S. A. Griffin

DANCING IN THE FIRE WITH S. A. GRIFFIN

by Todd Moore

I remember sitting up half the night talking to S.A. Griffin in my book littered office about everything from poetry to crime to movies to getting drunk. I remember listening to S. A. read The Apes Of Wrath at the Gerald Peters Gallery in Santa Fe. I remember the crazy outlaw talk talk talk in John Macker’s converted roadhouse home out in Bernal and the walk out into the wilderness beyond his house where he had made a slab rock altar for Sam Peckinpah’s typewriter. I remember the hour long interview S. A. Griffin did with me on his blogtalk radio show. Mostly, what I remember about the times that S. A. I get together is the excitement of the conversation. Which is really more like plugging into a shared energy source.

The first time I ever talked to S.A. Griffin was on the phone. It was a Sunday afternoon and he was asking me if I would be interested in sending him some poems for an anthology called THE OUTLAW BIBLE OF AMERICAN POETRY. Just like that, as naturally as though he were asking if we might go out and have a beer together. Little did I realize that this was a watershed moment in my life. Because THE OUTLAW BIBLE became one of the biggest best selling poetry anthologies ever and I mean ever. And, I know there are people out there who are pissed off that Bukowski wasn’t included. That exclusion along with several other really major small press poets was NOT because of a decision that S. A. Griffin had made. But, once you get past that glitch, what hits you is that this anthology gave some exposure to many writers and poets who had, for decades, been working right at the margins of american poetry. And many still are. This anthology did not invent or really define Outlaw Poetry, but it certainly was influential in discovering many of those poets are really are the Outlaws. And, it provided some real momentum for rediscovering what was necessary Outlaw and blood required for revitalizing what survives as american poetry.

What surprises me is that I had seen S. A. Griffin many times before I really knew who he was. Griffin has spent much of his life as a film and tv actor. One of my favorite movies is PALE RIDER and in that film Griffin plays one of John Russell’s badass deputies. I’ve always been disappointed that so far Griffin has not been given a larger role in a movie. He’d make a great John Glanton, the leader of the bounty hunters in Cormac McCarthy’s novel BLOOD MERIDIAN, if that movie is ever going to be made.

Smoke words, drink words, drink asphalt. That’s from Carma Bums Rules Of The Road. This is the absolute essential energy that is S. A. Griffin. This is S. A. Griffin, this is Los Angeles, this is the psychic energy of poetry, this comes close to an american duende if there is such a thing. There really can’t be simply because this isn’t Spain and nobody in america is Lorca but if america could be Spain for say an insane drunken fucked up pistol pointed at the forehead second, then smoke words, drink words, drink asphalt might just come close to an american crazoid duende.

The thing that has not surprised me is that huge mountain man of a book called NUMBSKULL SUTRA. It’s Griffin’s own personal automatic weapon assault on american poetry. Bang, bang, you’re dead, it has that kind of an effect. Published by Rank Stranger Press in 2007, it announces itself largely. It elbows its way to the front of the pack. NUMBSKULL SUTRA is essentially the big movie that S. A. Griffin has always wanted to star in. This is his role of a life time. This is the part to die for. No doubt that S. A. Griffin will write other books, but this really is the big one. This is the Los Angeles urban/barbaric yawp. This town stinks all to hell of Chanel Number 5 and sunbaked Ripple. This is where the Mexican orange merchant pukes on the street of dreams, have you found your name on the street of stars yet, if not I will machine gun the letters in and pour blood in the cracks, this is where somebody asks does the poem really matter while someone else climbs into a big car in need of bad repair to set out on a long pot smoking drive and Hollywood is burning in the background like an already forgotten silent movie back lot sans the kiss. And, forgive me S. A. if I have not broken the lines where they should have been broken or have left out a few words or put in one or two that didn’t belong there or not given the proper titles because these are YOUR WORDS and there is a little outlaw dancing in every one but first understand this.

The poems from NUMBSKULL SUTRA have a way of shooting out through the psychic veins, have a way of blowing all the usual poetry niceties right out the smashed to hell window because what I see in these poems, what I get in these poems is Los Angeles as apocalypseville. It’s Post Bukowski, it’s post Micheline, it’s post d.a. levy and pure pure Outlaw with razor bladeTude.

And, S. A. we both know some parts of Los Angeles will always be burning, shall we dance in the fire? — by Todd Moore

Weapons of Mass Destruction

by S.A. Griffin

Bottle of Smoke Press. Special, letter pressed broadside created by Bill Roberts. “God Bless America” lyrics have been pressed into the boards (look at front, see back).

