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Young writes in his liner notes to this 'double album' that the work is not a biography, but "an extended riff--Basquiat and his work serves as a bass line, a rhythm section, a melody from which the poems improvise." I would love to hear him read these out loud. The words are the clanging death knell--life knell, even--of Basquiat's life, reportraitizing and reanimating the man's elegiac self portraits into a cacophony of sounds. I think many of the poems don't always make sense, as Young folds
"You done blownthis taco standsky high, AMF...""...You are whatwe say of saints, assumed--You name, mis-placed, -took echoesabout the room.""...anything TO REPELGHOSTS, keephis going at bay...""Je t'aime Jean-Michel""...YOU WERE ALWAYS A CLIMBER STOP COME DOWN SOME DAY AND SEE US AGAIN END""AMF"
Returned to this magnificent collection after many years and was struck by wonder all over again, at how Young takes Jean-Michel Basquiat's complicated life and renders it beautifully in verse that is all at once ekphrastic, political, historical, and intimate.
This is a mind movie. I'm not sure if you consider this a book of lyrics masquerading as poems or vice versa, either way the flow is tight.
Basquiat + musical verse = mind explosion.
Young's poetry didn't flow smoothly enough for me and I didn't know who most of the people were that he wrote about. It made it difficult (obviously, since I never finished it,) to get into.
Btilliant. One of the best poets of the day.