me all the time begging me to return. Why do we have to speak of my mother?

BERRIGAN: Do you move in patterns?

CAGE: Yes. It isn’t so much repeating patterns, it’s repetition of similar attitudes that lead to further growth. Everything we do keeps growing, the skills are there, and are used in different ways each time. The main thing is to do faithfully those tasks assigned by oneself in order to further awareness of the body.

BERRIGAN: Do you believe that all good art is unengaging?

CAGE: Yes I do.

BERRIGAN: Then what about beauty?

CAGE: Many dirty hands have fondled beauty, made it their banner; I’d like to chop off those hands, because I do believe in that banner . . . the difference is that art is beauty, which the Beatniks naturally lack!

BERRIGAN: The Beatniks, notably Ed Sanders, are being harassed by the police lately. Do you approve?

CAGE: On the contrary. The problem is that the police are unloved. The police in New York are all paranoid . . . they were so hateful for so long that everybody got to hate them, and that just accumulated and built up. The only answer to viciousness is kindness. The trouble is that the younger kids just haven’t realized that you’ve got to make love to the police in order to solve the police problem.

BERRIGAN: But how do you force love on the police?

CAGE: Make love to the police. We need highly trained squads of lovemakers to go everywhere and make love.

BERRIGAN: But there are so many police, it is a practical problem.

CAGE: Yes, I know, it will certainly take time, but what a lovely project.

BERRIGAN: Do you think it is better to be brutal than to be indifferent?

CAGE: Yes. It is better to be brutal than indifferent. Some artists prefer the stream of consciousness. Not me. I’d rather beat people up.

BERRIGAN: Say something about Happenings. You are credited with being the spiritual daddy of the Happening.

CAGE: Happenings are boring. When I hear the word “Happening” I spew wildly into my lunch!

BERRIGAN: But Allan Kaprow calls you “the only living Happening.”

CAGE: Allan Kaprow can go eat a Hershey-bar!

BERRIGAN: Hmmm. Well put. Now, to take a different tack, let me ask you: what about sex?

CAGE: Sex is a biologic weapon, insofar as I can see it. I feel that sex, like every other human manifestation, has been degraded for anti-human purposes. I had a dream recently in which I returned to the family home and found a different father and mother in the bed, though they were still somehow my father and mother. What I would like, in the way of theatre, is that somehow a method would be devised, a new form, that would allow each member of the audience at a play to watch his own parents, young again, make love. Fuck, that is, not court.

BERRIGAN: That certainly would be different, wouldn’t it? What other theatrical vent interests you?

CAGE: Death. The Time Birth Death gimmick. I went recently to see “Dr. No” at Forty-Second Street. It’s a fantastic movie, so cool. I walked outside and somebody threw a cherry bomb right in front of me, in this big crowd. And there was blood, I saw blood on people and all over. I felt like I was bleeding all over. I saw in the paper that week that more and more people are throwing them. Artists, too. It’s just part of the scene–hurting people.

BERRIGAN: How does Love come into all this?

CAGE: It doesn’t. It comes later. Love is memory. In the immediate present we don’t love; life is too much with us. We lust, wilt, snort, swallow, gobble, hustle, nuzzle, etc. Later, memory flashes images swathed in nostalgia and yearning. We call that Love. Ha! Better to call it Madness.

BERRIGAN: Is everything erotic to you?

CAGE: Not lately. No, I’m just kidding. Of course everything is erotic to me; if it isn’t erotic, it isn’t interesting.

BERRIGAN: Is life serious?

CAGE: Perhaps. How should I know? In any case, one must not be serious. Not only is it absurd, but a serious person cannot have sex.

BERRIGAN: Very interesting! But, why not?

CAGE: If you have to ask, you’ll never know.

* The above interview is completely a product of its author. John Cage served neither as collaborator nor as interviewee.





