POEM - CITY LIGHTS
GK: . . . ....brought to you by POEM, the Professional Organization of English Majors, who, when they visit San Francisco, always come to the shrine called City Lights book store on Columbus Avenue, between Chinatown and North Beach. City Lights....1956.....the meeting of two famous poets.
TR: (GINSBERG) Mr. Ferlinghetti, I'm Allan Ginsberg. Nice bookstore. I understand you also publish poetry.
FN: (FERLINGHETTI) What you got, Ginsberg?
TR: A new collection that I'm calling SCREAMING MY HEAD OFF AND OTHER POEMS.
FN: Uh huh. Is this the poem I heard you read at the gallery the other night? "I have seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness"-----?
TR: "----starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves
through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night."
FN: Right. Kind of a long poem, as I recall.
TR: Only as long as it needed to be.
FN: Um, how about a shorter title. Like SHOUT.
TR: It's not a shout though. It's high-pitched yelling. How about YELLING AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS?
FN: Too long.
TR: What about FOR CRYING OUT LOUD AND OTHER POEMS?
FN: How about WAIL?
TR: Like horn players wail. Jazz guys.
TR: I like it.
FN: Or how about SCREECH?
TR: I like it. SCREECH. It's harder than wail.
FN: Or how about WOOF?
TR: I like SCREECH.
FN: WOOF is more natural. Dogs woof.
TR: And owls SCREECH.
FN: I think it's got to be WOOF. It just sounds right.
TR: WOOF is too much like WAIL. I'd take SCREECH. It sounds like fingernails on a blackboard, that was the effect I was trying to get.
TR: Flip a coin?
FN: Okay. Heads it's WOOF.
FN: Okay. SCREECH.
TR: You sure?
FN: You won. SCREECH it is.
TR: Hey Joyce.
TR: Which do you like better---- WOOF or SCREECH.
FN: Howl? Where'd that come from?
TR: We were sort of thinking SCREECH.
SS: You gotta be crazy. HOWL. It's perfect. Come on, supper's ready.
TR: Okay, there it is.
GK: Great moments in literature. City Lights Bookstore on Columbus Avenue. Brought to you by the Professional Organization of English Majors.