Giant Steps Press, ISBN 978-1-48414-944-7
New York at Twilight is a collection of intersecting short stories that take place during the twilight hour amidst the city's many neighborhoods and ethnicities. Part comedy of human foible, part tribute to the city and its citizens, part tour guide to its haunts and history, these tales celebrate the Big Apple at its weirdest and eeriest throughout the decades from the 1960s to the present.
Among its Twilight Zone-ish plots: an upstate commuter ends up buried under the floorboards in the house of the archer of death; after choosing X as her Confirmation name in honor of Malcolm X, a young Irish Catholic maiden makes a life-changing pilgrimage to the RKO move palace in Flushing; a famous fictional New York character comes alive and writes his dead author an email from the Hudson River; a Puerto Rican in a state prison on Staten Island hears the moon call him to a new vocation; a Greek college student from Astoria seeking the sexual revolution discovers in the West Village why there is evil in the world; in the East Village a yoga teacher and translator of Kabir has a Kabir-like experience during the summer blackout; a woman in the Bronx coaxes her husband into a becoming a walrus thanks to the Beatles; a Gotham reporter gets more than she bargains for when she meets a magus of twilight's blue hour; a light-skinned West Indian black man undergoes a trial by fire in his Chinatown loft as Rodney King gets beaten up by the LAPD on TV; while dangling over Newtown Creek in a rental car on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, a downtown diva phones the Empire State Building with a confession of love; a young couple share a hallucination's cosmic reckoning while hiking the Financial District under the influence of magic mushrooms; hit by a car in Central Park, a man discovers a portal to other worlds.
Reviews & Acclaim
As marvelous a 'tearing apart [of] the boxed-in world' as it gets. Detailing the ordinary mash-up of Gotham as if one could bomb the dead back to life, these 13 tales--with a nod to Salinger's depictions of youth alienation and innocence, but also echoing traditions out of Kerouac, Burroughs, Pound, Whitman, and Poe--are each tied together by strangely healing moments of sacred awareness as his parade of erotic, confused, and consciousness-seeking characters search for the luminous promise of their being. Like some 'forbidden chapter of the American Way Gone Wrong,' New York at Twilight turns our 'spinal dials soaked in terror' of becoming a ghost in one's own skin so that we may see 'the abandoned road map of each other's face for directions forward.'
Jim Cohn, Director of the Museum of American Poetics
While somehow becoming everything from a patently uninnocent Catholic girl busting out of All in the Family Queens to a variously privileged sex addict ordering in from his luxury Manhattan loft, Kirpal Gordon maps a Vedic history of New York that forever changes the topography-not to mention your view of the Empire State Building. Serving language too beautiful for words, Gordon reminds us why we read and write. If you're wondering where the beat has gone, it's here, now, in this groundbreaking collection.
Carrie Schneider, author of American Yoga
The greatest compliment a reader can give an author is the wish that the story would never end which is what I continuously experienced while reading New York at Twilight. Each tale could have morphed into a novel or a major feature film. Gordon skillfully crafts scrumptious muffalettas of luminosity and economy that one can't help but crave more. His literary riffs, mesmerizing metaphors and uncanny plot twists remind me of the solos of heavyweight jazzmen like Coltrane or Rollins, blowing well-ruminated ideas that seem to flow spontaneously in the moment of creation from the primeval fun house of his mind.
John Kruth, author of Rhapsody in Black: A Biography of Roy Orbison
Giant Steps Press, ISBN 978-1508453154
Ganga Ghosh, a jazz singer in Varanasi, hears pianist Ghost Wakefield on her radio and stays up all night enchanted by his playing. Although it's shut off, her radio tells her, "Go ride the music," setting into motion a wild road story and romance, at turns comical, seductive, criminal and redemptive. In these three interlocking novellas, they meet in Mexico, build a duet in New York and discover during a tour of the South that she becomes, through his haunted, New Orleans-flavored introductions, the voice and presence of Billie Holiday, Lena Horne and the other immortals she impersonates, a gift she returns to Ghost in a most unusual way and at a most opportune hour.
Reviews & Acclaim
From the moment you sit yourself down beside Ghost, who is behind the wheel of an infinitely blue Dodge on the outskirts of Baltimore, you know you're in for a fabulous journey where all the exotic songbirds will sing and the gods of every chakra will chime in. From its tongue down to its toes Go Ride the Music lets it fly. Here is Kirpal Gordon, spiritual visionary and sensual word master, at his best, propelling us like Ornette Coleman beyond our conventional orbits through double doors of mundane existence to new and compelling worlds. Come ride these words-it'll be the holiest funkiest ride of your life, a full barreled open throated six cylinder love supreme.
