Tim Dlugos in front of my bookshelf in Los Angeles, 1980.
Tim Dlugos was one of my closest friends and remains one of my very favorite poets ever. We became friends in the late 70s when I solicited work from him for my magazine Little Caesar. I went on to publish two books by him, Je Suis Ein Americano (1979) and Entre Nous (1981), and he and I co-edited Coming Attractions, anthology of new American poets under the age of 30. His poetry influenced mine vastly, and, thanks to his companionship and kindness and extraordinary social skills, I was introduced to many of my lifelong dearest friends and writer comrades and a serious boyfriend or two. It would take ages to begin to describe what a star and shining light Tim was in late 70s and early 80s, as a poet and as a person. He seemed to be friends with every interesting person in the world, and to move within his circle of friends was a non-stop heady and enlightening experience. If there was ever an ideal subject for an oral biography, it's Tim, and some enterprising someone should really get on that. Tim kind of crashed out in the mid-80s when depression and alcohol and hedonism became his enemies for a while, and, although he evened himself out and wrote the best poetry of his life, the timing couldn't have been worse as he'd contracted HIV and finally died of AIDS-related causes about a billion years too soon at the age of 40. Since his poetry books were published by small presses that are long gone, his work has been really hard to come by until now thanks to the poet David Trinidad who has edited a new book of Tim's Collected Poems and to the press Nightboat Books, who has published it. Tim is an absolutely extraordinary poet, and I hope you will devote time to reading this post about him and the work of his that I've included and that you will be inspired to buy the book. -- DC
'Tim Dlugos is still under-read, in part because contemporary poetry is still just catching up to his Pop-Art poems, his eclectic palette of cultural references and tones. I did hear Joan Larkin singing Dlugos’s praises to students at New England College two summers ago, and I think that Trinidad’s loving restoration of so many heretofore unpublished gems will help to bring these poems—both intimate and public, wistful and acerbic—to a wider audience.' -- DA Powell
'Tim Dlugos’s masterpiece is the poem “G-9,” named after the AIDS ward at Roosevelt Hospital in NYC. I’m not an expert in the literature to come out of the AIDS epidemic, but it’s hard to believe there is anything in that body of work more vivid and powerful than this poem (here's the text of "G-9"). In November of 1989, Tim sent me a fat envelope of poems—“Here are the fruits of my hospital stay and my first week out.” I was blown away the contents, which included “Powerless” and “G-9.” He was doing his best work in his final year of life. “G-9” was accepted by the Paris Review not long before Tim died, of complications from AIDS on December 3, 1990, at age 40. He never lived to see the issue (#115) come out, but he was delighted to know that it would be in the magazine.' -- Terence Winch
'The Frank O’Hara of his generation. -- Ted Berrigan
Tim Dlugos @ Wikipedia
Audio: Tim Dlugos reading his poetry in 1978 @ Pennsound
About Tim Dlugos and Philip Monaghan's ‘At Moments Like These He Feels Farthest Away’
Tribute to Tim Dlugos by Terence Winch @ The Best American Poetry
'Hiddden History (including Essex Hemphill, Tim Dlugos and “Poets and Pornographers”)'
2 poems by Tim Dlugos @ epoetry
5 poems by Tim Dlugos @ Clementine Magazine
Tim Dlugos books @ goodreads
Tim Dlugos Page @ Facebook
Guide to the Tim Dlugos Papers @ Fales Library
Buy 'A Fast Life' @ Nightboat Books
'At Moments Like These He Feels Farthest Away is the culmination of a collaboration between painter Philip Monaghan and poet Tim Dlugos based on Dlugos' poem "Gilligan's Island" (read the poem below). The series, originally commissioned in 1983 — but left unfinished when Dlugos died of AIDS in 1990 — was revisited by Monaghan in 2007. The show includes 54 works of oil, watercolor, and digital prints on canvas as well as a graphic depiction of Dlugos' poem on the gallery walls. In addition to being stylistically captivating, the works are compelling in that they explore the subliminal psychosexual undercurrent embodied in this elemental piece of 1970s pop culture. This is "Gilligan's Island" like you've never seen it before.”' -- flavorpill
'At Moments Like These He Feels Furthest Away' by Philip Monaghan
Tim Dlugos A Fast Life: The Collected Poems of Tim Dlugos
'A Fast Life establishes Tim Dlugos—the witty and innovative poet at the heart of the New York literary scene in the late 1970s and 1980s and seminal poet of the AIDS epidemic—as one of the most distinctive and energetic poets of our time. This definitive volume contains all of the poems Dlugos published in his lifetime, a wealth of previously unpublished poems, and an informative introduction, chronology, and notes assembled by the volume’s editor, poet David Trinidad.
