Gary Cummiskey was born in England in 1963 and apart from a short stint in London in 2001/2002 has lived in Johannesburg since 1983. He is the author of several chapbooks of poems including When Apollinaire Died (1996), Reigning Gloves (2000), Bog Docks (2005), Today is their Creator (2008) and Romancing the Dead (2009). In 2009 he co-edited, with Eva Kowalska, Who was Sinclair Beiles?, a collection of writings about the South African Beat poet. In 1994 he founded Dye Hard Press, a small independent publishing venture that has published about 26 titles. He is also the editor of Green Dragon, a literary journal of poetry and prose.
Sinclair and the Great Dane
I am searching for André Gide and have been told he is staying with Sinclair Beiles, so I go to Sinclair’s house in Raleigh Street, Yeoville. It’s been years since I have been out this way, but even so, after I knock on the door, Sinclair answers quite friendly and says, ‘Gide doesn’t live here anymore. I think he’s staying at a flophouse – he went loony, you know’.
Then we talk about TS Eliot. Sinclair says: ‘Bob Kaufman was the only Beat poet to really admire the work of Eliot. He was particularly enthusiastic about Murder in the Cathedral. The others hated Eliot because of his conservatism. It was a terrible misguided narrow-mindedness’.
Sinclair is giving a series of presentations about the Beat Hotel in a large lecture hall next to a synagogue, so I agree to meet him there later.
On the way to the hall, a neighbour stops me to complain that Sinclair’s dog has damaged his garden and demands that we drag the dog into the lecture hall, present it to Sinclair, and get the dog to confess its wrongdoing. The dog is a huge, intimidating Great Dane but it is nevertheless nervous and trembling, knowing it’s in trouble.
So we drag the terrified, whimpering dog through the hall up to the lecture stand, where it knocks a glass of water all over Sinclair’s papers.
from Sky Dreaming (Graffiti Kolkata, 2011).
Order Sky Dreaming.
Visit Gary’s blog.