glimpses at poets and pubs dubbed underground

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pitching an Easy Ball: Interview with Russell Salamon

Bree: Russell, i liked your "definition" of what is poesy in Horvath's Clevelanders II. don't think about that!what is your definition of poetry?

Russell Salamon: I forgot what I said, but here is something.
Poetry in its basic form is communication between and among
people. When it starts to lift off into the field of Art--which in all
Art forms is really good emotional impact and great communication--
when it grabs you by your emotions and begins to slap you around,
and tear you up, when it moves you to tears, or exultation; when it
changes your life, then we call it capital "P" Poetry, or capital "L"
Literature. We have phrases for this, "knocks your socks off,"
"makes your hair stand on end," "makes you eat your oatmeal
left-handed," etc. Also in its upper ranges, it lives nearly forever
(Shakespeare and others), and keeps affecting future emotional lives.
It gives ways of life--it actually ruins your life. You take the oath of
poverty (poetry=poverty, same word) and all you want to do is
think up great things to say, which, lately, few people want
to hear because they are interested in their favorite disease.

B: why wld somebody stay in Cleve.?

RS: Love, home, worthwhile purpose, love of October leaves, family,
Cleveland Indians, Cuyahoga River Flats, bridges, steel mills, Erie Canal
locks, rivers, Lake Erie--the consent to be a group member of Northern
Ohio. Similar reasons apply to every city. One brings love to each place,
and loves it.

B: do u think soul need be in question?

RS: The word soul has had a hard time. You got burned at the stake
for your soul. You got enslaved by religious and secular empires for
your soul. The soul is you--the immortal being. But you do not feel
very immortal. You hang out in a vaguely diseased, fragile body and
you flinch when enemies of Man say, "Salute!" You, as basic truth,
have been attacked to the point of personal extinction, until you are
not sure that what I am saying is valid, but you like it. You hope it is
true. This is why we like d.a. levy. He knows he is a soul, that he has
lived before and that knowing about those things is one of the high
points of culture: knowingness of self. The word soul is Self, but
naturally, it had the living crap beat out if it, so that it is not sure about
its actuality or about its divine qualities--those too have been stolen.
So we are wounded in Cleveland and in Los Angeles and New York
and Detroit, Chicago, and mortally wounded in Washington D.C., etc.
Our highest freedoms--freedom of truth, freedom to contribute good
control, freedom of help, freedom of speech, freedom to support a
govenment designed and run for all the people; the right to one's own
life, the right to leave a game one does not wish to support, and all the
other civilizing freedoms--are having a tough time. You will note in the
above list how many points d.a. levy supported, and how many points
you support. I hope you recognize yourself as a civilizing agent. Thank
you for your work.

B: i appreciate that u gave us back "citi back." the real thing,
not gesticulations, which are necessary, but not always appealing
to the younger generation. what appeals to kids most is a true heart
and reason behind ANYthing. do u intend to reproduce other works
from circa mimeo? i ask becuz i hope u do.

RS: Oops, I hadn't thought of it. Alan Horvath is doing that and
Geoffrey Cook has mentioned bringing out his "In the Heart of the
Beast." I raised the reprinting money from about 18 friends of levy
mostly 100 dollar blocks for 12 books. S.A. Griffin contributed 200,
so did r.j.s. and Los Angeles poet, Shirley Windward. I wanted to
reprint levy's UKANHAVYRFUCKINCITI BAK. because I finally
read it from cover to cover, and was impressed by what a valuable
document it is for those days, and how brave were d.a. levy for
writing it, and r.j.s. and Tom Kryss and John Scott and others who
helped produce it. I wanted it to be available in a more affordable form.
I printed 400 copies. Anyone is free to reprint it again if needed. (I see
that I have not answered your question. I don't know, is the answer
for now.)

B: did u know mimeo is marked as misspelled by my computer,
which doesnt recognize it?

RS: The computer has no brain.Bree: how often do you walk?

RS: I do some walking for my "day job," but I try to go to the
mountains once or twice a week and walk at least one mile in
then back out. This works very well to clear the mind, loosens
up the spaces, so I can reach bigger spaces and bigger ideas.
Okay, I admit it, it opens up "the glorious future" and I tell my wife,
Susan, Don't talk to me, I am WORKING. I am 800 years in the
future and I don't want to hear anything about "real life." This does
not work, because she is a persistent sort and I have to change the
lightbulb, put in a new water bottle, take the garbage out, etc.

B: do u think more or less Now than u did when u were layin'
stacks of books on levy?

RS: These days I am doing a lot more looking than thinking. Also
a lot more demanding for production of poems and articles. I read
two books this week, Douglas Adams' Mostly Harmless, "the fifth in
the increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhiker's Trilogy" and the sequel
to the Earthsea Trilogy by Unsula LeGuin, The Other Wind. What a
beautiful book. Also I am dipping into a poetry textbook which has
a lot of famous poems in it. Also dipping around in The Best of Beston,
naturalist writer, poet really, Henry Beston, as good as and maybe better
in some ways, than Henry David Thoreau. Also, I am about to re-read
Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health by L. Ron Hubbard
which just got reissued with an abundant glossary for any difficult words.
In reserve is the most recent Harry Potter book, which I hope I can keep
my hands off until the flight to Cleveland in August.

