Category: Poetry
Tom Waits | On The Pogues’ Rum, Sodomy & the Lash
The Pogues, date and photographer unknown

The Pogues, date and photographer unknown

Tom Waits writes about his 20 most cherished albums in an article in The Guardian. Here is his passage about Rum, Sodomy & the Lash:

Sometimes when things are real flat, you want to hear something flat, other times you just want to project onto it, something more like…. you might want to hear the Pogues. Because they love the West. They love all those old movies. The thing about Ireland, the idea that you can get into a car and point it towards California and drive it for the next five days is like Euphoria, because in Ireland you just keep going around in circles, those tiny little roads. ‘Dirty Old Town’, ‘The Old Main Drag’. Shane has the gift. I believe him. He knows how to tell a story. They are a roaring, stumbling band. These are the dead end kids for real. Shane’s voice conveys so much. They play like soldiers on leave. The songs are epic. It’s whimsical and blasphemous, seasick and sacrilegious, wear it out and then get another one.

– Tom Waits

Tom Waits. Portobello Road, London 1976 © Michael Putland

Tom Waits. Portobello Road, London 1976 © Michael Putland

A remastered and expanded version of Rum, Sodomy & the Lash was released in 2005 and featured a poem by Tom Waits.

Their music is like
the brandy of the damned
Pogue Mahone
they are the last
pure hearts
from Dickens , Joyce,Dylan Thomas
to Christy Moore
like Red Diamonds
Pirates full of malarkey
they’re little giants
they’re Bill Sykes
They are all orphans
and they are leaving
on the 2:10 train
with no ticket
Rapscallion, angry, weeping
passed out songs,songs
that seem to be born
effortlessly, or
not born but found
on top of an old wood stove
like a Bowler hat
and the Pogues know
where the little people go
and they follow them
they’re as old as treasure island
songs that we should all carry
i learnt ’em and sung ’em
and changed ’em
and passed them on
down the wild blue road
as Shane MacGowan & the Pogues
warm their hands
on a fire
made from chopsticks
and a horse pulls a milk wagon
up the steep, wet cobblestone
streets & stumbles
to his knees, bloodying them
as a man
no bigger than my thumb
dances in the broken glass
and jumps rope with a shoe lace
the song he sings

Tom Waits
California , March 2004

It is one of my favorite albums, a sequence of songs that would cause us all to link arms and belt out the lyrics, spilling beer everywhere. You should probably buy it now.

The Pogues, date and photographer unknown

The Pogues, date and photographer unknown


Leonard Cohen | On Conde Guitars
Leonard Cohen, photographer unknown

Leonard Cohen, photographer unknown

When I was packing in Los Angeles to come here, I had a sense of unease because I’ve always felt some ambiguity about an award for poetry. Poetry comes from a place that no one commands and no one conquers, so I feel somewhat like a charlatan to accept an award for an activity which I do not command. In other words, if I knew where the good songs came from, I’d go there more often.

I was compelled in the midst of that ordeal of packing to go and open my guitar. I have a Conde guitar, which was made in Spain in the great workshop at No. 7 Gravina Street. A beautiful instrument that I acquired over 40 years ago. I took it out of the case, I lifted it, and it seemed to be filled with helium. It was so light. I brought it to my face and I put my face close to the beautifully designed rosette, and I inhaled the fragrance of the living wood.

You know that wood never dies.

I inhaled the fragrance of cedar as fresh as the first day that I acquired the guitar. And a voice seemed to say to me, you are an old man and you have not said thank you, you have not brought your gratitude back to the soil from which this fragrance arose. And so I come here tonight, to thank the soil and the soul of this people that have given me so much.

– Leonard Cohen, speaking at the Príncipe of Asturias Awards Ceremony at the Campoamor Theatre in Oviedo, October 21, 2011.

Felipe Conde FC 28, Rosewood & Spruce Flamenco Negra

Felipe Conde FC 28, Rosewood & Spruce Flamenco Negra

To hear his entire speech:

To learn more about the Conde family of luthiers:


Istanbul | Lâle Müldür

Wandering the streets in Beyoğlu one afternoon, my friend Çiğdem elbowed me and pointed out a woman standing nearby with a small entourage.

It was Lâle Müldür, one of Istanbul’s most important living poets. Of course, I didn’t know who she was or really, still don’t know who she is, but hey, I took an unimaginative photo of her.

Here is a link to her poem "La Luna" translated into English.

Lâle Müldür, Beyoğlu, Istanbul, Turkey; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Lâle Müldür, Beyoğlu, Istanbul, Turkey; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim


John Loengard | Portraits

In a painting no one complains that the subject is posed, but everybody complains about what looks posed in a photograph. Except, I’ve found that if I go very close in to the face, then the posed expression no longer exists. The face becomes a landscape of the lakes of the eyes and the hills of the nose and the valley of the cleft of the chin.

– John Loengard

Brassai, 1981 © John Loengard

Brassai, 1981 © John Loengard

I was photographing the photographer Brassaï. He had very prominent eyes, like a frog’s. As I focused my lens, he brought his hand up and pretended to focus his eye. It was a joke, but it added mystery to the picture. There’s a sense of action in a very small world. Or with Allen Ginsberg there were people smoking cigarettes and in the smoke there’s a sense of motion. It makes much out of very little.