George Wallace, editor, PoetryBay
Go Ride the Music is language at its finest, a labor of heart and soul from a master word slinger who Huck Finns his way down a Mississippi of song, of jazz, folk and blues. It's the kind of give and take improv that can only come with discipline, skill, deep knowledge and years of patient hard work.
Michael Adams, author of Steel Valley
Gordon's delivery, especially in "Ganga Runs the Voodoo Down," is extraordinarily successful in that it presents you with the extra-extra summit of eroticism: very imageful, very actual, very happening-at-that-moment but without the slightest hint of pornography.
Barbara Wright, translator of French literature
Go Ride the Music is utterly original. I love the language-which dances, sings and delves deeply into both visionary Buddhism and contra-Buddhist satire, riding the music of a yin/yang beat-and dig the characters, presented inside-out. Praise to Kirpal Gordon for creating such a bluesy, true and deliciously rueful novel, a sweet, hip, jazzy pas de deux.
Howard Mandel, author of Future Jazz and Miles Ornette Cecil
Giant Steps Press, ISBN 978-0-61547-673-5
Round Earth, Open Sky is a psychological suspense thriller and Native American sci-fi road novel that doubles as an inquiry into the nature of human identity. During a mid-summer observance, Sky Man, an immortal, tricked by human sorcery, falls out of the sky and accidentally into a dead human out in the Sonoran desert. Seeking the location of the hole-in-the-sky ceremony so he can return to his sky people, he stumbles upon a boxcar family and more of the dead human he inhabits comes to light. When he finds a road, a car pulls up, and everywhere the driver takes him, more clues are revealed. Stops in the Hopi and Navaho Nations, Oak Creek Canyon, Detroit, Ontario and the Ojibwe Nation unfold different threads of the dead man's identity, but much of the evidence contradicts, requiring Sky Man to call his host back from the dead before he can make his ascent to his sky people.
Reviews & Acclaim
Part mystical vision, part cosmic joke, Round Earth, Open Sky is Kirpal Gordon at the top of his game, by turns lyrical and ironic, magical and subversive, moving past the vanishing point where Jack Kerouac meets Carlos Castaneda. Gordon is a consummate postmodern trickster, wanting nothing more than "to stir a little gray into the either/or, black-and-white world," leading us to laugh at what we think we know, and to humble ourselves to a world that will always be much larger than we can imagine.
Stephen-Paul Martin, author, Changing the Subject
In Round Earth, Open Sky, Kirpal Gordon flirts with the borders of fantasy and science fiction to create a novel whose heightened reality entertains and illuminates simultaneously. When Sky Man, its protagonist, literally falls to earth from a plane of existence beyond it, Moses becomes the first of many colorful and complex characters to try to determine what he is and whether his true nature lies in the heavens, the earth, or both. The path to the answer untangles many tangled relationships, past and present, in a highly entertaining journey that will keep your eyes glued to the page and your fingers eager to turn it.
Vernon Frazer, author, Improvisations
In the middle of nowhere, a photographer gives a lift to a mysterious stranger and finds himself the passenger on a surprising, and sometimes sinister, journey toward discovery and self-revelation that carries them both through the perils of obscure Native American tribal rites to the portals of metempsychosis and the magical reality behind "reality" which erases past and present and, at the same time, recreates them. In Round Earth, Open Sky Kirpal Gordon unrolls a map that irresistibly lures its characters, and the reader, toward a spectacular life- and death-transforming climax.
Eric Basso, author, The Golem Triptych
literature; prose poetry; jazz;
Companion to the CD, Speak-Spake-Spoke, Eros in Sanskrit is a thirty-year collection of lyrics and meditations in prose poem form that sing the invocational, incantatory quality of language. Gordon travels from the streets of the Big Apple across the USAthe Mojave and Sonoran deserts, New Orleans, the Texas Hill Country and the West coastas well as treks into the Amazon, Greece, Machu Picchu and southern Mexico.
Reviews & Acclaim
A poet with unstoppable chops, Kirpal Gordon is a spewer of jewels with the baddest ear in the hemisphere and an unbelievably well-hung mother tongue. He's not just whistlin' or kindlin' Dixie: Gordon's got a reach equal to his grasp, and both exceed the legal limit. He knows language, in the Biblical sense, but he's also slept with jazz and death and self-deception and the bone-deep desolation created by such euphemistic entities as the "criminal justice system." Whirling precise tenderness and eloquent messiness in his devotional blender, he never forgets that "the whole world is feminine," that "the naked god lives." His gaze may waver; his words never blink. His singing is lucid and essential. He sings what the rest of us merely think.
Mikhail Horowitz, author, The Blues of the Birth
An unusually literate poet with an authentically catholic education, his thematics reflect a vision informed by a Vedantist version of the perennial philosophy. The poetic project is to "sing & get sung" with a yoni/mouth and a lingam/tongue, and Gordon's hand in Eros in Sanskrit is unerring as he looks straight on in the face of loss and makes of it a lovely melody.
