Reading John Sinclair
A new collection on Bandcamp. Seven poems by John, read by me, and four excerpts from "It Must Be Love (Word Passed Down ...)" with Kidd Jordan and Morikeba Kouyaté.
Just before Christmas a half-year ago—December 22, 2020—John Sinclair and I Zoom-recorded an exchange for his Show on Radio Free Amsterdam. John offered the opportunity to talk about my then-new album of tracks from six prior albums, The Time We Have (Meld #1)--the first of many Melds, I hope. I wanted to read poems by John on his show. I wanted to sample and highlight the quality and range of John’s poetry over its span of more than 60 years--because, I think, his poetry
is great in itself and because it provides an invaluable and incisive panoply of leading lights from its times. You can go direct to a great
cataloging of John's books and albums on a web-page of Radio Free Amsterdam. You can also head on over to the phenomenal riches laid out for listeners and readers at John's main Bandcamp page.
Offbeat Magazine of New Orleans kindly printed notice of what became two episodes of 'The John Sinclair Show' on Radio Free Amsterdam. You can link to the two shows here.
John, as you can hear in our talk on Bandcamp, has worked at being a poet since age 16 in Flint, Michigan. He was into Charles Olson and Charlie Patton at the same time, even then. He's always sought to apprehend and advance the boldest, most free and exacting expressions of our culture. He's always been about “further!”
Decades in Detroit, New Orleans, Amsterdam ... Championing both Archie Shepp and the MC5, co-founding the White Panther Party and taking the 10-year bid for two joints ... the spirit of radical and dare-to-do compassion that directly inspirited John Lennon's voice ... and keeping on-keeping on wherever his unending tour has touched base
among friends and the young and here-to-live-and-learn.
Check out, please, the tremendous ASSEMBLY of books and albums of that John has readly for the world, this year in which he turns 80.
The poems of John's below come from those I read last December 22. You can catch the whole line of them through Bandcamp and click to them individually, too. Reading John Sinclair!
Howlin' Wolf (Chester Burnett) at the
1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival, photo by Doug Fulton.
5. John digs into the Library at the University of Michigan at Flint, 1957, age 16 ... "These two guys [Charles Olson, Robert Creeley] shaped how I think and write."
8. "Tell us about the process, John ..." " ... Sometimes it's a gift of God that comes down perfect. Sometimes you have to work at it. [John laughs like a rippling creek] Every poet knows that."
John performs his 'Homage to John Coltrane" in the second Poetry Ball at Chuck Perkins' Café Istanbul
in New Orleans, February 2013. Video by Paul Punzo. See Byron Coley's tribute.
Lagniappe: four excerpts from my poem about John and about another
inspiring friend, Chuck Kinder: 'It Must Be Love (Word Passed Down Through
10. 'The voices beside your pillow / Friends sharing secrets past midnight / ...
11. 'What is this America / ... Horns of devotees that shower us
with blessings / ...'
12. 'John brought ... Chuck brought ...'
13. 'What is that sound abideth night? ... Like a bell. Like a knife. Like Gods' own bells.... It must be love / ...'