A Recognition: David Rattray

The poster, with a drawing by Basil King
The poster, with a drawing by Basil King

Eileen Myles, along with Robert Dewhurst and the people at Leo Koenig Gallery, presented “A Recognition” for David Rattray at the Koenig Gallery and the Poetry Project. On the 20th anniversary of David’s death (at age 57). An occasion to dig David’s work and influence.   Of course the books he left behind and a few cassettes of his piano playing are the legacy.  One hopes this leads people to them   SPD has two of most important: “Opening the Eyelid” (poetry) and  “How I Became One of the Invisible” (memoir, essay, discourse).  His translations of Cravel, Artaud, and Gilbert-Lecomte a bit harder to find perhaps?

And in Giants Play Well in the Drizzle, the zine I published back in the 1980s, three iconic pieces:  “West from Napeauge,” “The Dark,”  and “In Nomine.”  Perfect in this ineffable setting…different line breaks, alternate texts to what is published elsewhere….


Here’s David in “Club 87” – as painted by Basil in 1987.

Club 87,  oil on canvas, xx"xxxx" , 1987, Basil King
Club 87, oil on canvas, xx”xxxx” , 1987, Basil King

On the first evening at the gallery we heard mainly from people who had known him well – and on the second, the afternoon at the Poetry Project, mostly from others influenced by his work. Co-conspirator, Robert Dewhurst, way too young to have ever met the man, found his work only in connection with his doctoral research on John Wieners—major lyric poet whose work so warrants more exposure and discussion–and  read a paper “Notes on Poetry as Blood Work” that deserves circulation.

David’s output is (unlike Wieners) mostly published, though it would benefit from the kind of careful editing David himself would have been so able to provide.  He’d know when a variation is important to publish and where to place it – and he’d know when the original intent should be honored – and shitcan the intermediary item.

Baz showed portraits done in his studio on 39th Street …    Alas the final (“Club 87”) keeps coming out pixilated, so I’ve posted it here too. What’s with Flickr – or is this David’s influence? Lynne Tillman, sabatoged by an Alice in Wonderland microphone, was sure Rattray ectoplasm was in play last Friday night.  Events at both places were videotaped by George Quasha and may soon be findable.   But first, click here.









2 Responses

  1. Chris Cory

    My wife, Helen Rattray, David’s sister in law, and I will be eager to see the videos if they are posted, and to show them to David’s sister Mary, who couldn’t make the events. Bravo to those who organized this much energy.

  2. Toby Tylor

    Dear Friends,
    I am happy to see all references to david. We were friends when he returned from Paris until the eighties…….
    I am living in Canada and I am enjoying now rememberfing NYC& the Lower East Side.
    Very best,
    Toby Tylor