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COLUMN SEVENTY-SIX, OCTOBER 1, 2002
(Copyright 2002 Al Aronowitz)


MARTY MATZ
(Photo by Gerald Nicosia)

ANOTHER EARLY BEAT POET
MARTY MATZ IS DEAD

Beat poet Marty Matz died of leukemia in New York City on October 28, 2001.  Born in Brooklyn, Matz had grown up in Nebraska and served in the military during the Korean War.  In 1957 he came to San Francisco and quickly fell in with the Beat group in North Beach, becoming friends with Jack Kerouac, Philip Lamantia, and Bob Kaufman.  Marty's own poetry contained aspects of all of them---a combination of surrealism, black humor, and Beat personal narrative, but in an elegant style that was all his own.  Marty took his craft very seriously, though his output was not large.  His best-known books are TIME WAITS: SELECTED POEMS (JMF Publishing, 1987) and PIPE DREAMS (1989). He especially liked reading his works with a musical backup, sometimes jazz and sometimes Indian music, and before his death he recorded a CD of his poetry backed up by a sitar, harmonium, and other instruments--called A SKY OF FRACTURED FEATHERS.

Marty was a world traveler.  He left North Beach for Mexico and South America, where he spent a good part of the Sixties and Seventies.  Arrested for carrying drugs, he spent four years in Mexico City's horrific Lecumberi Prison.  In 1978, he was freed and soon returned to North Beach, where he moved in with Neeli Cherkovski for a time, and reconnected with many of his old friends, such as Gregory Corso.  He also began reading and became an important figure in the San Francisco poetry scene of those days---which is when most of us of a younger generation got to know him.  Attorney Bob Yarra became Marty's patron, as well as his close friend, enabling him to continue his poetry while leading a life that was never far from poverty.

Forever restless, Marty later traveled the world again, spending many years in southeast Asia from which he would return periodically to New York, often holding court at the Chelsea Hotel with longtime friends Herbert Huncke and Ira Cohen.  In the last few years he also became celebrated as a great poet in Italy, where he was invited several times to come and read his works.

He is survived by his widow, filmmaker Barbara Alexander.  ##

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