Thanks to everyone who commented on yesterday’s blog, Bridge Over Muddy Waters?. Once again, you’ve proven that the comments are often better reading than the blogs themselves. Thank you! I haven’t responded to individual comments there yet because I’ve had a splitting headache last night and this morning – and I want to be able to think straight when I respond. But I’ll try to do so in the near future.
In one of those comments, Elena mentioned how much she’s enjoyed Joy Leftow’s writing. I’m pleased to announce (for those who don’t yet know) that yesterday I posted Poetic Concussions (by Joy Leftow) in the Crisis Chronicles Online Library. Please check it out. And also note that there’s a link to her cool poetry blog somewhere in my left sidebar.
My headache is inhibiting any attempt at creativity or deep thinking, but there’s something else cool I did yesterday and would like to share with you.
d.a. levy, poet (1942-1968)
If you’ve been following my blog and online library postings for a while, you know that I’m a huge fan of Cleveland underground poetry legend d.a. levy. He’s been classified as both Beat and street, but his poetry defies any one label. He is revered not only as a poet, but also as a publisher and artist. He produced a fantastic underground newspaper called The Buddhist Third Class Junkmail Oracle. He was also persecuted – and at one point arrested for reading a poem featuring the word cocksucker in public. Finally, on 24 November 1968, he committed suicide at the age of 26.
Yesterday Geri and I went on a pilgrimage to d.a. levy’s grave site (Whitehaven Memorial Park in Mayfield Village) and took a few photos.
I had expected it to be easy to find. I guess I thought there would be signs directing us to it – or at least a big headstone or a well decorated plot. Flowers, beer bottles, a Buddhist gong, something!…. After all, to me, levy is one of the most important people in Cleveland (and literary) history.
But we couldn’t find it. The only big markers in the cemetery were devoted to military folks.
So we drove to the front office. I asked the lady inside if she could direct me to “where the poet d.a. levy is buried.”
“Who?” I was shocked to learn she’d never heard of him before. But she said she’d find him, then went into a back room and started digging in a filing cabinet. “Is that spelled L E V Y?”
Finally she pulled out a dusty 3 by 5 inch index card. “Would that be Darryl Allan?”
“Yes, Darryl Allan.”
So she pulled out a Xerox copy of the cemetery map, marked his plot with a yellow highlighter, and told me which way to go.
When we got there, I was surprised by how humble it was. It looked as though no one but the lawn mowers had been there in years – like he’d been forgotten. I wondered how long it had been since the last time that index card had been pulled out of the cabinet. And I was surprised that his grave marker identified him not as POET, but as SON.
On 24 November 2008, which will be the 40th anniversary of d.a.’s death, I plan to visit his gravesite again, around noon, and pay tribute to him by reading his poetry aloud. Nothing official or organized (though that could change if the spirit so moves) – might just be me there. But bring a lawn chair, if you want. You can read, too. The man is largely responsible for the Cleveland poetry scene being as vibrant as it is today. Sadly, though, there are some venues where you still can’t read much of d.a. levy’s poetry aloud. You can read books about war and the Holocaust at those events, but you can’t say “fuck,” even if it’s in tribute to one of Cleveland’s greatest writers. Sad…. But I don’t expect any ghosts to rise from their graves in protest if someone reads a so-called dirty word in the cemetery.
Here are some more photos from the site:
levy’s at the bottom, that close to the road
from the other side
couldn’t leave the scene without standing up against censorship at least once
see you 24 November
P.S. As you see, I had no interest in photographing the war monuments. I couldn’t help but recall these lines from levy’s “Cleveland: The Rectal Eye Visions”:
an uneasy feeling to think of justice
& love and then find oneself
lost in a city of war monuments
* * * * *
I’m in the process of adding as many d.a. levy works as possible to the Crisis Chronicles Online Library. Here’s a link to a rough index of what’s available so far: http://library.crisischronicles.com/categories/levy%20(d.a.).aspx
To view a video of me reading some of levy’s work please visit:
For more d.a. levy, I recommend you check out clevelandmemory.org
You might also find www.clevelandpoetryarchive.com interesting