Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday September 29 - 100 Thousand Poets For Change




Today is September 29, the second annual 100 Thousand Poets for Change - multiple poetic events around the world.

800 events in 115 countries! (if we've got the figures right).  For more on 100 Thousand Poets for Change - see here and here and here 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Weekly Round-Up - 93



100 Thousand Poets For Change tomorrow - the extraordinary global poetry-peace celebrations, spearheaded by Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion, kicks off with a three-day festival at TPC's Santa Rosa, California, Headquarters today (Friday). For details of that event, click here (for details of 100 Thousand Poets For Change click here - for a schedule of tomorrow's multi-various happenings (way way too many to enumerate), click here  

More word on last week's Ginsberg Recordings event.  (We posted a few images last Saturday, here). Jameson Fitzpatrick's review of the evening (complete with further images) can now be read here).


Bob Rosenthal kicks off the night














Yes, Holy Soul Jelly Roll  is now digitally available.

Among the readers that night - Bob Rosenthal . We've already spotlighted Bob's memoirs here (and, actually, also, here). Michalis Limnios now adds him to the already-remarkable roster of interviews on his exemplary Blues and Greece site. It's another "must-read" - "The Trust of Bodhisattva" -

ML: How do you describe Allen Ginsberg's life?
BR: Radical amazement. He lived five lifetimes in one.
ML: What characterizes Allen Ginsberg's bohemian way of life?
BR: The non-accumulation of possessions.
ML: Which is the most interesting period in Allen Ginsberg's life and why?
BR: Interesting has no meaning here - but I will venture to say his death.
MR: Which memory from Allen Ginsberg's adventures makes you smile?
BR: His political bravery - such as making peace between the Hell's Angels and the Anti-(Vietnam) War marchers, Berkeley 1965 - many other instances!....


The full interview can be read here

Arthur Knight, respected Beat scholar, passed away earlier this month - "The Unspeakable Visions of the Individual".  Jerry Cimino's Beat Museum has an obituary notice on him. He was 74.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mind, Mouth and Page - 56 (Petit Mal Interlude)


[August 1975, Allen's NAROPA William Carlos Williams class ("Mind, Mouth and Page"), a temporary pause in the class as one of the students suffers a petit mal epilepsy seizure.]

AG: Maybe you better get out? - or can somebody help Tom? - and some air maybe? - What is needed? or what would be helpful? - It might be good for someone to help him out or get some air. What do you think? - It's this room, I'm telling you. It's really heavy in here.

Peter Orlovsky: Should we bring the fan maybe over there?

AG: Or maybe (he should) sit by the fan?

Student: Yeah, I'll...

AG: Why don't you sit by the fan? It'd be better. By the fan. Sit over there, you'd get more air, fresh air. Just change seats with someone

Student: Yeah

AG: Yeah.. Can you.. Is that better?

Student: Yeah, sure.

Peter Orlovsky: Set in on high or low?

AG: High

Student: High

AG: If it doesn't make too much noise.

Student: Is that too much noise?

AG: It's taking off! Better turn it (down). Is it too close to that mike?

Student: (I see no effect on) the readings. I don't think it makes any difference.

AG: Okay.

Student: I'd go low with it.

AG (to Peter Orlovsky): Low, Peter, yeah.

Student (to everyone): I'm sorry, folks!

AG: Okay. Peter is a trained nurse so just let him know

Student: ...petit mal seizures...

AG: What is that? What is that called? petit mal?

Student: petit mal

AG: Uh-huh

Student: I'm sure if I had...

AG: What happens just before you go into that? Is there (Are there) any perceptions?

Student: I'm not sure whether... I think it's just before I get a tingling feeling through my body...

AG: Uh-huh

Student: ...which I've been sort of working on describing (actually) in some of (my) poems...

AG: Yeah

Student: (There's some I) wrote (in) the last week or two. It's just that knowledge hasn't helped me eradicate it completely, (just) a little bit?

Peter Orlovsky: Does it feel good?

Student: To be over it?

AG: Well, he says it's like in (Fyodor) Dostoevsky. In Dostoevsky's "The Idiot", before you get the petit mal or grand mal, there's auras and illumination of microscopic detail, like in the poem about John Muir that Gary Snyder wrote - but Tom says it doesn't (work that way for him)...

Student: Well it's not (especially visionary), sometimes you will have the experience if an aura, but it's a rarity..

AG: Uh-huh

Student: At least that 's been my experience of it. And Doestoevsky makes the character into a kind of Christ-figure, and genius, and everything else, as a sort of hit-back at society for considering all epileptics mad..

