Clean For Gene

History Poetry Politics Tributes
Who knew that 60's-era Presidential semi-hopeful Eugene McCarthy was a practicing poet? I had no idea. I didn't know much about this maverick Senator from Minnesota, except that he apparently played the "Howard Dean role" in the 1968 Presidential election. He represented Americans who vigorously objected to the Vietnam War, caused a lot of ruckus, didn't even come close to winning the Democratic Party nomination, and watched his party lose the election from the sidelines.

The Dean parallels end there, though; the Vermont governor became famous for uttering loud pirate-like noises at televised campaign rallies, whereas the Minnesota senator (whose death was reported this weekend) preferred quietly quoting the likes of Plutarch, Shelley and Whitman, as well as reciting his own poems at political events. You can check out some of his verses here ... he was no John Ashbery, as far as I can see, but there's an appealing Ted Kooser kind of vibe to the stuff, and it's clear his heart was in the right place. Thanks to Syntax for the tipoff.

Speaking of hearts that no longer beat ... I don't know if Richard Pryor considered himself a writer, but he was certainly poetry in motion. "That's right ... we bad ..."
5 Responses to "Clean For Gene"

by Billectric on

PryorMan, after hearing Richard Pryor talk about the first time he visited Africa, and assuming he composed that monologue at least in outline form if nothing else, I've got to say he was a great writer.

by stevadore on

Hockey BeatThat link to Syntax provided an even better article (I thought) on the connection between NHL Colorado Avalanche and the Beats. Fascinating stuff. I love little articles like that because so few editors print them anymore.

by jorge on

just remembered a classic scene of gene wilder and richard pryor in a prison cell asking a tough convict for a cigarette... that guy was funny, really funny.

by Billectric on

Yes, he was, but even more than being funny...that monologue about going to Africa is touching and dramatic....he is connecting with the ancient land...I don't know how to explain it...he sees people that look like people he knows here, but they are different. Damn, I wish I could explain it better. I'll have to look for it.

by Steve Plonk on

Eugene McCarthyEugene McCarthy will be missed. Gene outlived some of his old friends and enemies and wrote policy books and poetry...I've read some of his stuff. I campaigned for Eugene McCarthy in 1968 at great personal risk because I was in the service at the time. Gene McCarthy had a long and fulfilling life. Gene made a significant difference--proving you could challenge the president and suprise folks with a good showing. Gene remained influential and was a keen observer and participant in both writing and critiquing foreign policy and domestic issues.I mourn Eugene McCarthy's passing... He made plenty of people think about controversial issues. Gene was a great Democrat and third party politician. Some of my buddies were for Robert Kennedy. After Robert was assassinated, I got a pass from them to go to Robert's funeral and stood in the back of the cathedral as the service was going on. Too bad Robert Kennedy's life was cut so short...Eugene McCarthy's challenged Humphrey (after Robert Kennedy's death) at the Democratic convention in 1968. His challenge to Hubert Humphrey, also demonstrated that even folks in Minnesota can agree to disagree on the handling of a war. (Even if one was LBJ's hand picked successor.) As we know, both men were from Minnesota--another great state. I admired and I miss all four men and "understood where they were coming from". Now Gene has passed on to join his other two buddies.Now the torch must be passed to another generation to keep up the "good fight" and assist us in keeping this country great and respectful of its citizenry. We are "hitting the floor running"in this new century and the problems of 1968--or of even 1956-- are still with us today. I would encourage all kind folks and gentle people to go vote for senators and representatives who are, even today, stewards of the environment, keepers of the peace, and who try to live in a compassionate way.