Saturday, April 04, 2015

From the Radio Weblog Vault John Sinclair on Blues & Poetry

I came to know Sunnyland Slim through Harry Duncan and Paul DeMark. It was through Harry as well that I came to know John Sinclair. John was doing a radio show in New Orleans, and writing and performing what I called “Blues Poetry.” He heard of my book, “Sunnyland Blues” through Harry, and was very generous in compliments. Years later we were able to hook up, and to converse for magnetic media.

The idea I had was to take John’s commentary on the art of blues poetry, and scribe that into a screed or broadside that he might add to the folio he would peddle as he conveyed his messages in the States and the world beyond. We met up multiple times, but usually briefly, and never quite pulled that type of thing together. But I talked to him via email just before he moved to Europe, and he was cool with the idea of me posting whatever it was I’d compiled anytime anyplace anyhow.

Thinking way back - I described my work with Sunnyland as Blues Poetry. I thought, with John, there might be the better part of a school of Blues Poetry ready to brandish its saber. Schools are good for spreading things in the line of poesy, me thought.

When I met John for the first time at a coffee bar in New Orleans [Biff Rose, I think, joined us and sang the National Anthem backwards], I asked him pointedly: “Who else is doing this stuff.”

Was surprised by his response. He said: “Ed Sanders.”

It was Ed’s Investigative Poetry that influenced me to write Sunnyland Blues as a poem. I was glad but sad, too; because there didnt seem to be a school ready to assert itself. I still fell now that John should reside on an endowed chair. Then as now, there was no omnibus a’coming. I came to learn that John was influenced by Robert Palmer too. And that prose powerhouse in fact was the last straw that influenced me to write the Sunnyland story as a poem. Since Palmer hit it as prose, I’d better to take a different tact. - Jack Vaughan

For the full story, on Jack Vaughan's Radio Weblog.

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