Blue Collar Broadcast

American Poets
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Beaver Dam Rocking Chair Marathon

Tapping My Own Phone

Blue Collar Boom


Ron Whitehead

Ron's bio

Excerpts | Companion CD | Marathon Tour

Rant for international literary renaissance
Interview by Jordan Green

My taste for life is very eclectic. I've made it my mission to knock down all the walls I can. I want to eradicate fear. There was something liberating about the Beats for me-- "casting off the anxiety of influence and making it new," as Kerouac said. Eve rything hasn't been done. All great writers have said, "Fuck you, this is new!" I encourage people to be forthright about their originality. Diane di Prima says, "You've got to allow space for the creative image, or you're gonna die."

I grew up on a farm in Ohio County. My family is coal miners and farmers. My grandfather was a holy roller preacher. I worked for Kentucky Land Reclamation for awhile.

I ate a lot of speed in my youth. When I was in my teen years, I sat in a rocking chair-- rocking-- for four days. I was the champion. This will be written about in The Beaver Dam Rocking Chair Marathon. Another time I walked four days to raise money to take my family to the United Kingdom.

I talked everyone into putting money into an organization to promote poetry. This started as Thinker Review, a University of Louisville publication. Kent Fielding and I were hired by the board of directors to create a journal for U of L. The first thing we asked them was, "Can we turn this into the best in the world?" They thought we were too arrogant. We produced the first volume in six weeks. It was 465 pages. We wanted to create a literary renaissance from the start. We got our divorce from U o f L in May 1993 right after the Lawrence Ferlinghetti reading because they didn't like what we were doing. We did a hundred events a year. We'd get bands and poets to perform for free so that we could keep our costs down.

In March of '93 we had Eitne Strong and E. Ethelbert Miller scheduled for the same day. Our approach is to find performers and figure out how to pay for them later. We couldn't pay them so there was a mad scramble for money. Someone came up with t he idea of having an insomniacathon. We booked Twice-Told Coffeehouse and put out the word for anybody who played an instrument or read poetry to come down and perform. Within hours it happened. Word just spread like wildfire. We raised money. We had to t urn people away. That was the first night that Rodan played together. I think they played an acoustic set.

1. Intro
2. Church of the holy spook
3. What was all that noise about?
4. Western Kentucky: late 1960's

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