John Giorno Interview: A Visit to the Poet



the great thing about poetry which I discovered in the early 60s there are no rules so I've been living here for more than 50 years at the exchange at the event about every 10 or 11 or 14 years it's a major change sort of it but it's been like this more or less for 20-some odd years I moved in here in 65 and William Burroughs moved into the bunker in 75 I discovered this here there were shelves here and this this is from the YMCA at 1884 they had the villain painted white walls with this brown stripe around and when I took it off would it stop being a white what they did is the dirty boys leaned against the wall and when it got dirt to dirty they were just painted Brown so uh this is like Pompeii you know as you would see coming over here it was called the young bands Institute but goodbye these two brothers who got Cornelius Vanderbilt to build this building and here's all the documentation it was an elevator trade here this is the opening year and over there on that wall there's a list of the contributors you know like john d rockefeller of the first k $500 a lot of them gave $500 but $500 in 1883 was probably a fortune you know so so that's this is the the landmark part of the building I have three lofts here this is all where I I sleep at work here you can see that's what I do it's my debt the computers over there and then I have a studio below this similar where it's my painting studio where we do the silkscreen paintings and the drawings and the water cause and and then in the back of this building is the bunker where William Burroughs lived many great things happened on that top floor look like we were all women as well as me was a friend of Andy walls who sleep was first shown up there that was shown up there first to Jonas Mekas who immediately put it on the cover of film culture in 1963 and and so all of these things happen and I'm a Tibetan Buddhist and this is a shrine at least dr. Benton books and every year we for many years I think this year will be the 32nd year that our New Year's do you stay and the two days around a year dr. Saturday and Sunday whatever it is we do a Tibetan Buddhist fire ritual via puja in the Mingma tradition well being a Buddhist church in Juba is meditation practice and that has to do with training of the mind and training the mind results of these things happening to the vine thank you my poetry I think understanding the empty nature of mind if you've longed to a poetic tradition you function in that mode you know if you write sonnets to write sonnets or in the real school podium is the style of writing phrasing but is a style of writing and and a complicated complicated this sense it has a whole ideology and and so they belong to that and the each of the each of the least so there was the frank O'Hara and John Tesh Freeman says about ten of them who are my generation or a little bit younger and so I what I was they were my peer group but I didn't write like them I didn't write like anybody so I had this great freedom I can do anything I want this cost me a lot of time because you get no support you but I did indeed any support everything I did was self generated energy relatively successful and I went on for sixty years and even before I met Beto and there early sixty two three four why why why is Pope is so pathetic it wasn't boring why is it Yugi said well you can hear the words that they never nobody sort of sound system that was really ER you know the early select 6861 was really the fifties which is like the third 1930s nobody thought about PhD poetry and so it was so we'll just on that basic level started thinking about things and and then and then just this is little doors open up you know that assume that I meet William Burroughs and Brion Gysin and Brian is connected to the sound poets in Paris Posey CID or three or four months later he says to me I would you like we should collaborate you meeting with me and he and then I did every possible thing I thought I could do you know cuz I I met all the great engineers I worked with everybody after 15 years I had done everything I thought I could do so that's it I'm no good so I did I actually entered and started working with music for another ten years a rock and roll roll band which was wonderful and then starting in 1989 I just did solo solo today is because it's just using the voices and it's you which is the least complicated for anybody good for me the genesis of my life is that of a poet and big a poet I've been able to work in different venues or in different artistic forms so as a poet I write and the next step is is always for being rehearsing or the sound of the word which takes it in the direction of performance which then becomes like music so it's an elaborate process but it's different than being Apollo because I'm dealing more with principles of singer of a singer yet I'm not musically trying to portray myself without breast about change myself about breath and so I use it the way I think I think this a little bit of influence by breathing in Tibetan Buddhism internal breath breathing so that's performance poet with my words making pictures and but the consideration of a painter is really the surface and the color or whatever you're doing with color and how that is nothing to do with hookers but I do I've been able to meld it so I make these paintings you know for countless