Ted Berrigan The Selected Poems of Ted Berrigan
University of California Press

‘Following the highly acclaimed Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan, poets Alice Notley, Anselm Berrigan, and Edmund Berrigan have collaborated again on this new selection of poems by one of the most influential and admired poets of his generation. Reflecting a new editorial approach, this volume demonstrates the breadth of Ted Berrigan’s poetic accomplishments by presenting his most celebrated, interesting, and important work. This major second-wave New York School poet is often identified with his early poems, especially The Sonnets, but this selection encompasses his full poetic output, including the later sequences Easter Monday and A Certain Slant of Sunlight, as well as many of his uncollected poems. The Selected Poems of Ted Berrigan provides a new perspective for those already familiar with his remarkable wit and invention, and introduces new readers to what John Ashbery called the “crazy energy” of this iconoclastic, funny, brilliant, and highly innovative writer.’ — UoCP



Last Poem

Before I began life this time
I took a crash course in Counter-Intelligence
Once here I signed in, see name below, and added
Some words remembered from an earlier time,
‘The intention of the organism is to survive.’
My earliest, & happiest, memories pre-date WWII,
They involve a glass slipper & a helpless blue rose
In a slender blue single-rose vase: Mine
Was a story without a plot. The days of my years
Folded into one another, an easy fit, in which
I made money & spent it, learned to dance & forgot, gave
Blood, regained my poise, & verbalized myself a place
In Society. 101 St. Mark’s Place, apt. 12A, NYC 10009
New York. Friends appeared & disappeared, or wigged out,
Or stayed; inspiring strangers sadly died; everyone
I ever knew aged tremendously, except me. I remained
Somewhere between 2 and 9 years old. But frequent
Reification of my own experiences delivered to me
Several new vocabularies, I loved that almost most of all.
I once had the honor of meeting Beckett & I dug him.
The pills kept me going, until now. Love, & work,
Were my great happinesses, that other people die the source
Of my great, terrible, & inarticulate one grief. In my time
I grew tall & huge of frame, obviously possessed
Of a disconnected head, I had a perfect heart. The end
Came quickly & completely without pain, one quiet night as I
Was sitting, writing, next to you in bed, words chosen randomly
From a tired brain, it, like them, suitable, & fitting.
Let none regret my end who called me friend.


Personal Poem #9

It’s 8:54 a.m. in Brooklyn it’s the 26th of July
and it’s probably 8:54 in Manhattan but I’m
in Brooklyn I’m eating English muffins and drinking
Pepsi and I’m thinking of how Brooklyn is
New York City too how odd I usually think of it
as something all its own like Bellows Falls like
Little Chute like Uijongbu
I never thought
on the Williamsburg Bridge I’d come so much to Brooklyn
just to see lawyers and cops who don’t even carry guns
taking my wife away and bringing her back
and I never thought Dick would be back at Gude’s
beard shaved off long hair cut and Carol reading
her books when we were playing cribbage and watching
the sun come up over the Navy Yard a-
cross the river I think I was thinking
when I was ahead I’d be somewhere like Perry Street
erudite dazzling slim and badly-loved
contemplating my new book of poetry
to be printed in simple type on old brown paper
feminine marvelous and tough


A Certain Slant of Sunlight

In Africa the wine is cheap, and it is
on St. Mark’s Place too, beneath a white moon.
I’ll go there tomorrow, dark bulk hooded
against what is hurled down at me in my no hat
which is weather: the tall pretty girl in the print dress
under the fur collar of her cloth coat will be standing
by the wire fence where the wild flowers grow not too tall
her eyes will be deep brown and her hair styled 1941 American
will be too; but
I’ll be shattered by then
But now I’m not and can also picture white clouds
impossibly high in blue sky over small boy heartbroken
to be dressed in black knickers, black coat, white shirt,
buster-brown collar, flowing black bow-tie
her hand lightly fallen on his shoulder, faded sunlight falling
across the picture, mother & son, 33 & 7, First Communion Day, 1941–
I’ll go out for a drink with one of my demons tonight
they are dry in Colorado 1980 spring snow.


