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How to Make a CD: A Poet’s Perspective

Bob Holman’s notes on the genesis of his first CD


In With the Out Crowd
Mouth Almighty/Mercury

First, make up poems for twenty-odd years. Hear them and just write them down as The Voice dictates—the sense of sound. Place words on page for eye thread sculpting; spew them out live on stage in the shape of audience ear funnels. Born in vortex of sight and tonacity, a poem takes to a recording studio as the skin of your eye to vellum. In other words, look on CD, like book, as a vehicle for Poem’s Wild Ride.

Then start a poetry record label (the now defunct Mouth Almighty) with Bill Adler and Sekou Sundiata.

Next, since the solitudinous task of poem writing does not prefigure disking said poem into aural space, get Adler to figure out who the world’s best poetry record producer is -- in a word or two,Hal Willner. Ask Hal to do the album, and he agrees for some reason. Have a meeting with Hal and Bill to discuss title: “The Death of Poetry,” the title of a poem which strikes Hal’s fancy, from recent book Bob Holman’s Collect Call of the Wild (Henry Holt, 1995). First task: to watch Fellini’s The Clowns, which has the tone we want to carry out in the album.

Immediately write a new “The Death of Poetry.” The first “Death” was a blazing news report of the invasion by Cafe poets in 1993 of an uptown poetry panel discussion “The Future of Poetry” whose main theme was “Since MFA tenured writing posts are in decline, poetry’s in trouble.” The new “Death” is a dirge march with poetry in a coffin and the poet trying to get the rhyme right.

Typewriters on parade!
Walt’n’Emily rolling grave
Nothing left save to save
The Death of Poetry
What a life death is
The Death of Poetry

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