James Broughton is the very epitome of a writer who constantly experienced mindfulness both in his personal life and in his work.
He was born in Modesto, California, in 1913. He was a poet and experimental filmmaker and was associated with the San Francisco Renaissance, a movement which preceded the Beat Generation poets. He was involved with the counter-cultural movement the Radical Faeries and was a member of the group The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
His life was a mirror of his work. He was a free spirit and kept exploring and transcending boundaries of male and female, straight and gay, young and old, wilderness and civility, body and spirit. In spite of ongoing pressures from his family and society, he was never afraid of following his instincts and beliefs.
Poet and publisher Jonathan Williams gave him the nickname ‘Big Joy’ and James really lived up to it throughout his life.
In the 1940’s he began experimenting with filming, making avant-garde films, exploring themes of sex, death, and the meaning of life, earning him several awards, among which should be highlighted a lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute, and an award in Cannes from Jean Cocteau for his film The Pleasure Garden.
He wrote more than 20 books, poetry being one of his favourite passions. An example of the importance of the here and now in his work are the poems ¨Closure`, and ´This is it`, which feature in other posts in this blog.
James Broughton had both male and female lovers during his life. With his wife, the artist Suzanna Hart, he had two children, and he also had a daughter with the film critic Pauline Kael. In his 60s, James Broughton formed a relationship with a Canadian student named Joel Singer, which lasted for nearly 25 years until Broughton’s death in 1999.
Abundant information about James Broughton’s life and work, as well as the 2012 award-winning film documenting his life (Big Joy: the adventures of James Broughton by Stephen Silha et al) can be found at http://bigjoy.org