"The beginning of your true encounter with poetry should be simple. It should bypass all classrooms, all textbooks, courses, examinations and libraries and go straight to the things that make your own existence exist: to your body and nerves and blood and muscles. Find you own way — a secret way that just maybe you don’t know yet — to open yourself as wide as you can and as deep as you can to the moment, the now of your own existence and the endless mystery of it, and perhaps at the same time to one other thing that is not you, but is out there: a handful of gravel is a good place to start. So is an ice cube — what more mysterious and beautiful interior of something has there ever been?”
As violence threatens to engulf Egypt I’m reminded of the Gunter Eich epigraph on my father’s poem “The Firebombing”: “Think of this, that after the great destruction each man will prove that he was innocent.”
Flannery O’Connor, my father, the peacocks, the ponies and me.
From The Oxford American,
My father, James Dickey, reading a children’s book he wrote about my son, Tucky, back in 1980. Pure delight …
This family photograph, one of my favorites, is of my father, James Dickey, and me at Hampton Court in 1954.
I want to thank Robin Young, Alex Ashlock and the whole team at "Here and Now" for doing such a great job on the segment Friday about The Complete Poems of James Dickey. You can read more, and hear the entire presentation, plus a bonus audio clip, right here.
We don’t know why someone found this video of James Dickey reading “The Moon Ground” and posted it just now, but as many of us shared the moment of awe this week when a man in a space suit jumped from a balloon 24 miles above the earth, this has a particular resonance.
Near the chapel next to the lighthouse in Cap d’Antibes, France. The photograph on the left shows the way it looks now. The photograph on the right is of my father and me in 1954. At my foot is our little dog, Tuffy. There was no tree then, but the well was there, and it remains.
When my father, James Dickey, was a boy in the 1930s he read every bit of pulp fiction by Edgar Rice Burroughs that he could get his hands on. He liked Tarzan, but his favorites were the Mars books (basis for the recent mega-flop John Carter) and the Pellucidar series “at the Earth’s core.” The books were reissued in the early 1960s, some of them by Ballantine, some by Ace. The latter had magnificent covers by the late, great Frank Frazetta. These three seem to be the only ones I saved.
The best single essay on ERB ever written, by the way, was this piece Gore Vidal published in Esquire in 1963:
'There are so many things the people who take polls never get around to asking. Fascinated as we all are to know what our countrymen think of great issues (approving, disapproving, “don’t-knowing,” with that same shrewd intelligence which made a primeval wilderness bloom with Howard Johnson signs), the pollsters never get around to asking the sort of interesting personal questions our new-Athenians might be able to answer knowledgeably. For instance, how many adults have an adventure serial running in their heads? How many consciously daydream, turning on a story in which the dreamer ceases to be an employee of I.B.M. and becomes a handsome demigod moving through splendid palaces, saving maidens from monsters (or monsters from maidens: this is a jaded time). Most children tell themselves stories in which they figure as powerful figures, enjoying the pleasures not only of the adult world as they conceive it but of a world of wonders unlike dull reality. Although this sort of Mittyesque daydreaming is supposed to cease in maturity, I suggest that more adults than we suspect are bemusedly wandering about with a full Technicolor extravaganza going on in their heads. Clad in tights, rapier in hand, the daydreamers drive their Jaguars at fantastic speeds through a glittering world of adoring love objects, mingling anachronistic histories worlds with science fiction. “Captain, the time-warp’s been closed! We are now trapped in a parallel world, inhabited entirely by women, with three breasts.” Though from what we can gather about these imaginary worlds, they tend to be more Adlerian than Freudian: The motor drive is the desire not for sex (other briefer fantasies take care of that) but for power, for the ability to dominate one’s environment through physical strength. I state all this with perfect authority because I have just finished reading several books by the master of American daydreamers, Edgar Rice Burroughs, whose works today, as anyone who goes into a drugstore or looks at a newsstand can see, have suddenly returned to great popularity.'…
Read more: http://www.esquire.com/features/gore-vidal-archive/tarzan-revisited-1263#ixzz1rQfVsVHR
"The Master of American Daydreamers" - now that is a sobriquet to envy.
Thanks to Ward Briggs for this shot of Tom Dickey, brother of James Dickey. This is Ward’s note about how he found it:
I entered “James Dickey” as a search item during a break in the “King of Queens” marathon on TVLand Saturday night and up came this original photograph from 1949 of Tom, “His legs and mind and backbone / All one jarring radiance / Forward.” Since the description shows Tom DICKEY beating one JAMES McKenna, it matched my search, miraculously; otherwise, this amazing picture would have been lost.
Today is James Dickey’s birthday. He would have been 89.
This photograph was taken by his son, Chris, on the set of Deliverance when Dickey was 48.
Angelina Jolie is on the cover of the new Newsweek, so when we came across these photographs this weekend, it seemed a good occasion to publish them. They show Angelina’s parents, Jon Voight and Marcheline Bertrand, 40 years ago on the set of "Deliverance" where the famous “Dueling Banjos” sequence was filmed. At the time Marcheline was pregnant with her first child, Angelina’s brother, James Haven. She was, as you can see, a beautiful woman in her own right.
Marcheline, sadly, died of ovarian cancer in January 2007.
Photos (c) Christopher Dickey
Charles Bethea’s fascinating oral history of the making of the movie “Deliverance” is out in the current issue of Atlanta Magazine. Alas, it won’t be on line for several weeks, but this is the opening spread.