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Old 06-10-2014, 12:36 AM View Post #1 (Link) Marketplace with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Allen Ginsberg
AutostradaUnchained (Offline)
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This is something I have never done before, giving a parody/tribute to other writers or even mentioning people in the first place- I do both here.
The parts near the end I took off two of my favorite Ginsberg poems to tribute F. Scott Fitzgerald, hence the title. I only started writing those parts one day, and decided to continue it until it was (possibly) a real poem.

MARKETPLACE WITH F. SCOTT FITZGERALD AND ALLEN GINSBERG
I walked through streets too lame to describe,
I walked through buildings and staircases,
White carpets on Versailles,
Past the Potomac oranges,
Past Neruda at Starbucks, bald, communist, wrinkled flesh on his forehead as he hands me my redeye,
Past Jesus fish, Marxist trout with head slashed off,
Past elderly pseudo-evangelicals making obnoxious comments about great looks and money,
Past pseudo-villas on the river where businessmen bitch about names and failing businesses,
No nudity, no love, no beauty, no sanity, no sacredness, no wilderness, no intelligence, no class, no culture, no descendants of the great human generations, no evidence of any change in their southern racism, no change in the hypocrisy of these cross-burning psychopathic fascist airhead zombies shouting at Euro-laced young tycoon with Swiss timepiece and leather jacket (the poet who hates vanity, hence-) shouting desperate lowlife idiotic words at all chrome youth:
“COMMUNIST!”
(Jealousy.)
And have they heard of Lac Geneve anyway? Do they even know who Marx was? Must they boo-hoo in some other [Canada?]
Do the haters realize they hate freedom? That they caused 9/11? That they killed Lincoln and Kennedy and Jesus and America? That their lunacy is the problem?
Where is your Christianity? When will you be Christly? When will you give money? When will you give cunnilingus and women’s rights to the gender we men have disrespected for centuries? When will you let her finish? When will you open your mind? When will you see through the soul? When will you respect yourself and build your own chateau of legacy?

I search day and night for characters.
For Jesus, Jesus in the sound of Ferrari and Bugatti and virtual reality and dharma,
For Jesus in St. Tropez,
For Jesus in the House of Windsor,
For Jesus in the saintly exotic streets of Bethesda,
For Winston Churchill with his nudity in the BNP as in the White House (who deserved him)?
For John F. Kennedy, for William Blake, for Frank Sinatra in tears, for Saint Teresa in ecstasy, for my surreal ex-lover in the ecstasy that never was, for Monica Bellucci, for Eric Rohmer, for Kanye West, for Hunter S. Thompson, for Saint Christopher and Saint Tropez, for Enzo Ferrari, for Rodney Dangerfield in respect, for Pat Burrell in great masculinity, for the unmasked fanatic, for Walt Whitman and Life Extension, for James Dean, for James Bond, for James Joyce, for Marlon Brando, for Don Corleone, for Frank Lloyd Wright, for Tom Smith, for California Chrome, for Smarty Jones and Big Brown, for my old Kentucky home that never was, for the long-gone Bugatti-driving Kings of Monaco, for Princess Diana and any sort of woman that compares to her in my doomed collection of women who, as they reach for pants for hot flesh and hotrod gunshot millionaire wallet, ask:
“Who is Godfather? And what’s a Bob Dylan? And since when does Ruth Bader Ginsburg write poetry? And why do you? Why aren’t you normal?”
As I walk on and look, looking with tired rich shy blue eyes, looking for Abraham Lincoln, for Andy Warhol, for Mick Jagger, for Allen Ginsberg, for Jack Kerouac, for Renoir, for Raphael, for Montesquieu, for James Madison, for George Washington, for George Washington Carver and his million peanuts, for F. Scott Fitzgerald, for Picasso, for Ernest Hemingway, for Dali, for Avogadro, for Columbus, for Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas, for John Lennon, for Langston Hughes, for Dalai Lama, for the ghost of John Edwards, the Edwards Presidency there never was, as his Dick took him lower than Bush’s, for Pope Francis, for Queen Katherine, for every one of civilization’s greatest hits and all desired human species!
For the toreadors of Pamplona!
For the brown-jacket City Lights in Greenwich Village!
For the jazzmen of Harlem!
For the princes of energy and virtual reality!
For the suit and vest, velvet black vest .44-packing Dons of capitalist superior and great god of Switzerland!
For the superior French healthcare and superior Swiss economy and unbeatable American landscape!
For the force that made me fall in love with Uruguay!
For the force that keeps me wishing peace for the dead and glorious?

