Patricia Kennealy-Morrison – FAQ 44

Tell us again why Fireheart won’t be published for years and years?

Okay. One more time, for all you literarily challenged types who don’t seem able to read complex declarative sentences:

As the law now stands, copyright in letters belongs to the author, not the recipient. Therefore Jim’s love letters and poems to me, because of copyright law, do not belong to me but to his literary estate. I own the paper, the physical poems and letters, but I do not own the copyright to the contents; Jim did, and now his estate does. The Dutton lawyers, the HarperCollins lawyers, my agent’s lawyers and the lawyers I privately consulted all agree on this. This majorly sucks, but it’s the law, and any idiot out there who thinks he knows better is wrong–unless, say, he’s counsel to the Supreme Court on copyright law, in which case call me at home…
(Actually, the law is beginning to change: here in New York alone, in the past couple of years there have been at least two cases where a writer sued to publish letters of a dead subject in a biography of that subject–with the approval of the letters’ recipients, but against the wishes of the subject’s estate–and the cases, which I followed with interest, were decided in favor of the writer and publication. So that bodes well…yay precedent!)
But for now, I CANNOT publish Fireheart until either 2003 OR 2021 BECAUSE OF U.S. COPYRIGHT CONSIDERATIONS. The law is, either it becomes public domain fifty years after Jim’s death (that would be 2021, for the innumerates among you), OR it becomes public domain in 2003, as per a more recent law which I have been told states that any unpublished material written before 1978 (which of course Jim’s poems were) goes p.d. in 2003.
This is not a difficult concept to grasp, at least not for anyone with more than the brains God gave a sea monkey.
I ALONE am the one to determine when and indeed if this material ever sees the light of day. And that will depend entirely on how I feel about letting it go. It’s all I have left that is still private between Jim and me–apart from myself and the very few others I have trusted to read them, Jim is the only other person to see these works, the last one to touch the pieces of paper–and I don’t know how or when I will be able to bring myself to give it up and send it out to the world, a world that, given known attitudes, may very well sneer and deny and trash. Maybe you people don’t deserve it, anyway…
But whether it’s five years from now or twenty-three years from now, once anything goes public domain it stays public domain; so any publishing ignoramus who thinks the Coursons can slap on a copyright renewal down the road to continue to bar me from publishing is sadly mistaken. Anyway, the book will be as much mine as Jim’s, what with my annotations and the intended inclusion of poetry and letters I wrote to him, as well as what he wrote for me; and as a collaboration I can indeed copyright it in my name, being the surviving member of the partnership…and I just might.
Besides, who knows what the state of copyright law will be by then anyway, or the state of the Internet for that matter: maybe I’ll just upload everything and let the, uh, chips fall where they may–or stage a free exhibition of the manuscripts and drawings at a gallery–or make a bootleg CD of me reading the poems and letters, with Jim’s drawings as album art–or make some .WAVs so you guys can hear this stuff on the site–or follow my Jim’s lead and have Fireheart privately printed, to give to our deserving loyal friends and supporters (and, of course, to media)… The possibilities are endless.
As for those of you who doubt the existence or the authenticity of the Fireheart material: An old friend of Jim’s, poet Michael C. Ford, the first person who ever published Jim’s poetry, in his Mt. Alverno Review–who told me on our first meeting in Santa Monica a couple of years ago that Jim had SPOKEN OF ME TO HIM (so much for the claim that Jim never talked about me to his friends, therefore I didn’t matter in his life)–believes in it completely. Before he saw the material, Michael had very natural initial doubts, but then, once he’d seen it, he declared his absolute belief, wistfully opining that Jim was “right there” with his poetry–just turning the corner into real literary merit.
And Ellen Sander, another poet who knew and loved Jim, a friend of mine and a friend of Pam’s, someone I’ve known for thirty years, took one look at a big chunk of the stuff and said, “Jim!”, going on to assert, as any real writer knows, that you can imitate a style but you can’t imitate a voice…
You’ll have to judge for yourself when you see it. It’ll be well worth the wait. But whether or not you ever will see it is still up to me and me alone; so if you Doorzoids really want to ever get a look at Jim’s most poetically mature, romantically glorious, lyrically splendid poetry, considering the way you’ve treated me so far I’d start kissing up big-time if I were you…
Just a thought: How comes it we have never seen one single love letter from Jim to Pamela??? Could it be that he never wrote her any–not one little steamy note or erotic stanza or pornographic drawing or even a shopping list to his alleged only Muse? If the Coursons mËre et pËre actually had such potent ammunition, dontcha think they’d have started firing it years ago, especially during the acrimonious lawsuit with the Morrisons, or in the ripoff that is the posthumous poetry volumes? I somehow doubt their parental sensibilities would have held their hand from publishing such proof positive of Jim’s feelings…
Or–ooooh–maybe secret CONSPIRATORS actually destroyed all Jim’s long, intimate, literary love letters to his intellectual equal Pamela–oh yeah, probably about the same time space lizard commandos on acid, in a carefully coordinated raid with air support from flying devil monkeys, vaporized all trace of the fictional marriage certificate we hear so much about from the Cosmic Mate Chorale (and, of course, expunging its accompanying entry from the records in Bizarroworld, or Cloudcuckooland City Hall)–before Pamela’s devoted partisans could get their hands on them. Call Oliver Stone! Oops, been there, done that, never mind…
