On this World Poetry day sharing Welch, Whalen and Snyder

Today Wednesday March 21 is the World Poetry Day. Instead of writing something I want to share with you three poems by three poets, all associated with the Beat movement.

First poet is Lew Welch, Beat poet, who published and performed wildly in 1960s ad also taught Poetry Workshops in SF from 1965 to 1970. And the poem of his that I selected is ‘This Book is for Magda’

What strange pleasures do they get who’d
Wipe whole worlds out,
ANYTHING
To end our lives, our
wild idleness?
But we have charms against their rage–
must go on saying “Look,
if no one tried to live this way,
All the work of the world would be in vain.”
And now and then a son, a daughter hears it.
Now and then a son, a daughter
gets away.

On May 23, 1971, Welch walked out of poet Gary Snyder’s house in the mountains of California, leaving behind a suicide note. He had carried a stainless steel Smith & Wesson .22 caliber revolver. His body was never found.

The next poet is a Zen Buddhist, and a key figure in the San Francisco Renaissance and close to the Beat generation Philip Whalen. And the poem I selected is his ‘Further Notice’. Read it…..

I can’t live in this world
And I refuse to kill myself
Or let you kill me

The dill plant lives, the airplane
My alarm clock, this ink
I won’t go away

I shall be myself—
Free, a genius, an embarrassment
Like the Indian, the buffalo

Like Yellowstone National Park.

And to complete it my third poet is another name associated with the Beat Movement, the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award winner Gary Snyder. And the poem I have of him is ‘As for Poets’

As for poets
The Earth Poets
Who write small poems,
Need help from no man.
The Air Poets
Play out the swiftest gales
And sometimes loll in the eddies.
Poem after poem,
Curling back on the same thrust.

At fifty below
Fuel oil won’t flow
And propane stays in the tank.
Fire Poets
Burn at absolute zero
Fossil love pumped backup

The first
Water Poet
Stayed down six years.
He was covered with seaweed.
The life in his poem
Left millions of tiny
Different tracks
Criss-crossing through the mud.

With the Sun and Moon
In his belly,
The Space Poet
Sleeps.
No end to the sky-
But his poems,
Like wild geese,
Fly off the edge.

A Mind Poet
Stays in the house.
The house is empty
And it has no walls.
The poem
Is seen from all sides,
Everywhere,
At once.

This Poetry day I want you to read these three poems and take time for not just poetry, but also the life of poets and to discuss poems and the importance of poetry in our lives. The image here is a picture of these three Poets taken before the Freeway reading in 1963

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