I’m with you in Rockville,
F. Scott Fitzgerald,
I’m with you in Rockville,
No one meditating at your tomb,
I’m with you in Rockville,
No one to make your Parisian dreams come true
I’m with you in Rockville,
No one to make your American dreams come true,
I’m with you in Rockville,
No one to make your wife come sane,
I’m with you in Rockville,
No one to make your wife come alive,
I’m with you in Rockville,
No great woman to see past your great looks,
I’m with you in Rockville,
No one to make Maryland Parisian,

I saw you,
F. Scott Fitzgerald,
Your lady gone, too burdened to give you love,
Your parents unimaginable in a small town, staring in disbelief and misunderstanding at you, literary alien,
Staring at fresh Menton citrus plants in Morpheus vibration,
I saw you laying back in a boring hell and wishing your water was Burgundy, wishing love and life were as beautiful as your imagination, wishing you were in Paris or Jazz Manhattan, every drum and saxophone raging through your head as you close your eyes, wishing for sanity, wishing for sacredness, and wondering thoughts such as, “when was the human waterfall? And what truth lies in California champagne?”
Are you my hero?

No human hero. No man, no woman, only times and places. Only New York, the beautiful New York no one notices the night of the Belmont when the Triple Crown went down again. Only the wise aftermath of the reaper, disguised behind his saintly left broken wing, asleep in Cordoba, staring into the balcony, the soft Mediterranean balcony in the sun as it opens America and closes softly.
  
						Last edited by AutostradaUnchained; 06-10-2014 at 01:18 AM.
					
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Old 06-14-2014, 05:35 PM View Post #2 (Link)
Isis (Offline)
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There's a lot in this poem that I like, but also a lot that I'm not sure about, or that I think is problematic.

I had fun going back to the source material for this. I assume the tribute here is to two of Ginsberg's most famous poems, Howl and A Supermarket in California. Were there other poems you're referring to, or that you were thinking about while writing this? The setting (walking through lame streets) felt like an echo of these lines from A Supermarket in California
What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for
I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache
self-conscious looking at the full moon.
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The
trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be
lonely.
Anyway, I enjoyed re-reading A Supermarket and skimming through parts I and III of Howl. I feel like the beginning reminds me the most of the beginning parts of Howl. It was weird to read the end of Howl, which names all kinds of stuff I'm familiar with (Rockland, the Bronx) and then look back at your poem and wonder "where the fuck is Rockville?" But The Google has told me that it's outside of D.C, where Fitzgerald is buried. While I get it now and it makes sense for the tribute that you're doing, it feels a little bit … off, I guess. It's really close to the original sound and cadence at the end of Howl, but I woudln't expect all your readers to know the reference. Some will get confused and wonder what New York has a neighborhood or suburb called Rockville (closest is Rockville Center on LI, I think, it's been awhile since I was on Long Island thank god). Some will not care what place you're referring to. Some will look it up. Maybe one or two people will get the reference. If you're ok with that, awesome - and it seems like you are since this poem rests upon people and place names. But if not, maybe rethink this approach - or at least be aware that readers might be like "what?"

I think the descriptive, humorous parts of the poem work the best, at least for me. I like a lot of the descriptions at the beginning, particularly this sequence:

White carpets on Versailles,
Past the Potomac oranges,
Past Neruda at Starbucks, bald, communist, wrinkled flesh on his forehead as he hands me my redeye,
Past Jesus fish, Marxist trout with head slashed off,
Past elderly pseudo-evangelicals making obnoxious comments about great looks and money,
Past pseudo-villas on the river where businessmen bitch about names and failing businesses,
Sad and hilarious, all of it: Neruda the barista, impossible oranges in D.C., the 1 percenters I used to take on tours of the Hudson. I can see this. I love the high and low juxtapositions, the hints of politics that shine through the images, the sarcasm and anger and beauty all together. This is writing that's starting to make me feel something and starting to bring me to a new place.