AG: Uh-huh

Student: ...in his day. So he made it look like the deepest religious experience you could have, or something. It certainly helps. It taught me a lot but, you know....

AG: (So you were fortunate to get to read it) when you were young?

Student: Yeah, when I first read it, long before I was ever (aware I had epilepsy). I was amazed, seduced even (I thought it was a wonderful disease to have! - And three years later, I had it!)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mind, Mouth and Page - 55 (Samatha)


AG: We're on (page) 39 (of Pictures From Brueghel by William Carlos Williams). Now, does anybody know the poem by Emily Dickinson, "I heard a Fly buzz - when I died" ? Does anybody remember the full poem? ( I don't know if we have a (copy of) Dickinson('s poems) around

Student: There is a copy in the library

AG: There is, ok, so we can find it.

Student: I'll go get it.
Emily
AG: I think Deborah (sic) went to get it just now. I saw her alert body just get up there and zap out! - I've always liked that (poem) because that seemed to me like a combination of the visionary and practical - [to Deborah, on returning] - did you try for that and it's closed? - okay.. That line. It's a line of Emily Dickinson's that goes - "I heard a Fly buzz - when I died" - [turning to Steven Taylor] - do you know that line, Steven? - Meaning - in that highest state of awareness, in the total silence and stillness of the mind, all of a sudden...bzzzzzz - well, that was real! - and whatever else that means - that death may be reduced to just a fly coming in..but, at any rate, "The World Contracted To a Recognizable Image" - [Allen reads, in its entirety, Williams' "The World Contracted To a Recognizable Image"] - "at the small end of an illness/ there was a picture/ probably Japanese/ which filled my eye/ an idiotic picture/ except it was all I recognized/ the wall lived for me in that picture/ I clung to it as a fly" - It's very odd. It's Williams in extremis. His method of observation and concentration, his vipassana poetics, or vipassana mind, reduced to being in a hospital in bed, the only recognizable object that he had (was) "the wall lived for me in that picture". Odd last line (I don't know what it means) - " I clung to it as a fly" - Does that mean I clung to it as a fly would cling to a wall, or, I keep hearing that Emily Dickinson line, "I heard a Fly buzz - when I died". But, at any rate, it's Williams' attention, and all the world contracted to one recognizable image.

Student: What page are you on?

AG: Page 42 - called ""The World Contracted To a Recognizable Image" - When I was thinking of him around that time, I suddenly saw that poem and said, "My God, he's really got it focused. Even in an illness or on a death-bed, he's got his mind really focused now". But the most he could get was just that one (image) out of a whole hospital experience and a stroke. He was able to retrieve just one fact. He was lying in bed and the only thing that he could see was that picture. That was the one thing that kept him to reality, (as a mantra might keep somebody else in their sane mind, or as breathing might keep one balanced, in extremis). He says,"at the small end of an illness", which is an odd, medical, (or) doctor-mind, thing (to say) - "at the small end of an illness/ there was a picture/ probably Japanese/ which filled my eye" - Pretty literal - "which filled my eye" - I don't think that was very poetical, I think it really filled his eyeball, literally, lying in the hospital bed. So it's amazing how literal his description is - "an idiotic picture/ except it was all I recognized/ the wall lived for me in that picture/ I clung to it as a fly"

(Next ), "A Short Poem" - They are very minimal, these things during time of a stroke. [Allen reads "A Short Poem" - "You slapped my face/ oh but so gently/I smiled/ at the caress"] - Just keeping his hand in with little noticings, noticing little things and making the best of them, so to speak. But also he's sort of mellowing. [Allen reads next "Poem" - ("on getting a card/ long delayed/ from a poet whom I love...")] -"on getting a card/ long delayed/ from a poet whom I love..."...."no matter/ his style/ has other outstanding/ virtues/ which delight me" - and "To Flossie" - Flossie, his wife. His wife is Flossie - "To Flossie/ who showed me/ a bunch of garden roses/ she was keeping/ on ice/ against an appointment/ with friends/ for supper/ day after tomorrow/ aren't they beautiful/ you can't/ smell them/ because they're so cold/ but aren't they/ in wax/ paper for the/ moment beautiful" - I guess, the heart of that is , " you can't/ smell them/ because they're so cold", which is actually so fresh and clear a perception. It's like Williams waiting by his sink for water to freshen, turning on the tap and waiting for the water to freshen. Just a really ordinary piece of phenomena, a very ordinary experience, except that he saw it clearly, so (by) transcribing it clearly, it becomes a moment of high consciousness. - "aren't they beautiful/ you can't/ smell them/ because they're so cold" (this, referring back to those who have been listening upstairs [here at Naropa] to the observations on perception and reality, on seeing things directly, the practice, the mindfulness - in Buddhist terminology, there's samatha, which is.. well, what did we decide yesterday? we were talking about this - it's samatha, but it's concentration on...one point. That's the kind of breath meditation that's practiced as a basic Buddhist yoga, so that might be equivalent to "so much depends/ upon/ a red wheel/barrow/ glazed with rain/water/ beside the white/chickens".

