Piero Heliczer – you coul(d) hear the snow dripping

heliczer1Actor, filmmaker, publisher and poet Piero Heliczer (1937-1993) published his compilation ‘you coul hear the snow melting and falling into the deers mouth’ (printed ‘coul’ instead of ‘could’ on the cover of the book due to insufficient letters d in the typecase) through his own Dead Language Press in 1958 in Paris, where he had recently moved with his friend and fellow-poet Angus McLise. To be able to print his limited editions Heliczer would use whatever paper stock and letterpress typecase he could lay his hands on. In that sense alone Dead Language Press was a true underground press but, of course, in the first place through the publication of works by controversial artists and poets such as Jack Smith, Gregory Corso and Anselm Hollo. Before moving back to the US in 1962 Heliczer crossed The Channel to London, where he produced his first 8-mm film ‘The Autumn Feast’ together with Jeff Keen in 1961. The recording of Heliczer reading all the poems of ‘you coul hear the snow melting and falling into the deers mouth’ stems from these London days. It appears to be the only surviving recording of Heliczer reading poetry.

On the C-30 cassette that Bart De Paepe’s Sloow Tapes dedicated to this unique recording we hear Heliczer’s gentle and dreamy voice wander through his poems, now slowing down, then speeding up again, giving wings to the words and evoking fleeting visions in a seemingly detached manner: the angel smells of wood / don’t take any wooden strangers / the angel says / he smells of skirts / his waistcoat of otter fur / with heron beak buttons / it is chilly in the clear air / above the fog / the angel finally enters heaven
(fuga xiii)

Only several copies of this beautiful cassette – which shows artwork by Heliczer on the sleeve – are available through Sea Urchin.