'Born in 1950, TIM DLUGOS was involved in the Mass Transit poetry scene in Washington, D.C., and later, in New York City, in the downtown literary scene. His books include Je Suis Ein Americano, Entre Nous, Strong Place, and Powerless. Dlugos died of AIDS at the age of forty. DAVID TRINIDAD's most recent collection of poetry is the The Late Show. He teaches at Columbia College in Chicago.' -- Nightboat Books
Every time I use
my language, I tell
the truth. A cat
in a white collar,
like a priest with calico
fur, walks across the dead
grass of the yard, and out
through the white fence. The sun’s
strong, but the colors of the lawn
were washed out by the winter, not the light.
February. Stained glass window of the house
next door takes the sun’s full brunt.
It must look spectacular
to the neighbor in my head,
a white-haired woman with an air
of dignity and grace, who
through pools of the intensest
colors climbs the flight of stairs.
I’ve never seen it,
but I know it’s there.
Shelley Winters you’re such a pig I love you
Not “even though” you’re ugly and never shut up
--and dress like the wife of a cabbie who won
--the Lottery, but because of it!
I think you’re a miserable actress, and didn’t
--even care when you drowned in The Poseidon
--Adventure, it was a terrible movie and you
--were just wretched all the way through.
I agree with Neal Freeman that, objectively, you
--are ALWAYS unsatisfactory
And incredibly tacky: I know someone who
--saw you stinking drunk and stumbling down a
--corridor in the Traymore, now you always
--remind me of Atlantic City, and that’s dreary.
Every time you’re on Dick Cavett I get embarrassed
--for him just watching you talk.
You never answer the questions. You never remotely
--answer the questions.
Shelley, sometimes I don’t think I can take it you
--depress me so, but you fascinate the hell out of
--me just the same
And I say with a sigh, “It’s okay, it’s just the
--way Shelley is.”
I’m so young, you’re so dumb, it never could work
--still I watch you every chance I get and love
--you, you’re such a mess
for Donald Grace
Underneath your skin, your heart
moves. Your chest
rises at its touch. A small bump
second. We watch for what appears
to be hours.
Our hands log the time: the soft
underneath your eyes. Our bodies
intersect like highways
with limitless access and perfect spans
We pay for this later. I pay
for breakfast. We
can't stay long. We take off
to the museum
and watch the individual colors
as they surface
in the late works of Matisse.
They move the way
your heart moves, the way we breathe.
You draw your own
breath, then I draw mine. This is
truly great art.
Barry Davison is finishing Remembrance of Things Past.
A hustler's hair and eyes blow Dennis Cooper away.
Bo Huston comes into his inheritance.
John Craig seems pretty stoned.
Lanny Richman's working overtime.
Sam Cross and Janet Campbell watch "The Thorn Birds."
Cheri Fein is getting ready for her wedding.
Steve Hamilton goes to the poetry reading.
Mark Butler is waiting for a phone call from New York.
Michael Szceziak isn't home.
Steven Abbott's somewhere in the Moslem world.
Michael Friedman's torn between two lovers.
Emily McKoane has dreams of empire.
Joe Brainard feels the dope kick in.
Rob Dickerson is getting used to living on his own.
Diane Ward rehearses her performance.
A shopclerk's hair and eyes blow Donald Britton away.
Morris Golde goes to the ballet.
Darragh Park drinks Perrier.
Doug Milford isn't home.
Brian Foster's living in the world of fashion.
Philip Monaghan thinks he'll go to bed with a friend.
Bobby Thompson stands behind the front desk.
Chris Lemmerhirt feels the dope kick in.
Alex Vachon's working on his resume.
Randy Russell hits the books.
Mary Spring is getting ready for her wedding.