decades but that's a separate skill being a poet you know and there are no doubt other skills here in the 1960s doesn't seem to be that painting and sculpture was poetry with 75 Ian's behind painting in scope and then were happened what's happened in the last 60 years poetry has had a golden age since I said those words this callous other people who'd made it happen and I find I think something very interesting has happened with poetry it's changed over the last 50 years and poetry is in the process of changing its skin and nobody quite knows what it what it is poetry today that's my question 50 years ago and this is a good thing because poetry never dies it's just you can't kill poetry it's like we're trying to kill you it's hopeless but but it's very interesting when it changes its kid which just means the older traditions but see it's already happened I can't quite everyone has to do with with the way technology has changed our minds and the way people individually work with words and their sensitivity words texting and just all of the things it's a monumental art now so it's curious this is a monumental change in poet so it's been a really golden age of wisdom it awakens something in one's mind you know I have a I have a theory of me performing it when you're performing it you perform and all this press and get a little bit abstract or a little bit and you just see these dub words up saying and and people are having this enormous emotional response you can feel it and see it it's over and I'm just doing this thing with my voice you know and you see that stop by words Clavin I also understand my words you see something that's in their mind so they see what I could call wisdom or something they're seeing the wisdom that's inherent in their minds and they think it's my words and but maybe my words allow them to be to see themselves were to see the Whisperer so everybody's always seeing themselves that's what I that same thing happens to me when I read in people something lights up in my heart I think a Saudi levels of poetry what would interest me is the nature of mind and so that's what that's what I work with but discount you tell me hip-hop I mean hip-hop is great it's just uh a beautiful poetic for make hell this other vlog so it's up to the poet or no there's no the great thing about poetry which I discovered in the early 60s there are no rules what I would discover as long as you follow your mind correctly and manifest things that there are no rules every Lori Anderson William Burroughs and I had an album that I brought out and go to a poetry sort of systems in 1980 I think and it was called and was three of us each we chat aside and three of us were on one side and we did a short to her well it was a great San Francisco Los Angeles in New York I think they don't exist anymore but it was like the Roxy in New York and it was so the great moment it was 1980 in the days of William Burroughs which is sort of the late seventies into the A's and until he died he can't keep coming back to visit then to do is New York business so they were we used to have dinner up here often or dinner in the bunker sometimes I cooked up here or eat or whatever we alternate so this is decades of dinner parties here and downstairs so this is the bunker of William birth man his bedroom is over there and this is the kitchen or in our dining room where we were given the cabinet countless dinners have been given he first read it it is 75 until 82 when he moved I moved out at the first days of 82 this is the old old box of will and I'm right along William Burroughs had himself built an oil go box first on Franklin Street and then when he moved here he boarded here and the idea was that you sit in there and it will have right so there is a layer of metal an organic layer of wood and it was originally sort of what they call a real organic like a bearskin covering the whole thing and if you sat in there you would collect this is really bird he would be collecting all go to energy already we would be collecting all gone energy which has powers and he drank a lot of vodka so how could you get up in the morning with a hangover and go it's sitting one of these the hanger was enough you have to get rid of before you stuck like two euro go and then it was here but he believed in those sort of things I was with William Burroughs when he died and it was one of the best times I ever had with him doing Tibetan Mingma Buddhist meditation practices I absorbed his consciousness into my heart William just had a very brilliant mind and he was a joy to be with because no matter how great his work his work is very great at stress I didn't sister it was a really great brilliant writer but he was more great in the downtime here who because he liked he liked to start three to get five or six o'clock vodka coca-cola sweet either come up or I go down rather we I waited till 6:00 or 6:30 to go down but and what would you would he would have a cup a couple of glasses of vodka at the couple of joints his mind got was just so brilliant as it would have dinner is whatever people came to dinner where we were to go along so doing that for those endless years and years that was a great lesson not sure what the lesson is so death smells I mean death has a special smell over and above the smell of cyanide cordite blood carrion or burnt flesh it's a gray smell stops the heart cuts off the