Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Offical Charles Plymell Fan Site

This is the Official Fan Site for the legendary figure, Charles Plymell, who was involved with a loose gang of experimental writers and outsider artists in post war 1950s America. He currently lives with his wife in Cherry Valley, New York and is still kickin' against the pricks.

As a writer, publisher, printer and collaborator, Charley has been linked with some of the most influential writers and artists to come out of America. For example, he has collaborated and maintained friendships with bassist and punk icon, Mike Watt, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and in previous years with Richard Hell, S Clay Wilson, Robert Branaman, A D Winans and the late Neal Cassady, Herbert Huncke and William S. Burroughs.

Charley's writing has always displayed a vibrant and astute engagement with life and a heady, intoxicatingly descriptive allure. Exchanging emails with Charley on a regular basis has been a real treasure for me. I never imagined I'd ever meet the author of the seminal novel, "Last of The Moccasins," which was originally published in 1971 by City Lights. But I am grateful that our paths did cross. I must admit that knowing Charley and being a close friend has been a true joy.

Over the past few years I have found that there are hundreds and hundreds of people who treasure Charley's work as much as I have- people from all over the world- not just the USA. I have been contacted by fans of Charley's from France, Australia, the United Kingdom and other places. With so much interest in his writing and since Charles Plymell is such a wonderful, creative person, I decided to create this site.

Click on the tabs above to view other pages. Click the links on the lower right side of the page to visit the archives.

Enjoy! - Ginger Eades

Charles Plymell Bio Cards

Charles Plymell Bio Cards Created by Ginger Eades

Photo of CP by Tree by Gerard Malanga

The photo of Charley by the tree- by Gerard Malanga

Collage by Ginger Killian Eades

Collage by GInger

collages by Ginger Killian Eades

Collage by Ginger Eades

Monday, September 5, 2011

Charles Plymell on Elliott Coleman

Elliott Coleman with Charles Plymell

I was working on the San Francisco docks when a couple of students came to visit and urged me to come to the Writing Seminars. I had dropped out after Freshman year of high school and after roaming in the West, went to a university for a few years not working toward a degree, but mainly to keep out of jail. Tuition was nominal and work was plenty, and gas was 15 cents a gallon in New Mexico, so everything was easy in the ’50s. There was still a future that even fools could hold. By the ’60s, I had influenced and been influenced by the Beat Generation when Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassidy moved into my flat in San Francisco. I experimented with all the legal hallucinogens and watch the Hippies come and go. 

The Beats wrote introductions to my work and I was well published by the noted publications of the day. I had put it all behind me by the time I quit my job on the docks and came to the Seminars;  I was linked to labels, but essentially an outlaw or outcast to any movement. My main influences in life had been rounders when I traveled the Western states with my sister who worked for madams, and I worked various jobs while grooving with jazz hipsters of the ’50s from Kansas City to Lost Angeles. Route 66 was my commute and I read Loren Eiseley who grew up on the plains as I did, and the hip poets, Patchen, cummings and mad Ez and surrealist Hart Crane from Ohio. I never associated poetry with universities then. Bennies, Boo and Bebop were my style.

So I wasn’t the typical, young graduate entering the Seminars. From my life experiences, I knew when I met a great man. I sensed that Mr. Coleman wanted to know what I was about, and I wanted to know what he and his scene was about. Simple as that! But probably more lay inherently deep in the marrow of the institution of Hopkins. He was of the old school, the last of the moderns, by that I mean he could have held his own with all the names in literature in all the old canons of the academe. His work was not easily classified in the surrealism/metaphysics of the day and remained almost intentionally obscure. 

For he was a spirit, a light, for not only the privileged, for he made no such distinctions; yet, those upon whom his presence was cast sensed they were privileged. He was traditionally generous as well, making sure to bring our family a Thanksgiving turkey we shared with another writer family in the student ghettos. His spirit would have been immediately noted among the elite or the tramp. He would illuminate any hobo camp or faculty meeting. His generosity and demeanor reminded me of another writer friend of his age with whom I had a similar relationship, William Burroughs. He was gracious and therefore hard to “get at.” We tried. The ornery students tried to get “one up on him” in the Seminar room, but he always put us in our place, even if he did show signs of desiring his afternoon cocktail a bit early. He was mischievous too and delighted in having me dine with him and the other movers and shakers in the faculty room, waiting for me to say something off color, or maybe tell a joke he could slap his knee and laugh at.

