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Charles Plymell in Austria

Charles Plymell meet Paul Hawkins

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by Paul Hawkins, for outsideleft.com
originally published: September, 2008
I told Charles in Austria, he is reading like Iggy Pop is singing...

Charles Plymell is a legendary figure. He was involved with a loose gang of experimental writers and outsider artists centered around Wichita, Kansas in post war 1950`s America. Plymell and the Wichita Punks had road tested speed, dropped LSD, held mescaline rituals and experimented with art and other creative forms. Were they Beat before the term had risen, been marketed and branded out of the San Francisco joss stick hippie scene?

The chronological order is important in understanding his work, as Charley makes clear in this interview. He has seen a lot since his birth on the Kansas high plains in 1935 and the early memories of the sound of the wind in the cab of an Reo Speedwagon truck. His father was a cowboy, his mother once a stunt car driver. He printed Robert Crumb`s first edition of the cult and famous Zap Comix in 1968.

As part of the hip Wichita scene of the 1950`s he is also a contemporary of and, either a friend, collaborator or publisher of, some of the coolest and influential underground writers and artists to come out of the USA. He already had two volumes of poetry, Neon Poems and Apocalypse Rose out when in 1971 City Lights published his seminal novel, Last of The Moccasins. This novel grips, gleams and glistens with his hobohemian prose-style; spinning tales of his life in and around Wichita, his road trips to and from the West Coast along the Rt. 66 Benzedrine Highway and beyond, his crazy Hipster years and the boho life of his elder sister Betty.

He has continued to walk his walk and talk his talk ever since and his writing has always displayed a vibrant and astute engagement with life and a heady, intoxicatingly descriptive allure. He condemned the National Endowment for the Arts and his sharp and intelligent analysis appeared in the NY Times and other print outlets. Because of this critique he was blacklisted and has never been awarded any funding, grant or financial support from any federal state or academic agency in the USA.

Charles Plymell is still kicking against the pricks, writing and performing at spoken word gigs with musician and artist Grant Hart, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and the legendary Stooges/Minutemen bassist Mike Watt. He will be making further spoken word appearances/performances with either one, some or all of the three men aforementioned in the USA later on this year.

Charley and his wife Pam run their own publishing house, CV Editions http://www.cherryvalleyeditions.com/, which is a good place to start looking for more information on his novels, poetry and other writing.

See Charley's recent readings here: http://sprachsalz.twoday.net/

see more stories from outsideleft's Fiction & Poetry archive »»

Paul Hawkins

Paul Hawkins has been interested in popular culture and music, protest and survival for as long as we can remember. He began writing about things, making music and other noise at an early age. Paul has interviewed musicians, writers, poets, protestors and artists.

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