Weegee Wednesdays: “There should be suthin deep between us…”

April is the craziest month, photographing
Lilacs out in the dead land, archiving
Memory and desire, preserving
Dull roots with spring rain…

If April is National Poetry month and if it’s a Weegee Wednesday, then this must be a post about photography, poetry and poets in a mad, very loud and naked city by Weegee… Poets, bohemians and the colorful characters who perform their poems, impecuniously and mostly in Greenwich Village, were perennial penniless subjects of Weegee photographs. PM Newspaper PM, July 28, 1941, (2007.15.223), pp. 18-19 Perhaps the first significant meeting of Weegee (not Fellig) and poetry, in lower Manhattan: Weegee photos on the left, page 18, and photos of real Greenwich Village poets on the right, page 19, by Ray Platnick.

These Are Pictures of Real, Honest-to-Greenwich Village Poets You don’t have to be a celebrity to get your verses displayed on the Village Arts Center, 1 Charles St. If your lines are short and to the point, and a member of the club likes it, and if there is space on the plaster walls, you have the club’s permission to print your works on it. These pictures of Greenwich Village poets were taken on the club this week end, on the occasion of a club anniversary. Most of them have published volumes of verse, which is hard and creditable work. It doesn’t pay much. Diana Barrett Moulton, poet, [holding her book, Beer and Skittles] also poses for portraits in spare time. Maxwell Bodenheim, novelist and poet, at first refused to pose. Then he consented, on condition he could give the clenched fist salute. Joe Gould, 51, Harvard ’11, has been working these 20 years on the Oral History of Today. It includes only material Mr. Gould has seen, or heard by word of mouth. Verses on the club wall behind him are his own. He is a satiric poet and a book reviewer. PM, July 28, 1941, p. 19

pm_1943_09_22z PM, September 22, 1943, pp. 12-13, photos by Dan Keleher

There’s Some Life in the Village Yet PM Attends Joe Gould’s 54th Birthday Party The flaming days of Greenwich Village are gone, but there are still some bright sparks among the embers. One of these sparks is Joseph Ferdinand Gould (Harvard ’11). Joe Gould, Yankee Bohemian, ex-ethnologist, ex-expert on Albanian politics, ex-police reporter, ex-book reviewer has spent the last 28 years in an intimate study of poverty. In that time he had been voluntarily unemployed becase he was too busy writing his Oral History of Our Time, into which he pours everything of interest that he sees, hears or happens to think of. Its 9,000,000 words (so far) make it probably the longest literary work of all time. [Presciently predicting Twitter, perhaps.] Gould, who once told an interviewer that he was “the foremost authority in the United States on the subject of doing without,” writes incessantly, sometimes in a bar, sometimes a Bowery hotel, sometimes riding all night on the subway. Joe Gould, author of an unpublished book which is 11 times longer than the Bible… Gould recites his poem of social unconsciousness, The Barricades. He declares Communists are too conservative to suit his tastes… In this candid shot are, left to right: Joseph Mitchell [1908-1996], who wrote Gould’s New Yorker profile, Professor Sea Gull (December 12, 1942, p. 28); Dawn Powell [author, 1896-1965], and Gould and Beauford Delaney [1901-1979], well known artist. [“Blowing soap bubbles is fun, too…” 17454.1993]

weegee_17405_1993 Weegee (1899-1968), The Sidewalk. Open air poetry exhibit in Greenwich Village… Even poets like to eat… But there were few buyers…, ca. 1944, (17405.1993) Members of the Raven Poetry Circle assembled in front of Judson Memorial Church during their annual poetry exhibition. Raven founder, Francis Lambert McCrudden is in the center of the group, in front of his poems, wearing a pith helmet. Great blog post about the Raven Poetry Circle, “Quoth the Raven Poetry Circle” on the “From the Stacks” blog from the N-Y Historical society. weegee_17400_1993 Weegee (1899-1968), [Two poems by Joe Gould], ca. 1944, (17400.1993) weegee_9388_1993 Weegee (1899-1968), [Joe Gould and poem], ca. 1944, (9388.1993) Joe Gould (1889-1957), bohemian, poet, subject of two profiles by Joseph Mitchell in New Yorker, Professor Sea Gull (December 12, 1942, p. 28), and “Joe Gould’s Secret,” (September 19 and 26, 1964,p. 61) not the author of Oral History of Our Time [“Revisiting Joe Gould’s Secret” by Sewell Chan, NY Times City Room blog, August 17, 2007] is affectionately and amusingly photographed and preserved, pickled perhaps, in the above photo-montage. weegee_negative_959z Weegee (1899-1968), [Dylan Thomas], ca. 1950-53, (9398.1993) DT memorably photographed presumably in that last few years, or days, of the poet’s life. Writing from midtown Manhattan: “And I have no idea what on earth I am doing here in the very loud, mad middle of the last mad Empire on Earth: – except to think of you, & love you, & to work for us…” Dylan Thomas (1914-1953), “The Love Letters of Dylan Thomas,” p. 89 weegee_16862_1993z Weegee (1899-1968), Poetry Circle, ca. 1960 (16862.1993) Ted Joans (born Theodore Jones, 1928 – 2003), beat generation poet, painter, musician, holding a book or papers, is the star of this reading in Greenwich Village; signs on the walls read: “Regardez” and, not visible in this photo: “Geniuses, Sigmund Freud, 1856 – 1957, André Breton, born 1896 [-1966]”

There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me, And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the darkroom the photographers come and go
Talking of Weegee…

Weegee Wednesdays is an occasional series exploring the life and work of Weegee.

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3 Responses to Weegee Wednesdays: “There should be suthin deep between us…”

  1. anniebadger says:

    Cool posting, Chris!!

    All Best, Ann

    • Chris George says:

      Thanks for writing.
      (Slightly amusing and slightly accurate is what I aim for… 🙂
      Thank you!

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