May 31 is the birth date of both Al Young and Walt Whitman. On today’s show Jack celebrates those significant births by interviewing Al and encouraging him to read some of his terrific poetry. Al and Jack cover the waterfront about this brilliant Mississippi-born, Detroit-raised California poet laureate. Al reveals how he can’t get started—and clues us into the identity of the elusive O.O. Gabugah. Listen to Al as he uncovers “dreams so long deferred / that laser-lined Thought Police 100 years from now / still can’t decrypt the meaning of their blood; / their blues.” Hear Al’s response (it includes agreement) to Jack’s remark, “There is no Al Young.” Part one of two.
W.H. AUDEN & MANTAN MORELAND
Consider them both in paradise,
discussing one another—
the one a poet, the other an actor;
who finally slipped backstage
of a play whose cast favored lovers.
“You executed some brilliant lines,
Mr. Auden, & doubtless engaged our
innermost emotions & informed imagination,
for I pondered your Age of Anxiety
diligently over a juicy order of ribs.”
“No sh-t!” groans Auden, mopping his brow.
“I checked out all your Charlie Chan
flicks & flipped when you turned up again
in Watermelon Man & that gas commercial
over TV. Like, where was you all that
time in between? I thought you’d done
died & gone back to England or somethin.”
“Wystan, pray tell, why did you ever eliminate
that final line from ‘September 1, 1939’?—
We must all love one another or die.”
“That was easy. We gon die anyway no matter
how much we love, but the best thing I like
that you done was the way you buck them eyes
& make out like you runnin sked all the time.
Now, that’s the bottom line of the black
experience where you be in charge of the scene.
For the same reason you probly stopped shufflin.”