10 Things I Do Every Day

wake up
smoke pot
see the cat
love my wife
think of Frank

eat lunch
make noises
sing songs
go out
dig the streets

go home for dinner
read the Post
make pee-pee
two kids

read books
see my friends
get pissed-off
have a Pepsi


Red Shift

Here I am at 8:08 p.m. indefinable ample rhythmic frame
The air is biting, February, fierce arabesques
on the way to tree in winter streetscape
I drink some American poison liquid air which bubbles
and smoke to have character and to lean
In. The streets look for Allen, Frank, or me, Allen
is a movie, Frank disappearing in the air, it’s
Heavy with that lightness, heavy on me, I heave
through it, them, as
The Calvados is being sipped on Long island now
twenty years almost ago, and the man smoking
Is looking at the smilingly attentive woman, & telling.
Who would have thought that I’d be here, nothing
wrapped up, nothing buried, everything
Love, children, hundreds of them, money, marriage-
ethics, a politics of grace,
Up in the air, swirling, burning even or still, now
more than ever before?
Not that practically a boy, serious in corduroy car coat
eyes penetrating the winter twilight at 6th
& Bowery in 1961. Not that pretty girl, nineteen, who was
going to have to go, careening into middle-age so,
To burn, & to burn more fiercely than even she could imagine
so to go. Not that painter who from very first meeting
I would never & never will leave alone until we both vanish
into the thin air we signed up for & so demanded
To breathe & who will never leave me, not for sex, nor politics
nor even for stupid permanent estrangement which is
Only our human lot & means nothing. No, not him.
There’s a song, ‘California Dreaming’, but no, I won’t do that
I am 43. When will I die? I will never die, I will live
To be 110, & I will never go away, & you will never escape from me
who am always & only a ghost, despite this frame, Spirit
Who lives only to nag.
I’m only pronouns, & I am all of them, & I didn’t ask for this
You did
I came into your life to change it & it did so & now nothing
will ever change
That, and that’s that.
Alone & crowded, unhappy fate, nevertheless
I slip softly into the air
The world’s furious song flows through my costume.


Buddha On The Bounty
for Merrill Gilfillan

‘A little loving can solve a lot of things’
She locates two spatial equivalents in
The same time continuum. ‘You are lovely. I
am lame.’ ‘Now it’s me.’ ‘If a man is in
Solitude, the world is translated, my world
& wings sprout from the shoulders of ‘The Slave”
Yeah. I like the fiery butterfly puzzles
Of this pilgrimage toward clarities
Of great mud intelligence & feeling.
‘The Elephant is the wisest of all animals
The only one who remembers his former lives
& he remains motionless for long periods of time
Meditating thereon.’ I’m not here, now,
& it is good, absence.


Frank O’Hara

Winter in the country, Southampton, pale horse
as the soot rises, then settles, over the pictures
The birds that were singing this morning have shut up
I thought I saw a couple kissing, but Larry said no
It’s a strange bird. He should know. & I think now
“Grandmother divided by monkey equals outer space.” Ron
put me in that picture. In another picture, a good-
looking poet is thinking it over, nevertheless, he will
never speak of that it. But, his face is open, his eyes
are clear, and, leaning lightly on an elbow, fist below
his ear, he will never be less than perfectly frank,
listening, completely interested in whatever there may
be to hear. Attentive to me alone here. Between friends,
nothing would seem stranger to me than true intimacy.
What seems genuine, truly real, is thinking of you, how
that makes me feel. You are dead. And you’ll never
write again about the country, that’s true.
But the people in the sky really love
to have dinner & to take a walk with you.


Sonnet #13

Mountains of twine and
Teeth braced against it
Before gray walls. Feet walk
Released by night (which is not to imply
Death) under the murk spell
Racing down the blue lugubrious rainway
To the promise of emptiness
In air we get our feet wet . . . a big rock
Caresses cloud bellies
He finds he cannot fake
Wed to wakefulness, night which is not death
Fuscous with murderous dampness
But helpless, as blue roses are helpless.
Rivers of annoyance undermine the arrangements.


Today’s News

My body heavy with poverty (starch)
It uses up my sexual energy
constantly &
I feel constantly crowded
On the other hand, One Day in the Afternoon of The World
Pervaded my life with a
heavy grace
I’ll never smile again
Bad Teeth
But I’m dancing with tears in my eyes
(I can’t help myself!) Tom
when he loves Alice’s sonnets,
takes four, I’d love
to be more attentive to her, more
The situation having become intolerable
the only alternatives are:
Murder & Suicide.
They are too dumb! So, one
becomes a goof. Raindrops
start falling on my roof. I say
Hooray! Then I say, I’m going out

At the drugstore I say, Gimmie some pills!
Charge ’em! They say
Sure. I say See you later.
Read the paper. Talk to Alice. She laughs to hear
Hokusai had 947 changes of address
In his life. Ha-ha. Plus everything
else in the world
going on here.


Things To Do On Speed

mind clicks into gear
& fingers clatter over the keyboard
as intricate insights stream
out of your head;
this goes on for ten hours:
then, take a break: clean
all desk drawers, arrange all
pens & pencils in precise parallel patterns;
stack all books with exactitude in one pile
to coincide perfectly with the right angle
of the desk’s corner.
Whistle thru ten more hours of arcane insights:
drink a quart of ice-cold pepsi:
clean the ice-box:
pass out for ten solid hours
interesting dreams.