– John Loengard

Allen Ginsberg, 1966 © John Loengard

Allen Ginsberg, 1966 © John Loengard

When I go to photograph somebody, they say, “What do you want me to do?” Those are the most frightening words in the English language. I want to say, “Please, go over into good light and do something unusual.”

– John Loengard


Aleksander Bochenek | I Love My Sudder Street

From Le Journal de la Photographie:

This is the story of Roshni Mallick and her family living on Sudder Street in the center of Kolkata, India. Like life itself this is an ongoing project.

It all began 3 years ago in early 2009 when I made friends with Roshni quite by accident, in her home city. What fascinated me during the first few days I spent with her family was their tenacity for life, their optimism, energy and ability to find joy from the simple, seemingly unimportant little things.

The conditions they live in might be perceived as poverty in the eyes of people from so called developed countries: they stay in a confined, rented room where quite often – mainly during visits from the relatives – 15 people would sleep, squeezed into every inch of the floor at night; they have no access to safe drinking water nor any of the hygienic conditions we are familiar with. It’s not an easy life.

Yet, they are quite privileged by Kolkata standards where one third of the population live in slums. The Mallicks at least have a roof over their heads and Raja, the father, runs a small business which brings in a few rupees to keep them going. When the money is there, the kids attend school. Really, it could be much worse.

By staying with them and photographing the family I am trying to understand, or grasp their mentality, their state of mind, and the intuitive knowledge they seem to possess that doesn’t come from books or education. What this project is truly about is how to fully embrace life despite all the obstacles in their way. Roshni once told me: “I love my Sudder Street. I’m really happy and I wouldn’t like to live elsewhere.”

Is this really such a riddle?

– Aleksander Bochenek

 I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek

I Love My Sudder Street series © Aleksander Bochenek


Frank O’Hara | A Blade of Grass
Back Table at the Five Spot [David Smith(standing on left), Frank O'Hara (seated), Larry Rivers, and Grace Hartigan] © Burt Glinn, 1957

Back Table at the Five Spot [David Smith(standing on left), Frank O’Hara (seated), Larry Rivers, and Grace Hartigan] © Burt Glinn, 1957

One need never leave the confines of New York to get all the greenery one wishes—I can’t even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there’s a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life. It is more important to affirm the least sincere; the clouds get enough attention as it is and even they continue to pass.

– Frank O’Hara


Larry Towell | Day of the Dead
El Salvador. San Salvador © 1992 Larry Towell/Magnum Photos

El Salvador, San Salvador © 1992 Larry Towell/Magnum Photos

Child with star mask during “Day Of The Dead”. Other child in background rolls tire for repair in garage where he works at an adult’s job.

 

Photography has many similarities with poetry. There’s not a strong relationship between the disciplines, but there is a tight one between the sensibilities. Black and white is minimalist. Poetry is just literature with the water squeezed out of it and good literature is just journalism that doesn’t grow old. This says a lotto me about what makes good photojournalism.

– Larry Towell


James E. Hinton | Carmichael, Jones, and Brown

I say you better get a gun. Violence is necessary—it is as American as cherry pie.

—H. Rap Brown

 

Stokely Carmichael, LeRoi Jones, and H. Rap Brown in Michaux's Bookstore, Harlem, New York © James E. Hinton, 1967

Stokely Carmichael, LeRoi Jones, and H. Rap Brown in Michaux's Bookstore, Harlem, New York © James E. Hinton, 1967

 

The only thing that’s going to free Huey is gun powder.

—H. Rap Brown

 

You see that honky [Robert] McNamara on television? He ain’t nothing but a racist. He says, “Yes, we are going to draft thirty percent of the Negroes in the Army. This is where they can have equal opportunity. Yeah. Yes? yes it’s true that they are only ten percent of the population, but this is a better chance for them.” When that honky talk about drafting thirty percent black people, he’s talking about black urban removal?nothing else.

—Stokely Carmichael

 

I am inside someone who hates me. I look out from his eyes.

—LeRoi Jones


Robert Frank | Paris New Year, 1949

…if one is sensitive, it has an effect on you. So maybe it’s better not to be sensitive as a photographer and just go on. Many photographers today have that but I never had that. I think it’s nice to be sensitive as a photographer and maybe it’s harder.

-Robert Frank

Paris New Year (Young Man with Tulip), 1949 © Robert Frank

Paris New Year (Young Man with Tulip), 1949 © Robert Frank


E. O. Hoppé | Ezra Pound

The only thing that makes me pause is to wonder whether the ingenuity of modern apparatus is not in itself a subtle temptation to photographers to rely on their instruments rather than on themselves. It will be a bad day for art if this is so.

-E.O. Hoppé

Ezra Pound, E.O. Hoppé 1918

Ezra Pound, E.O. Hoppé 1918

The only thing one can give an artist is leisure in which to work. To give an artist leisure is actually to take part in his creation.

– Ezra Pound