Taylor Mead at Bowery Poetry Club — Last of the Beats
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1. Taylor talks about Marlon Brando. 2. Taylor looks through notes, with a Dewers nearby.
Every Monday night at Bowery Poetry Club, you can find Taylor Mead reading poetry.
Taylor Mead marks the last of the Beat Generation and the few left of the Andy Warhol superstars. For many, Taylor represents a New York that doesn’t exist anymore. Armed with his three black bags of books and papers, this half hour of poetry gives us a glimpse into that world: a world of Max’s Kansas City, The Factory, and the theaters of yesterday. If you get there early enough, you can usually hear him gossip over a glass of Dewars.
1. Taylor Mead and artist/filmmaker Anton Perich. 2. A monster on his camel-horse.
“It’s my party and I’ll die if I want to.” Taylor giggles from the stage. He’s talking about the screening of Brand X in London. He goes on to talk a bit about the movie, the difference between theater and movie acting, and actors in general. “Seeing Marlon Brando on stage is the best thing since Jackie Curtis. His sweat dribbled down the sides of the theater. The greatest actor around, besides me.”
Taylor’s performance usually involves a bit of spoken word, his favorite background music being Charles Mingus or WQXR classical radio. One of his staples is an illustrated fairytale featuring none other than Andy Warhol as the handsome prince. “Once upon a time there was a man fucking a bicycle. Meanwhile in a village nearby a handsome prince terrorizes a village.” He shuffles through his bag looking for parts of the story. “Oh dear, I’ve lost parts of this. I’m so disorganized.”
This is the charm of seeing Taylor live, the banter in between poems, the glimpses of past. Sometimes he’ll talk of the University and how he was forced to write 500 verses of poetry from memory. “It ruined poetry for me. I can only read a poem or two a month now,” he says, in between reading from Emily Dickinson and a book of his own work. “I don’t understand the bitch, but when I read it out loud the audience seems to get it.”
1. Reminiscing. 2. Taylor reads ‘the dirty poem.’
Taylor reminisces about Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who was the first to publish Allen Ginsberg’s HOWL. “He sold my book in his store, but wouldn’t distribute it. I think it’s because I once dedicated this next poem to him.” He gives a wry smile before heading into verse. “I have blown and been blown. I have never had a woman…”
The audience giggles, some uncomfortably. Taylor, amused by this discomfort, reads the rest. “I’m going to end by reading my dirty poem and reciting the only poem I can remember.” These are the staples of his performance.
He shuffles around through the bags once more. “It’s all part of this fucking confusion. It’s what poetry is all about: jumbled words.” And with that, Taylor ends his set and goes back to the bar to finish his whiskey.
Taylor’s set is every Monday, from 6:30–7pm.
–Katelan V. Foisy is a multimedia artist, blogger, writer, tarologist and muse, sometimes model. She is known as La Gitana.