Christopher Cox goes to the opera.
Charles Shockley seems pretty stoned.
Edmund Sutton isn't home.
Michael Lally and Dennis Christopher rehearse a play.
The Changing Light at Sandover blows Tim Dlugos away.
Jane DeLynn goes to est.
Teddy Dawson drinks a Lite beer.
John Bernd isn't home.
Frank Holliday paints.
Michael Bilunas eats out with a man who has a famous last name.
David Craig's not part of the picture yet.
Henry Spring is dying of emphysema.
Kenward Elmslie's working on his musical.
Kevin Bacon's onstage in Slab Boys for the final time.
Edmund White is on a "boy's night out."
Brad Gooch makes copies.
David Hinchman feels the dope kick in.
Keith Milow isn't home.
Diane Benson's living in the world of fashion.
A sequence of strong drinks blows Ed Brzezinski away.
Tor Seidler goes to the ballet.
Eileen Myles is on the wagon.
Patrick Fox is getting used to living on his own.
May 12, 1983
The Professor and Ginger are standing in the space in front
of the Skipper’s cabin. The Professor is wearing deck shoes,
brushed denim jeans, and a white shirt open at the throat.
Ginger is wearing spike heels, false eyelashes, and a white
satin kimono. The Professor looks at her with veiled lust
in his eyes. He raises an articulate eyebrow and addresses
her as Cio-Cio-San. Ginger blanches and falls on her knife.
* * *
Meanwhile it is raining in northern California. In a tiny
village on the coast, Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren are totally
concerned. They realize that something terrible is happening.
Each has been savagely attacked by a wild songbird within
the last twenty-four hours. Outside their window thousands
of birds have gathered in anticipation of the famous school-
yard scene. Tippi Hedren is wearing a colorful lipstick.
* * *
Ginger stares back at the Professor. His sullen good looks
are the perfect foil for her radiant smile. The Skipper and
Gilligan come into sight. The Skipper has been chasing
Gilligan around the lagoon for a long time now. Gilligan
holds onto his hat in the stupid way he has of doing things
like that. The Professor’s lips part in a sneer of perfect
contempt. Ginger bares her teeth, as if in appreciation.
* * *
Jackie Kennedy bares her teeth. Behind and above her, the
muzzle of a high-powered rifle protrudes from a window. A little
man is aiming at Jackie Kennedy’s husband. The man is wearing
bluejeans and a white T-shirt. There isn’t a bird to be seen.
As he squeezes the trigger, the little man mutters between
clenched teeth, “Certs is a candy mint.” The hands of Jackie
Kennedy’s husband jerk automatically toward his head.
* * *
The Professor is noticing Ginger’s breasts. He thinks of
the wife he left at home, who probably thinks he’s dead.
He thinks of his mother, and all of the women he has ever
known. Mr. and Mrs. Howell are asleep in their hut, secure
in their little lives as character actors. Ginger shifts her
weight to the other foot. The intensity of the moment reminds
the Professor of a Japanese city before the end of the war.
* * *
In his mind he goes down each aisle in his government class,
focusing on each face, each body. He is lying on his bed
with his white shirt off and his trousers open. Dorothy
Kirsten’s voice fills the room. He settles on a boy who sits
two desks behind him. He begins to masturbate, his body moving
in time with the sad music. At moments like these he feels
farthest away. As he shoots, his lips part and he bares his teeth.
* * *
The Professor and Ginger are watching each other across the
narrow space. The Skipper and Gilligan have disappeared down
the beach. The Howells are quietly snoring. The Professor
and Ginger are alone. From the woods comes the sound of
strange birds. From the water comes a thick and eerie
tropical silence. The famous conversation scene is about
to start. Clouds appear in the sky, and it begins to snow.
