I’m in the accumulation phase of a most excellent
project. With the poet and editor, Laura
Boss, I’m putting together a selected poems of Michael Benedikt. Michael Benedikt was the author of five
collections of poetry published between 1968 and 1980, as well as several
important anthologies on prose poetry, Surrealism, and plays. At the time of his death, in 2007, he also
had quite a lot of unpublished work that Laura Boss saved from being tossed
into a dumpster. When I heard that, I
knew this project had to happen.
Here's a bit from his statement in connection with his apparance in The Young American Poets (1969), to give you a feel for where he was coming from:
"A condition in which all possibilities are open, offering the widest range of choice, including the choice of not choosing at all - not writing, I mean - strikes me as a very spiritual condition. I want poetry to be a way of both creating and experiencing. I want my own poetry, increasingly, to contain a maximum of spiritual information."
I posted this on facebook last week, and now I’m posting
My thought is the more I
mention it publicly, the greater the chance of it getting done.
It’s going to be a lot of work.
All of the poetry of Benedikt’s is in hard
There’s going to be
photocopying, cataloging, and putting it into electronic format.
There’s going to be reading and selecting (from
among undated versions, possibly, as well).
And finally (or at some point in this process) the proposals to
If anyone reading this has a favorite Michael Benedikt
poem that they hope is included, and/or if anyone reading this knows of a
publisher that might be interested, feel free to comment or to email me at jjgallaher
at hotmail dot com.
I’ve come across a lot of goodwill toward Benedikt
already (as person, editor, and poet) as I’ve mentioned it to people, and I’m hoping
that crowd-sourcing will make this a fun adventure.
Thanks already to Don Share for directing me
toward Laura Boss, and to Nick Courtright for finding her email address.
And to many others for notes of
Thank you all so
I’ll probably be asking many
questions over the next few months.
Here’s a poem from his first book, The Body
, that I hope
will make people who don’t know his work curious, and begin to help push to get
this book completed:
Nothing is going to get elucidated any more around here,
On the natural course of events to explain itself;
And the way we are leaning forward, shading our ears and
cupping our eyes
And the blank looks on our faces
Tell us not what we need to know, but only
Who it is that is looking and listening
The bathroom mirror is revealed as the site of revelation
At 11:35 p.m., on the last Friday of October, 1967, its
truth is told
The truth of the bathroom mirror with its
toothbrushholder, its fingermarked waterglasses, the twisted toothpaste tube,
the false eyelashes and the razor
Revelation of the thing we have always been closest
Now, without our having to ask it to, it shows us all the
depth of the things we have known and loved the best