This morning I am thinking of poet Philip Whalen. If there is indeed a poetry realm on the other side, I would want to meet his mind again. Reading this review by Andrew Schelling of David Schneider's biography of Whalen, Crowded By Beauty, I am reminded just how ephemeral the coming and goings of such beings are.
Somewhere in my archive of photos, there is a photo I took of Philip some thirty years ago in my then office at Naropa Institute that I shared with a marvelous co-worker, Jane Faigao. Jane and I briefly together ran the Naropa Summer Institute - a dazzling display of creative synergy informed by the many poets, dancers, musicians and artists who convened there each year. Philip was a mainstay along with other so called "Beat" luminaries, Diane DiPrima, Gary Snyder, Joanne Kyger, and of course Allen Ginsberg and company, among so many others.
Philip Whalen was the real deal and someone whose brief moments of interaction I had with him during a month-long sojourn I shared living in a house with him and Ginsberg still resonates decades later. A true master, he stopped my mind on numerous occasions. Somewhere the memory of that picture I took of him on the funky Naugahyde couch opposite my desk reminds me of the time when two phones rang simultaneously and I froze in his gaze as he softly said, "Breathe."
Visit TRICYCLE'S review of Crowded by Beauty, here.
We'll breathe together, then share our gibberish on October 1.
Impossible gibberish no one
Can understand, let alone believe;
Still, I try, I insist, I can
Say it and persuade you
That the knowledge is there that the
Is yours. --Philip Whalen
A motion of sensors
To what is unsay able
All ears to penetrate
Such auguries of mystery
For which there is no name
A reaching out
A coming home
Never too late