Word made flesh 1965 / Flesh made word 2015

Tag: Pete Brown

50 Years On: ReIncarnating Wholly Communion

Wholly Communion title cardTo celebrate 50 years since the First International Poetry Incarnation at the Albert Hall on June 11th 1965 (not to mention the seeds that have grown to flowers in its wake)  the Roundhouse will be screening Peter Whitehead’s film Wholly Communion, “the quintessential document of the event that marked the arrival of the counterculture in England” according to the BFI, as part of the International Poetry ReIncarnation this Saturday, May 30th, at 2.30pm.

image001According to Stuart Heaney on the BFI’s website: “Wholly Communion is perhaps the most distinctive British example of a documentary movement that attempted to capture reality while interrogating it: ‘direct cinema’. Whitehead’s camera draws attention to itself and the filmmaker’s presence by filming Gregory Corso’s reading from between two other poets talking during the performance. This technique emphasises the filmmaker’s subjectivity while also identifying the camera (and therefore the viewer) with the perspective of the audience present at the event.”

Michael Horovitz

Michael Horovitz

The ReIncarnation screening will also be followed by a panel discussion between director Peter Whitehead, and three of the 1965 Albert Hall happening’s co-conspiritors, the poets Michael Horovitz and Pete Brown, and biographer Barry Miles.

The day kick offs at 12.30pm with a panel discussion of Revolutionary Poetics, featuring legendary counterculture poet and lyricist Pete Brown, passionate and proper poet-activist Pete the Temp, and rising star of spoken word Cecilia Knapp. They’ll be discussing whether words can ever really change the world.

To book tickets for the Wholly Communion screening and the panel events, click here.

ReIncarnation Biographies #13: Pete Brown

Pete Brown

Pete Brown

The thirteenth person in our series of introductions to performers taking part in International Poetry ReIncarnation at the Roundhouse in Camden on 30th May 2015 is poet, singer and Cream lyricist Pete Brown.

Beginning professional life as writer and performer of his own poetry aged 19 after meeting Michael Horovitz, Pete was always in love with music. He joined Michael’s New Departures group in 1961, by 1963 they had their own residency at London’s famed Marquee Club, working with musicians such as Dick Heckstall-Smith, Graham Bond, Stan Tracey and Bobby Wellins.

In 1965 Pete took part in the Albert Hall Poetry Incarnation, alongside Ginsberg, Corso, Ferlinghetti, Adrian Mitchell and Horovitz. He also toured briefly with Ginsberg and later with Robert Creeley. In 1966 Pete was asked to write lyrics for the newly-formed Cream, and went on to write such hits as “I Feel Free”, “White Room”, “Politician” and “Sunshine of Your Love”. In ’67 he cut his first demo as a singer, along with some of the members of his own Jazz/poetry group including John McLaughlin. The same year his first book of poetry, “Few” was published.

A year later he was signed with his band the Battered Ornaments to the new EMI Harvest label. He was then on the road with his own bands, including the well known Piblokto, for nearly ten years. Phil Ryan, his current musical partner, joined the latter band in l970. When Cream broke up Pete continued working with singer/bassist Jack Bruce, contributing lyrics to most of his recorded output.

Driven out of music temporarily by the onset of Punk, Pete, encouraged by Martin Scorsese, took up screenwriting, at the same time undertaking nearly six years of singing lessons. Seduced back into music in the new role of record producer, Pete also worked in the studios as both percussionist and backing singer. He began working with Indy bands and jazz groups, and progressed to working with such as Peter Green and Jeff Beck.

In 1993 Pete and Phil formed the Interoceters, his longest lasting band. Phil eventually had to leave to look after his ailing wife, but Pete carried on until 2010 when he and Phil reunited and formed their current 9-piece blues and soul band, Psoulchedelia.

During this period Pete also toured widely in Germany as guest singer with the Hamburg Blues band, alongside Maggie Bell and Chris Farlowe. In  2010 Pete published his autobiography, “White Rooms and Imaginary Westerns”. In 2015 Jack Bruce’s final solo record “Silver Rails” was released, with most of the lyrics by Pete.

A feature documentary by young director Mark A,J, Waters has just been completed, and should be released this year. Pete and Phil’s current record, “Perils of Wisdom” was released in 2014 on the Repertoire label. Pete continues to write songs , screenplays and produce records, and to perform both as poet and singer. Young blues/rock artist Krissy Matthews’ album “Scenes from a moving window” , produced and co-written by Pete, is currently in the Amazon charts. Pete’s goal is to continue touring for as long as possible. He plans a new book of poetry and a best-of lyric book.

Get your tickets for the evening’s star-laden performance here: The International Poetry ReIncarnation

Liberty, Equality, Poetry

mhandginsbergAdam Horovitz reflects on the impact of the International Poetry Incarnation in 1965 and looks forward to the celebratory party for it.

I have spent most of my life aware of the International Poetry Incarnation, which took place in the Royal Albert Hall in 1965, very nearly 50 years ago. My father, Michael Horovitz, helped organise it, so of course I was going to be exposed of it. Growing up, I knew some of the poets. They were often about, in our house or at events, being genial and strange and merely a part of my metaphysical furniture.

For a long time, the 1965 Incarnation was a big poetry gig in the sky that people talked about and that I accepted as just another impressive thing that fathers do. As I have grown older, however, and become more interested in poetry in my own right, it has been hitting ever more forcefully home to me what a turning point this Incarnation, this 1965 happening, was.

Annie Whitehead

Annie Whitehead

Poetry in Britain was somewhat in the doldrums in the 1950s, as far as it being a public art went. It tended to sit in small rooms in universities and libraries and speak to and of itself. With my father’s generation – people like Adrian Mitchell, Christopher Logue, Pete Brown – poetry picked itself up and went running around the country talking to people who didn’t expect poetry to come leaping out of hedgerows at them. It went charging up to the Edinburgh Festival and touring through towns and cities with musicians and actors and playwrights in tow. Poetry began to listen, and to sing out in different rhythms. It offered up a party where only drier forms of symposia had appeared available before. Continue reading