Harris Schiff is a poet whose work I dug before we became friends back in the 1970s. He's considered part of the second generation "New York School" poets, in which Ted Berrigan, another old and sadly now departed, friend, was often seen as a major force. That's Ted with the beard and glasses on the cover of Harris's book up there (photo by Monica Claire Antonie—of which there are many more in this book—design by artist Clark V. Fox, but for some reason my scan of it doesn't capture the vibrant color etc.).
This book is a reflection of not just who Harris is as a poet, but as a force himself in what used to be called the world of what used to be called "alternative" poetry, a term like "indie" movies and music, i.e. we know what it means even if in the end it's a pretty arbitrary category. But basically for purposes of trying to give a sense of the poetry, it means Harris Schiff's poetry doesn't really read or come over like anyone else's. That's a pretty trick in an age where there are more poets writing now then in all of previous history taken together!
ONE MORE BEAT is also uniquely Schiffian, if I can coin a term, in its use of an intro by Harris that reads often like a prose poem setting the scene that Schiff came up in, in late '60s and '70s downtown Manhattan and The St. Mark's Poetry Project world, that was shimmeringly vibrant then in ways Harris evokes in his intro and the poems.
The photos by Monica Claire Antonie capture many of the poets in that scene back then (and some still) and add to the sense that ONE MORE BEAT isn't just a selection of tough and honest and lyrically "political" poems but a necessary historical artifact, evidence of a civilization more gutsy and lively and fun than what mainly passes for that now, but ONE MORE BEAT reads more like music then document.
Anyway, here's three examples of some of his shorter poems from ONE MORE BEAT:
FOOTNOTE TO YESTERDAY
Bleat of the pavement beaters
is in the outer bank
chase manhattan right outta town
the pot of gold
If you are going to
jump out the window
lemme go through your pockets first
the large banking houses
perfected the concept
of the oblique hit-man
they called it
it's one of the few lessons
we can learn today from
the spurious collection of data
we so blithely call
History also teaches us that
language changes constantly
women remain gracefully
men continue to be
it does not explain when that started