A Long Night Drinking Kingfisher with Olson

Kingfisher Premium qualifies as a cheap beer in my book.  I drink it in those cheap Indian buffet places where you get a 3 portion mix-and-match, usually all veggie for me.  I’ll order Allo Gobi from a cheap Indian place that operates out of a bathroom stall in a bus station.  Love it, and a couple of beers to wash it all down.  Kingfisher and Taj Mahal are my go-tos.  I think these beers are like a Bud here.  Kingfisher is the number one selling Indian beer, right.  Obviously, they are not on the Deadspin list because they are Indian beers, but if the list ever goes international, I would suspect an Indian beer or two would make the grade.  Maybe not the Taj Mahal.  According to reviews, it looks like sophisticated beer quaffers, turn their nose up at the Taj, but I like it just fine.  The bigger the bottle the better.  Usually a 22 ounce.

I googled “Charles Olson” poet beer, and the first hit comes from the Art of Poetry (No. 12 in the series) interview in Paris Review with Olson printed in the Summer of 1970.  Gerald Malanga conducted the interview and Olson was dead before it went to press.  Malanga writes:

When I awoke a few hours after the all-night conversation, I found the flat empty.  The cool blue sunlight of morning filtered through all the southern-exposure windows of the flat.  In the kitchen on a table cluttered with beer cans, cigarette and cigar butts, and unanswered correspondence, I found a draft of a new Olson poem scribbled on the back of an envelope, which read:

To build out of sound the walls of the city & display in one flower the wunderworld so that, by such means the unique stand forth clear itself shall be made known.

Malanga steals that scrap and this scene which mixes beer, cigars, and collecting is irresistible to me.  Like Malanga, I have made that trip to Glouscester.  In my case, just to hear the echoes of a conversation that Malanga described as “a deep and most enchanting experience.”  It would be interesting to ask my writer/artist friends, their list of people they would like to have a beer with.  Olson would make my list.  With my luck the beers and conversation would flow long into the evening but my memory tape would slip the reels well before Olson stopped talking.  Usually does.

I wonder what beer was available at Ma Peak’s Tavern down by Black Mountain College.  Might be in Duberman.  Michael Rumaker would know.  I cannot remember it, if I happened to read about it.  But definitely not Kingfisher, which was first brewed in 1978, well after Olson had passed on.  Yet it would be a time machine moment to go back to Black Mountain in the early 1950s after Olson’s first, long major work The Kingfisher was written and pull up a chair with a case of cold Kingfishers and let Olson talk.

For a few minutes, my wife and I thought we saw a kingfisher while kayaking yesterday.  But the bird we saw would not match up with the image in the guidebook.  Maybe the experience of drinking beers with Olson would not match up with my expectations either, but while drinking a few beers alone and listening to Olson talk on YouTube or PennSound late into the evening, I am frequently fooled by these recordings into believing that Olson in the flesh might just exceed my fantasies.



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