breath so this is where it all happened at this table you know William sitting in one of these chairs or whatever that's a blowgun that's the target there was a whole procedure that William would stand over there would everybody had one or two vodkas it smoked a few joints it was always at the time for the blowgun year after year it was one of those look habitual patterns and and then of course she really was a great gun person so these are targets that he did that's him I think one of those is mine and he very much admired that that was a good shot of his and he lived here very quietly and he gotta buy him whatever he does it was a very early riser so he would get up at around 7 or 8 and take his message out because by this time but and what would he started taking medical and an age maybe and then by night he was high was a message oh he got he got got dressed and put on like a suit well I like a shirt suit and a vest and then he would go over it was this was his type right so this is the one he wrote these books on the cities of the red knight this typewriter on that grey desk over there was on the far wall and it's a way I mean I had one license too you know but this is how we were cities to the red light and half of place of dead roads it seemed like a bright white light blinding but muted I was the vehicle his consciousness passing through me a gentle shooting star came in my heart and up the central channel and out the top of my head to a pure field of great clarity and bliss down there is a shoes you know there was clearly had a little left it was closer but and what part I said after he died I said Oh dead man's shoes so those are Danny Williams and then you know his peculiarities that he always believed there could be chaos and catastrophe so everybody house should have a be a vessel to be able to save enough water to live for four days that that's why that was there or what some places and that's that's a good of his that's from the Civil War I mean it's actually you can fire it yeah buddy you do this thing you push like that and you put a bullet boom that's the chair I'll be where he sat it all the time I'm not sure where everything is so this is the gun where huge to be be sure it was a Talib with the telephone book i would do i saved it sending it to my archive there's 10,000 shots in it because this is legal but it's quite a bullet that penetrated of telephone books so this was his well I'm not sure exactly why but he comes from but it's a generational think of it is being border sort of the coming-of-age as a young person is the nineteen twenties and there's no surgeries living in the country you know it's st. Louis but also outside and being alone and being frail I don't know what where I don't say I don't think his family with shooters you know or somehow it entered his life all of those things and I don't know exact exactly why it's self-defense oh because he was a junkie and lived quite coolly often in many dangerous places and and then of course had the worst taste in boys I mean what he liked in a logical that's somebody here he was here he would say why does anybody want to sleep with me I look like somebody from bergen-belsen you know ya need it was all just bones but over there would he had boy these words they were you know 90 year old Street kids trouble one have burned it somebody updated one of the teachers I burned it some it was all these trouble troubles of cancer but that was his sexual choice and and then these are sort of a Williams well that's Willie Williams gun magazine he loved all rifle magazine guns this is a weekly or monthly magazine I think it was very powerful William Burroughs resting in great equanimity and the vast empty expanse of primordial wisdom mind I'm about to be 81 and I'll have good fortune enough to do everything I wanted to do as I've explained today everything all these things that came to mind I was able to manifest in this world you know and that's very lucky to do I was sort of unencumbered and was a managed to escape a lot a lot of those things to prevent what the science gets very lucky years I think about Lucas about him – sir the Buddha's are never afraid of death because particularly when you get to be old because you've done so much practice the neck I mean I've done so many things of this world the next thing I have to do is die right I mean after I write in this sense of just dealing with my mind like I do it better tip that you've so hip it's a bit that's a good habitual pattern training the mind and then assuming that it's the moment for the moment of guess – well there's no driver it's all about you think your mind the state of your mind so it's all common sense but I would die with a peaceful mind that the enormous agitation or fear and when you're would you a Buddhist meditation or did you so about to stand feel we've worked with fear in your life so everything's through actual fear and seeing the empty nature of fear the fact that the fact is the fact that people listen to it or though particularly in these shows that have happened recently it's in people's mind so if it's shades people's like hopefully in a positive way that was the intention and that's enough I did not allow doubt to arise in my mind even for an instant because it would allow doubt to arise in Williams mind now I had to do it for him

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