Legendary west-coast poet Doug Draime is back with his fourth KSE chapbook, LAST MAY (1968). Like Hosho McCreesh’s recent 37 PSALMS, this was a work that magically appeared out of the blue as the poet and I were working on ANOTHER project! In a month or two, Doug will appear with a chapbook full of poems about his home for the last two decades, Oregon. As we were working on that collection, Doug sent me a long poem he’d written in 1968 (when he was living in L.A.) after a trip to Oregon, thinking it was Oregon-related and I’d enjoy it. I was floored by it and asked if I could put it out as is, and Doug agreed. We added one more poem that was also written in 1968, and that has become this new chapbook LAST MAY (1968), one that literally came out of the blue.
Although I was in elementary school at the time, the late 60’s psychedelic era has always been hugely influential on me, and I see it as a great liberating period in American culture. The first 45’s I purchased as a little boy of 9 and 10 were things like “I Am The Walrus” and “2000 Light Years From Home” and the like. I can remember buying copies of Wonderwall Music and Odessey and Oracle and Their Satanic Majesties Request (the latter in MONO!) at the local supermarket for 99 cents in the cutout bin as well as trashy “psychsploitation” albums by T. Swift and the Electric Bag, The Powers of Blue, The Underground, etc. Although I had no idea about what drugs were at age 9 or 10, I would sit in the corner, put on one of those records, and let my mind take me to distant and uncharted places. When I discovered the films of Warhol and Godard and Anger, or the writings of William Burroughs or Gertrude Stein or Harry Crosby or Ted Berrigan, a few years later in the early 70s, it all made perfect sense because my mind had been split open at such a young age. And when punk hit in my later teen years, the aesthetic behind Wire or Throbbing Gristle or Smegma or Boyd Rice or Cabaret Voltaire made perfect sense and was clearly an extension of what, say, Warhol or Burroughs or the Velvet Underground or Terry Riley had done ten years earlier. It all fit together, it all continued to grow and evolve, and it is still growing and evolving today, and it will continue to grow and evolve (or should I say “mutate”) in the future AND FOREVER.
Doug was a part of that 1960’s cultural awakening, Los Angeles Division, and the long poem “Last May” takes the reader right into the bubbling cauldron of experimentation that was 1968. Everything was possible, nothing would not be tried once. The floodgates were opened then, and I don’t think they’ve ever been fully closed again after that.
I would never tell another person how to live or how to think. However, I feel that people as a whole would benefit by wiping clean the slate of their pasts, their inherited beliefs and cultural biases—-by stepping outside of themselves, questioning every assumption, and rebuilding themselves as they desire themselves to be as if they were picking out entree items and side dishes at a cafeteria. If it takes acid or peyote to help that happen, then that’s what it takes. There are also many other ways of reaching that point. Everyone is different. But pushing the personal “reset” button is the way to liberation IMHO.
And the same is true in the arts. As John Ashbery once observed about Gertrude Stein’s Stanzas in Meditation, attempting the impossible is “the only thing worth trying to do.” And that was what Doug was trying to do in LAST MAY back in 1968. With 40 years of distance now on his achievement, I must say that he completely succeeded. It’s as if Wordsworth dropped acid and heard the colors and saw the sounds. With decades of collage-based and assemblage-based artworks behind us now, Doug’s kaleidoscopic idyllic vision in this work has been validated.
These two pieces—-the longer “Last May” and the short poem “Experiments in Light”—-have never before been published and come straight from Doug Draime’s personal archives in an edition of 49 copies. I’ve already sent out about a dozen in the first week and Volcanic Tongue in Glasgow will also be getting a stack, so you’d better act soon to get this historic, beautiful creation in its original edition.
Why not take advantage of our 3-for-$10 offer? Get LAST MAY (1968), the new all-England NEXT EXIT: SIX by K.M. Dersley and Adrian Manning, and my own SLASH & BURN (a work that, like most of my pieces, I’d like to think of as one of those “extensions” of the psychedelic aesthetic I described above) for one low price.
Check (or well-concealed cash) payable to Bill Shute, 8141-B Pat Booker Rd. #399, San Antonio, Texas, 78233. Overseas, books are only $5 each, postpaid. Write and request a paypal invoice.