“When you realize how little these people like being themselves, you begin to understand why they want to escape consciousness”
Today at the tree-tucked magic barn of Grey Matter Books in Hadley, MA, I bought for $8 the very first issue of Genesis West, the magazine Gordon Lish edited pre-Quarterly, so we’re talking on the fun bus with Neal Cassady and not out to lunch with Raymond Carver. Grey Matter Books had the entire set of Genesis West, all seven volumes, except now they don’t, because Nat Otting owns six and I own one.
In this 1962 issue is an interview between Lish and Jack Gilbert, whose book Views of Jeporody had at the time just won the Yale Younger Poets Series award. After the break are two cool excerpts from the conversation, one about that old hobbyhorse of poetry’s relevance, and one in which Gilbert takes to task the aesthetics of the Beat movement. The whole interview is terrific, and I post these excerpts not to signal unequivocal agreement with Gilbert’s grouching, but to air for the consideration of contemporary relevance some pretty solid gnashing from the early mouth of a major poet.