I got the distinct impression he was wise enough with words to name his child “the Writing Seminars” — not creative this or that. He did know words and any writing is creative unless one is a scribe. (Or typist! Ha! He would have loved the fiasco I was in when Kerouac met Capote.) In that respect, he was ahead of them all. He loved good writing and produced students who became known in journalism; political satire; short stories, etc. The genre didn’t matter. His purpose was to make the adolescent writers grow up. His method seemed mostly to let them go at each other, but as grown ups. One dared not fall below that line. On that he had a tight hold and the punishment for overstepping that was one’s own awareness of one’s own regression that he would signal by retort or expression. Punishment indeed. The old methods that endeared him were pretty much decimated as new writing industry took over. It seemed a time in history that all things began to change for the surging population: the factory farm, agribusiness slaughter houses, futures, fame, writers like Snooky visiting campuses for the same honorarium as a Nobel Laureate! He would have slapped his knee over that!  There was an all too familiar analogy emerging in the “departments.” It was no longer operated by its founder with the help of one secretary. It would become an industry. There would be no need for an Elliott Coleman.

I heard the omen from parents on graduation day standing behind me. They complained there were no big monetary rewards awaiting their kids after shelling out big bucks. The government stepped in just in time. It would change the field forever creating its own audience to recycle itself. There would be more yield but the spirit would be sucked dry. Let me use an analogy that destroyed the plains, the cowboy, the  fields of  the dry land prairie rancher and small farmer and his gods of wind and rain. ”… the elemental gist of unwalled winds…” (Hart Crane) to curse or pray to and make up his person.  The kids I knew from those fields now park their Cessnas (bought with our tax money) behind their houses and their John Deeres in front. Their families had enough acreage that the government subsidized them with tens of thousands, yes,  hundreds of thousands to let their land lie fallow. There was too much poetry, er…wheat. 

They used our tax money to ride around in Cadillacs (not Subarus) to enjoy their fallow acreage of poetry…er, wheat.  When subsidized,  they started using our tax money to put in irrigation wells which created more wheat…er, more poets. By doing so they sucked the great Ogallala Aquifer dry. (The great spirit water of life and poetry.)  Then they paid with our tax money for places (programs) to store the wheat until it could reach the market or speculators, or rats, or whatever. Anyway there are parts of the analogy that would correspond to giving poets money to make more poetry, storage (programs), a fallow audience, a moldy poetry. An analogy works as good as its parts. Elliott knew this. It is not the simple comparisons they teach kids  in our mis-education system. The language is gone, literature is gone. Poetry is gone. Elliott Coleman is gone! Ha! Sorry, Elliott, I so need you sitting in that chair at the head of the table to let me become aware of where I am wrong!

This essay is part of
of work by and about Elliott Coleman.

The Charles Plymell MySpace FanSite is HERE

Eight Poems by Charles Plymell


November 3, 1998 Dark Afternoon
and the clouds are heavy metal
rolling oe'r the vacant bricks of Utica
where Ray lies in his death throes
at the Faxton Cancer Hospital.
It's not a happy sight, a
finality about the rooms and service
his roommate's exposed privates
both he and Ray seem far away.
In and out of sensed reality
I fear to say, eyes like animals in cages
Ray's eyes sometimes intense
screaming "I want to die"
not in a philosophical mode
but the growl used for prison guards
rattling his bones against the
iron bars of New Jersey.
Squirts of daylight on the sidewalk
like used rubber gloves thrown
among the slimy Autumn leaves
Study the sight, oh latter night Beats.
Another is passing into the night
like T.V. tonight Jimmy Smit
on NYPD the line of fictive reality
unto death, what to do with life's purpose?
If it's to understand life (loved the old comedies)
from those eyes just make ourselves over
Ray watched the old realities in black and white
He pulls on the bed rails : "I want to die."
His eyebrows move and he briefly conducts
a conversation he can't partake in
or a Katchaturian concert or a poem.
He leans back, eyes glazed, goes elsewhere
further than shooting up decades ago
the history gone like our rides for Terpin hydrate
finding village drugstores while the world went on.
What history can a human have.The history gone
the religions, the politics, the last fiction...not that
there's just never enough to go around.
Don't tell me his spirit has to hitch a ride
'round about midnight'
to make a visitation when the sky
rolled back its spheres to let the gold sun
wail like a sax over the stage of East hill
for an original hipbeatster camping at
the Committee on Poetry farm
where he said he used to talk more shit
than the radio which he didn't own.

