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Poets Talk with Charles Orloski: Solzhenitsyn, T. S. Eliot, Monica Lewinsky, Thomas Paine, Bertrand Russell, et. al.

Gary Corseri: We don’t much think about aftermaths in America! We’re pretty much trained NOT to have foresight—to “go along to get along,” to “go with the flow,” etc.! Of course, we don’t explore the past, either!.

Obviously, the speed and immediacy of the Internet has already changed our world immeasurably and irrevocably—in good ways and bad. With the Net still in its infancy, it is now as difficult to foresee what wide-ranging changes are to come as it was with the advent of the Telegraph or the Wright brothers’ triumph at Kitty Hawk. Except, the changes will come whirring-fast now!

poets talk

One way in which the Net has had a major impact on my life is thru the ease and speed of correspondence. With something of a stuttering problem throughout my childhood, I’ve generally felt more comfortable writing my thoughts out than trying to catch up with them with the spoken word. (Note to self: Most people dismiss stutterers as “slow” in the head, but, in fact, it’s often just the opposite!)

It used to be that correspondence between authors did not appear in print until one or both of the authors had shuffled off this mortal coil. Reading the letters of Keats or Bernard Shaw or Rilke, I gleaned insights into the spirit of their times—the Zeitgeist—which made their work clearer for me, and better attuned me to our own rollicking World Ghost! Thanks to the Internet, artists need not wait for the other’s demise before posting their reflections on the passing events of our world of transient joys and perdurable sorrows.

Circumstances in the past few years have fortunately placed me to compose and post dialogic pieces, based on e-mails, with poet Diane Wakoski, painter Janis Schmidt, Ukrainian poet-scientist Victor Postnikov and poet Charles Orloski. Each “conversation” between artists has touched on, and often centered on, political matters as well as aesthetic. In my own view, these two basic drives for power (in the tangible and intangible sense) are pretty much inseparable.

The give and take is not always in strict chronological order; but, rather, follows a thematic order based on recent exchanges. In Old Japan, Basho and others wrote “linked verse”—tankas interweaving their own and others’ work. It’s a practice I hope other artists will take to heart. Following, is the 3rd “Poets Talk” between Charles Orloski and myself. --Gary Corseri)

Charles Orloski: FYI, I wrote a poem about a really disgusting email porn scandal that's convulsing already ill-PA justice system, involving Supreme Court Justice. (The poem's gotten over ten hits so far-- not too shabby!)... Solzhenitsyn was prophetic for the U.S. when he wrote Gulag Archipelago I, in particular the 3-chapters, "The Law as a Child, The Law Becomes a Man, The Law Matures." No wonder U.S. police forces have become what they are today!

The person running against Pennsylvania's present terrible Governor Tom Corbett (R., Natural Gas Drillers) is Tom Wolf. The other day, Scranton Times-Tribune reported the top ten major contributors for each gubernatorial candidate. Wolf's # 1 high adrenaline donor was himself--the Times-Tribune listing Mr. Wolf as having donated $10 Million to his own campaign! (Sigh…) I believe the governor-job pays less than $180,000 per year, and the job must be a stepping stone to one day becoming a bigger WHORE for 1% oligarchs and corporations.

The poem is here

Gary Corseri: Just in the first 9 lines of that poem you’ve captured 3 crazy facts about goings-on in contemp America: Ebola hysteria; the long search for a survivalist cop-killer in the Pocono Mountains; and just about everyone, including state Supreme Court justices, transmitting Internet porn! You can’t do that in “straight” journalism. But poetry allows for that kind of compactness!

CO: That compactness is something that appealed to me when I first got serious about reading poetry. After 10 years hard labor as a working stiff, I read T.S. Eliot's "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." And I still read it over and over!

GC: Most Americans never get to the good stuff by themselves! And most teachers don't teach it!

CO: The only poetry I ever saw my two sons read in high school was that included in mandatory reading of a Shakespeare play--I forget which one.

GC: They probably were assigned some Robert Frost, too! That also seems to be mandatory in our high schools. Easy, unchallenging stuff like "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" or "The Road Not Taken."... Our "public education" is a farce--maybe the root of our problems, especially if one considers the media and the Arts as part of education!

CO: Keeping the population stranded in the Twin Towers of convention and fear, surrounded by yellow fog, are critical components for maintaining the progress and success of the 1%!

GC: The Empire would certainly not want kids to get too strong a dose of Eliot's despair after World War I--as expressed in poems like "The Wasteland." Wouldn't want kids thinking about Wilfred Owen's work--that extraordinary American soldier-poet who was shot and killed 1 month before the Armistice. He questioned everything about the war and "humanity" in some of the greatest poems in the English language!

The corruption of The System that you highlight in your poem is much the same in GA--and I suspect just about Everywhere, USA. Current Gov. Deal entered office in debt! According to his challenger, Jason Carter, Deal is now worth $3 million. Allegedly, Deal cut a deal (don’t pardon my pun!) with a company that owed the state $78 million in taxes. The company still owes 78 million, but Deal can be quite comfy on $3 mill (plus whatever other perks he's attained!). Easy to condemn Deal and close the books on that former Demo turned Repub! But then you might read the Deal campaign website:

“By cutting taxes and reducing bureaucratic red tape, he’s helped to create nearly 300,000 private-sector jobs... Georgians enjoy one of the lowest tax burdens in the nation… Gov. Deal has overseen three balanced budgets without raising taxes, saved millions of taxpayer dollars… and increased our rainy day fund by more than 500%.”

