A Festival of Howled Haunts

by: Aimee Herman

On Saturday, June 1st, Allen Ginsberg arrived inside the body of an old, thin white man with white beard and straw hat still holding on to its price tag. He wasn’t going to attend. He had other things to do like scratch his latest thoughts into abandoned newspapers. Why throw them away when there is still room for poems, he thought. But he was drinking coffee in a mug that he took to go after a morning spent with a young poet in search of the spirits in the sky. A young poet who worried he had run out of language and believed he was without beliefs. So, Allen and this poet spent a morning (actually most of the hours too early yet to call it such) and they wrote. And they ripped apart the bones of their own mind’s translations like pieces of meat after a hunger strike. With final sip of muddy coffee, Allen slipped cracked mug into his canvas bag and continued toward the Tompkins Square Park. It wasn’t the signs that halted him. Frankly, it was the art. Allen can’t pass up the voyeuristic privilege of city art. So much to watch out loud and live that he never really understood museums. To pay a price for art when all he had to do was walk outside and stare at the graffiti dripped poems on brick walls. This was why he needed to remain here in his haunt. At one point, Allen dipped his body down toward tphoto by Daniel Dissingerhe ground, leaned against a tree and just watched. Giant square canvases hung up on the outskirts of this park and all these artists and all these visions and hours passed by without notice. Then, Allen’s eyes caught a line-up of men and women on plastic stools. Ghosts don’t have to move to see through things. So, at first, Allen was just going to remain by this tree, barefoot, with dirty heels hunched up against concrete and glass and a few strands of grass. But he couldn’t hear them, so he moved closer. In. Inside. Allen Ginsberg walked inside the Allen Ginsberg HOWL festival, sat on a bench in straw hat and varicose veins and coffee breath and listened to these poets. He watched one create a live flip-book of poems, titled by the poet: Remix Poetics. Allen watched, amazed at this young one’s ability to create a new poem by rummaging through pages and pages of poems picking apart one line or word at a time. Protest poetics. Erotic and queer poetics. Arms flailing and voices growing louder. He heard their screams and even the quieter ones, he was able to magically tune out the other noises to hear. Sometimes he interjected. Sometimes he hollered along. Allen Ginsberg spent the rest of the day with these poets, holding placard that read: Soapbox Poet. Tried to lead them elsewhere. Secretly, he was trying to get them to leave this park and howl out their words just because just because. These poets chased available spots where the noise of music from nearby stages did not carry. Allen liked the fact that these poets were not permitted on the stage. We are the rebels. The howls of earth. We create our own elevation. Our own speakerbox poetics. We need no microphone. We are human microphones, he thought. Allen eventually left these poets. Headed back to the young one who still needed to write and remember why all these words can’t just remain locked in. He also needed to return that coffee mug.

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