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Dorothy Friedman reads Bill Kushner from White Rabbit

I saw Dorothy Friedman at the memorial reading for Bill Kushner at the Poetry Project in October, and she told me that she too would like to read some poems by Bill, so I asked her to come over to my place, and I would video her while she read them.

Dorothy publishes a collaborative magazine called White Rabbit. She picks a theme and poets she asks submit a poem, two hundred copies of it. Each poet contributes his page. I think the collaborative magazine has been a tradition among New York downtown poets for quite awhile. In the early sixties, a fellow named Dan Saxon gathered poets’ pages and put them together into a magazine called POETS, which was generated out of Le Metro, a gathering of poets who met at 149 Second Avenue. I have a copy of POETS that belonged to Bill. In this particular collaboration, July 1964, there are contributions from Beats like Allen Ginsberg, Ed Sanders, and Tuli Kupferberg, poets like Paul Blackburn and Lorenzo Thomas, and artists like Milton Resnik. In an interview with Cliff Fyman, Bill talked about Le Metro and the downtown scene then:

Bill: There was Le Metro that Kenneth Koch told me about and suggested I go visit. Le Metro was situated near St. Mark’s Church. I think it was a furniture store, and the owner and his wife realized they could make money by having these weekly poetry gatherings. The first time I went there to Le Metro I had a poem about a mouse (laughs) that I had written in Kenneth’s workshop that he liked. I figured I’d read it. I walked in and the place was kind of crowded with poets, most of them guys. I was still grappling with my shyness and my gayness—I think they were intertwined. There was Allen Ginsberg very much like the head of the group at Le Metro. Ginsberg had a great presence, you know. He kind of filled a room. I don’t want to say in a supernatural way. His eyes were everywhere. He was really alert and alive. Kind of scary, to me (laughs). That day Gerard Malanga was there whom I thought was a dream boat (laughs). Malanga was a very pretty young boy especially back then. Elie Kazan with either his wife or his girlfriend, a very pretty woman. It was a very happening scene. Some guy came around and said, ‘I’m making up a xerox magazine of the poems today so if you want to be in the magazine give me three dollars and I’ll xerox it up and be right back. Allen has a poem in here, and a lot of the guys.’ So I gave him three bucks. He came back with a very nice xerox magazine. Allen’s poem was in it. I believe it was about the tenements of East 12th Street.

Cliff: What year was this?

Bill: Good golly miss Molly! I keep thinking Sixties. Paul Blackburn founded
the Metro series.

Le Metro


Out of the energy of Le Metro, the Poetry Project was formed at Saint Mark’s Church by Paul Blackburn and Anne Waldman. The poets who began to hang around Saint Mark’s put together collective magazines as well. Yuki Hartman started a collaborative magazine in the 80s called Tamarind. In 1991, Tom Savage took over Tamarind. It still exists today. Below we see Bill in the all together—his favorite state of being—gracing the cover of a Tamarind, April 1995. Inside you’ll find a poem of mine; below is Bill’s.



Dorothy continues this fine tradition. She reads two poems from two White Rabbits, one that she collaborated on with Bill. Dorothy talks about some of her own thoughts about poetry and about meeting Bill before she reads the poems.

White Rabbit






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