John Giorno reads from Subduing Demons in America: The Selected Poems of John Giorno, 1962-2008 (Soft Skull Press, 2008)

An innovator of poetry and performance, John Giorno’s career spans fifty years and is intertwined with contemporaries such as Andy Warhol, William S. Burroughs, and Brion Gysin. He helped pioneer the open exploration and celebration of “queer” sexuality in poetry in the 1960s. Giorno’s anti-war work with Abbie Hoffmann resulted in Spiro Agnew labeling him one of the “Hanoi Hannahs” in the 1970s. His AIDS Treatment Project, begun in 1984, set the bar for direct, compassionate action in the AIDS crisis. Subduing Demons in America is a survey of his revolutionary work as a poet, and as a sexual, spiritual and political radical. Giorno’s poetry uses found materials, montage techniques, and careful exploration of the nature of the mind through meditation. He is fabled for his high-energy performances, honed at rock and art venues around the world.

“His litanies from the underworld of the mind reverberate in your head and ventriloquize your own thoughts.”—William S. Burroughs