Poet, performer, and media provocateur, John Giorno has been one of the most consistently provoking of New York artists since his works first debuted in the early 1960s. Never settling on a single mode or method, Giorno’s early poems emerged in response to relationships with Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, then later with William Burroughs and Brion Gysin, and explored the use of found images, appropriated language, and collage. Giorno then began to explore the possibilities of recorded sound, establishing entire Electronic Sensory Poetry Environments, in which poems could be listened to and simultaneously experienced by all the senses in multi-media atmospheres. These experimentations continued with the Dial-A-Poem installations at the Museum of Modern Art, and with the Giorno Poetry Systems LPs that brought the poet’s voice to record players around the world. Giorno, in his mid-seventies, is now known for his outstanding, high-energy performances of his own work.
John and I met on a springish morning in late February at his home, a series of loft studios in a former YMCA building on the Bowery. We toured the building, talking of his selected poems, Subduing Demons in America, edited by Marcus Boon, and the wealth of Giorno Poetry Systems recordings that Kenneth Goldsmith has again made available on UbuWeb. Over tea, we continued to talk.
John Giorno: So, this is where I live. There are three lofts, but this room is where I write, so I spend most of my time here. But I also do art pieces, so I have the studio downstairs. Then there’s The Bunker, William Burroughs’s former residence, which I look after, where there’s the guest room and shrine.
Michael Nardone: How long have you been here? Continue reading