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On John Giorno


I wasn't as impressed as I'd expected to be when I first saw American poet John Giorno read, in Barcelona's CCCB back in the late 'Nineties. (He did a single whiney poem, going through a succession of coyly camp postures). After all, this man had been the link between the Beat Generation and Pop Art, had played a vital role on the New York cultural scene for over forty years and had also been a close friend of William Burroughs, whose death he presenced, which for me put Giorno up there with the Apostles (or any other high-ranking acolytes you care to name).
He must have had an off night, because when I met him the next day he proved to be one of the livest of live wires it has ever been my luck to listen to. He talked about Warhol and Rauschenberg – ex-lovers both – and the attitude that he and they had had in their heyday: 'Don't worry about whether an idea is good or bad, just try it and see if it works', he said, making me feel better about my writing than I had done in a long time.
We finished up in the Corte Inglés, as John needed cigarette papers for joints. I got a quiet kick out of the sales assistant's disapproving glare when John ordered several packs of king-size Rizlas. Had he known of Giorno's violent, chillingly repetitive poems, or his prose accounts of wild toilet sex with Keith Haring et al, I dare say that glare would have blasted us right across the plaça de Catalunya. Such poetry and prose, I discovered recently, can be found in John's only book still in print, 'You Got To Burn To Shine' (1994). As the slogan goes: hurry now, while stocks last.

- Textos i contingut: Matthew Tree - Disseny i programació: Nac -