Tuesday, 8 May 2012

A.J. Kaufmann

My Piano

Seeking love
from bohemian balconies
smoke stale wood
in twisted meadows
moving in time
w/ half-crumbling faces
of lovers
morning gargoyles
the bed palace church,
my piano quivers on
young leaves tremble atop
uproar the stars
bathe in corn
corpses in matchbox
gaunt earth fears them
while you and me weave vision
from flower flanks and see
some scales vibrate
some dancers sun-drenched


TSTmpj:  I am familiar with cut-up techniques, introduced into American poetry by the likes of John Ashbery.  Who are some of the Polish or other European exponents of this method that you admire?

A.J. Kaufmann:  Cut-ups are not the only technique I use when writing poetry or song lyrics. I use a variety of modern techniques, both Surrealistic and experimental, but I can write with ease using more traditional forms and ideas. It might be my ignorance, but I’m not aware of any modern Polish poets using cut-up techniques. Perhaps there aren’t any? Anyway, my European favorite is A.D. Hitchin, a British poetry and prose writer published extensively in small press and independent journals – he is in no way my "mentor" or "inspiration", just an interesting writer I had the pleasure to encounter. My cut-up poems are derived straight from the real source of the technique I use and build upon: the work of Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs.


TSTmpj:  Your poem has a distinctively European, surreal lyricism.  Do you strive for similar effects in the songs you compose?

A.J. Kaufmann:  Thank you for noticing the lyricism present in "My Piano" – I have the feeling that most of my readers don’t recognize that aspect of my work, focusing on the surreal, off-beat and cut-up instead. In my songs I don’t strive for surreality and abstraction. I try to write traditional songs. If we were to believe one Polish review of my debut album, Second Hand Man, my music is a mix of blues, reggae, rock, rock'n'roll, folk, country, shanty and psychedelia. The lyrics are simple, there are no "hidden references", and, as one of my old publishers put it, they focus on "love, life and all the bullshit in between".


TSTmpj:  For non-Polish readers, who are some interesting less widely known Polish poets and musicians of your generation to look out for?

A.J. Kaufmann:  Being the owner and editor of New Polish Beat, my own micro-press, I published lots of great poets, including Michael Aaron Casares, Richard Wink, Steve Calamars, Dan Provost, Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal, and many more, but no one from Poland (except for my own work). I don’t really have any favorite Polish poets of my generation, and I don't buy poetry books in Polish, by Polish authors, but the names mentioned above and all the poets I published are certainly some of the best people I ever worked with. I don't like supporting big presses and reading "latest hits", or "Polish classics", so I choose micro-presses from around the world instead of Polish "alternative publishers", which are probably 50 years behind their "small-press" American counterparts. Thinking of musicians, I'm working with the legend of Polish beat (called big-beat back in the 60s) and rock’n’roll, Mr. Andrzej Mikołajczak, so I have contact and work almost exclusively with musicians from that generation, not mine, however, in my generation, I find the progressive, Crimson-ish, Floyd-ish music of Investinmolden interesting. I also like Millenium, Sledziuha, and the electronic (less widely known) work of Andrzej Mikołajczak.

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