B: u still try to wrote poems at cocktail parties?

RS: I do not attend cocktail parties, I do not drink alcohol, mostly
coffee and tea, but I do write poems in cofee shops, Burger King,
McDonald's, Carl's Junior. McDonalds on Lyon Road in Valencia,
CA, north of San Fernando Valley along Interstate 5 works very well.
It has an out-of-town feel with views of mountains.

B: do u practice or claim any religion?

RS: I am a Scientologist since 1964. In 1965 d.a. levy read The
Problems of Work and Fundamentals by Thought by L. Ron Hubbard
and he liked them. Scientology, briefly defined, is the study of knowing
how to get workable answers and then applying them to life in order to
change condtions for the better. The product of Scientology is changed
conditions; one of these is the ability to be at CAUSE over one's own
mind. When one can do that, he achieves what is called, the State of
Clear. Obviously, these few words are too fast, but books are available
everywhere. Scientology is controversial because your freedom is
controversial. All the wars were, and still are, about you, but the road
to total freedom must stay open.

B: why books?

RS: Books are beings. You are holding someone's mind in your hands,
and if the writer is an artist, you are immersed in the joy of that creation.
It is a joy of contribution too. You feel moved or smart or enlightened
or delighted by the musical or dramatic composition of it. People are
the most fun, even extensionally across the centuries through the pages.
Shakespeare is somewhere around the corner, probably producing a
TV series, or maybe he is taking a break. But J.K. Rowling is not
taking a break and is writing masterpieces with Harry Potter. Her evil
is so strong, and her magical stuff is magic. She suggests an early magical
universe, and there was such a thing, otherwise we would not get so
excited by the idea of it. Books leave the filling-in and expanding element--
the contribution--up to the reader; each reader gets an original masterpiece
as he reads: it is his trees, his rivers, his visions of the characters and of
emotions. The author writes the notes but the musical interpretation is
the reader's life. Books are ways to spread awareness and life experiences
in expanding circles among aware and willing minds. Besides, they scrape
rust and crud off one's own knowingness. Books make people smart with
their own brilliance. You know this. You were pitching me an easy ball.


  1. Pitching An Easy Ball was in 2007; now it is May 26, 2013 and I am in Clearwater, Florida, at my daughter's house for a while. So far so good, and so far so bad--we have screwed up--but we made it through the first half of eternity.

    I want to catch us in the act of being immortal. We are the active hands of god, which is a pronoun and a verb, and description of infinite ability to communicate and create universes, thus Arts. The higher ranges are possible: Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Shakespeare's Hamlet, Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, Rainer Maria Rilke, Pablo Neruda, Rumi, Lorca, (include your heroes). Quite often someone breaks into sublime ranges of the highest Arts. Some things are extremely well created. (Notice the 50,000 varieties of deciduous trees and 700 varieties of evergreens. Insects anyone?)

    Materialists do not have life in their mathematical formulas, but they do have miraculous atoms, which spontaneously create great art in chemical brains without the aid of spiritual beings. Amazingly simple, just throw out the baby into Mississippi mud and say mud creates the highest states of god. God is a verb that creates, and the pronoun which stands for our ability to create life. Granting power to life, giving it infinity of forms and brilliance in solving infinite survival is politically unacceptable to owners of real estate and forests and empires. One must own minds and other's lives, thus poetry must go unsupported, unread, unwritten. Miraculous matter does not write poetry; poetry is not needed to carry imaginations out of slave chains into future worlds.

    But the secret has been out for centuries. Man is an immortal spiritual being in the act of creating the universe he is trapped in by his immense power to believe that things are real; while his left hand is placing atoms and rivers and mountains into existence his right hand lies and prevaricates and bullshits about "How human we all are, one life is all we get because we are brain bodies, not immortal souls." "Science" has proven that stones can not see a soul, thus you don't exist. How handy, mass murder of minds without a shot being fired, but if you act up, we can still shoot you. The greatest inventions of "science"--the dogma, the political definitions of man as cattle, extinction of self, death of freedom--man has stayed up at night conducting reality wars to eliminate the taint of self-determinism, freedom of choice, freedom of thought. The greatest inventions have been denial of truth with the intention to destroy the greatest competition to ownership, the brilliant insouciance of the imagination, the unlimited space at will. The Arts are the future edge of civilization based in the act of communication. And they always bring a future which can survive the attacks of intolerance and the entrenched injustices of past laws and moral codes. The fresh air enters the smoke and pillage of cities and lasts as long as there are breathing minds and eyes that can see future worlds, the minds that can create living understandings--the civilizing ideas, the poetry in the cambium of academies and schools. One must be spiritually literate; one must be able to read minds. Read minds; read poetry. Nothing bad happened, we only died.