Very limited run, very rare. Signed.

Broadside version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)

€ 30.00
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War Prayer

by S.A. Griffin

2005. 4″x5.5″ postcard, designed & letter pressed by Bill Roberts, Bottle of Smoke Press for Rose of Sharon Press & Temple of Man. Signed. Mail it anywhere in the world from Los Angeles. Limited edition.

Postcard version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)

€ 10.00
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Unborn Again

by S.A. Griffin

2001 Phony Lid Books. 5″x7″, 122 pages, 500 printed. Intro by Wanda Coleman, afterword by Scott Wannberg. Cover art by Louis Metz. 2nd edition, signed.

Out of print. Rare.

Deep in dream a pale horse appears

on the horizon and moves rapidly as a chess piece towards my sleeping self. ‘Tis death jumping from her saddle and come creeping. Slipping her hand under my blanket, her bony hand grabs my wrist and beckons and pulls and finally yanks. But tonight I am stronger than death. How much more? I wonder? How long? What should I do with this bucket of time? It’s morning in the north again. Pleasantly the icy rain coats the streets, trees, everything. The neighbors and their dogs, children and gods will be remaining, quietly, inside. Unborn Again, a new book by S. A. Griffin has followed some crooked path to my swollen hands. Why not.

I move slowly thought the short lines. Anti-poetry, I think. This is a good thing. Another soul standing in the front against the academic tank. Not that there will be a crushing, but this thorn will flatten some general’s tire. But if these poems were a clump of grapes, what a fine wine. It’s an L. A., California book as it opens, but quickly Griffin turns his L. A. into poetry, the realm of poetry, and the poet S. A. L. A. California. S. A. Griffin. I wonder if there is something melding there? He meshes, like some fine Hanes hosiery, the natural world, nouns and stuff, with abstractions, like knowledge, to produce profundity after profundity. Philosophically profound, I think yes. And his anti-art brings forward and into focus a world that is real. Clearly, Griffin draws a line. The top two percent on the other side get Bush’s tax cut. And here, us 98 percents get Griff’s poems. Seems like a fair deal to me.

Now when you’re reading along in any book of poems, and I have read far too many poems, too many books of poems, on far too many nights… Nevermind. When you’re reading along in a book of poems you wait. The wait’s not long in Griffin. And along with the good poems, come the great poems. Like Griffin’s A House Divided:

“when will men / understand / that / when women lose their right to / choose / they no longer have the / same right?”

And in his Acropolis of Absent Fathers, he brings Icarus into his L.A. life. Poetry is a living thing, a daily thing here in the life and times of S.A. Why, in one poem he wrestles with the word thing in the midst of carnivorous punk type teen kid harassment from the audience. The poets win the duel, the fight, the riot and poetry wins. I like that. In S.A. Griffin, yes there is the beer and the hangovers, the painful storms of life, but there is more than that, there is poetry. This IS how one lives. Well, here, in some form of closing, allow me to tell more. The wind is picking up and the rain is now pelting. Later when I drive about, the streets will be less complicated. The old and lame and housewives still chained to the Truman era will not venture forth. So let me write, dear friends, that 12 Kisses to the Universe is another great one – – – about the madness and salvation of love. It begins with the line:

“The sun sets on the dildo skyline.”

And later there is a riotous poem about phone sex, which is then phone poem sex. But I like the best, Griffin’s poem President of Nothing. How often in this great, deep and dark, stormy forest of life are the wrong paths taken. Everyone has to have a wrong path story. If I had only stayed at the china factory, I’d now be in Florida. Oh Christ Almighty, thank the gods. You see, this poem is about turning the back to the obvious wealth the square world delivers – – – if you have no, or sell your, or can’t locate your soul, heart, guts. In the end, after all those wrong turns, they are the right turns, the right choices. The only choice. Now there are a lot of gritty, fact and truth heavy poems out there. Many, many more than the great ocean of stupidity that civilization has manifested. Now and then, however, there is an island, an apartment. Yes, an apartment in which might be a poet, a poet like S.A. Griffin. He made the right choice. He is president of nothing. You should make the right choice. Work on his campaign. — by Michael Basinski

Book version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)

€ 55.00
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Throwing Glass At Brick Houses

by S.A. Griffin

Limited edition broadside, 5.5″x7.5″, letter pressed on fine boards by Bill Roberts, Bottle of Smoke Press.

Signed, very rare.

