Trojan Horse was a Cornell literary publication edited by Fariņa's friend,
C. Michael Curtis, who
was best man at Richard and Carolyn's wedding. The premiere issue
included one poem by Fariņa and two by Curtis. Fariņa's poem, "The Dream Song of
J. Alfred Kerowack," dedicated to Allen Ginsburg, was a parody of T.S. Eliot's
"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" written in the beat style. The poem is
replete with knowing references to North Beach, MacDougall Street, Ferlinghetti,
Corso, Zen, Charley Parker, bongo drums, as well as more idiosyncratic references
that we can now trace to Fariņa's other writings: Captain
Midnight, Hop Harrigan (hero from a 40s radio show; his sidekick Tank Tinker is
also mentioned in the poem), and two of Fariņa's favorite writers, Fitzgerald
T.S. Eliot's poem, published in 1917, had been a manifesto for a new generation of poets with a particularly acute anxiety of influence. The Modernists were born to a new century full of scientific innovations that seemed to uproot humanity from its traditions. The automobile, the radio, the telegram, the phonograph, and motion pictures were among the first steps toward a way of life that would later be called the global village, demolishing the quietude and solitude that had provided the conditions for writing poetry for millennia. The new world--busy, cluttered, frenetic, and loud--demanded a new poetry electifried with innovation, and yet the poetry of centuries past seemed to weigh upon the new generation with a ghostly persistence. Like much of Eliot's poetry, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" is at once haunted by tradition and invigorated by the present. Old snatches of Shakespeare and Andrew Marvell slither like wisps fog through verses jolted with new Jazz Age rhythms. Fariņa understood the affinities between that age and his own. The invention of television renewed the cultural shock that motion pictures had brought to the twenties. The easy accessibility of television magnified film's potential for transforming human consciousness, just as the new Interstate Highways spreading across the land magnified the automobile's potential for expanding human experience. "The Dream Song of J. Alfred Kerowack," then, is Fariņa's handshake from one transitional generation to another--not so much a satire of Eliot but a sequel.
C. Michael Curtis is a second-year graduate student in the Cornell Government Department, though his undergraduate major was creative writing. He is from Magnolia, Arkansas.
Richard Farina, a former Cornell student, has been published in Epoch, and a number of other quarterlies. He is currently working on a novel in Charlottesville, Virginia.