What’s your average uninformed/misinformed/dis-informed voter to do? They get a snippet here, a snippet there. So, they throw up their hands and vote for Mommy and Daddy’s party! Interesting to note, too, that Deal’s opponent, Jason Carter, is the 37-year-old grandson of President Jimmy Carter! And, running for the US Senate (from Georgia) is Democrat Michelle Nunn—the daughter of former US senator, Sam Nunn! I know the US has always had dynasties… but is no one feeling a mite wary of all this passed-on power?

CO: At present, I shut-off CNN! They were building-up a strong case against Ferguson's Michael Brown, advantageous to the cop. And then the 22-year old intern who [had her way with Bill] Clinton came on. A gorgeous CNNcommentator said "Monica wants to re-join the national conversation." Maybe she'll be H.R.C.'s V.P. 2016 running-mate?

GC: Great idea! Hillary and Monica Lewinsky! Their campaign theme song: "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!" (Picture the victory dance!)

CO: That will blow me away forever from paying attention to 21st Century politics! I see why wise old men get this way!

GC: Yeah, I think I'm there! I advocate “Non-Voting with a Purpose!” whenever I can!

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CO: Purposeful "Non-Voting"-- better than Farce-Voting! Besides, now they have Diebold, and votes can be as easily rigged as casino slot machines, input and output

GC: I take hits when I write or speak about “Non-Voting with a Purpose.” Mostly from Lefties, who cling to their "progressivism" like a religion! It's a matter of faith for them—you gotta vote! Like, the Fundies tell you—you gotta pray, you gotta believe! I argued with a smart, “progressive” friend when he twice voted for Obama! Then there’s a woman whom I admire for the good work she does in Africa. Her husband is a "nice" guy who used to be an investment consultant. He retired at 50 (they're both late 50s now). During first Obama campaign, he bragged about trudging thru snows of Iowa, soliciting votes for Big O! These people campaign and vote for their candidates… and then they forget what it was all about! We’re a nation suffering from ADHD!

CO: People in dissent should be serious and stand upon their words, because that's often the only defense they have, and there's NO cavalry coming to the rescue. The dramatic and moving end of old film Spartacus was a crock. Real life's not like that.

GC: Yeah! Imagine all those guys saying, "Don’t crucify him! Crucify me!”

CO: Stand upon their words! Hold to their convictions! Remember! So much is down Orwell’s “memory hole” now. America's short attention span is to our Controllers’ great advantage. MSM and brand-name intellectuals play a role here, forwarding rotten success.

GC: Rich or poor, smart or not-so-smart, religious or non-religious--only a few can think for themselves! That’s the great challenge, isn’t it? Isn't expanding our awareness the real mark of our humanity?

A couple of days later…

CO: Gary: Beautiful job with Mr. Paine!

GC: Gracias!

The poem is here. (

CO: As you might expect, while reading Bertrand RusselI, upon your recommendation, I liked how Thomas Paine expressed a desire to "serve some useful end," in the midst of a taunting Chorus arena who helped enforce population docility and allegiance, to which Paine would not salute. (Note: B. Russell said that a characteristic of decency is having true affection for fellow man.)

GC: I might have told you that I've been re-reading Russell and enjoying him again! (I first read a couple of his books in the ‘90s.) I'd actually forgotten that he'd written about Paine! I didn't even see that essay again until after I submitted the work). I guess Paine just wanted to be born again! (Not in a Christian sense, though!) Not surprising BR thought well of TP. They shared elements of character-and-intellectual grandeur!

CO: Steeped in Dostoyevsky for the past year or so, and Animal Farm's revolution outcome always on mind, I also liked your "old man" character, and how he thoughtfully mentioned to Tom Paine about the possibility of prevailing, and afterward "retirement to small chateau to think about what follows revolution."

GC: We don’t much think about aftermaths in America! We’re pretty much trained NOT to have foresight—to “go along to get along,” to “go with the flow,” etc.! Of course, we don’t explore the past, either!

CO: Nowadays, I’d expect a great American mind—someone like Paine or Russell, perhaps--to explore 9/11 events in a reasoned and objective way. None did that that I'm aware of. It seems only Paul Craig Roberts has had the gustoto call the official line a LIE.

GC: There were—are--a few who raise the right questions. I guess David Ray Griffin has been foremost; and Professor Steven E. Jones in Utah. And the “Veterans Today” site-- Gordon Duff, Kevin Barrett, etc.--has been consistent on that and other vital subjects!

Roberts keeps hammering away at the issue, but in ADHD america, where "move on" is a catch-phrase, we now focus on Ebola, ISIL (or ISIS or IS!)… and something that happened 13 yrs ago is ancient history, man--like the Dark Ages, man! Like ancient Egypt! Like Pharaohs, man!

CO: I think Roberts gets as much right as anyone… but great minds on the “Progressive Left” carp at him!

GC: I met PCR, liked him, "looked in his eyes," as they say. Some on the "Left" won't forgive him for being under-secretary of Treasury under Reagan! They blame PCR for "supply side” economics, etc. When PCR claims Reagan helped end the Cold War, some Lefties get fired up and dismiss everything PCR has done in the last 26 years! I think I wrote you: there are as many fools on the Left as there are on the Right; only the flavors differ!

CO: SOME of that crowd are probably just as insane as the habitual LIARS on the Right! The two groups seem to delight in having different targets, but will return to old ones during dry season.

GC: Yeah…, that's the way the wayward world works!


CO: Too many beasts who ride the Lie to power… and the best we can hope for is strength NOT to be intimidated! We need a Paine-awakening! 

GC: A “Paine-awakening” would be glorious indeed!

Gary Corseri