Friday, August 26, 2011

A celebration for James Broughton tonight in Atlanta

I don't know what the Left is doing,

said the Right Hand,

but is looks fascinating.

(James Broughton)

Tonight in Atlanta AQLF and Andy Ditzler's Film Love are hosting a reading/screening/benefit for the Big Joy Project. The Project is making a film about the late filmmaker, poet, playwright and faerie shaman James Broughton (aka "Big Joy," as Jonathan Williams dubbed him.)

As the event's creator Franklin Abbott writes on the Big Joy Facebook page: Join us and lots of avant garde cinephiles for an evening of spoken word, film and faerie buffet. Doors open at 6:30, the reading begins at 7:30 and after a dalliance the films begin around 9. $5 donation is requested (please give more if you can and less if need be). Feel free to bring food and bev for the buffet. Of course there will be door prizes, faerie dust and Big Joy blessings. For more on the film project go to

The event is being held at the Phillip Rush Center, 1530 DeKalb Avenue, Atlanta. The center is across from the Candler Park MARTA station.

Broughton once wrote of himself that "he was a hometown swami who couldn't keep his mouth shut." Never shy -- Broughton was an indefatigable self-promoter -- he was a writer and artist, as well as an actor in 23 films, which earned him descriptions as "San Francisco's own man for all seasons," its "leprechaun poet laureate." Here is Broughton in his own words, spinning freely through his own universe of past and present, goatsongs and angelic visions:

"I am a third generation Californian.

My great grandfather was a scout with Fremont,

my grandmother was born in the Mother Lode,

my aunt served in the State Legislature.

When the sun was in Scorpio, the moon in Aries,

and the cusp of Virgo and Libra rising in 1913,

I was born in the San Joaquin town of Modesto,

On the Tuolomne River of Stanislaus County

in the state of California.

My grandfathers were bankers, and so was my father.

But my mother wanted me to become a surgeon.

However, one night when I was 3 years old

I was awakened by a glittering stranger

who told me I was a poet and always would be

and never to fear being alone or being laughed at.

That was my first meeting with my Angel

who is the most interesting poet I have ever met.

My childhood passions were dancing and swimming,

circuses, amusement parks, movies, vaudeville,

the Book of Knowledge and the Land of Oz.

Pet playthings: my toy theater, my magic lantern.

When I was 10 I was sent away to military school.

There my Angel came to my rescue:

I fell madly in love with the English language.

(And also the captain of the baseball team.)

My favorite book is still Webster's Unabridged, 2nd ed.

At 12 I imitated all of the Oxford Book of English Verse

and most of the Louis Untermeyer anthologies.

But ultimately I have learned more about poetry

from music and magic than from literature.

The clearest poetic memory of my years at Stanford:

the day Yvor Winters ordered me out of his class.

Poetry is a living adventure, not a literary problem.

(Other favorite books: Roget's Thesaurus, Tao Te Ching,

Mother Goose, Candide, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.)

"Laughter is the soap of the gods." Williams writes about Broughton's irrepressible nature: "Almost as noble as James Broughton's willingness to stand there as naked as a jaybird is his willingness to use babytalk, prattle, doo-doo, goo-goo, and loony-camp lingo when called upon to do so. A lot of it works outrageously well. He reminds me of Jacques Tati playing tennis in Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot....

Big Joy and Joel Singer retired from the San Francisco Scene and lived in the midst of a forest near Port Townsend, on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. James, much reinvigorated by the relationship, was very productive into his early eighties, until slowed by a stroke. He was increasingly frail, yet cheerful."

How often do you think of Death?

Death thinks about you all the time

Death is fatally in love with you and me

and his lust is known to be relentless...

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