for Philhomene from David Amram

I just received the sad news of Philomene’s passing.

Just last March 16, we did a program together at Beyond Baroque.

When she asked to me to accompany her when she read some of her wonderful poetry, I got the same indescribable feeling that I did in 1956 when I first backed up Jack Kerouac when he was reading.

She had a special magical quality and spirit that filled the room, and we all went out afterwards to celebrate our spontaneous collaboration. (You don’t need to rehearse with someone like Philomene. She and her poetry and the way she reads are on such a high level that you can’t help but know what to do. Her poetry, and the way she read it, was already perfect music. All you could do was to try to enhance it a tiny bit.)

We talked about the Venice of the early 1960s and how, even with all the changes in the past 45 years, there was a special magical quality that remained.

And of all our dear friends from those glory days who are now on the other side.

She shared with us that night precious gems of her amazing life story (in a series of stories that were a crash course in a half a century of American cultural history).

She understood that part of the obligation of artists, when they get older, is to pass on to younger visionaries and dreamers the same encouragement and ideals and values of hard work, sharing, respect for all people and joy of living every precious second, which we received from our elders a half a century ago.

She talked about her devotion to the church and Buddhism and how they were related, and how the spiritual path was the only road to be on, as all of us traveled that road of life.

And with all her sweetness and kindness, she never forgot how to laugh!

Not only Venice, but the whole world was a better place when she graced us with her presence.

Now, we have not only the memory of her, but her timeless poetry to fill the hearts of today’s young people and future generations with hope and energy.

She was the embodiment of what Kerouac always told me that he hoped that he and our generation would be remembered for when we were no longer around.

Pursuing a pure selfless path and being beatific to others. Philhomene was the embodiment of these ideals.
She was part of Venice as much as Venice was a part of her.

Please share some of her poetry with your friends.

And tell them when they are walking down the beach that if they listen carefully, they will hear her voice.

Posted: Sat - September 1, 2007 at 03:52 PM