William Seaton, Home Planet News
Kirpal Gordon's lines are locomotion and lullaby. In conversation with Kabir and Kerouac, Rilke, Billie Holiday and Kali Ma, they sing "the uncontainable yahoo of lightning." Whether traveling roads named Paradise Square or the Inca Trail or walking the length of our sorrow, Gordon gives us work that pays our back rent and teaches us that tenderness is an inside job.
Jeanne Clark, author, Ohio Blue Tips
Hip, savvy, and inventive, Gordon's prose joins a poetry of the street to the music of the spheres. In subjects ranging from pure jazz lyrics, to philosophical and mythic speculations and revisions, to condemnations of social injustice, to meditations on love, Gordon writes with all five senses awake and in play. When you read him you'll recognize what's missing in everything else.
Greg Boyd, author, The Nambuli Papers
Kirpal Gordon is the Huck Finn of New York City. The kid with the goods, he'll show you how stories are really made and how each one will remind you of someplace where you have been, or wish to be. Language driven writing that makes music of those molecules, and for once and for all, has you dancing in an empty, quiet room with a book in your hand. The one you're holding.
Bob Arnold, author, Once in Vermont
Eros in Sanskrit brings to us a riveting selection of Gordon's work over the past thirty years. Reading them, I am struck again and again by their freshness, the breadth (and breath) of the poetry, the incantatory sweep of the hard truths these poems bear witness to.
Cynthia Hogue, author, The Incognito Body
In translating Kirpal Gordon's poetry into Chinese, especially "How Paint Peels: Petals on a Wet, White Wall" with its echoes of Ezra Pound, which I regard as one of the great poems in contemporary American poetry, I see how he creates for us a unique persona of modern society.
Zhang Ziqing, editor, Post-Beat American Poets, Hebei Education Press
A companion CD to the prose poetry collection, Eros In Sanskrit, Speak-Spake-Spoke is a vigorous hybrid of Kirpal Gordon's spoken word lyrics delivered to eleven jazz gems from the great American songbook as played by the Claire Daly Band:
1. Cisco Kid 5:45
2. Song of India 4:00
3. Equinox 4:28
4. I Got Rhythm 4:41
5. Spring Can Really Hang You up the Most 5:48
6. Blue Rilke 5:29
7. Serenade to a Cuckoo 4:03
8. Afro Blue 2:36
9. Evil Ways 5:42
10. Tree, Mend Us 5:44
11. House of the Rising Sun 4:16
Kirpal Gordon: spoken word;
Claire Daly: musical director, baritone sax, flute;
Dave Hofstra: bass, tuba;
Warren I. Smith: drums;
Eli Yamin: piano;
plus special guests:
Arthur Baron: trombone, didgeridoo;
Tim Price: tenor sax;
James Zollar: trumpet
Reviews & Acclaim
Precise of word and rhyme and ready of wit, Gordon's pairing poems with pearls of jazz and his erudition in world lit add further dimensions to his verbal inventions; at poetic peak he's internally rhyming, eternally scheming, keeping this hot band dancing on the point of Cleopatra's needle.
Fred Boucher, All About Jazz
Gordon's language is the CD's prime mover; his deeply swinging rhythms, circular breathing of long, internally rhymed lines, and rapid-fire concatenations of images are inherently musical: "Growing up against the rutty grain, dirty dishwater in gray veins, the litter's puny runt blew a gutter grunt, knew luck's bittersweet ball was gettin' born at all, head poppin' out of mommy's ju-ju shrine as parade bands walked on the wah wah peddlin' a salty second line: all humankind shall be metal-twined until the key of sea shall free them." That's not about music, it is music, but what frees it is Gordon's voice, wed to the ensemble.
Mikhail Horowitz, Woodstock Times
The only lyricist I know who can recite free verse so that the bridge of the tune has relevance to his recitation, Kirpal Gordon differs from most jazz poetry in two unique and wonderful ways: his ear is tuned to the jazz vocal tradition and his musicians interpret a repertoire that incorporates bop, swing, pop and classical standards with a musical freshness that corresponds to the vigor of his language.
Vernon Frazer, Soundzine
Gordon chooses tunes that are sweet, swinging and heartfelt but also elegant and formally gracefulhis voice levitating rich and smooth and right on the rhythm. I've never heard the marriage of music and the spoken word done with greater harmony.
Bill Seaton, Winged Words
The ensemble weaves deftly around and through Gordon's syncopated phrases, matching sound with sense. In Speak-Spake-Spoke Gordon, who always has an eye on the cutting edge, turns his gaze toward the roots and history of jazz as he creates a fusion unique in the barely-charted terrain of jazz poetry.
Steve Elmer, Big Bridge