Marcus Boon Some people are confused by your attitude toward the self. There is this battle that’s been going on for decades between experimental and lyric poets: the lyric poets are supposedly interested in a direct expression of the self, and the experimental poets reject that notion, arguing that poetry is about process and language as a self-constituting entity. Your work doesn’t seem to fit into either of those categories. People ask: Is he talking about himself? Is this actually self-expression? Or is it an experiment, in the sense that something formal is going on?
John Giorno Everything is an expression of my mind: it’s arising in my mind and there’s a self there. I have an ego, and it’s all coming out of that. Modernism and lyric poetry are now both historical eras. T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” is a miraculous poem, though it has all kinds of modernist principles. The idea that poetry has to be without feeling and self and anything personal in it is enough to kill you. When concepts such as these first arose—going back to the tradition of experiments from the Russians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Italian Futurists to Duchamp—they were filled with enormous feelings. For Duchamp, to make that transition from painting naked women in 1912, to doing what he did took enormous feeling and energy. To now have that be devoid of personal emotions is a trap that people who become bad artists hold onto.
— from BOMB’s interview of John Giorno by Marcus Boon , Fall 2008, Issue 105
Everyone Gets Lighter
A video performance by John Giorno
from Antonello Faretta’s Nine Poems in Basilicata
Everyone Gets Lighter from the poetry film Nine Poems in Basilicata, 2008. Running time: 3 minutes, 9 seconds. Directed by Antonello Faretta.
Courtesy of Noeltan Film Studio.