It Used to Be More Fun
It used to be more fun to be a poet
start the day with coffee and a sense
of bowling over people in a public space
with words that tell how I’m bowled over
this minute by the light
that pours across the city and its various shoes
and uniforms of occupation
troops whose ways of life I’d never share
but for the spaces
we separately passed through
I thought that I was different as I filled
those yellow pads with words
written in the styles of heroes
I wanted to be famous as, but younger,
the New York Ingenue School
of poetry and life but now I know
that saying that I’m different
from the rest because I make a poem
instead of shoes and uniforms
is how I drove my car toward death
too long—it wasn’t sloth
or lust or self-absorption
that put me where I ended up,
I was a poet, the same excuse
and boast my heroes used—the one
who was too drunk to see
the headlights coming, the one
who never left his bed, the connoisseur
of cure and re-addiction, the messed-up
child it used to be more fun before I knew
that what I thought I was and wanted
was death and my embroidery a shroud.
Say it loud, I’m not proud
of handiwork like that. I used to think
that poetry could serve the revolution
and that the revolution would transform
the world because the only way
that I could see things ever
changing was from outside
so I hitched my fortune to a threadbare star.
It was more fun to write against the war
when we thought the gifts our heroes
the downtrodden of the world
bore were truth and justice
instead of one more scam in Vietnam
my poems and self-righteous voice
helped give birth to boat people in Cambodia
to unspeakable crimes and now
my “US Out of Nicaragua” rap gives succor
to another ominous bunch of agrarian
reformers, this one with a top cop
whose first name is “Lenin,” a touch
straight out of a darkly funny novel
by Naipaul or Evelyn Waugh
It used to be more fun when other places
seemed better and more noble than America
even the obsessive money-grubbing swamp
of sanctimony that’s America these days
it used to be more fun when poetry
didn’t cost so much and when I didn’t need
the government to give me money to write poems
I liked what poetry could do
to street life, even and especially
when it came from the streets I liked
the poise and energy and grace
of black poets and gay poets and Dadaists
and unschooled natural artists
who fell into the workshops through the open doors
it was more fun before the mass
of canny grant recipients of many hues
took over it was more fun in my director’s chair
writing poems in an attic
than as a director, hurting friends
regretfully in the service of collective goals
it was more fun before I knew
my poetry could never be a spaceship
to speed me far away, or that I’d always be
outside it, like a parent,
seeing its resemblance to
my old intentions but unable
to make it work
and trusting it less
for the truths it told
than for the lies it didn’t
p.s. Hey. ** Alter Clef Records, Greetings, Nick. Very glad you liked the Marker Day, natch, and, no, I haven't read that Catherine Lipton book. I'm going to a place that will likely have it on the shelves, so I'll peek at it and see what happens. In fact, I got 'My Antique Son' just last night when Yury, who is in charge of our single mailbox key, returned from work with it in his paw, so I'm gearing up for an awesome first listen. I don't seem to have gotten 'A Day Without Comfort' though, or at least not yet. I like some of Greenaway a lot, especially the early films 'A Zed and Two Naughts' and 'Draughtsman's Contract'. I'm a bit hit or miss with the later stuff. I do like 'The Pillow Book'. My favorite Greenaways are his documentaries, particularly a series of great short ones he made about weather. Definitely a sharp, valuable cookie. Ah, the record is real enough that everyone can have one! Everyone, the new album by brilliant musical artist Nick Hudson aka d.l. Alter Clef Records, titled 'My Antique Son' and courtesy of the fine UK label Norman Records, is out aka yours for a click and a very affordable price, so may I suggest that you poke that blue word back there and snag a copy? Yes, I may. Very excited to dig in, man. Love to you. ** David Ehrenstein, Yeah, Marker is super, right? I actually laid my own eyes on him at a museum here about four or so years ago by accident, and, as physically old as he is now, he looks pretty much exactly like he does in that surreptitious photo. Everyone, David E dug up a totally rare, snuck shot of the mysterious Chris Marker on the set of Tarkovsky's 'The Sacrifice', and, to quote DE, 'here he is'. I fear for those guys taking on the gay-hating Moscow higher ups 'cos anything evil goes over there in that regard, but big props to them. ** Empty Frame, Hey. Oh, man, thanks a lot! 