The Sixties Diaries By Ted Berrigan

My father, Ted Berrigan, is primarily known for his poetry, especially his book The Sonnets, which reimagined the traditional sonnet from a perspective steeped in the art of assemblage circa the early sixties. He was also an editor, a publisher, and a prose writer—specifically one who worked in the forms of journals and reviews. While his later journals were often written with the expectation of publication—meaning the journal-as-form could be assigned by a magazine editor—his sixties journals are much more internal. In these journals, he’s writing to document his daily life and his consciousness while figuring out how to live, and how to live as a poet, so to speak. These excerpts from his journals were originally published in Michael Friedman’s lovingly edited Shiny magazine in 2000. They were selected by the poet and editor Larry Fagin, who invited me to come to Columbia University’s library, where my father’s journals from the early sixties are archived, and work with him on the selection process. We were looking, as I think of it now, for moments of loud or quiet breakthrough—details, incidents, and points of recognition that contributed to his ongoing formation as a person and poet. The Chicago Report,’ which narrates a weekend trip from Iowa City to Chicago to attend a reading by Kenneth Koch and Anne Sexton put on by Poetry magazine, was written in 1968 in the form of a letter to Ron Padgett, a close friend and fellow poet. It was later published in an issue of The World, the Poetry Project’s mimeographed magazine, as well as in Nice To See You, an homage book put together by friends after my father’s death in 1983. It may be recognizable as an affable, freewheeling, and at times incendiary piece of first-person satire, filtering the voice of ‘Ted Berrigan’ through the voice of Ted as known by Ron, or vice versa. My father was a working-class Korean War veteran who didn’t feel comfortable in high-class literary circles but did engage them at times, with amusement and a kind of gentle predilection for disruption.  —Anselm Berrigan …”
The Paris Review

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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