See also: 1974 Video
This set of four 90-minute cassette tapes is quite possibly the most important resource
a Carroll scholar can have. I found it quite by accident, while doing one of my random web
searches for new Jim stuff. What I found was an American Poetry Archive catalogue
description of a 30-minute tape from 1974. When I contacted the American Poetry Archive
about ordering this, I found out the 1974 tape was a video,
and that they also had a set of four cassettes. Without really even knowing what they
were, I ordered them, and I can't begin to describe how surprised I was at what I got.
Even Jim didn't know these tapes existed!
Unfortunately, I later found out that these tapes are available for on-site viewing,
and not for sale.
In March and April of 1978, gave a series of lectures on Rimbaud and modern poetry at
the New College of California. At this point, remember, Living at the Movies was
the only major work he had published (the first edition of The Basketball Diaries
may have been just issued). The Jim Carroll Band did not yet exist.
Following the first lecture, Carroll's presentations are seminars rather than straight
lectures. Carroll's lecturing style begins with him reading a poem, commenting on it for a
while, then opening up the floor for discussion. Often students' questions direct what
poems are discussed.
What is incredible about these lectures--six hours in all--is that, in talking about
his subjects, he is teaching his own poetics. In so many interviews over the years he has
referred to Henry Miller's Time of the Assassins, the idea of the "inner
register" and "heart quality," subjective vs. objective imagery, his
opinion of "concrete poetry," the importance of phrasing in a song and line
length in a poem, and much more. Here, he develops all of these concepts in detail, with
examples from Rimbaud, Rilke, O'Hara, Whitman, Blake, Hopkins, Patti Smith, and other
writers, plus a variety of painters, including Jackson Pollock among others. He talks
about symbolism, surrealism, concrete poetry, non-referential poetry, and rock music. The
range of references is astounding.
Additionally, listening to him talk about his favorite poets and poems, it is
fascinating to recognize the sources for many of his own works, at this time yet
unwritten. An hour-long lecture on Rilke's first Elegy reveals the literary roots of most
of the Jim Carroll Band's lyrics as well as a variety of poems as late as The Book of
These tapes are a must for any Jim Carroll scholar!
The Poetry Center's complete catalogue is here: http://www.sfsu.edu/~newlit/newcatalog/atoz.htm