Wednesday, December 10, 2008

December 10th - Harry Crosby

This day has been of import to me my entire life. First, it's the day of my Mother's birth and I must wish her a Happy Birthday!

Jumping into the more esoteric realms, into the myths that have shaped and shifted my life, today is the death day of Lost Generation poet Harry Crosby. I don't know if I can properly express the influence that Harry's life and death have had upon me. It has been vast. I've traveled the width of the continent twice with Crosby as a goad and was the solitary scholar of the Caresse Crosby Papers at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale for many years. Had I elected to remain in Academia, I probably would have written extensively on Crosby's life and work. Before returning to school to finish my bachelors I composed music set to his poetry and wrote my own verse that expanded upon his themes.

I was introduced to Crosby by an old coyote in Austin in 1991. I shared some of my poetry and he pulled out a xeroxed book of poems, turned to Assassin and read it. He thankfully saw a connection between our work. I later discovered it would be considered "B" poetry to many, but as he read, it changed me to the core. It was as though a voice was responding to the dreams and visions that fueled my own writing. I immediately asked my brother if I could xerox his xerox and thus began my Crosby collection.

It was only after I had traveled many cities and massed a handful of poems that I actually began to read of Harry's extravagant life and the mythology he created that set his trajectory for the sun and his suicide. I eventually found a collection of his journals and became even more intrigued. I took on many of Crosby's myths and added my own to the mix. It was magical. Back in Detroit, on December 10th, 1993 while honoring Harry's death day, I had an experience similar to PKD's pink laser beam, aka V.A.L.I.S. The intensity of this "spell" as my grandmother would call it, actually triggered my exodus from Detroit. I retired to the deserts of the South-West to heal.

I've been working on a book that documents how my path has been influenced by this b-list poet and hope to really flush it out someday. For now, let me simply recognize my debt to Harry, the Black Sun and the Mad Queen. It has been an honor to connect to you across time and space through our mutual myths. "All Hail the Mad Queen!"

1 comment:

Steven Fama said...

All right! Thanks for sharing a bit of the story of you and Crosby. Must have been great looking through the special collection materials...

Count me as another who enjoys Crosby's writing. I came upon it via the late great poet Philip Lamantia. In 1976, Philip wrote that via Mad Queen, Crosby was one of the very few genuine American proto-surrealists.

Have a great new year.