Broadside version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)

€ 30.00
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Heaven Is One Long Naked Dance

by S.A. Griffin

1993 Rose of Sharon Press. 5.5″x8.5″, cover art by Cynthia de Santis, introduction by Scott Wannberg, 102 pages. Signed.

Second book, very rare.

Book version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)

€ 55.00
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A One Legged Man Standing Casually On Hollywood Blvd. Smoking A Cigarette

by S.A. Griffin

1989, Shelf Life Press. Offset, 8.25″x5.25″, 66 pages. Cover art by Andy Takajian. First book, signed, very rare.

Book version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)

€ 55.00
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Harvey Keitel, Harvey Keitel, Harvey Keitel

by John Dorsey, S.A. Griffin & Scott Wannberg

2005 Butcher Shop Press, Rose of Sharon Press & Temple of Man. 8.5″x5.5″, 96 pages. Edited and designed with cover art by S.A. Griffin. Signed by S.A. Griffin. Very rare.

Book version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)

€ 55.00
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Greatest Hits 1980-2007

by S.A. Griffin

Pudding House, 2008.

38 pages.

signed.

Book version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)

€ 99.00
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The Fucker Inside

by S.A. Griffin

2008 Tainted Coffee Press. First in new “69″ flipbook series from Tainted Coffee, other side “Through These Eyes” by Cleveland poet C. Allen Rearick. Cover art by Andrew Lander. 8.25″x5.25″, 78 pages.

Limited edition.

Book version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)

€ 55.00
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Duckwalking Thru The Apocalypse

by S.A. Griffin

2003 Bottle of Smoke Press. Chapbook with full color cover, original collage by S.A. Griffin. 18 pages, includes centerfold, full color image of Griffin’s billboard poem, “I Choose Not To Believe In War Holy Or Not” which was at the corner of Sunset / Hillhurst & Hollywood during August 2002.

Limited edition of 100, sold out, extremely rare.

Book version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)

€ 55.00
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Clevyland Calling

by S.A. Griffin

Art and design by S.A. Griffin, Rose of Sharon Press, 2005.

Written and produced for d.a. levy / deep cleveland levyfest in October 2005. Offset, 8.5″x5.5″, folded broadside.

Signed.

Broadside version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)

€ 30.00
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Black Ace 8

published by S.A.Griffin

2007, Temple of Man.

Dust jacket with band.

This is the “Infinity Issue”, created as a tribute to Venice West progenitor, poet, artist and friend Tony Scibella who passed away in October of 2003.

Published by S.A. Griffin for Temple of Man. Edited by Marsha Getzler, S.A. Griffin and John Macker. Fantastic original cover art by Black Ace Books’ Rose Idlet. Truly beautiful dust jacket/collage by artist and poet Steve Wilson, one of Tony’s closet pals. This is a very special book which includes poetry, art, flyers and remembrances by many who created the scene, their children, peers and friends. Beats, beatniks and those who carry on. Offset, 139 pages. Includes an entire section of Tony’s poetry.

Contributors include Frank T. Rios, Stuart Z. Perkoff, Philomene Long, John Thomas, Diane di Prima, Charles Bukowski, David Meltzer, Jack Hirschman, Jack Micheline, Gerald Nicosia, George Herms, Pixie Herms, Don Martin, Renick Stevenson, Steve Wilson, Saul White, Michelle White, Aaron White, Larry Lake, Yama Lake, James Ryan Morris, Joseph Patton, Shanna Baldwin Moore, Gayle Davis, Anna Scibella, Bill Scibella, Gina Scibella, Bill Dailey, Ben Talbert, Bob Branaman, John Munson, Mary Kerr, John Macker, Yoav Getzler, Todd Moore, RD Armstrong, Ed & Marcia Ward, John Fish, John Dorsey, Michael Wojzcuk, Scott Wannberg, Ellyn Maybe, S.A. Griffin and many others! 500 printed, 139 pages. Already rare. Signed.

Book version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)

€ 99.00
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Numbskull Sutra

by S.A. Griffin

2007, Rank Stranger Press. Cover art by S.A. Griffin, back cover art by Diana Bonebrake, introduction by Carter Monroe. Edited by John Dorsey and David Smith, 296 pages.

Very limited run of 200, out of print, extremely rare. Many original flyers, art and images reproduced inside from punk rock era to present in Los Angeles as well as readings and performances over the last 25 years.

Book version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)

€ 99.00
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The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry

with S.A.Griffin and Alan Kaufman on the front cover are out of print and extremely rare.

Signed by S.A. Griffin.

Book version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)

€ 199.00
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