Max Schwartz reading at the Berkeley Poetry Festival in 1999. The event was held the first weekend of October at the University Art Museum and sculpture garden.
Notes on the poet:
Max Schwartz Max Schwartz, 71, passed away peacefully on Monday, Dec. 10, 2012 at Elant of Newburgh. He died of Alzheimer's disease. Max Schwartz who divided himself between Woodstock and San Francisco has been de scribed as one of the mad poets of San Francisco … I think you could say that Max probably contributed to the environment that eventually led to poetry slams and even hip-hop” (Bill Ganier).
A native of Brooklyn, Max was driven by a relentless desire for world peace and a great appreciation of peoples around the world. Max was a free spirit even as a young boy. In the 1980s and 1990s he travelled the globe, participating in poetry festivals from Yugoslavia to Iraq. In Baghdad before the first Gulf War, Max's poems were translated into Arabic, and he was hailed by all as a great American poet. His travels were well documented in his exquisite photographs, especially headshots of ordinary people. Many of Max's best work have been exhibited in the Fletcher Gallery of Woodstock.
Max made many appearances at galleries and coffeehouses on the East and West Coasts, attracting large followings. He was a frequent opener for his friend the legendary Nina Simone at the Village Gate. Max is best remembered as a performance artist. With a strong, earthshaking delivery his improvisations glorified peace and the need for us to embrace our differences. “He puts real spirit into his work…You feel as if you can step through his photography and his poetry and right into your own experiences” (Ozz;). Max always had his cameras and lenses around his neck along with a bottle of the hottest cayenne pepper. A strapping man the fifty or more pounds of paraphernalia only left him only while he slept.
Before Jim Morrison gained world fame as the lead singer of the Doors he was Max's college roommate. An aspiring filmmaker, Morrison's only surviving film is his documentary starring Max. Max resisted efforts to become rich and famous and preferred a non-materialistic life. He was most at home on the streets, drawing large crowds around him as he spoke in his loud and expansive style. He was truly a poet of the people. Max is predeceased by his parents Lillian and Samuel Schwartz and his brother Jules. He is survived by his most devoted supporter his aunt Arlene Rosenfeld, his caring cousin Jeffrey Novack and friends Pierre and Terry Leroy. Thousands of others share remembrances of Max. He will be interred beside his beloved parents on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012 at Mount Judah Cemetery.
Published in the Daily Freeman on Dec. 12, 2012