The "I saw you" part at the end of the poem also works well because it goes beyond listing, even though it uses listing as a device, and gives me something I can really imagine and connect to:
I saw you,
F. Scott Fitzgerald,
Your lady gone, too burdened to give you love,
Your parents unimaginable in a small town, staring in disbelief and misunderstanding at you, literary alien,
Staring at fresh Menton citrus plants in Morpheus vibration,
I saw you laying back in a boring hell and wishing your water was Burgundy, wishing love and life were as beautiful as your imagination, wishing you were in Paris or Jazz Manhattan, every drum and saxophone raging through your head as you close your eyes, wishing for sanity, wishing for sacredness, and wondering thoughts such as, “when was the human waterfall? And what truth lies in California champagne?”
I like the contrast between Fitzgerald's surroundings and his imagination, and I actually like the way the poem implies that his surroundings were pretty good: fresh Menton citrus plants in Morpheus vibration is something I'd want to stare at. But Fitzgerald is still bored by them. That's interesting characterization.

I'm a little unconvinced by the questions at the end of this section. Are those the questions that Fitzgerald would have asked? They feel very "beat" to me, maybe self consciously "artistic". Not the impression I get from his work, but I haven't read as much of it as you have probably. I also don't feel as excited by those kinds of questions in poems. I guess the form of the poem and the work you're referencing supports the strategy, and it fits in, but somehow it feels old to me, like it's supposed to be wild and crazy and interesting but isn't.

I get a similar feeling from the sections of the poem that are really heavy on listing and naming. I like some of the combinations and juxtapositions in the list sections and the way some modern names have made it in there. To have some nods to the modern and the huge changes that have happened between the writing of your source material and the writing of this poem - those are good things. They make me think about the use we have now for these 50s and 60s figures alongside our current figures. And for forms from the 50s and 60s alongside current art forms. But despite the interesting trains of thoughts the lists spark I feel like they go on too long and get a bit tired by the end. Any way to call out the most important people? To really emphasize the high-low, then-now, sorts of contrasts that are happening in the lists of names? By the time I get to the end of them, I kind of lose track of the point. You can paint a milieu in fewer words for sure, and help keep the reader on track. I love a good list poem but get frustrated when I lose track of why the author is listing things.

Something that I think is both interesting and problematic about this poem is how few women make an appearance. Is that a comment about on Fitzgerald or Ginsberg's times? Is it just what happens when you write about famous and powerful people from the last hundred years? How come Kanye makes it into the poem but not Beyonce? Where's Jane Roe? Basically we only get a semi-detailed glimpse of Zelda Fitzgerald and she's not shown in a great light. I don't think you should just add the ladies in because someone asked you where they were. But I think when writing historical and political pieces like this should prompt you to think about it. Especially when the text of the poem talks about women's rights explicitly in the beginning. It primes me for maybe a more balanced representation, or some call out to the great women of current and past milieus, and when they barely appear I get a little cranky. I don't think your male readers will ever notice this. But women? We notice.

I don't want this comment to come off as too cranky. I think this would be worth discussing further. I'm open to hearing your thoughts on the matter, and hopefully it will be instructive for both of us.