Finish papers, wax floors, lose weight, write songs, sing songs, have
conference, sculpt, wake up & think more clearly. Clear up asthma.
treat your obesity, avoid mild depression, decongest, cure your
treat your hyper-kinetic brain-damaged children. Open the Pandora’s Box
of amphetamine abuse.


Stretch the emotional sine curve; follow euphoric peaks with descents
into troughs
that are unbearable wells of despair & depression. Become a ravaged
scarecrow. Cock your emaciated body in
twisted postures
scratch your torn & pock-marked skin,
keep talking, endlessly.


Jump off a roof on the lower East Side
Write a 453 page unintelligible book


Dismantle 12 radios
string beads interminably
empty your purse
sit curled in a chair
& draw intricate designs
in the corner of an envelope


‘I felt it rush almost instantly into
my head like a short circuit. My body
began to pulsate, & grew tiny antennae
all quivering in anticipation. I began
to receive telepathic communication from
the people around me. I felt elated.’


get pissed off.
Feel your tongue begin to shred,
lips to crack, the inside of the mouth
become eaten out. Itch all over. See
your fingernails flake off, hair & teeth
fall out.
Buy a Rolls Royce
Become chief of the Mafia
Consider anti-matter.


Notice that tiny bugs are crawling all over your whole body
around, between and over your many new pimples.
Cut away pieces of bad flesh.
Discuss mother’s promiscuity
Sense the presence of danger at the movies
get tough
turn queer


In the Winter, switch to heroin, so you won’t catch pneumonia.
In the Spring, go back to speed.




p.s. Hey. ** Wolf, Rawr, rawr. There might be a smidgen of luck involved, but it’s ultimately about whether Gisele is willing to battle enough to make it happen. Yeah, those Irish folks did the right thing. Every ray of hope these days feels godlike by default. I’m going to call the blog’s hosts again today to see if anything can be done. Barring the appearance of a freelance genius volunteer who understands this shit, that’s all I can do. It’s very perplexing because some people have trouble seeing the comments and other people are having no problem at all. Kluge is that. Noise fest, yum. Assuming Godflesh lived up to their moniker did you hear any other noisy things you like? Oh, wow, a Wolf twofer! Sublime and punishing sounds like an awfully, awfully nice combination. I’m naturally happy that Kluge intersected with what remained of you. Yes, some of Kluge’s writing, I have. It’s really great. It’s definitely not a secondary talent of his. Recommended. Monday hugs! Oh, I hugged Ariana for you, and she waxed about your wonderfulness for ages, and she said she’d love to see you when she goes to London soon, but I don’t know how to hook you guys up. I think I only have her Facebook thing? ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Very happy you’re a Kluge admirer. We are strangely few and far between through no fault of the work itself. ** Misanthrope, Like I said to Wolf, I’ll call today and see if the hosts can get their tech guys to try something else. Like I also said to her, the fact that the problem is not across the board but only affecting some people for inexplicable reasons makes find a resolution a lot trickier than it would be if the issue was everyone’s. ** Steve Erickson, Hm, I think ‘Little Pink House’ will now move to the basement of my queue. Thank you. ** Alistair, Hi, Alistair! Nice NYC trip in general, it sounds like. I’m heading there soon for a giant 3 week visit to redo ‘Them’. I haven’t been in NYC for more than two or three days at a time tops since I lived there in the late 80s. ‘PGL’ just got an American distributor, so it should get some kind of theater showing in LA, although I don’t know in what form. Plus it’ll be on all the big VOD platforms, and there’ll be a DVD and BluRay. So we’re pretty happy about that, obviously. Congrats about the opening. Do you already have some internal work done on the novel? You do, right? Did finding an opening reinvent what you’d been working previously, if so? ** Jamie, Chicka-chicka-boom, Jamie! I’m good, thanks. My weekend was a lot about finishing the TV script and sending it off to our producer yesterday. I did see Ariana, and that was super great. She says she’s fallen in love with Paris and is probably going to move here this fall, which was happy news. We went to what turns out to be our mutual favorite place/thing in Paris: Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature. You’re seeing her read tomorrow? Whoa. Well, I urge you and Hannah to go up and say hi and that your my pals if you like her reading and want to say hello to her. She’s very fun and nice and energetic. Our producer is a massive pain. Mm, I honestly will be pretty surprised if Gisele ends up being willing to work with her through then entire project, should ARTE agree to go ahead and shoot the series, since that would mean working with her for years. But the situation is very complicated. Superb about your and Hannah’s triumphs at the Writing Gang soiree! Excellent! We share SY faves, how curious and nice. I’ll give an additional shout out to ‘Evol’. All I heard about the Championship League final was something about some great player getting a bad injury that is very bad news to you fans. Sorry. Week: film script work, seeing the new Gaspar Noe, praying our monster producer pays me as promised so I can pay my rent and continue to eat, art (artists and robotics show @ Grand Palais, ‘Enfers et fantômes d’Asie’ @ Musee de Quai Branly, other stuff), meeting with a hopeful French distributor for ‘PGL’, and the unknown. And yours? May your Monday sell you a haunted French chateau for £1. Rock opera love, Dennis. ** _Black_Acrylic, Tricky indeed. Less so in France, but that won’t help you. At last, the meeting! Let me know what you guys managed to figure out and solve and plan and all of that great stuff. Oh, I was just saying Jamie that all I knew about the final was that some great player got badly injured, and there’s his name. So sorry. ** Right. Please read, read about, and pay general homage today to the late, really great poet Ted Berrigan. Thank you. See you tomorrow.


