Anne Waldman and Ted Berrigan: Recovering ‘Memorial Day’


Anne Waldman & Ted Berrigan

“Today at PennSound we’re marking the Memorial Day holiday in a distinctly poetic way, by unveiling a long lost recording of Ted Berrigan and Anne Waldman’s ‘Memorial Day’ from a May 5, 1971 reading at the Saint Mark’s Poetry Project. This new addition to the PennSound archives is notable not only because ‘Memorial Day’ is a landmark collaboration between two of the New York School’s finest poets, but also due to the rarity of the recording.  Berrigan and Waldman only read the poem together and in its entirety once — in fact, ‘Memorial Day’ was composed specifically for their joint reading in the spring of 1971 — and while the event was recorded, it would seem that the tape had been missing for several decades, presumably lost forever. Everyone seems to agree that Berrigan had obtained a recording of the reading from the Poetry Project, with most believing that that he’d stolen the sole master copy from the archives.  Alice Notley observes, in the notes to The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan, that he ‘listened to it obsessively … continu[ing] to learn from this collaboration for many years.’ Ron Padgett picks up the story in his 1993 book, Ted: A Personal Memoir of Ted Berrigan: Ted built up quite a personal collection of audiocassettes of poetry readings by himself and by poets he liked. He kept them in a typewriter case in the living room at 101 Saint Mark’s Place, the same room he wrote in. One morning not long before his death, someone came in through the fire escape window, picked up the case, and walked past the sleeping Ted and Alice and out the door. My heart curls up every time I imagine the thief dumping all those cassettes in a trash basket somewhere. Were there other tapes? Ostensibly yes, but they’ve never emerged. In correspondence over the years, I’ve learned that neither Notley nor Padgett had copies and that the recording was missing from the Poetry Project archives. Anne Waldman reports that she once had ‘a recording of a recording of a recording’ made by Clark Coolidge but that it’s either in her archives at the University of Michigan or otherwise lost. …”
Jacket2 (Audio)
Crystal Set #6: Memorial Day by Ted Berrigan and Anne Waldman (Poetry Project, 1971)
Ted and Sandy by Damian Weber
YouTube: Anne Waldman and Ted Berrigan read their poem “Memorial Day,” ca 1973

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