Kiss the Sky – Edited by Richard Peabody
Paycock Press, © 2007. 420 pages
ISBN: 0-931181-24-0 (pbk.)
A Review by Ernie Wormwood
In my living room, Jimi Hendrix is always just about ready to break out the guitar and launch into “All Along the Watchtower.” For beauty I display the album cover “The Essential Jimi Hendrix” –two inches of lips, two inches of nose, one of the truly ethereal faces of all time, smoldering with the in-your-face truth of music down to your own personal truth-knowing spot. It’s like The Mona Lisa smile times a gazillion, he’s always watching. And every time I walk past him, well what can you say about someone born a legend, who strung his guitar upside down, died at 27? Turns out you can say a lot in this illuminating homage edited by Richard Peabody. Here’s Patti Smith’s quote from the frontispiece of “Kiss the Sky” –
“”in my house we listen to the big three—Coltrain,Hendrix, and Beethoven.”
So, thanks to Mr. Peabody who has given us “Kiss the Sky” – fiction and poetry starring Jimi Hendrix, a six- year journey into print. ‘Kiss the Sky” was a l984 compilation of Hendrix songs with the title taken from the lyrics of Purple Haze, “scuze me while I kiss the sky.” In this fantastic volume, 56 writers have spilled their guts for Jimi: John Sinclair, Sherman Alexie, Lewis Shiner, Reuben Jackson, Lester Bangs, Nathaniel Mackey, Jessica Hagedorn, Darrell D. Stover, W. T. Pfefferle, Tim Seibles, Michael Moorcock, David Meltzer, Michael Ventura, George Kalamaras, Matthew L. Moffett, Gerry Gomez Pearlberg, Doug Rice, Rebecca Motil, Willie A. Howard, Jr., Robert Bixby, Erik Orsenna, Sara-Jayne Townsend, Tim Seibles, Matthew Dillon, Brian Ames, Matthew Kirkpatrick, Nancy Mercado, Dave Houseley, Meredith Pond, Mark Ari, Chris Stevens, Walter Williams, L. A Lantz, Matt Acosta, Roxanne Gooding Silver wood, Robert Cooper man, Michael Spann, Yale Gen, Kevin Downs, Richard Flynn, Steve Messer, Barbara Decease, James Norcliffe, Graham Masterson, Tony Hoagland, Bruce Bauman, Martin Seay, Sunil Freeman, Martin Millar, Guy Vanderhaeghe, Adrian Matejka, Rick Moody, Afaa M. Weaver, Ross Taylor, Theodore Carter, Jeremy Trylch, and David Nicholson.
This from David Nicholson speaking about seeing Hendrix’s next-to-the-last-night-of-his-life gig at the Amabassador in Harlem.
“And then along came Hendrix. “He wasn’t the first black artist to offer the possibility of a way that was neither black nor white but both. Credit for that goes to Arthur Lee of Love. But Love was, even at the height of its fame, little more than a cult group (its members turned down a chance to play at Monterey, and Lee (who died in 2006) was too much of a genuine eccentric to become a star.
“Hendrix was, well, Hendrix."
“…I understood instinctively that first night at the Ambassador that Hendrix represented the possibility for a kind of freedom that transcended definitions laid down by others.
“And the point, in the end was not to try to become him, but to be like him in being true to oneself and seeking to transcend limits.”
A kind of freedom – Jimi Hendrix
November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970
Ernie Wormwood lives in Leonardtown, Maryland. She will have new work this fall in the anthology Poem, Revised from Marion Street Press. She recently appeared on Grace Cavalieri’s The Poet and the Poem, for the Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/poetry/poetpoem.html