Neal Cassady

An ego pressed onward
Like a tight skirt in the night

Popeye and Olive Oyl
Swaggering down the street
Jumping parking meters
doing exercise gyrations
Expectations surrounded him
in crowds and beach boy cronies
Tarot card sharks and wood shooters
The Fastest Gun in the West.
I showed him pictures
Of Butch and the wild bunch
"Neal, Was he your father?"
That worried orphaned-look
I'll not forget.
He lived fast, his beds, death rows
to blow genius away, like The Doors,
A race over rails from time's windowpane
sun hot on the Mexican landscape--the
Railroad tracks chromed with cocaine.

Madonna's "Love Like a Virgin"

(in the manner of Arnaut)

Some will say "appalling"
to "Love Like a Virgin" (a true simile)
a bra falling
No shy peeress in white lace, she.
All classes meet
in her song of love
the woman of the street
turns swoon of royal dove
to roll, to rub the stage
of delight and desire
the ballerina's paraphrase
lips, hips and sexual fire.
Great challenge and threat
to all pretentious fools
worker, professional, bureaucrat,
who loose their tools
when facing this talent
that sulks and erupts
to such embellishment
the strut bust lusts.

Was Poe Afraid?

On these same old brick streets of
Baltimore tonight--was Poe afraid?
Of all night rusting sign patent verse;
new neon juice from foggy tavern door.
Afraid of the florescent eyes of dogs,
the raven's reflection, the rats scat
through sawdust in Hollins Market,
the smell of rot and burlap thick as fur.
Afraid of roaches, disease, of poverty,
loud poverty boom-box crackle crack whip
poor ponies pulling carts full of greens
up Greene Street - overloaded with greed.
Afraid of the thick fast sky over
Cross Street's cloud draped rummage day
crimson cloak, threaded from the hill
down to the curling dark water bay.
Black statues swirling great pleated sheets
when street lights go dim, losing the stars,
Like partygoers streaming to their last car...
some on twilight's slightly twisted cane.
Afraid of the beer, the drugs, the vault
of shoreline's fractal ragged fault
floating in a dream grave afraid to yell
disciples repeating smug versions of hell.
The whirl of a wash, a tangled thread
sets and alarm that turns to dread
makes the vision flow instead to
creation and how such grace is fed.

Pathos in the Towns

Technology, ironically
has tortured them again.
Babies crucified without brains
from toxins
that provide
the wealth and power
for the empire of world order
once again unstable. Squeaking
through this last abstract dream
muffler and broken tailpipe
or nightmare vacuum cleaner
deleting the particles?
Its tentacles
again too long
sucking free
citizenry, again the slave
no matter what alliance.
All creatures big and small
dying, some species gone
the air ancient
chemical warfare,
sulfur dioxide
evaporates the greed and avarice.
No pure dawn since Sappho.
Water giving up mutations.
The internal combustion engine
sounds through the night
eight cylinders heard eight miles
poverty is loud, the last requiem of wounded earth.

Going Home

For the Kanza (in the manner of Rihaku)

Great Mountains formed the eastern slope,
Shallow rivers stretch their ancient beds;
Here a new stream must separate our trail,
To forget a thousand miles of dead commerce,
And wrap our minds to a floating white cloud.
While the sunset washes the unrevealed eye,
We bow and clasp our hearts to the distance
That every living creature knows we left.

