They're off!
June 29, 2014 11:25 AM   Subscribe

Trying to remember/identify a poem I remember from an old compilation of Beat stuff. It went something along these lines of "If castration rewarded greatness, such an honor to hear, 'They're off!'" I want to say the poet was an African-American with the first name Michael, possible Irish-ish last name.
posted by DirtyOldTown to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Could be Michael Ondaatje; I don't know the poem, but castration is one of his perennial (sorry) themes.
posted by jamjam at 11:40 AM on June 29, 2014

Michael S. Harper?
posted by brujita at 11:48 AM on June 29, 2014

There's the writer (and poet and playwright) Michael McClure, who's certainly associated with the Beat Generation.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:35 PM on June 29, 2014

For African-American Beat poets, if there's any wiggle room on the name there's Bob Kaufman and Amiri Baraka (the former LeRoi Jones).
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:51 PM on June 29, 2014

I think that the book might have been a paperback compilation called simply The Beat Generation. Though that's fairly unhelpful as a title since there are dozens of books with names exactly that or close to that.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:36 PM on June 29, 2014

I'd say this is unlikely to have been by an African-American poet, as Michael S. Harper wasn't a Beat (his first book of poetry didn't come out until 1970) and the only reference in the Columbia Granger's Guide to African-American Poetry that would work for the timing is "Night, Death, Mississippi" by the great Robert Hayden, who wasn't a Beat either and was writing a poem about an elderly white supremacist dreaming of yesteryear.
posted by snarkout at 5:28 PM on June 29, 2014

If it was a book on the beats, they might have referenced the Harlem Renaissance poets as influences...? e.g. Claude McKay has an Irish-ish sounding last name, and might have written about male mutilation in reference to lynching & slavery...
posted by mdn at 5:38 PM on June 29, 2014

Harper wasn't a beat, but he does write about jazz.
posted by brujita at 8:06 PM on July 1, 2014

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