Purchased a FORA.tv video on another website? Login here with the temporary account credentials included in your receipt.
Sign up today to receive our weekly newsletter and special announcements.
Garrett Caples:Thank you. So Richard Moore is part of the reason why San Francisco is known as a poetry town, you know. He was in on the ground floor in the 40s, you know, starting as a student at UCB and you know, war protester and all about troublemaker. He was introduced into the circle around Kenneth Rexroth that included Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer, Philip Lamantia, Thomas Parkinson, Will Everson, Madeline Gleason and James Broughton, which is, you know, known as the beginning of the San Francisco Renaissance, which eventually leads to what is known as the B Generation. But he stopped publishing poetry himself early on to devote himself to a career in public media, first as apart of the first public radio station in America, KPFA and then as part of the 6th public TV station, KQED, and along the way becomes a cinema variety filmmaker making films with all sorts of people including James Baldwin and [???][0:01:15.3] And he also makes the series of films, which well see a few installments of today called USA Poetry, which were made in 1965. But throughout his career, he never stopped writing, and after he retired, he met Brenda Hillman at the writers conference and he sort of got back in to the game. In 2010, at the age of 90, he published his first book of poems, which is a select of poems from his entire career called The Writing the Silences, published on the University of California. And in 2015, he's going to publish his second book of poems with the press Omnidawn; its called Particulars of Place. And he's a wonderful poet and an amazing man. So Id like to just introduce you all to Richard, who make a few remarks about his films and then well see them. [Applause] Richard Moore:Thank you very much Garrett. The films were about to see were made during the end of the first decade of public television, which began roughly in the mid-50s and these were shot in 64 and 65. The imputes was a series was Don Allen Anthology of New American Poetry, which came out in 1960. At that time, it was National Educational Television, NET. This was before PBS and CPB and all the other initials that now are all over the place in public television. It was also during the time in which you could get funding for series like this, its much more difficult today. The primary funder was the Ford Foundation. I would like to credit Kenneth Rexroth because he was one of the prime advisors as to which poets we should include, and he was surprisingly broad and tolerant in his choices. The series ranges all the way from John Ashbery to [PH][Louis Soslowsky] But today were going to see Gary Snyder followed by Robert Duncan. So if were ready, lets watch the Snyder film, which will last about 15 minutes. I'm willing to try and answer any question that any of you may have assuming I can hear what your saying, and somebody else is going to have to do this, Garrett or Frank or Bill rather. And if there are no questions, thank you very much for you attention. Audience:I have a question. I was just wondering where is the building that Snyder was moving up to on thiswhere did Snyder pull up to his motorcycle? Richard Moore:Its interesting that Gary insisted on absolute purity in our approach. Its just the camera and him. We shot it in [???][0:04:42.6] I forgot his first name, the commercial photographer in San Francisco. His studio, because this was the only place we could get this Infinity Cyclorama, which is just a big sheet of paper and there's no horizon line. That was very important that hed be there in space defining and occupying a whole space that you see. Yes. Audience:I have a question about Robert Duncan. I've never seen him outside of still photographs before and I was waiting to see it, I always heard that you have thisit was odd to look at because he had this damaged eyesone of the eyes and I couldntI didn't notice that as I was watching the film, and I was wondering if there was a [???][0:05:33.1] to diminish that when you were filming him because a lot of the times he wasnt directing into his face. Garrett Caples:You left him about Robert being cross-eyed. Richard Moore:Robert being what? Garrett Caples:Being cross-eyed or Richard Moore:Yeah, yeah. Garrett Caples:And was that interfered at all with-- Richard Moore:Did it bother you in the film? No, I didntI'm so used to it that I pay no attention to it because, you know, if you want a metaphor to fit with it, Robert looks in many directions at once. [Laughs] Richard Moore:There it is right in front of you. So accept what you're given. Yes. Audience:Where are your films archived? Richard Moore:The question is where are the films archived. The problem is they are not archived. I'm showing these films simply because they're my personal copies of the film. I do not own the rights to these films. The rights were originally owned by NET, National Educational Television, which then became many years later, WNET, and WNET inherited the rights to all of the films and they charge commercial rates which I think is disgraceful. As far as I'm concerned, the films were made with tax dollars, they should be available to everyone. But weve made several attempts to bring the films together. There are 23 or more poets included in the series, and there's also another series, six called a writer in America, which should be included in the series. Yes. Audience:Thank you. I'm from here and I now see enough of the women on shelves and uninvolved and only recently learned that [???][0:07:26.2] was the one that introduced jazz in conjunction poetry. She's the originator. She should have the credit. I dont see Lenore Kandel. I dont see enough see enough of Diane di Prima. There are beat women, Krasner said there were no beat women. Is there maybe a way that the library here [???][0:07:52.0] this or are there films existing about the women in during the renaissance-- Richard Moore:Well, I hope this becomes a continuing question as to what to do with the films. And what was your otheryou were talking about women poets? Audience:Yeah, I didn'tthey werent on the shows when I grew up here-- Richard Moore:Yeah, in this series we did Denise Levertov, who incidentally was the one person