June 29, 2021

Jim Morrison, 50 Years Later

I can summon the dead.  
I can perceive events on other worlds,
in my deepest inner mind,
and in the minds of others.  

James Douglas Morrison was born December 8, 1943 and died 50 years ago on July 3, 1971, at 27 in Paris. 

It is arguable whether he should be considered a poet or a singer/lyricist or both. That is for readers to decide.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from UCLA’s film school in 1965. His fame comes from being the lead singer for The Doors, formed in 1965. From their first album, The Doors (1967) to their last, An American Prayer, (released posthumously in 1978, with new music that the three surviving Doors set to spoken-word recordings Morrison had made prior to his death) interest in Morrison has continued.

Morrison's first book of poetry was The Lords and The New Creatures, originally self-published as two volumes in 1969.

The Collected Works of Jim Morrison: Poetry, Journals, Transcripts and Lyrics was published this month and is a comprehensive, 600-page book with a foreword by novelist Tom Robbins. The book was inspired by a posthumously discovered list of his entitled “Plan for Book.”

“I thought Jim would be a poet, like one of the Beat poets in San Francisco. That’s what I was expecting. And I was worried! Because I thought he would never make enough money as a poet to get by,” says Anne Morrison Chewning, who wrote the prologue for the book and is the co-executor of her late brother’s personal estate.

The book intends to be definitive with a lot of unpublished material. It includes handwritten excerpts from 28 of Morrison’s recently discovered notebooks, recorded and unrecorded lyrics and many photos and drawings (including rarely seen family photos).

Stoned Inmaculate
by Jim Morrison

I'll tell you this...
No eternal reward will forgive us now.
For wasting the dawn.
Back in those days everything was simpler and more confused.

One summer night, going to the pier.
I ran into two young girls.
The blonde one was called Freedom.
The dark one, Enterprise.
We talked and they told me this story.
Now listen to this...

I'll tell you about Texas radio and the big beat.
Soft driven, slow and mad.
Like some new language.
Reaching your head with the cold, sudden fury of a divine messenger.
Let me tell you about heartache and the loss of god.
Wandering, wandering in hopeless night.

Out here in the perimeter there are no stars.
Out here we is stoned.

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June 18, 2021

Mini-Prompt: American Sentences

allen ginsberg
Ginsberg  via Flickr

If you're looking for some more inspiration this month, I always suggest taking a look at Paull Szlosek's Poetry Playground blog. There are many forms and examples, both traditional and invented forms.

One of those is the American Sentence, a poetry form that was invented by Allen Ginsberg and popularized by Paul E. Nelson as a variation on traditional haiku. 

American Sentences also consist of 17 syllables, but the 3-line format and 5-7-5 breaks are dropped. The 17 syllables are written as a single line or sentence. They may have a title. 

Is it one complete grammatical sentence? Sometimes, but feel free to do several short sentences or even phrases., while others have written them as two, three, or four or even just as series of phrases. 

There are some other slightly haiku-ish conderations. Nelson feels they should focus on concrete images. Ginsberg said you should mention either a time or place (or both) and the use of articles such as “a” and “the” should be avoided. But neither adhered to their own suggestions all the time.

I have also seen poets write multi-line poems composed entirely of American Sentences which gives the poem a kind of Japanese-American "meter."

Here are four of the original American Sentences by Ginsberg:

Nov 1991 N.Y.
Put my tie on in a taxi, short of breath, rushing to meditate
Tompkins Square Lower East Side N.Y.
Four skinheads stand in the streetlight rain chatting under an umbrella

On Hearing the Muezzin Cry Allah Akbar While Visiting the Pythian Oracle at Didyma Toward the End of the Second Millennium
At sunset Apollo’s columns echo with the bawl of the One God

Approaching Seoul by Bus in Heavy Rain
Get used to your body, forget you were born, suddenly you got to get out!

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June 3, 2021

Prompt: Birthday Connection

When I was a teen and first interested in writing poetry, I noticed in an almanac that I shared a birthday with the poet Arthur Rimbaud. I thought that perhaps because we shared a birthday (October 20) even though I was born 99 years later, perhaps we were similar. 

I looked up Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud. Right off, I realized that I had been pronouncing his name in my head incorrectly - not rim-baud but ræmˈ-boʊ. He was a French poet known for surreal themes, though he prefigured surrealism. He started writing at a very young age, was an excellent student, but abandoned formal education when he was my age and ran away from home to Paris during the Franco-Prussian War.

He was described as an enfant terrible of poetry. He was a literary bad boy, and became a mercenary arms dealer. He produced most of his writing in his late adolescence and early adulthood. He completely stopped writing literature at age 20, after he had put together assembling his last major work, Illuminations.

I was not a bad boy. I never dealt weapons. He wrote a lot of prose poetry and his poetry is nothing like mine.


Years later, I discovered that the American poet Robert Pinsky also shares my birthday. Not only was he born on October 20 but we share a birthplace (New Jersey) and both received our BA at Rutgers College. Robert was born during WWII and I was born during the Korean War but at least we were born in the same century. 

I like Pinsky's poetry, but it is not like my poetry. He was our Poet Laureate (1997-2000) and he is the author of nineteen books. I met him twice when he gave readings at the Dodge Poetry Festivals. I mentioned our shared birthday and he reminded me that we also share the day with NY Yankees legend Mickey Mantle. Mantle was my birthday inspiration as a kid. I wanted to become a Yankee. I was a decent ballplayer, played the outfield like Mickey, but though I got lots of hits and stolen bases, I could not hit those long balls.

Robert Pinsky

Did I learn anything about poetry from my poetry birthday buddies? Yes. First off, I looked up their poetry which I had not read earlier. I learned some other things, but that brings us to this month's prompt.

Do some research and find out who was born on your birthday. (Just search on Wikipedia for the date to start.) See if you find a poet. Any connections to your own life or poetry? You could also choose a writer or really anyone that interest you or you feel some connection to as the inspiration for your poem.

Postscript: I could not find a model poem for this prompt, (If you know a poem that fits, post it in a comment.) but I did find that Pinsky and Rimbaud both have poems titled "Antique." Are they connected? Did Pinsky know Rimbaud's poem and was he influenced by it? (Got any answers? Post that in a comment.) Give them a read: "Antique" by Robert Pinsky and "Antique" by Arthur Rimbaud



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