Nelson Algren – On The Heart It Don’t Matter How You Spell It
“Never play cards with a man called Doc. Never eat at a place called Mom’s. Never sleep with a woman whose troubles are worse than your own.”
American writer Nelson Algren (1909-1981) is probably best-known for ‘A Walk on the Wild Side’ (1956) and his earlier novel ‘The Man with the Golden Arm’ (1949). Algren’s protagonists invariably belong to the lower walks of life. From the frog perspective of pimps, whores, junkies, and drunks Algren looks up at the world and comments on its dealings.
In his poem ‘On The Heart It Don’t Matter How You Spell It‘ Algren knocks Frank Lloyd Wright – “the saint of American architecture” – off his pedestal and pitches Wright’s modernist architecture against “ragged tents pitched on the open prairie” and Wright’s desire for immortality against “a secret remembrance inscribed on the heart”.
Heathcote Williams – My Dad and My Uncle
‘My Dad and My Uncle‘ is an unusually personal poem by Heathcote Williams, “written upon learning that WWI centenary Remembrance plans are to be given £50 million by the UK government, BBC News, 11 October 2012”. Recounting the experiences of both his father and his uncle Jack in the army during WW1 and the impact these events had on their lives, Heathcote Williams composes a powerful and heartfelt protest against war and any “sentimental patina” or “mythologized tales” hiding its ugliness and senselessness.