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John Giorno (New York City)

John Giorno

For over five decades, John Giorno has produced revolutionary work that consistently changes the way people view poetry. William Burroughs said, “John Giorno raises questions to an almost unbearable pitch, to a scream of surprised recognition. His litanies from the underworld of the mind reverberate in your head and ventriloqize your own thoughts.”

In 1965, Giorno created Giorno Poetry Systems, incorporating innovative technology into poetry,working with electronic multimedia, experimenting with new venues, and connecting poetry with new audiences. Giorno Poetry Systems collaborated and recorded with a host of legendary artists, including William Burroughs, John Ashbery, Ted Berrigan, Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass, Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Mapplethorpe. In 1968 Giorno created the groundbreaking DIAL-A-POEM, ushering in a new era of telecommunications. Millions of people called and listened to poetry. Dial-A-Poem was the first time the telephone was used to communicate to large audiences. 

In 1962 he met Andy Warhol during Warhol's first New York Pop Art solo exhibit at Eleanor Ward's Stable Gallery, who became an important influence for Giorno's developments on poetry, performance and recordings. His book, You Got To Burn To Shine (Serpent’s Tail, 1994), contains poems and deeply personal memoirs, including the story of his relationship with Andy Warhol (Giorno was the star of Warhol’s first film, Sleep, 1963), his anonymous sexual encounter with Keith Haring (he and Keith later became good friends); accounts of his Tibetan Buddhist, and his understanding of death in the age of AIDS. The AIDS Treatment Project, begun in 1984, is John Giorno’s attempt to combat the catastrophe of the AIDS epidemic. The project provides cash grants for emergency situations: back rent, telephone, utilities, food, nursing, alternative medicine not covered by Medicaid, taxis, whatever is needed. Money given with love and affection. His book Subduing Demons In America, Selected Poems 1962-2007, was published by Soft Skull Press in November 2007.  In 2007 he appeared in Nine Poems in Basilicata, a film directed by Antonello Faretta based on his poems and performances.




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