I’m pleased to report that in February my film Sing! Fight! Sing! Fight! From LeRoi to Amiri  was screened at the Pan-African Film & Arts Festival in Los Angeles, where I’m delighted to say that it won the Ja’Net DuBois Award for Best Documentary. You can learn more about the project, and see the trailer, here

The Trophy

Recent months have been fairly productive, in that I’ve been working with editor Harry Baker to produce feature-length versions of a number of my films on American poets, all of which now run to around 90 minutes. The titles are:

Gary Snyder: O Mother Gaia 

Amiri Baraka: Sing! Fight! Sing! Fight! From LeRoi to Amiri 

Michael McClure: Abstract Alchemist of Flesh 

Jerome Rothenberg: Vot Em I Doink Here? 

Robert Creeley: Black Mountain Blues 

Together with my Channel 4 documentaries on Allen Ginsberg, No More to Say & Nothing to Weep For, & Frank O’Hara, How Terrible Orange Is/& Life, they probably represent the largest body of work on film relating to the remarkable generation of American poets who emerged during the 1950s & who were brought to international recognition through Donald Allen’s ground-breaking anthology The New American Poetry 1945-60. These films, along with my documentary on the avant-garde filmmaker Stan Brakhage, have been almost entirely self-funded. I’m in the process of entering them into a number of festivals, in the hope of finding a distributor – is there anyone out there….? – & of raising funds to cover the cost of library materials so that they can be archived and made widely available.

I’m pleased to report that my film on the Chilean poet Raúl Zurita had a well-received screening at the Chilean Embassy in London, on the fiftieth anniversary of the 1973 coup. 

I’m also pleased to say that my film on Michael Horovitz, also feature-length, has finally been completed. Shot over a period of years, it’s an affectionate portrait of the man: poet, publisher, musician, impresario, countercultural icon & much-loved eccentric, described by Allen Ginsberg as ‘A Cockney, Albionic, Jazz Generation, New Jerusalem, Sensitive Bard’. Cockney….? Michael….? It was through Horovitz’s publication New Departures that as a teenager I first became aware of figures like John Cage & Robert Creeley, something for which I shall always be grateful. It would be good if the film, finished at last, were to get a television screening…

The sad news to report is the death on the 21st of April of Jerome Rothenberg at the age of 92. I first became aware of his work in 1972, at a conference at the Polytechnic of Central London, when, reading alongside Robert Duncan, George Oppen & Ted Berrigan, he captivated the audience with his reading of The Wedding & Cok Boy from Poland 1931 & from The Horse Songs of Frank Mitchell, his ‘total translation’ from the Navajo.

I got to know Jerry on a personal level through our mutual friend, the artist Ian Tyson, with whom he collaborated on many projects. I filmed him for the first time in 2000 at an event at Cambridge University, on what was to be the first of many occasions, the last of which was two years ago at King’s College, London, in company with his long-term collaborator, the musician Charlie Morrow. Our work together over these years resulted in Seedings & Sightings, two CDs in my Rockdrill poetry series, & the still unreleased feature-length documentary ‘Vot Em I Doink Here?’, a film which has been entered into a number of this year’s festivals & excerpts from which can be seen on this site.

The poetry community has lost an important, wide-ranging & dynamic figure, & a generous-spirited friend. I extend my deepest sympathy to Diane, Jerry’s wife of many years & a great force in her own right.