American Poetry in the Age of Whitman and Dickinson

Manhatta (1921)

with 6 comments

manhattaManhatta (1921).

A ten-minute film by Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler inspired by Walt Whitman, with lines from Whitman interspersed, viewable at UbuWeb (go here)

A predecessor to Berlin: Symphony of a City (1927), viewable at the Internet Archive (go here).

I meant to write something about these two, but I’ve been packing up an apartment, and now I must shut down my computer, and fill up my truck. Perhaps in the coming weeks I’ll get back to it.


Written by Ben Friedlander

August 29, 2009 at 9:55 am

6 Responses

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  1. Thanks for the link, Paul! What an amazing celebration of smoke!

    Jonathan Morse

    August 29, 2009 at 6:20 pm

  2. Oh yes, so steamy and jazzy. Thanks for this.


    August 29, 2009 at 9:30 pm

  3. The video reminded me of a poem I read last week. Thanks for sharing.

    Jazz Manhatta:

    Native Saint of Melancholy
    I have made the pilgrimage:
    Jazz Manhatta.

    Over countless steel miles
    of Long Island Railroad tracks
    leading me into lethargic premonitions

    of the Jewish Vulture Magic.
    On the cement platforms
    of Attica

    or Alcatraz
    I hear the voice:
    Electric Coltrane

    singing across the stars
    and onto the oceans of the moon.
    Transistors, undulating,

    confessing creation
    in nightmares.
    On fire

    flames beautiful
    shouting from his mouth
    In a triplet passion.

    don’t let us fall like soundtrack verses
    of the lunatic dreams walking

    into temptation.
    Electric Coltrane,
    salvation broadcast from shadows

    into my heart.
    Art escaping into the Monet colors
    of the night sky

    over Jazz Manhatta.
    Standing before the pulpit,
    unplugged from memories

    and fleeting Bebop.
    The bar, raised,
    now broken-

    Fading away into the stratosphere
    and only a sad sermon remaining
    on the pulpit,

    Jazz Manhatta,
    Bebop Gospel Message
    from the lips of Electric Coltrane.

    (J.P. Farrell – 2002)


    September 1, 2009 at 10:28 pm

  4. Nice poem, and definitely related. But I could do without the phrase “Jewish Vulture Magic”!

    Ben Friedlander

    September 2, 2009 at 7:42 am

  5. I agree Ben! It is a very exceptional poem and related. I could also do without the line on the ‘Jewish Vulture Magic’ as well. It is an interesting line none the less. I suppose if you take it within context of the Era, it ‘might’ be appropriate.

    I would imagine that it is very difficult to evoke a certain time period without evoking it’s prejudices. Yet, if it failed to bring light to them, would it make the poem somehow less authentic?

    Ghazi Qudamah

    September 20, 2009 at 4:32 pm

  6. There are poems, I think, that can only be enjoyed if you’re farsighted, meaning they have to be held at arm’s length, not up close and “in your face.” In this case, of course, it’s only a tiny piece of the poem. But you’re absolutely right: if poetry is to encompass history, there has to be a place for such pieces. Hey, that was Whitman’s project!

    Thanks for the comment, Ghazi.

    Ben Friedlander

    September 20, 2009 at 5:21 pm

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