New York City Hardcore Poetry

By Jason Diamond


The Cro-Mags, in my opinion, were the best New York City Hardcore band besides Agnostic Front. The band’s ties with the New York literary scene date back to the mid-1970’s, when future Cro-Mag bassist Harley Flanagan began publishing poetry before his tenth birthday. While this might seem like the precocious action of a child, the beginning of Flanagan’s literary career would make many contemporary writers a bit envious. Flanagan, as documented in American Hardcore, published Stories & Illustrations by Harley, which had the distinction of bearing a forward written by family friend and neighbor, Allen Ginsberg (misspelled as “Ginsburg” on the cover).

“Harley Flanagan lives in Denmark
He is 9 years old
He started this story in Morocco
The Shopkeeper and The Donkey
His mother Rosebud was a Lower East Side Hippie
and a friend of mine
Harley is also a friend of mine since he was a year old
We lived on a farm together
I’m happy he grew up to be an artist
His sense of perspective is vast
His choice of details mud-brick walls, triangular mountains, Arabic writing on bottles
paths of the Bee to the moon. balloons
with big music notes out of the mouth,
teeth in the sun, big donkey ears
is bold and smart – I’m proud to know he is a member of the Sensitive Family
Allen Ginsberg
May 6, 1976 – NYC

Members of the Cro-Mags would continue on a literary path, though after the band’s best days were behind them. In 2007, the band’s lead singer, John Joseph, would go on to publish a surprisingly good biography, The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon. Also of note, he plans to release a second book in the future (on Punkhouse), with a title that puts Jonathan Safran Foer’s recent book to shame: Meat is for Pussies.