A. J. KAUFMANN
“HOSANNAH HONEYPOTS” (Sound Library Series, Volume 72) KSE #249
inspired by the Sun Ra album “Calling Planet Earth” (Black Lion Records)
$6.00 ppd. in the US ($7.00 ppd. outside the US)
HOSANNAH HONEYPOTS is the 15th KSE chapbook (the 11th solo KSE chapbook) from Poznan, Poland-based poet and musician A.J. KAUFMANN. I’ve not only had the privilege of working with him in editing all those chapbooks, but we co-wrote THREE chapbooks, which may be reissued together in book form by Word Mechanics in 2014 (keep your fingers crossed).
With so much poetry out there falling into one of three categories—-bad imitations of Charles Bukowski; tiresome conceptual faux-avantgarde swill coming from MFA programs and the creative writing industry; and performance-oriented poetry slam antics that can often be entertaining live but are not conceived of in terms of the page—-it’s not surprising that poetry fails to find much of an audience in its printed form. More poets need to wake up and wipe the slate clean and realize that the possibilities of poetry are infinite. They just need to stop trying to curry favor with whomever they are trying to suck up to in the poetry hierarchy, create their own system of poetics from the ground up, and build on that foundation…and stay with it and ask no one for acceptance. The poets KSE publishes all do that in their own inimitable ways, and nobody exemplifies the KSE aesthetic better than A.J. Kaufmann: he is rooted in Beat poetry and psychedelia, he knows the important avant-garde traditions of the last 150 years, he reflects the particulars of his culture/region (and also such important areas for him such as Berlin and Paris), and he takes those elements and creates 100% original work from them, work that apes no one else’s work and that has a form and a feel all his own. Yes, his work can be surreal; it can have the post-Rimbaud rock’n’roll decadence of a Leonard Cohen or a Syd Barrett or a Jim Morrison; it can have a psychedelic spiritual exuberance in the tradition of Roky Erickson/Tommy Hall or of Sky Sunlight Saxon. But it’s always 100 % A. J. Kaufmann. Having worked with the man on three collaborative chapbooks, and a fourth chapbook that was a joint work but one where we both worked from similar prompts, I can testify to his amazing imagination, his devotion to craft, and his dedicated work ethic, even while living a lifestyle that would kill or sideline a lesser man.
A.J. and I had originally planned to do a fourth collaborative chapbook, this one inspired by the music of Sun Ra. We each listened to many albums and finally agreed on the Black Lion/Freedom album CALLING PLANET EARTH (most easily available as part of a 3-cd box set). I suggested that we each get some themes and images down, work on some core lines, and trade notes in a few months, and then we could start on the collab. However, about a month after that, AJ delivered a sizable chunk of finished work, and I then decided to step aside and make this a solo work of A.J.’s. There was nothing I could add to what he’d begun…
In the manuscript he sent me, A.J. had created a unique form that was as jagged and blurred yet as sharp and as deeply rooted and as cosmic as a ten-minute Sun Ra clavioline solo, a sputtering, leering, push-and-pull flow that is, truly, a collection of energized language clusters on the printed page that come alive when read as if one’s finger is stuck into an electrical outlet. Regarding HOSANNAH HONEYPOTS, A.J. Kaufmann had the following to say, and once more, there’s little I can add to the author’s comments:
“Hosannah Honeypots” is meant to illustrate the music of Sun Ra – nothing more, nothing less – put into the context of hip-hop culture and all things cosmic that evolved from it / are still evolving, and the text is a free-flow of thoughts, like a free flow of synth lines, dropping over a jazz or hip-hop rhythm, filtered through accidentally found graffittis and riffs directly from Poznan’s gutters – new words are “invented” when necessary, when the rhythm and cadence needs them. However, the rhythm itself (the primal rhythm) is not found in the chapbook – variations are… It’s also quite a humorous text, as it puts me back into the shoes of the 2008 rebel that wrote “Siva in Rags”, but with the perspective I gained in the last 5 years, so it’s not so damn serious like “Siva”, and the romantic element, at least in my opinion, is completely gone. Here we have observations from the rooftop of a typical Polish tenement house, stripped to the core, not over-thought, and basically written in one take, with no re-writes or corrections, writing to the pounding tribal rhythm of my city, observations occasionally reaching out into deep space, then turning back to the people crowding streets below the author, in a millisecond. I guess it’s also an anti-war and anti-violence collection, though not really a protest-poem, more on the subconscious level – a way to break out of the daily prison and cutting wrist watch chains, if you can find the subliminal message. There are also several Maya influences in the text, though not directly copied from mythology, rather re-invented and re-told for the purpose of the poem, in the context of Sun Ra’s music and the hip-hop culture – this idea occurred to me when I saw lots of Maya-inspired graffiti covering certain walls at the Kottbusser Tor area in Berlin back in 2008.
The titles of Hosannah’s sections were inspired by Philip K. Dick’s “Dr Futurity”, but not lifted from it directly. The “Rhino” “Hippo” and “Bee” sections translate into three tribes, each member of the tribe (three variations of the author) gets to “tell his tale”. “Nebula” and “Lava” are extraterrestrials arriving on Planet Earth, assimilating with the human culture, I guess you can say they’re “interstellar outcasts”, two additional extensions of the author’s consciousness.
Each one of AJK’s previous KSE chapbooks has been a unique creation where form and content work together in new and unexpected ways. He is one of the most essential and original poets writing today, from his home base in Poznan, Poland, where he also works as a musician and singer-songwriter. HOSANNAH HONEYPOTS takes off into the stratosphere but retains the taste and the funk and the textures of home, which is just what I’d guess Sun Ra would want it to do…
(Bill Shute, June 3, 2013)