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Lou Reed’s Original Transformer

Delmore Schwartz receives quite a tribute

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(Margarita Korol)

The temperamental genius Lou Reed recently wrote a tribute to his teacher Delmore Schwartz, which says a thing or two about both men and what they share as formidable artists.

Reed’s piece surges from descriptive to lyrical, from poetry to prose. At times reminiscent of Allen Ginsberg “Kaddish”—another epic tribute—Reed’s elegy is a tragicomic stream of consciousness and ecstatic excavation of memory: “Reading Yeats and the bell had rung but the poem was not over you hadn’t finished reading—liquid rivulets sprang from your nose but still you would not stop reading. I was transfixed. I cried—the love of the word.” The usage of em-dashes, as in Ginsberg’s work, intensifies the potency of the free-associative leaps. The incisiveness and vividness of the portrayal are tremendous: “Some drinks later—his shirt undone—one tail front right hanging—tie askew—fly unzipped. Oh Delmore. You were so beautiful. Named for a silent star dancer Frank Delmore.”

Jake Marmar has the story here. Also, props to Margarita Korol, who did the fantastic artwork you see above.

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Lou Reed’s Original Transformer

Delmore Schwartz receives quite a tribute

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