During the late1950s, David Meltzer was an active poet in the San Francisco North Beach scene often reading with jazz musicians at various bars and coffeehouses. Beat Thing is part poetry and part exposé, both tribute to the down in the street wildness and rant against the romantic commodification which surrounds the Beat Generation. Invoking real people as real history, Meltzer takes aim at the fantasy which Beat has become and juxtaposes simultaneously its still-needed legacy. He brings forth the original spirit of Beat in a encyclopedic cascade of details whose dense, deep, fierce, funny, raucous, free-associative jazz energy infuses every line. This is a grizzled hipster vision looking back at a period where the beast of war from Auschwitz to H-bomb to Joe McCarthy prevailed side-by-side with a cultural complacency while a wide-ranging constellation of writers and artists refused its numbing protocol. Beat Thing rises up as an ecstatic chant of defiance and celebration.
Beat Thing is David
Meltzers truly epic poem an engagement with history &
his own participatory & witnessing presence. If the title at first
suggests a nostalgic romp through a 1950s-style beat scene, it doesnt
take long before mid-twentieth-century Americas urban pastoralism
comes apart in all its phases & merges with the final solutions
of death camps & death bombs from the preceding decade. This is
collage raised to a higher power a tough-grained & meticulously
detailed poetry without check with original energy,
as Whitman wrote & very much whats needed now.
The Beat Thing sizzles
as close as yesterdaywith landmarks, names, occasionsas
Poet Meltzer writes us back into the beat. Everyone's still There. As
fresh as ever.
David Meltzer has
gifted us with his beautifully written kabalistic and unique look at
the Beat Generation. He also turns his eye to the American infrastructure
of Bebop. This book comes out of his mature consciousness like energy
spray bursting from the brow of a dolphin.
most important lyri-political work. A profound juxtaposition in which
the Beat Movements meaning is resonated with the haunting of the
Holocaust and the American years of McCarthyism and Jim Crowism. Like
all great works, this entire book is single simultaneous moment in progress,
written by a poet who in terms of the rhythms, verbal inventiveness
and the naming of figures of popular culture is without equal
David Meltzer is one
of the secret treasures on our planet. Great poet, musician, comic;
mystic unsurpassed, performer with few peers. His "ear" like
we used to say and his erudition are fine-tuned and precise.
A kind of bop-perfection pervades this work.
Epilogue from Beat Thing