Monday, May 26, 2008

Maxwell Bodenheim

Memorial Day in the States seems like a good day to draw your attention to the forgotten American bohemian poet and novelist Maxwell Bodenheim on his birthday. With thanks to The Writer's Almanac.
Milton Klonsky once recalled being in a bar in Greenwich Village in the early 1950s and suddenly hearing the owner and many of the drinkers shouting and jeering at someone. When Klonsky turned to see what was happening he noticed "a tall, glum, scraggly, hawknosed, long-haired, itchy-looking, no doubt pickled, fuming and oozing, Bowery-type specimen" standing near the door. People were calling to him to read a poem or even make up one on the spot. The man turned and glared at them and wrapped his "old dung-coloured horse blanket of a patched overcoat" around him in a way that reminded Klonsky of Marc Antony drawing his toga to him as he faced the Roman mob. And then he said "Pimps! Patriots ! Racetrack touts !" in a contemptuous voice, and swept out of the bar. It was, as Klonsky said, the kind of exit that stays in the mind, and it gave the victim of the sneers of the crowd a kind of nobility.

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