From Ancient Lands (Vernal Equinox Dream)

Washington, D.C. 1984

They walked the sunrise, soul-burned travelers,
wearing hats tilted like Autumn's landscaped hills.
Rough faced sailors, eyes laden like water rills
scanned the horizon till shorelined stars unfurled.
New wind in the air for those waft on the seas,
new smell of earth dug away to align the leys.
And they came forever wandering, as if set free
from cracks and rifts and vortices, as when some
great stone moves from its natural mortises; they
sailed the wind, a front of chaotic charges ignited,
careless in radiance of patterns of heaven unsighted.
(At 5:30 a.m. I awoke from a dream of Vernal Equinox
like a farmer called early for spring plowing, or a
driver with an early start knowing the aching miles
that stretch across the long heart of the prairie).
In the early days my father left his coffee pot
on the stove in his sod house, and he drove
cattle down to Galveston town, and he saw the
lights beckoning on the port side of the bow,
heading for Italy, brought back a color picture
of the Isle of Capri, and when he returned the
next year, the coffee pot was in the same place.
And the picture for years was the only decor in
the farmhouse room under angry rolling cyclones,
with their terrible pitched-moan to stillness,
silent as trowels through the loess and grass.
Blowing dust through cracks of doors and windows,
sculpted the still waves day and night. The house
took in the wind of the wolves' howl, the song
of the coyote, and the long train whistle dragging
the reptile's whispering scream of time; the pioneer's
pitch of desperation, first loud then soft, and
then distant into the stars where cowboys herded
the dark clouds out of the sky, where sailors lined
the beads like stars while the bodies of wanderers
happily grew again from the earth's bed with gentle flag
and stay; the blossom'd buds in May blew like many
visitors who come when the new wind comes that
keeps me half awake half dreaming... so very many.
My father rode down through the equinox in a perfect
visioned dream as if he had never been away. I
wanted to show him the nation's capital, but he
was here on other business; he wanted to find his
merchant marine papers, why, I don't know, maybe
to show passage through eternity and beyond,
like a journey pulling toward yet another shore.
'Look at the beautiful masonry,' I said to him, 'look at
the Merchant Marine Building with its exquisite work
of brick and tile, and bronze doors, and frontispieces.'
We went down to a little section of the city by the sea.
'Oh,' I said to him, 'this is just like Italy.' The marble
and the little streets and the glassworks and the women
who walked there, the women he joked with, and the sailors,
and the bricklayers, and the carpenters, and the threshers
from Kansas long ago, drifters passed in the street
recognized in memory, composite in chirality, patient
in formality; they, the lined-faced, the rough-hewn
people who walked the narrow streets by outdoor cafes.
He knew where to go, not up to the marbled entrance
but down a side street low, near a building, where,
in the dust of the sea bottom, beneath a small cupola
stood a woman by a counter of endless floating files.
'Draw me a picture of the last scene you remember
as a mariner,' she said. He drew a picture of himself
sitting on a bed, his sailor's hat cocked to one
side, a coffee cup on the table. He asked her jokingly,
'how do you want me, ma'am, hobbled and ironed?' She
helped him look. 'How far back?' He didn't know.
Down in the sea dust of a bottom drawer they found
his papers waterstained brown. He pulled them out
and waved and yelled as if he had found passage
toward the wild fix of stars, or Isle of Capri.

  For my mother in the hospital
Your grandmother married out of
the Trail of Tears.
You were born to a trail of fears,
a soddy, your brother dead.
Now you mistake me for him.
Then came the dust storms.
You put wet wash rags
over our faces so we could breathe.
Many women went mad, “God’s Wrath”
in the storms, miles from anywhere.
It took strength, courage and prayer.
You shot jackrabbits to feed five kids
and even fed hoboes from the tracks.
You gathered cactus for us to eat.
(I saw some at a gourmet market in D.C.)
I’ve yet to see snow ice cream
or mayonnaise & sugar sandwiches.
I did see fry bread recently
at Harbor Place in Baltimore. . . .