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And When I Die, I Won't Stay Dead    cover photo

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, 88 min.

High School - General Adult

Date Entered: 03/27/2018

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

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.