who objected to the pairing that we had to do in the films. She hated being in the same half hour with Charles Olson, which in retrospect is understandable and I think I'm guilty of that mismatch. Muriel Rukeyser is in the second series that we did is included. I wanted to do Elizabeth Bishop very much. She was at that time, she was back from Latin-America and was living in Boston in Lewis Wharf. But she was so passionate in her defense of her privacy that I could not help but respect it. So I said, okay we wont do a film. In terms of thewomen are much better represented in the series called Rider in America, but there we branched out beyond poetry that includes Eudora Welty, Toni Morrison and Mira Rukeyser. Of the six, so its equally divided, although that was not the intention one way or the other. Audience:I was wondering, I thought it waswe were just commenting to each other how striking it was that Duncan did a lot of the film writingwas that his idea or whose idea because that was incredible to see that happening. Garrett Caples:She was asking about the film Duncan writing and like, whose idea was it to film and actually compose it? Richard Moore:It was Roberts idea and our approach to filmmaking was to film what happens. Its interesting that he does the same thing in the second film that I did with him. This one was a 15-minute film, the other one is a half hour. And again, you observe him in the act of writing. He liked to take chances like that and it was, you know, it was in a sense somewhat dramatic to watch, and I think he gives us a remarkable insight into his method of composition particularly when he comes up against a mountain of murdered men and to what am I going to do with all these Ms. But that was part of the fun of it. You build a rapport because I've known Duncan fairly well before this, so we were not strangers to each other. He trusted me and I trusted him to put on a great exhibition of what it is to be Robert Duncan in San Francisco at that time or what it was unfortunately. Audience:Hi. I've got a very good friend whos the brother of a former US senator and he's a philanthropist and he's far from born of the National Archives. They helped created the films from that guy like back and seeing that made the first sort of black adventures about the [???][0:11:34.3] Kennedy laws controversies back in the 60s. If your interested, I could put you in touch with Dino and maybe I could help facilitate transferring some of your collections in the National Archives in Washington. But thats in East Coast, I apologize. I know its a wrong [???][0:11:56.6] I'm just saying. But if you like, Ill put in touch with Dino. Richard Moore:It sounds good even though I didnt understand what he said. [Laughs] Garrett Caples:Thats okay. Richard Moore:Any more questions? Otherwise, you're released into your own freedom. Oh there is a question. Audience:Both the films and Elizabeth were subtle in the Gary Snyder had anti-Vietnam War messages, was there any problem getting those on air at that time or they sense it was rather-- Richard Moore:Any problems getting the films on the air? Garrett Caples:With thethe fact that they both have like an anti-Vietnam War slant to them, like was that a controversial thing to put on the air at the time? Richard Moore:Yeah, its a strange thing. Programs are pure on television. They may be watched by as few as five people. I mean, I have never gotten an antithetical response to anything from say, the James Baldwin film, which was a total indictment of San Francisco, to many other films which we shot during the 1960s which was the primary period or time in which we were doing the films. And of all of that time including the films on Fidel and Cuba, I never got any, you know, threats or there were never any effort to censor the films. With the exception of the Baldwin films, or early on with the board of directors of KQED was a little nervous so we cut out 15 minutes of the program. I have to say in retrospect that cutting out the 15 minutes improved the film. I anticipated that. The one film that I made that people objected to was and I can certainly understand it, was a film called Tom Wolfes Los Angeles, and Tom managed to insult every single ethnic group in existence in the first 10 minutes of the film, and it was, you know, it wasmany stations did not run the films. This was the one form of censorship if you like, because whether or not you broadcast a film is up to the individual licensee, and some licensees did not run the Baldwin film, did not run Louisiana Diary and other films and did not run the Cuba films. They ran these to fill airtime and otherwise ignored them. I dont mean to sound quite as negative as it sounds in terms of television audiences, but cherish those five people who watched, say the Duncan film and come away with something of use. More than that, I dont think that any filmmaker can expect a better answer than that. Any more questions? Yes. Audience:Thank you, you're generous. What is thewhat film are you most proud of or most satisfied with? Richard Moore:Well, I would use other peoples opinions. Someone said that Franco Film was a perfect poetry video, which is a nice thing to say, but I think there are maybe others not necessarily in perfection, but I can like all of them. Id become extremely interested in the subject or I wont be doing a film with him. Its not that I think they're all the same. For example, I'm extremely fond of the Eudora Weldy films because we had just such a wonderful time in Jackson Mississippi shooting these films and she was so forthcoming and is such a performer. Toni Morrison was another who is interestingand this was long before she became a Nobel award right at the beginning of The Song of Solomon I think it was her last novel at the time we shot the film. That was in 1975. So I dont have a favorite film. I think that some of them are better than others. But that has to do with my inability as a filmmaker to figure out what to do in the circumstance with which I was presented by [PH][Louis Kerofsky] for example, and by contrast and section whos too much in the faceshe put on a performance at which I felt was a little off to some of the poetry. Anyway, thats a personal judgment of which I've never before uttered. [Laughs] Richard Moore:Any other questions? If not, I certainly thank you for your attention. [Applause]