by John Giorno
John Giorno's Memoirs are a precious written testimony to a great freedom of tone, nourished by his exchanges and intimacy with Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Ugo Rondinone, as well as Allen Ginsberg, Brion Gysin and William Burroughs. We also meet Louise Bourgeois, John Cage, Salvador Dali and Gala, Marcel Duchamp, Keith Haring and Patti Smith.
These formidable Memoirs, translated from the American by Denyse Beaulieu, recount happenings, avant-garde film premieres, poetry readings, the creation of Dial-a-poem, the genesis of Sleep. Warhol's first film, in which Giorno was the sole lead actor, and so many other anecdotes and seminal tales of New York cultural life. Memoirs, which Giorno worked on for twenty-five years and completed shortly before his death, traces the life and work of a cultural pioneer: an openly gay man at a time when many artists dared not declare themselves so, a convinced Buddhist whose faith serves as a rudder.
Artist Jean-Jacques Lebel, author of the foreword that illuminates this book, testifies to the fact that "His itinerary, sometimes desperately painful, sometimes hilariously joyful, as a gay poet/performer/plastician and practicing Buddhist, was anything but veiled and shameful. There was a kind of invincible jubilation in him; even in suffering or defeat, there was a karmic relevance, the result of a grandiose spirituality assumed."