Packing Up for Paradise:

Selected Poems 1946-1996

It is often said that poet-filmmaker James Broughton’s films are poetic, and his poems cinematic: “On the long outskirts of a dismantled city / toward the final flicker of dusk / I entered the cave of an unfinished cathedral.” Without a doubt, he has met with abundant success in both of these pursuits, having won lifetime achievement awards from both the National Poetry Association and the American Film Association. While Black Sparrow has not (yet) compiled a Broughton film compendium, this collection of poetry showcases the work of “the heartiest and most enthusiastic celebrant since Whitman” (Jim Cory). Above all, Broughton delights in pleasures of body and soul — but perhaps especially those of the body — with wit and charm. As Rain Taxi writes, “Broughton’s is a poetry of revelation, not obfuscation. . . . Each poem is a celebration and a call to offset the putrefaction of complacency with a bit of devilishness.”

Only when I wing
am I dancing on the ground
Only when I fly
am I I
Only when I sing
am I quietly profound
Only when I glee
am I me

(Only When I)

James Broughton was born in Modesto, California. His wealthy family allowed him considerable privilege, but he dropped out of both military school and Stanford University, preferring a bohemian life in Paris and, later, San Francisco. In the latter city, he was a major player in the San Francisco Renaissance, a group of writers and artists that influenced the Beats. Over the course of a long and varied creative career, he produced dozens of films and books of poetry. He was also romantically involved with dozens of men and women and produced at least three children.