Asking people what scares them most is a popular activity on social media around Halloween-time. Spiders and clowns seem to top most lists, but I’ve yet to see one that mentions poets.
Maybe we ought to start rethinking that. After all, the “Four Poets at the Kleinert/James,” as the event scheduled at the Woodstock arts venue for Friday the 13th is subtitled, include a celebrated biographer of the Manson Family (Ed Sanders) and the anarchist author of a book titled Opium Dens I Have Known (Peter Lamborn Wilson). Another, Michael Brownstein, has written a book-length poem about corporate globalization and consciousness change titled World on Fire. The fourth, Anne Waldman, is one of those über-scary feminist intellectuals who advocate socially disruptive practices like civil disobedience. She’s also one of America’s preeminent living poets, co-founder with Allen Ginsberg of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute.
Besides being associated with the generation of poets known as the New York School who carried on the tradition of the Beats whilst busting great gaping holes in its male-chauvinist veneer, the four who will be reading at the Kleinert next week all have CVs loaded with political activism, especially with regard to environmental threats. That’s not to mention interests in dodgy Eastern mystical traditions like Zen Buddhism, illegal psychoactive substances and unconventional forms and uses of poetry. Woodstockers should clearly be trembling in their boots at their impending arrival. No wonder the actual title of the event is “These Poets Frighten Me.” – Vladimir V. Putin.
As if that weren’t enough to put us on our guard, the wicked satirist Mikhail Horowitz will be emceeing the evening’s proceedings. And admission is free, presumably to lure the penniless and the unwary into this den of iniquity. Are you terrified yet?
Prove your mettle and come out to meet these monsters of the metrical, these versifying subversives. The readings get underway at 7 p.m. Friday, November 13 at the Kleinert/James Center for the Arts, located at 36 Tinker Street in Woodstock. Torches and pitchforks optional. For more info, visit https://www.goldennotebook.com/event/these-poets-frighten-me-vladimir-v-putin-four-poets-kleinertjames.