Cover to Cover with Jack Foley

Cover to Cover with Jack Foley – November 4, 2015

Jack’s guest is the celebrated poet/anthologist, Jerome Rothenberg. Today’s show is a celebration of the new Rothenberg-John Bloomberg-Rissman anthology, Barbaric, Vast & Wild. “Poetry should have something in it,” wrote Denis Diderot, “that is barbaric, vast & wild.”

Barbaric, Vast & Wild,” writes Charles Bernstein, “is the crowning jewel of the Poems for the Millennium series; it proposes a deep othering of the entire project, a movement beyond the radically reconceived visionary canon of poetic invention to an uncharted realm beyond any literary canon formation, from Blake’s chartered streets to something that proposes a reimaging of the literary in its re-grounding in the uncharted…The mad eclecticism of this anthology is its greatest virtue—it moves in leaps and bounds, like NIjinsky on peyote.”

Michael Davidson adds, “Rothenberg, and his co-editor, John Bloomberg-Rissman, now turn their attention to poets who may not have thought of themselves a poets, poems that blur into image and calligraphy, texts that aspire to the condition of disappearance…By bringing together texts from heretical religious traditions, inhabitants of mental institutions, folk or isolated cultures and placing them alongside poetry by more canonical poets who were themselves at times estranged or mad makes for a much more diverse, complex way of looking at the meaning of…art.”

This, from the anthology, is by the great palindromic poet, J.A. Lindon. The entire poem is a palindrome:


We sew.

Nell, Edna,



hem, eh?)

—Enid and Nadine

loop, spin, snip

“Damosel” silk, cut

elastic—“I’ll iron,”

went on Sal.

“A ruffle’s a slip!” I railed.

No, not to cod,

Di held e’en




needle hid?

Do cotton on, Delia!

Rip Ilsa’s elf-fur—

alas, not new

nor illicit sale—

tuck lisle so mad,

pin, snip spool…

Enid and Nadine

hem, eh?



and Ellen,

we sew.

And this, “The Death of Mickey Thump, A Funeral,” also from the anthology, is from the recollection of Susan Gray Young (née Barnett), born in Bolton, England, on 1st Feb 1914, died in Bury on 30 August 2008. Rothenberg comments, “The Elegy for Mickey Thump shows up in different versions throughout the twentieth century, always in dialect & with a minimum-of-blather.”

As I wur goin down Threakle Street,

To gerra pound o’ treacle,

Who does think I met?

Why, none other than me owd pal Mickey Thump.

He sed, “is tha goin’ t’ wakes t’neet?”

Well, I thout a bit,

An’ I thout a bit,

An’ I sed, “I d’n’ mind.”

So I went.


Eee, an’ it wur a grand wakes,

It wur a grand wakes!

Well, six a clock cum,

And seven a clock cum,

And eight a clock cum.

But no Mickey Thump cum.

So I went whom.


Well, I’d’n’ sooner getten me neet shirt on

Wen there wur a reet bangin’ at frunt dwur

It wur Mickey’s sister, an’ she sed

Mickey wur ill, an wud I cum t’see im.

Well, I thout a bit,

An’ I thout a bit,

An’ I sed, “I d’n’ mind.”

So I went.


Eee an’ he wur ill,

Eee he wur reet ill.

He looked at me an’ sed,

“If I dee, will tha cum t’ me funeral?”

Well, I thout a bit,

An’ I thout a bit,

An’ I sed, “I d’n’ mind.”

So I went.

An’ it wur a funeral,

It wur a grand funeral,

Thur wur sum what laff’d o’er his grave

And sum wot danced o’er his grave,

But I scriked me eyes out o’er the grave

Of me owd pal Mickey Thump.

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