Charles Plymell on the secret of youth

“It is hard to notice age in those who dream.”
–Charles Plymell, “In Memory of My Father” (1977)

Note: Though a minor figure among Beat writers, Charles Plymell is the reigning counterculture poet to hail from Wichita, where I grew up. His book The Last of the Moccasins, a fictional recounting of Wichita fringe culture in the fifties, was published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights books in 1971.

About ten years ago, when I was still writing short stories, I lifted a few of Plymell’s lines about Clark Kent from Forever Wider to help set the motif for a Wichita tale of my own, entitled Jane Room Superman, which was published a few years later in Ecelectica (and remains one of the few public proofs of the fiction writing I did in my early twenties). Though self-consciously hard-boiled at times (I think I was trying to emulate Denis Johnson), I still enjoy going back to read “Jane Room Superman” — a tale that is not all that far-removed from the reality of a completely different period of my life.

After the piece was published in Ecelectica, I tracked Plymell down and sent him an email, confessing that I’d stolen a line of his for my short story. His reply was fairly complimentary of the story, but he was mostly interested in talking about Delta 88s (a car that features in the story). He even offered to send me a photo of a Delta 88 he had recently restored. Last I heard Plymell was living in upstate New York.

Posted by | Comments (7)  | May 10, 2004
Category: Travel Quote of the Day

7 Responses to “Charles Plymell on the secret of youth”

  1. Lisa Says:

    I’m interested in tracking Charlie down because I knew all those beatniks and hippies he talks about. I lived in the Gough St. flat in SF just before Ginsberg and Cassady moved in. In fact, Ginsberg got my old room. My then partner was from Wichita and got very involved with the whole vortex thing. We were younger, though, and he was very in awe of Bob Branaman in particular. We went to Big Sur with Bob and his wife Susan and build a shack right down the road from theirs. Unfortunately our got burnt down due to my partner trying to light a butane lantern while extremely stoned.

    So, I’m thinking of writing all this stuff down – not for publishing or anything – I’m not a writer, but I need to fill in the memory gaps a bit, so thought I’d try and get in touch with Plymell and Branaman. Plymell wouldn’t remember me, but Branaman would, that is if he’s in any condition to remember anything…

    Any info would be appreciated.

  2. jo jo Says:

    how are you.

  3. Patricia Says:

    Hi, I know Charley, If you wish, you may send an email which I will forward to him.
    Patricia Elliott Marvin

  4. charles plymell Says:

    I’m sure you just didn’t realize the impoliteness of saying someone be a minor figure without further qu
    alifications. In my case it was a mtter of choice in that I had no aspirations to become a major beat anything. Please!!! charles plymell