  1. Great to see this Ted Berrigan Day. As I trust many Dennis-Adepts recall, Ted was there at the Factory the day of my Big Andy Interview and I watched Andy make a silent portrait film of him. His reasons and methods for writing poetry were identical to Frank O’Hara’s. The Cage interview is particularly wonderful

  2. Hey Dennis,
    I like Ted Berrigan a lot, it seems. Ta for the intro.
    How are you? I have been lying reading in the sun, but it was a bit too insect-y for me. I asked Hannah if she considered me an indoorsy type of person and she said yes. The Great Indoors. Suits me. I picked up a super-cheap copy of Lunar Park and can’t put it down. It’s funny.
    When do you actually find out if ARTE will def shoot the series? Any closer to having a title, btw? You’ve still not been paid? Jesus, really. I really hope that’s sorted asap.
    Evol has some of my favourite favourite SY songs on it (Marilyn Moore, Tom Violence, Expressway) but there’s a weird hard to put my finger on but in some way Gregorian(?) aural quality to that record that just takes it off the top spot.
    Your week sounds good. And your latest gifterpiece gets released tomorrow! How do you feel about that? My week will consist of working, and looking over a thing I wrote last year to see if it’s any good and, if it is, attempting to polish it up for entry into a competition. Of course, I’ve been avoiding doing this for ages and the closing date’s creeping close. Oh and I want to see Solo at some point.
    I’d love a haunted chateau in France!
    May your Tuesday be sugar-coated.
    Galvanised love,

  3. Dennis, Okay, thanks. I know there’s only so much that you can do. But we’ll keep on keeping on. No biggie in the whole big scheme of things.

    I saw SOLO yesterday. It’s probably an airplane movie for you. It was fun. I didn’t hate it at all. I liked it. I won’t, say, go and see it in the theater again, but I don’t feel my money was wasted.

    I guess my only quibble would be with the guy playing the young Han Solo. He was…okay. Didn’t quite carry off the charisma and charm that Harrsion Ford had in the earlier movies, which, I think, is a big part of the character.

    I’m off today for Memorial Day. Right after we got out of the movie, it started to pour and hasn’t really let up much. Fucking rain is ruining my days! Argh. It’s supposed to be pretty nice the rest of the week, though, so that’s something.

    So funny that until recently weather never bugged me. Now I hate cold weather and rain. They really just get on my nerves.

    Oh, and tons of hot guys down there in Calvert and St. Mary’s counties, Maryland. Where’d they all come from? I need to start seeing more movies down there. 😛

  4. And I forgot: Berrigan is great.

  5. Hi!

    First of all: I really, truly hope your producer finally sent your script on to ARTE today. Did she?
    And also, did you have your film script meeting with Zac?