--

God, where's hippo/Hypo when you need him? There used to be a member of this forum who could have really helped you with work like this.
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Old 06-14-2014, 07:59 PM View Post #3 (Link) This post is a reply - don't critique it
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Hey Isis,
Your critique was certainly worth a reply, as there were some very interesting questions you asked.
First of all, I sincerely understand your concern with the lack of women I mentioned in the list of people the narrator imagined.
The poem is generally a reference to the narrator's feelings that in wealthy societies, people think that their "greatness" is through money, not through greatness. He feels (and knows,) he's not like the rest of the people there, so he goes into an imagination of how certain great people in history would be, and how those people would react, in his shoes. Therefore, it would be much easier (at first, at least) for a man to imagine other men in his shoes- hence, why most of the people are male. Men can seldom fit in women's shoes, especially the heels.)
The people I put in here are generally historic figures I admire or find interesting, even if I don't have much in common with them.
I have very little in common with Andy Warhol, and even less physical resemblance with Big Brown and Smarty Jones.
Pat Burrell and Dalai Lama don't have much in common, but they came to mind first, therefore coming to the narrator's head first.

You ask if any other poems inspired this?
One quote from Jack Kerouac's first novel, The Sea is My Brother is among my favorite quotes from any book, (although he thought the book was a "Crock of shit literature" and only did anyone publish it after he died. He was actually rather close to my age when he wrote this.)
I visualized myself at Norma's house, stretched out on her couch, my eyes closed, and she at the piano playing a powerful movement from some Symphony in D major by Beethoven, by Brahms, by Sibelius, by Tschaikowsky, by anybody, by Thomas Wolfe, by Ernest Hemmingway, by William Saroyan, by Jack Kerouac, by George Apostolos, by Sebastian the Prince, by Love, by Earth, by Fire, by Water, by All, Everything, Love you and I, me myself, egotist, Earth, Fire, a mad and wild concoction of all Life, and of the all-embracing all.
Also, the ending- the reference to the opened balcony and the reaper in Cordoba- inspired by Garcia Lorca. (He's also mentioned in the Ginsberg poem- one thought jumped to another and I decided to add him to the pile.) I thought about mentioning this at first, but I didn't want to sound like a pseudo-intellectual.

As for Neruda- a man my brother and I see sometimes at Starbucks that I referred to as "Neruda" at one point. (btw, my brother's the one who told me about ywo- you critiqued one of his stories and I saw it and thought it was a good critique, which explains the friend request from earlier.) I thought weaving Neruda into this would help with the overall message.

Which still reminds me I need to critique your story about the scientists from earlier!! While I'm at it-
I love the high and low juxtapositions, the hints of politics that shine through the images, the sarcasm and anger and beauty all together.
Just saying. This was in your critique, but it would not be a bad idea to use this in an actual piece of writing.

Adieu!
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Old 06-14-2014, 10:53 PM View Post #4 (Link)
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The poem is generally a reference to the narrator's feelings that in wealthy societies, people think that their "greatness" is through money, not through greatness. He feels (and knows,) he's not like the rest of the people there, so he goes into an imagination of how certain great people in history would be, and how those people would react, in his shoes. Therefore, it would be much easier (at first, at least) for a man to imagine other men in his shoes- hence, why most of the people are male. Men can seldom fit in women's shoes, especially the heels.)
The people I put in here are generally historic figures I admire or find interesting, even if I don't have much in common with them.
I have very little in common with Andy Warhol, and even less physical resemblance with Big Brown and Smarty Jones.
Pat Burrell and Dalai Lama don't have much in common, but they came to mind first, therefore coming to the narrator's head first.
I see - thanks for explaining!

I'm interested in the way the speaker wants to imagine how great people would live in his shoes. I'm not sure if I got that from my first few reads through the poem. Since that section/stanza opened "I search day and night for characters", I saw it as the speaker searching for all the people who had influenced him in the regular people in his surroundings. Or searching for the next great poet, the next great leader on some sidestreet. But mostly I saw someone weaving through crowds (maybe the miserable one of tourists in Times Square) and hoping to see some flicker of the humanity that he admires from the world's leaders, artists, and poets. Seeing "Neruda" at Starbucks in the beginning ties into this, actually: seeing the great in the ordinary. Something we should all probably strive to do more often.

Maybe I can see the listing in the middle of the poem as the speaker wanting to put himselves into the shoes of great people (and not vice versa). I think that you might need to reframe or rephrase if it's important that we see the speaker wonder how the greats would fare in his shoes.

Also, thanks for the idea (:
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