Better than Fiction (non fiction)

 

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Vincent Ferrini: My Friend 

by Craig Stormont

I called Vincent out of the blue in the winter of 2000 in order to get some information about Charles Olson's political concerns in Gloucester, MA. Since Olson's Maximus Poems began as a series of letters to Vincent, I decided to go directly to the most informed source. When I visited him the next summer, and taped our conversation, I was amazed. Vincent educated himself at the library in Lynn, MA, and he earned his living building frames for local painters in Gloucester. It was like visiting William Blake, and I learned from him what a real poet values: not fame or wealth, but to make a difference in the community, local and universal. His parents were immigrants to this country, and I continue to admire how a man of such meager means managed to accomplish so much through, solely, his devotion to his art. After playing the tape of my conversation with Vincent for a friend, he suggested that I transcribe it and "get it out there" since he was so impressed by Vincent's words of wisdom. Realize that the conversation that follows took place prior to 9/11. I remained friends with Vincent afterward, and what I learned from him is incalculable. We communicated regularly, and I visited him as much as I could until his passing in 2007. Becoming friends with the man Walter Lowenfels termed "the last proletarian poet" was a life changing event for me. I learned more from Vincent than any other individual I've ever encountered.

Vincent Ferrini

Read more on his interview with Vincent Ferrini in July 2001, just before 9/11,  at Ferrini's home, which is now the Gloucester Writer's Center. Originally published as "The Initiations: an interview with poetry and art by poet Vincent Ferrini (1913-2007) in Big Bridge: A Webzine Of Poetry, Volume 3, Issue 1, January 2004)."

http://www.bigbridge.org/issue9/ferrini2.htm 

Mr. Craig Stormont, writer/teacher/poet.  Check out his recently published poem:   Projection on election day morn"  with section8magazine.com​ and his other postings on LinkedIn.

The Factories  by Vincent Ferrini

 

Sunsets splash blood in our broken eyes
And the moon splinters. 
Dead, we are huge and ugly
With derelict canyons between. 
Our floors empty as Sunday, 
Abandoned by the Bosses
And a few abusing us. 
Our skeleton teeth locked on the sky. 
Workers, 
It is not our fault you starve
Idle without purpose. 
Workers, resurrect us

Put life back into our hollow bodies! 
Let us breathe again
And the word 'fired' be a nightmare that
            died with the past
And for the first time own your jobs! 
The Union to operate us for the good of the people
And the profits divided among you
To build a city of love! 
Fill us with the bubble of bustle : 
Your tools clicking a chorus of work
Stitching leather into shoes for the feet of the people, 
Laughter splitting the air! 
Human voices warm with intimate happiness
Exciting our veins and arteries and cold floors! 
We'll feel we are wanted! 
We'll drink your singing at the machines, 
Wait for your coming daily! 
And glow with the jagged electricity of seasonal picnics! 
We won't hurt you with accidents! 

No more speed-up torturing the nerves
            and the bottled anger! 
And no Bosses cracking the whip of low prices! 
Patch us up and air-condition our lungs! 
Shoes you make will be your own
And you'll love them like works of beauty! 
And the reality of the 5 hour day! 
Invented machines ending drudgery
And pouring leisure into your laps! 
And the wages will buy you your own homes! 
Your example will be a fuse leading to
            coffin cities and ghost towns, 
Igniting the people to possession—to free America! 
Think! Believe it! 
You've got nothing to lose but your poverty
And the creative life that should be yours will begin! 
Time rots us and buries you. 
O workers, we are yours for the taking. 
For what are you waiting?

Special thanks to BigBridge editors and our contributor Mr. Stormont for granting us reprint permission !  He also had this little reminiscence to add for our rerun of this interview: "I saw about fifty communications sent to him by Jack Kirschman in the museum in Gloucester. They're poems with wild art! I met Kirschman during a break at the filming of Henry Ferrini's film  "Polis is This" at the Poetry Project in NYC. I had no idea who he was, but we both raced out the door for a smoke and had a nice talk. Later in the event, he stood up and spoke for quite a while about what I later learned was a poem. I became friends with Diane di Prima at the Olson Centennial and learned all about her associations with The Dead and Pound. I guess I'm just glad someone has shown an interest in my meeting with Vincent. I've never met anyone as wise as him. His parents were Italian immigrants with nothing. He educated himself. Amazing!

more resource on Vincent Ferrini:

http://www.ottawater.com/seventeenseconds/pdfs/firstissue.pdf
p42 - 62 "Archemists of the Human Experience" interview by Michael O'Driscoll,  Associate Professor of English of Alberta and Editor of ESC: English Studies in Canada.

http://www.sawyerfreelibrary.org/research/local-literary-connections/vincent-ferrini/