In any case, we’ve never heard otherwise, and if there were any other serious claimants to letter possession, they’d have spoken up by now, probably to Sotheby’s… Therefore I, Patricia Anne Elizabeth Genevieve Honora Kennealy Morrison, almost certainly have the ONLY love letters James Douglas Morrison ever wrote to any woman in his adult life (well, there might be a missive or two to college girlfriends tucked away in a trunk somewhere…).
Anyway, I would never claim that I was the real Muse in Jim’s life, because Jim didn’t need the help of any Muse to do what he did. As a writer, I know how deeply offensive and insulting that implication of reliance on an external source truly is; only people who can’t create and long to claim undeserved credit believe in Muses.
As for all the songs Doorzoids fondly imagine are “about” Pam: well, again, that’s not the way creators work. Sure, some songs are–probably `Queen of the Highway,’ for one–but others absolutely are NOT. (`L.A. Woman’ is about Los Angeles, jerks, not about Pamela!) Jim’s art was not so poor or uninspired that everything he wrote, even little ad lib asides (“Love my girl!”), required Pam as catalyst; sometimes a cigar is just a cigar…
And even the songs that are allegedly about Pam are not ENTIRELY about Pam–among artists there are such things as imagination and idealization and application of expanded motif, and besides Jim knew other women who unquestionably inspired other songs. Certain things Pam did or said may well have served as a hook (pun intended) or jumping-off point for certain songs, but for the most part–whatever Pam liked to boast–Jim’s songs are no more “about” Pamela Courson than Beethoven’s 6th is “about” a thunderstorm–and Jim’s poetry is “about” no one but himself.
But according to people who are equipped to judge, it was because of him and me together, what I did for him, what I told him and showed him, that Jim’s poetry was beginning to move where it was moving when he died. That’s being a real editorial influence. And it makes me very, very proud.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering why I trash the posthumous poetry books put out by the Coursons and yet have plans of my own to publish Jim’s stuff: BIG HONKING HAIRY OLD DIFFERENCE!!! The material Pam’s parents put out was scraped and gleaned and patched together from Jim’s left-behind notebooks–some poems, I’m told they proudly inform us, had fifty variant versions, and they picked the one they thought Jim would have wanted to use! But who’s to say Jim wouldn’t have chosen to go with the ninth, or the twenty-third, or the fifty-first, or the hundred-and-fifty-first? What–besides dubious precedent and some very creative lawyers–gives these utterly unqualified people the right to choose for him: he who in the end did not choose to wed their junkie daughter but, guess who, the very woman who now can’t publish the gorgeous sexy haunting poems he gave her?
On the other hand, the poems Jim left with me are all completed, finished works. No alternate versions. These were the ones. The way he wanted me to see them. And you’ll be seeing them just as he wrote them. If I let you.
My original plan, based on information I received from Dutton lawyers and privately consulted lawyers, was to publish this material in 2021, fifty years after Jim’s death, according to what I believed to be the current law. Then a well-known California lawyer, a god on copyright matters who was consulted for the article, told Steve Hochman, the Los Angeles Times music critic who broke the Fireheart story in the spring of ’96, that the law had indeed been changed, and, since the unpublished material I had kept in care for Jim had been written before 1978, in his opinion it might now be possible that I could publish as early as 2003.
I was well pleased to hear this, because the more those above-mentioned curs yowl the more it hardens my resolve to rub their noses in their own…well, you get the picture.
So. Most likely I will advance Fireheart to the 2003 date, if that information is in fact correct, especially if people continue to lie and fleer and piss me off about it. I’d love to publish even sooner, but if I tried, the Coursons could sue; and considering who’s involved, and what he has to say about their daughter who was not his wife–whom he also writes me he was about to revamp his will to exclude–probably would.
I’m told estate lawyers, presumably at the Coursons’ behest, recently sent a cease-and-desist letter to warn one little fanboy not to print any more facsimiles of Jim’s auction-bound letters in his just-this-side-of-slander, yellow-journalistic, rather-be-dead-than-read-it, wouldn’t-housebreak-my-dog-on-it, delusionally self-important psychopathic suckup wanking erroneous rag; so you see how zealous they are in such matters.
Still, the fact remains that no member of either Jim’s family or Pam’s family, or any legal hired-gun muscle thereof, has EVER socked me or my agents or my publishers with legal objections to any statement I have ever made–spoken or written, claimed or declared, stated or published, broadcast or uploaded–about Jim or Pam or myself.
And I have said a LOT.
Though when you consider… Their legal argument would perhaps have to run, interestingly, thus: Jim Morrison wrote the poems (letters, songs, etc.) under discussion; Jim Morrison wrote these things for, to and about Patricia Kennealy Morrison; Jim Morrison gave these writings from his own hand in his own handwriting as a gift to Patricia Kennealy Morrison, in whose sole care and possession they have been ever since their creation; Jim Morrison unequivocally calls Patricia Kennealy Morrison his wife in these writings, addressing her as `Mrs. James Morrison’ and enthusiastically concurring in planning their public wedding in New York in October 1971, declaring that he was not married to Pamela Courson and “once I get back to you in N.Y. I’m going to change the will to reflect our changed status”…oops! Never mind! They’d only be proving my case for me.
Well, it’s DAMN annoying, but I can wait and so can Jim. Heads will explode whenever I choose to publish Fireheart, and, you know, revenge may very well be a dish better served cold after all…though hot & bloody is nice too. So–watch this space…


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