Don Allen, The Grand Tribune of Poetry, was a good friend of mine, with his austere Patrician casting. A thoughtful, learned, yet somewhat of a visionary, and a gracious presence. Whose thoughts he would drop as he turned casually on his heel to avoid some dullness of camp or pretension, a silent jewel glass analyst of the downtown late 50's 60's scene. . I suppose most publicly peeped as the editor of the seminal NEW AMERICAN POETRY., and thus like a tasteful official of some "unknown" wonderful entity of the Arts deciding to remain somewhat obscure (w/ just a low key drollery to let you know he was, after all, hip to whatever deserved to be hip to). , Don wd smile with just a middle register release of breathy asterisk to let you know him in some comically ironic way.
Don Allen, Frank O'Hare, Irving Rosenthal, with AG sometimes, occasionally with Larry Rivers, and John Fles, the editor of Trembling Lamb did and Roi Jones, did often stroll the wider grounds and match metaphors, and marvel at the self evaluated hipness of ourselves digging that world and its many selves and expressions.
That he has split.... makes me remember the two of us, and Irving R, then editor of the latest Streamliner, Big Table,. going up to Gloucester, to visit Charles Olson, who was then a kind of philosopher-muse-Poetry/History Oracle for a bunch of us.. Allen G, O'Hare, Ed Dorn, Robert Creeley, Joel Oppenheimer, Early, Finstein, &c. And that spooky night we spent in some rich dude's castle, suddenly awake to the sound and image of naked satyrs diving off an interior balcony into a Lilly pond!
The discussion and our faces, shaded in the shadows of the castle's towers, made Olson keel over with laughter. And we all talked about that and poetry and the missing wheel of Western History.
In those years before I discovered America was completely fucked up!
- Amiri Baraka