RON WHITEHEAD: THE THIRD TESTAMENT
Of course Ron Whitehead takes his ‘published in heaven’ lead from one Jack Kerouac. But, thankfully, Whitehead’s books are also available down here on earth for anyone who wants to tap into his radically outspoken way of writing and communicating, as one observer of his work commented ‘…spontaneous transcription emerging in a tumultuous rush…’ that pretty well captures the energy of Whitehead. Whitehead is a rabble rouser, strident, rarely compromising, inflamed by events he takes personally. Only when tipping his hat to mentors like Ferlinghetti and Ginsberg, friends he has known well over the years, is he in any way calmer, more reflective. Like so many of the Beats, Whitehead seems forever in motion and there is no question his perpetual motion translates to his poetry, he has the street urgency of Jack Micheline, the travelogue mind of Allen Ginsberg, almost compulsively recording things as they speed past the car window, the train window, a cast of thousands. His prodigious output reveals a man on a mission, an organiser, a poetry networker, an aetheist and a believer, God and family are always there. But the powerhouse poem for me, and this is probably because I’ve heard Whitehead’s Kentucky reading of it, is always I WILL NOT BOW DOWN. Instead of the oath of allegiance this is something the schoolkids should examine. Whitehead loves America, he just hates what the men in suits are doing to it. Powerful.