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“It Doesn’t Get Any Better.”

“I’m old / and I’m bitter / and I’m going / to tell you / what / I think,”

To read JOHN GIORNO, hear him read, the scope of their poetic vision, his aesthetics regarding space, home, place, the pure pleasure of his poems sputtering, erupting, splattering, his entire body percussive, his voice a salve leading you to the kill. Truth striking.

“It’s doesn’t get any better.”

Repeated, again, again, again, until, until this mantra rises raises releases you in it’s bare truth.

“and you give / and you give / and you give / and you give / and you give / you give some / more, / and keep on / giving / again, / and give / until / it hurts, / only your / high / and you don’t feel / it hurt, / it don’t hurt / bad, / and you forget / it hurts, / and give until / it really / hurts / and give until it really hurts, / then I’m / not going / to give you / one / more / God damn / thing / ever / in any / lifetime, / you get / nothing / you get nothing / nothing,”


He also enjoyed a lot of sex, agreeing with one of his “anonymous” sexual partners at the Prince Street subway toilets, artist Keith Haring,

I firmly believe that sexual relationships—a deep sexual relationship—is a way of truly experencing another person—and really becoming that other person.”

Haring gifted Giorno a painting, which astonished the poet since they barely knew each other to which Haring responded, “I owe it to you. When I first came to New York in 1978, one of the first things I did was go to the Nova Convention. William [Burroughs] and Brion [Gysin] and you completely changed my life. I want to thank you.”

The last time I saw Giorno was hearing them read one stormy night upstairs at Rower’s. The hapless venue presented one careless obstacle after another but nothing, nothing could stop the indefatigable force that was/is John Giorno. To read a single stanza of John’s is to know what an huge impact he has had on my writing, my life.

“If I didn’t / have an / accident / I wouldn’t / be here / If I didn’t have / an accident / I wouldn’t be here / If I didn’t have an accident / I wouldn’t be here.”

One fucking brilliant accident.

All qoutes from JOHN GIORNO. YOU GOT TO BURN TO SHINE New & Selected Writings. With an introduction by William S. Burroughs. New York : High Risk, 1994.

Photos/text: KIRBY

By Kirby

Poet. Book Fairy. Publisher knife | fork | book

One reply on ““It Doesn’t Get Any Better.””

I met John Giorno in Madrid for a Lorca celebration at the the Residencía Estudiantes where he read “Lorca Please Help Me” predicated on ‘who did Lorca fuck in John Jay Hall while attending Columbia and writing “Poet In New York”. There was a bout 12 people who had enough English to get it while I was bowled over by the ‘out there’ nature of the piece. I told him I could hardly believe he was so out there to which he replied…”Just say it”.
We had some lovely breakfast conversations about bpNichol, gilding, The Four Horsemen, and the horrors of Air Canada… A wonderful man radiating a deep calm with humour.


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