'Gods and Men' ... no, I haven't seen it, in fact. Strange. I will. Dude, of course I agree far more than 100% that that kind of study can help your writing. Or let's say that most of what I do in own my is stuff I learned from other mediums, at least. No, I haven't seen Seidel's work yet. I'm making a fresh note and pinning it to my frontal lobe. You sound good and like you're doing the really right thing. ** Bollo, Hi, J. Well, I'll try to coerce you re: the festival when the time comes and their/our line-up gets firmed. Museum birthday must means drinks and nibbles and some record spinning, godawful dj, no? Could be a cheap thrill. Hope so. ** MANCY, Hey. Oh, cool news that you guys might meet up. Hope you made it through school/work in the veritable one piece. ** Alan, Montreal? What's that about? Have fun, man. ** L@rstonovich, Discipline is such a moody bitch, ha ha. It's true, though. You take your eye off its wheel for a minute, and it goes into hibernation. But then it'll pop back and smiling and shit like it never left. Weird stuff. What's the coolest thing or two on that playlist? ** Bill, You're already here or almost here, here being this giant chunk of land they call Europe. Trippy. What are you doing in Oslo again? Welcome to the hood, man. Oh, wait, I just saw your second comment moments before I launched this. London, eh? Nice. July 4th, got it. I'll have to try to find some illegal fireworks or something. Cool. ** Wolf, Hey, Laureate! There's some kind of pretty good joke about the virtues of denial, but I can't remember it. Yeah, I used to think Chris Marker was ... British, I guess, 'cos of the name. He looks French though, when you can actually see him, that is. ** Posing at the Louvre, Thanks, J. When do you head off to ...Switzerland (right?) You good and all that? ** Steevee, Hey. That last Marker is his newest film, I think. I think it's only shown/exhibited in museums. That's where I saw it anyway. ** Statictick, You're moving? Like to a new building or to a different pad in the same building? I'm guessing the former. I'm not surprised that Costello was ace. He usually is, right? I haven't seen him live since a Costello/Bacharach gig they did to promote that album they made together, a sublime and very underrated album in my opinion. Best of luck with the move, and tomorrow is you-know-what courtesy of you, so I'll see you especially then. ** Sypha, Yeah, you should definitely hold on to those 'Grimoire' copies. If I'd been wiser and kept a bunch of copies of my early books and Little Caesar issues, I would have had a lot fewer periods of poverty. Well, I'm glad the Gaga pleased you. Being pleased is a good thing. ** Ken Baumann, Ken! I will do my best to do the book at least a smidgen of justice. Found a lot of great stuff by Leidner while I was assembling the post that I'd never read/seen before. Making blog posts is better than going to university. Very happy about you being content and quiet and good. As it should be. Luxuriate, my friend. ** Chilly Jay Chill, Hi, Jeff. Really pleased that the Marker post hit the spot. Yeah, he's so great. Shouldn't be a problem on the 'J/TTT' thing barring postal bizarreness. I would say 'Tree of Life' is definitely one of Malick's best. I'll need to see it again to decide if it is his best. I think it could be his best. It's definitely his most ambitious film, and possibly the most imperfect because of the film's vast intent, but the imperfections were only fascinating and admirably brave to me. The editing is different because the film's structure is much more hallucinogenic -- the frequent comparisons to '2001' make a lot of sense in a certain sense, although that comparison is a red herring too. He's doing fast cuts more frequently, and the rhythm of the edit is more various, and the speed of the film shifts more often than it does in his other films. It's very, very him, but at a grander scale. I don't know. It just completely knocked my head off, and I know, for instance, that whatever I write next, novel-wise, will have 'ToL's' mark all over it in some way. Anyway, see what you think. ** Chris Cochrane, I wrote to you this morning about the situation at hand. Never have heard the Fripp/Darryl Hall thing. Didn't know such a thing existed. I've never been too into Hall, no surprise, other than thinking 'She's Gone' is kind of a great song of its type and having 'Did It in a Minute' as a guilty pleasure. I guess those two would count as strange likes. Does being crazy for a short time about crap pop like Britney's 'Hold It Against Me' or Jedward's 'Lipstick' count? I have a strange fondness for this stupid country hit of years back called 'Here's a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)'. Does that count? I can talk in the early evening my time on Monday if that works. I meet with Serge on Tuesday. ** Andrew, Hey. Yeah, there are definitely exceptions. Wire has broken up a couple of times in their long 'career' and come back as great as ever. It's rare, though. Mostly it's more like one or two of the original members of, oh, Flock of Seagulls working the House of Blues circuit under that famous name. Right, old rockers seem to flock into reality rehab shows, especially. I think I met Greer Lankton once, but only a hello type of thing. I have friends who were somewhat close to her in Chicago. Her stuff is interesting, yeah. It seems like doll making is a really good idea. I mean, obviously, Gisele and I work with dolls all the time. ** Alistair/TIM, Hey, Alistair! I'm doing okay. How are you, man? Sucks about the computer crash. How is the novel going? How is everything? 