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Word Doctor:

“A serious literary magazine published by a hospital? Sounds unlikely. But the Bellevue Literary Review, published by the New York University department of medicine at Bellevue Hospital, is drawing on a long literary heritage. Bellevue has nursed William Burroughs, Eugene O’Neill and many other close-to-the-edge writers and artists. Danielle Ofri, the review’s editor-in-chief and a doctor at Bellevue, believes scientists and doctors too often dismiss the power of language. Words, she tells Michael Bond, are a vital part of the healing process.” New Scientist

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The Most Famous Beat You Never Knew:

‘On this day in 1986 Beat poet Bob Kaufman died at the age of sixty-one. Kaufman was a legendary figure in the San Francisco poetry revival of the 1950s, and although not as productive or famous as some of his contemporaries, he seems to be widely-recognized as “the most under-recognized poet of the Beat Generation.” ‘Today in Literature A victim of heroin abuse, incarceration and forced electroshock treatment, apocryphal stories about Kaufman abound. He reputedly invented the word ‘beatnik’. With an avowed aim of being completely obscure, most of his poems appear to have been improvised on the spot or recited from memory and were rarely written. He supposedly took a vow of silence on the day JFK was killed, not to be broken for ten years until the day the Vietnam war ended. ‘(H)e seems to have out-Beat Kerouac and many others in Buddhism, in travel (around the world nine times as a seaman), and in arrests (39 in ’59 alone, mostly for being seen as a nuisance).’ He was known as “the original bebop man” and, in France where he was quite popular, “the black American Rimbaud.”

‘I Have Folded My Sorrows’

I have folded my sorrows into the mantle of summer night,

Assigning each brief storm its alloted space in time,

Quietly pursuing catastrophic histories buried in my eyes.

And yes, the world is not some unplayed Cosmic Game,

And the sun is still ninety-three million miles from me,

And in the imaginary forest, the shingles hippo becomes the gay unicorn.

No, my traffic is not addled keepers of yesterday’s disasters,

Seekers of manifest disewbowelment on shafts of yesterday’s pains.

Blues come dressed like introspective echoes of a journey.

And yes, I have searched the rooms of the moon on cold summer nights.

And yes, I have refought those unfinished encounters. Still, they remain unfinished.

And yes, I have at times wished myself something different.

The tragedies are sung nightly at the funerals of the poet;

The revisited soul is wrapped in the aura of familiarity.

‘Jazz, Don’t Listen to it at Your Own Risk’

In the beginning, in the wet

Warm dark place,

Straining to break out, clawing at strange cables

Hearing her screams, laughing

“Later we forgot ourselves, we didn’t know”

Some secret jazz

Shouted, wait, don’t go.

Impatient, we came running, innocent

Laughing blobs

of blood and faith.

To this mother, father world

Where laughter seems out of place

So we learned to cry, pleased

They pronounced human.

The secret jazz blew a sigh

Some familiar sound shouted wait

Some are evil, some will hate.

“Just Jazz, blowing its top again”

So we rushed and laughed.

As we pushed and grabbed

While Jazz blew in the night

Suddenly we were too busy to hear a sound

We were busy shoving mud in men’s mouths,

Who were busy dying on living ground

Busy earning medals, for killing children on deserted

…..streetcorners

Occupying their fathers, raping their mothers, busy humans

…..were

busy burning Japanese in atomicolorcinescope

With stereophonic screams,

What one-hundred-percent red-blooded savage would waste

…..precious time

Listening to Jazz, with so many important things going on

But even the fittest murderers must rest

So we sat down on our blood-soaked garments,

And listened to Jazz

…………………….lost, steeped in all our dreams

We were shocked at the sound of life, long gone from our own

We were indignant at the whistling, thinking, singing, beating,

…..swinging

Living sound, which mocked us, but let us feel sweet life again

We wept for it, hugged it, kissed it, loved it, joined it, we

…..drank it.

Smoked it, ate with it, slept with it

We made our girls wear it for lovemaking

Instead of silly lace gowns,

Now in those terrible moments, when the dark memories come

The secret moments to which we admit no one

When guiltily we crawl back in time, reaching away from

…..ourselves

We hear a familiar sound,

Jazz, scratching, digging, bluing, swinging jazz,

And we listen

And we feel

And live.

Uncategorized

Word Doctor:

“A serious literary magazine published by a hospital? Sounds unlikely. But the Bellevue Literary Review, published by the New York University department of medicine at Bellevue Hospital, is drawing on a long literary heritage. Bellevue has nursed William Burroughs, Eugene O’Neill and many other close-to-the-edge writers and artists. Danielle Ofri, the review’s editor-in-chief and a doctor at Bellevue, believes scientists and doctors too often dismiss the power of language. Words, she tells Michael Bond, are a vital part of the healing process.” New Scientist