“The Middle Path” a poem by John Barrymore


During the Los Angeles Poetry scene of the late 1980’s into the early ’90’s, John Blyth Barrymore III was a staple poet and poetry supporter.

John Barrymore photo by Yvonne de la VegaAn actor, a director and educator, he writes his poetry in a matter-of-factually confessional style, drawing imagery that haunts the Angeleno ghosts within most of us. John’s eccentric humor that is a cross of slapstick and raunch, is unintimidating and honest, but at all times hilarious. As an acting coach the humor is in the title of his acting workshop: “Act Like A Barrymore”.

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Currently writing an autobiography, his memoirs are entitled, “The Sins of The Father” while “The Middle Path”, the following poem by Barrymore, is a quick look at what to expect in the forthcoming book from this multi-talented and iconic poet who states that his DNA is to blame for most of his adventures, short comings and attempts toward moderation. The famous Barrymore Family has for many generations been known for superior acting skills in the theater and early film.

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John Barrymore‘s future theater performances are eagerly awaited by many as he is set to do in “Hamlet” as well as “Barrymore” by William Luce. 

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THE MIDDLE PATH

by John Blyth Barrymore III

The middle path

is the hardest road

for a man to walk with grace.

I’ve spent my life

in a cold dark cell or else,

well, lost in space.

My heart full of peace, harmony, love,

greeting each one with a smile.

Or hanging out down

on Hooligan Street

with O.J., Erik and Lyle.

People would say

as I traveled their way,

“There goes John;

he’s sober and chaste.”

Or else they would point

as I lit up my joint and say,

“There goes John; what a waste.”

A fit vegetarian,

healthy of frame,

living on sunlight and seeds.

Or making my way

down to Tom’s Number 5

to score a cheeseburger

with speed.

Then back in A.A.,

at least for a day,

with a promise never to swerve.

Or down a dark alley

with a spike in my arm,

determined to fry that last nerve

It’s a struggle, my friends,

to live a moderate life

when your personality

leans to extremes.

Some said it was youth

but to tell you the truth,

I think that it’s mostly

my genes.

Nevertheless moderation’s my goal;

my resolve is unsurpassed…

(Hope springs eternal

in the heart of a man who

refuses to learn from his past).

Still this is my row,

though it’s a hard one to hoe,

and I frequently feel God’s wrath

When I come to that

three-tined fork in the road,

I’ll head for the middle path.

~ John Barrymore III

 

This post is from Los Angeles Poetry Examiner’s Friday Pick

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THE LOS ANGELES POETRY & MUSIC SCENE


There’s actually a lot going on in Los Angeles in regard to Poetry and Music. There are poets in this city that have been hosting readings with bands as long as they were hosting readings. The following literature is a collective of essays and blogs on the scene, for now – a work in progress.  All are welcome to comment.

Yvonne de la Vega

On the sidebar menu you’ll see:

  • CD’S I RECOMMEND
  • I ❤ Poetry & Rock ‘n Roll
  • I ❤ Poetry’lectronica
  • I ❤ Poetry & Jazz        On this page read, “Flamenco Sketches” by Yvonne de laVega
  • I ❤ Poetry & Beats     On this page read, “The New Beautiful” by Mike The Poet Sonsken

These topics will be expanded in the coming weeks and days and for now, here’s an Introductory into the Main Topic:

Introduction to the Los Angeles Poetry and Music scene…

  • April 23rd, 2010 6:01 pm PT
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Onyx Spoken Word -Celebration of the L.A. Scene, Projector Press – anthology

Photo: Book cover photo by Hank T. Ripper

Throughout every resurgence of the spoken word in Los Angeles, LA Poetry has almost always been preferred by poet and listener alike, to be accompanied by music.

In the late 1990’s on Vermont Avenue in artsy Los Feliz, The Onyx Cafe Sunday readings were like going to church. Under the organizational skills of LA Poet Milo Martin and company, there was a motley crew of musicians gathered at the front of the room ready to drum, blow, strum or plunk behind a poet in an accompaniment, intended to comp a poet’s spoken word piece, a rant by a performance artist,  or a television personality dabbling with the cool of the LA Poetry scene.

The magic of music as the universal language prevailed then as it does now, and is more than accepted here in Los Angeles but even more so, it is often preferred. Usually, every poet’s performance was satisfied at the Onyx, the audience having received a blessing that Sunday, with an anticipation for the next Sunday meeting of rants over rhythms. It was like going to church, and for many, it was Church.

Spoken Word is more readily heard than merely tolerated when situated upon a set of beats. Simpler said, one poem delivered “dry” certainly comes to life when performed with music, it’s meanings hitting intended marks with more than the expected velocity. Imagery is quantized even, and attention spans stretched to lengths beyond any ever imagined.

Even record executives took chances with the otherwise voodoo topic of “the spoken word”,  as did Herb Alpert in 1991 with his Jump Street” single that showcased spoken word and hip-hop. To go even further back in our city’s history of poetry and music, we have to recall the most revered of Los Angeles legendary rock bands, The Doors.

When Jim Morrison showed Ray Manzarek some of his poems, he insisted to Jim that they should put together a band for him to sing his poems. Indeed his songs were constructed of poetry first. Today, Ray Manzarek continues to back poetry with his music such as beat poetry legends Michael McClure.

Los Angeles is the Spoken Word & Music Capital of the World!

Soon, you’ll be able to order it right here. For now, you can hear it on Reverbnation but the pages here are going to be FILLED with LA Poetry & Music.

Oh yeah… You’ll be able to get The WordBeat Recordings here as well. Isn’t that sweet?

On the sidebar, click on I ❤ LA to get back to homepage.

These are the pages  (below with all the hearts) I have yet to complete this place as far as mapping it out but I’m so excited you get to see it in it’s construction days

bear with me I have to sleep, eat, work and …play. yeah right. I don’t play that much. You know how much I play? I had fun writing the word just now. Play play play play play

That’s all the play I got for the day. Poetry’lectronica is a new genre I coined with interviewing  Harlan Steinberger. You have to read about him he’s very talented. I will finish this tomorrow even though I’m posting it now. Tomorrow.

CD’s I ❤ go there