'The Outsiders' is great! I totally agree. I love SE Hinton's books. 'Rumble Fish' is my very favorite of hers. One of the experiments I did to make the different voices in my novel 'Closer' was do cut ups of different writers' work, and 'Rumble Fish' was one of the texts I cut-up. I read her kind of late, I think. In the early 80, I believe. Yeah, I'm a real fan of Hinton's books. Man, really nice to see you. I would love a catch up, your time and computer access willing. ** Brendan, Hey. Today is the day I open your email and put together the post, so I'm at the dawn of my awakening on your new work at this very moment, yum. Metal shows can work miracles. They're a very underrated cure for depression. If I was a doctor, I would prescribe them liberally. How was it? ** Inthemostpeculiarway, Hey. Yeah, I can totally see this year as the time when the spiders make their world domination move what with us being all distracted by apocalypse predictions and tornado swarms and wondering if the American X-Factor is going to be a big hit and all that. I'll probably do something on Iceage, but they're new -- one full album; average member age 17 -- so there might only be enough out there for a Varioso slot. What made the face in your dream horrible? Wait, you don't have to tell me if the memory is spooky. That was kind of a quiet day you had there. You made it sound lustrous though, so it wasn't wasted. I read somewhere that 'Dark Tower' is probably dead 'cos I forget what studio dropped it and I guess it's so expensive to do that it's unlikely that another studio will pick it up something? Does that make sense? My day wasn't eventful either. I can hardly remember it. Let me see ... worked on that zine thing, which went a little better. My sister called to talk about a bunch of current family drama that is annoying but isn't worth explaining. Read a little. Agreed to give two interviews in the next week or so, both in-person ones, I think, and both for French magazines. Found out that a Swedish poet who is apparently very well known and respected in Europe is staying at the Recollets and giving a reading here tonight in Swedish and English, and I decided to go see that. Bought food, cigarettes, and the new issues of The Wire and Mojo. Talked on the phone to Gisele about the Pompidou festival stuff, which we need to organize as much as possible before we have a big meeting with the Pompidou higher-ups on Tuesday. Wished I had an XBox so I could play 'LA Noire' because I read a bunch of rave reviews on that game yesterday. Watched a documentary on the Arte channel about the making 'A Clockwork Orange', and that was pretty interesting. Then they showed 'ACO' itself, but the dubbed into French thing was too annoying, so I turned it off. After I went to sleep, my cell phone pinged, but I was too sleepy to wake up and check it, so I did this morning, and it was a friend in NYC texting me to say that my pal Eileen Myles won Best Lesbian Novel at the Lambda Literary Awards last night, so that's good. Anyway, since I already told you I was asleep, I guess that means my report on yesterday is over. I hope you're unsleepy today and that you'll tell me what happened whether you were or not. ** Paradigm, Hey, Scott! Great to see you, man! Yeah, Marker is sill doing a lot of work, and what I've seen is really good. Man, how are you? What have you been doing? What's going on? I'm fine. 'The Marbled Swarm' is finished, and it comes out in November, so I'm past the writing phase and into the worrying phase, ha ha. Anyway, yeah, I'd love to know how you are. Great of you to visit. ** Misanthrope, Hi, G. I'm a Lakers fan, obviously, due to hometown loyalty and all that, but I'm also someone who doesn't follow basketball until the playoffs start. Yeah, they didn't do good. I think maybe Phil Jackson stayed a year too long or something. I love Shaq. He's like an eighth wonder of the world or something. Oh, okay, I guess I can spare a few of Bill's bones in return. Maybe we can pretend they're light sabers and have a fun joust. ** We're done. Tim Dlugos is great. You don't have to take my word for it. Some of the proof is right up there above this p.s. Get to know him, if you don't already, and I will return as soon as today turns into Saturday.