[typed on official Rahway, N. J., State Prison letter form]
Date: 4/28/61 Relationship of Addressee: writing business
Inmate's name: harold carrington No. 37975
dear roi jones,
re/, yrs & thanks very much for the compliment & criticisms (probably wd get there faster if i'd had more of it or left to my own devices ?) & especially for newsletter, which, like you say, makes for quickness in read & newness & variety & for me is really a keppin' in touch...
yes, the stance, but truth is i'm surrounded by fog clouds & this will take time or cannot be forced. in fact kinda hard to put proverbial finger on real trouble as i find much wrong or in the way...let me try to get at it: (1) people shd be able to feed theirselves & this w/out no-bodies foot in their neck, that is me for the most part (sometimes maybe i find something else to celebrate) &/or (2) for the thing to be jazz & this is where the clouds come from...e.g. 4our bar blues,1st i got melody, then solo, am hopeful to eventually get the thing to complete jazz figure structure-wise, in 4/bar here is trouble: the melody i write lotsa times which makes for repitition, what happens is i have never been able to read something of mine to anyone & have it sound right, like to myself ok, but another person it never comes off, so have come, for the most part, to think of poems for reading rather than the recite thing. if it was read aloud instead of the repitition you cd have one instrument play the 1st few bars of 'bluesology' (tune which that part of poem is based on) & just read the solo parts/think this wd workbest w/ a bass or a congo or some such type drum... now, other problems like something comes & is only solo, i mean, no jazz structure in that there is no figure &c. so i get a thing like front line poem/i got blowin of a sort & liked this particular one 'cause it did'nt get away from me or i stayed in control & even changed tempo w/ no hassel. was you cd say standard changes & did'nt try to make melody line or such cause i figure i'd blow what i had, like you take in 3-days-9, discard the melody line or figure part & w/ little more work on solo i'd maybe have somethin'...so when this happens i get a poem but not one from jazz structure state of see, & the results (?) well you like swing all which is more of jazz structure & less solo, & on the other you also like riff which is all solo & no structure...to get at the stance from other state of see: mostly people feeding themselves &c. now i get clarity problems. in salvation piece i say salvation is not in the salvation army variety but in the soul-thing, so mr/webb say'is not our tone'i really think the trouble was not what i sd, but that i did'nt make it to clear & take it to this because he did'nt say anything 'bout struture, mode or the things along these lines i usually got teouble w/...maybe you see something different (?) let me know...also, i give w.lowenfels a copy of 4 bar & he'll give to mr/webb so let me know about that one/ much from 2 different states of see...nother trob. sometimes something to celebrate so i write it down, usually maybe 1,2 or 3 lines (can't afford to stifle anything so i write down, after, alright to destroy, but 1st i see what happen) this is always empty, nothing, big huge insect like kassavobu or some such always i'm changing 1 word here or there viz: girl poem i make next to last line: (two people / instead of: (two crazy people /now ok, i like new way best but that still don't make somethin' `out of nowhere poem or gwendolyn 1st i got:your belch/ next i got: your immortality /now i'm back to: your belch,but still don't make no difference...
waste lotsa time/ which i got plenty of/ but none for wastin' ok/ last one in letter: i thend to make it , short, goes to 1st thing re/ food or feed, so there i am but if, like you say, i was more cloes to thing which makes me write i'd have somethin' in it, as is, some small thing not meaning much...
once more, if i wrote 4 bar on 1 piece of paper wd (?) help from visual point... anyway, still lotsa fog cloud...i guess only end is to write more...
ok, haikus &c. let this be it for now & let me hear when you will...
don't destroy country, wait till i get out, i find lumumba & we do it for you...
[stamped "From the desk of Walter Lowenfels"]
So much is happening--I read "American Voices" after hearing Lumumba was murdered--and then your court speech. Do the people really want peace? Where are they, those who want it? Must we wage wars striving for this elusive and seeminly unattainable thing? I read where there is worldwide protest of Lumumba's death--for the most part the protest violent (to me it seems good, this violence, but I know it is only my "eyes-of-revenge.") But then, like why must things be such that one must protest, seek revenge? I mean, was there never peace? Is it the fate of man to be forever slaughtering each other in some bind and hopeless quest for survival? to merely be? Is it too much for one to ask to exist--to just be here, being oneself? History says to me "you are mad to even ask this," and the present seems only to echo the past.
To my mind, all is infinite--so the suffering endless--when the "accident of man"happened--a series of "murders" against the elements, until he forced the elements to permit him his existence; as soon as he murdered out his foothold, he began murdering himself--and now having perfected his own means of extinction (is it only a matter of some imagined affront which is needed to bring this about?) he is returning to his original war against nature (which he actually never stopped, but rather, merely altered the pace)--endless, endless, endless, damn! Is life only to be one's struggle to stay alive? And why has a (so-called) civilization evolved that can only be maintained by the exploitation of the multitudes? --And why is it is the situation reversed that these same multitudes would be able to survive only if they exploited the civilized (who'd then be deemed to be uncivilized) or exploited the less fortunate of themselves--man, the eternal greed! the conglomeration of the self eating the self for the private and personal gain of the self.
So, as Creeley says "where are we?" like, where have we always been and where will we be?--which takes me to: why art? How can man in all his hideousness produce an art? --Because the one thing that can be said of all art is: it is created for the good of man, or, at least this, I think, is the intention; at any rate you and others like you keep at it--which may well be the only significance of "keeping at it."
Much is happening and I am having difficulties keeping up or cathcing up (whichever the case), as I have no money like--I hear the news on the radio and when someone here gets a paper, sometimes I get to read it. We have jobs and I make 17cents a day, which gives me about $3.50 a month to spend. Out of this I have to get all the necessities and then try to save something each month towards a book; but I don't want to burden you with my troubles of jail, as had I stayed on the street this would have been avoided--nor do I want to impose on you, as you have already been very kind. But being a writer, you know the importance of reading when one is trying to become one, so I'd like to ask if you would send me any poetry, African history, pamphlets, booklets or articles which you may have--anything--old, new--anything, as long as it's inexpensive and doesn't inconvenience you. Like I say, I don't want to impose. Meanwhile, am enclosing a poem which was inspired by a character in Gelber's play, "The Connection," which someone told me of, as I didn't see the play.
So let this be it for now and please write and let me know about your new works--what is going on as you see it.
Poem was returned by censor here as obscene, so will try to send something else later.