    My weekend felt really short. Yesterday, I met Anita which was amazing and refreshing as always. And on Saturday, I met the couple organizing the trans group (there was no group this month due to some difficulties with the location again, which I was quietly grateful for) because they FINALLY decided to move the sessions to a different place and they wanted to talk about this. We also agreed to go on ’til the end of this year and to decide then whether or not we have the time/energy/etc. to keep doing the whole group thing in 2019. Although it gives me valuable experience, I feel like I’d like to quit at the end of the year.
    I also decided to be kind of an antisocial jerk and tell my colleagues that in quiet periods, when we have zero customers (sometimes these periods go on for hours), I’ll need some time to write – instead of the usual small talk. We’ll see how that works out in the long run. My hope is that if I manage to write a little this way every day, in the afternoon I’ll leave with the feeling that I actually did something valuable with my time – besides making money.

    How are you? How was your weekend? Also, I’m really, really excited about your new GIF work! One more day to go!! See you on Friday, Dennis!

    Also, thank you for today’s post! It was very inspiring!

  6. Dennis, how fare thee, my good sir?
    Ted Berrigan: YES! Christ on a fixie bike the motherfucker could write. The John Cage Fauxterview is so good. ‘Some artists prefer the stream of consciousness. Not me. I’d rather beat people up.’ His poems are so delicious, luminous and fresh. It was baking hot today, the Good Stuff, and then thunder started rumbling in an invisible distance very suddenly – the sky was not grey and it was still as summery as could be. Very surreal. ‘Where’s it coming from? What the fuck? Is North Korea bombing us?’ After about 10 minutes of denser and denser satanic cataracts, the whole sky, from one second to the next, poured itself down. The sky was still half blue, the sun still streaming and hitting the gleaming buildings all around, like an apocalyptic battle waged by the equally matched armies of hell and heaven. Roar! Light! Flood! Silver spears! But amidst all this drama it all just felt very lovely and fresh, the cool water bursting the warm earth and leaves, a fragrant drink, people running for cover in flip-flops giggling, kids screaming with delight… a very fun apocalypse. It tried very hard to be serious and scary and failed, poor thing. I think Berrigan would have liked it.
    Oh, you saw Ariana! And she’s coming to London! How very wunderbar! I do have an old email of hers, I’ll try and see if it still works. Mucho love! Oh, also, do let me know how the Ghosts show was, I’m very tempted to get work to ship me to Paris on some flimsy excuse so I can go check it out.

  7. Really enjoyed this smart and hilarious Berrigan primer so thank you!

    The Yuck ‘n Yum Compendium saga is moving on, I’m happy to say. We had a productive meeting. The plan is for me and Alex to invade the Generator on Thursday and liberate a bunch of copies. I’ve ordered packaging and Alex is working on the PayPal button. Emails are flying around to Generator, to YNY committee members and to former volunteers asking them to lend a hand. So this should really be the kick up the arse the project needs.

    Oh and I cannot wait for ZAC’S CORAL REEF.

  8. Can we still hear droll nowadays or have our ears been deafened by kitsch?

  9. Great news about the US distributor for PGL. Can you reveal which one it is, and do you have a release date?

    I got back to NYC today. The trip went really smoothly, but I realized the large gym bag I use as a suitcase had some big holes in it and I need to throw it out. I have a large suitcase that I’ve kept in my storage room since my 2009 trip to Toronto – I need to dig it out and see how practical it is for carrying down my building’s stairs.

    I listened to the Beatles’ ANTHOLOGY 2 outtakes collection for the first time, which pretty much covers the period from 1965-1967. I don’t get much of a thrill from hearing three different versions of “Strawberry Fields Forever” in a row (the best one was the closest to the finished one) , but there’s something fascinating about hearing something like a demo “Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds” played by Lennon at the mellotron backed by just bass and drums, with recording quality a la early Guided By Voices, even if I don’t want to hear every day. I also like the latest Bill Frisell album MUSIC IS, which I bought in Connecticut, although his soundtrack work has a tendency to sound like random guitar noodling. He makes effective use of loops and sampling his own guitar playing here.

    Tomorrow, I am interviewing former New York Film Festival head/Film Society of Lincoln Center programmer Richard Peña. He quit those jobs six years ago and is now just teaching at Columbia, but he’s been traveling to countries like Jordan and India, showing old and new American independent films (like Oscar Michaux and Maya Deren), in the past few years. He also gave a TED Talk in Havana. I’ve read enough recent interviews with him to know that he still has a lot of valuable opinions. I plan to watch the Brazilian film ARABY for a review when I get home that evening.

    Was Berrigan also a very well-known anti-Vietnam War activist, or am I thinking of another man with a similar name?

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