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And When I Die, I Won't Stay Dead

2016
Distributed by Todos los Pueblos Productions
Produced by Billy Woodberry
Directed by Billy Woodberry
DVD, color and b/w, 89 min.
High School - General Adult
Literature


Reviewed by Barb Kundanis, Longmont Public Library, Longmont, CO

Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 3/27/2018

The artistic life of "legendary Beat" poet Bob Kaufman is examined here with interviews of those that knew him and academics who discuss his poetry and advocate for future study. Jazz music complements the film throughout creating an atmosphere of the times.

Mostly taking place in the North Beach area of San Francisco but also the East Village in New York City, archival footage and photos recreate the era along with readings of Kaufman's poetry by Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. Kaufman was one of the founders of Beatitude magazine and part of the Beat scene. Even though American, his work was first published in France and then translated into English. Arrested in the early 60's for walking on the grass in the park, he was sent to Rikers Island. He ended up at Bellevue and was subjected to electric shock therapy. Afterward, he then had an apparent "vow of silence" for 10 years where he was mostly nonverbal.

Considered avant-garde, Kaufman's work includes Golden Sardine and Solitudes Crowded with Loneliness. This documentary is an important introduction to Kaufman and offers history and context to his life and poetry.