Sunday, February 2, 2014
RENE RICARD R.I.P.
The last time I saw him was when we were both reading for an event at The Bowery Poetry Club a few years ago. He looked much older, as I know I did to him, but he was as sharp tongued as ever. The years had softened me and I was just so happy to see he was still alive, as so many from those days and those scenes are long gone, and told him so and I could see it made him happy.
The years in between our first meeting and our last had made Rene more widely known, especially the film BASQUIAT in which one of the lead characters was supposed to be Rene (the actor playing him was so far from my experience of Rene, it was almost impossible to figure out where his portrayal came from), but on the downtown scene, it seemed like he'd always been known (partly due to his appearances in Warhol movies, and partly for his art criticism that helped discover new great artists like Basquiat for instance, but for me it was always his poetry, slight as his output was).
My favorite encounter with Rene was after I'd read at one of those New Year's Day marathon poetry readings at Saint Marks in the late 1970s or early '80s (I left the city in the summer of '82) at which I read two poems that were relatively new—"My Image" and "Fuck Me In The Heart Acceptance"—after which he told me the poems were so brilliant that I should be famous just for writing them. That was the sweetest he'd ever been to me. And I never forgot it.
Rene was one of a kind. You can check out the film BASQUIAT to see how he's portrayed there, or read his art criticism. But for me the best way to remember him is to read his poetry. Here's an example from his first collection, RENE RICARD 1979-1980 and the perfect epitaph:
"THE TIME OF DAY IN GIORGIONE
The sun is always setting in my heart
Like the time of day in Giorgione
The days drift beyond reach and...poof they are gone"