Student: Allen?

AG: Yeah

Student: One point. samatha, or shamata, is what any concentration practice is called in the Southern school

AG: Okay. Any concentration on a single thing.

Student: The specific breath thing is called anapana

AG: Uh-huh

Student: So samatha is a larger group of...

AG: Okay, so on the samatha, you concentrate on breath, (or on a candle, or on a coin..)

Student: or on an image..

AG: or a red wheelbarrow!

Student: or a mantra

AG: or on a red wheelbarrow?

Student: Yeah

AG: That's the point I'm trying to make without getting too redundant. So I would say, in that sense, certain poems of Williams, if you made a equivalency of the operation of the mind when it observes itself , or observes itself observing, "The Red Wheelbarrow" might be a samatha practice, or illustration of a samatha practice, extending that awareness out from the one-pointedness to include more space, maybe detailed observance. (Observance of detail outside, which would be vipassana, is that right?)

Student: Any awareness technique that moves you off the point..to a general awareness..is vipassana

AG: So we might say that this poem that Williams wrote, standing in his kitchen, waiting for the water to freshen in the faucet, and observing the parsley in the glass is....

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mind Mouth and Page - 54 (Whalen and Williams)

[William Carlos Williams, 1948 courtesy, Beineke Library, Yale]

 [Philip Whalen, Boulder, Colorado, July 1991. c. Ginsberg Estate
 
]

















Student: With this concern for the workings of the mind, which you can find evidence of earlier in the poems, particularly in "The Injury"...

AG: "The Injury"?

Student: ..in "The Injury", particularly that..

AG: What was that? I've forgotten

Student: You read that (to us) last time It's the one with, "from my hospital bed I hear an engine breathing"

AG: I hear what?

Student: I hear an engine breathing

AG: Yeah, "soft coal, soft coal, soft coal"

Student: Why did you then contrast Williams with (Philip) Whalen by saying that Williams was concerned with the syntax of speech, while Whalen was concerned with the syntax of the mind?

AG: Well, Williams is traditional. Well, partly, because that's what Whalen told me he was concerned with, as distinct from Williams - "syntax of the mind" - very specifically. Whalen was a student of Gertrude Stein, especially. (He) modeled his writing on Gertrude Stein and was interested in the sequence of thoughts in his mind, in the way they occurred, and in a funny kind of abrupt way they might occur and shift. Williams all along had been more interested in the sequence of (the) spoken word - Rutherford speech, naturally, with some study of the mind's jumps (the mind jumps, or the mind's changes, and mental changes). Naturally, there's some study of mental changes involved in that, as part of Imagism, as part of objective study of phenomena, but Williams' basic thing was speech. Whalen's, I think, more and more, is mind changes, because Whalen is an experienced sitter - he does a lot of sitting and so is observing the changes of his mind. Whalen is a shaven-headed priest (who was around here last term, actually), a long sitter - he sits Zen sesshins - sitting seven days or thirty days at a time observing his mind - and so the subject-matter is the changes of his consciousness - different picture - and the oddity of the way his mind works. The subject is almost the irrelevance and irrationality of all of his thoughts (as well as the beauty of them). So Whalen is writing down more his thoughts, Williams is writing down more his speech, I'd say, (or thoughts-in-the-form-of-speech, and Whalen more interested in the thoughts-in-the-form-of-thoughts).

Student: (Yes), with Williams, it's more a refined portrayal of his thoughts

AG: Well, refined with the idea of speech in mind. With all these exercises, like "Atta boy, Atta boy", or "I GOTTA/ wig-/gle for this/ (you pig)", that's all, like people talking. I would say Whalen takes off from the solid base of speech that Williams begins (with) but then includes mind processes as his subject matter. Actually, Whalen's own statement is, "My poetry is a graph of the mind moving" (which is a statement he wrote out for a poetry reading) - "My poetry is a graph of the mind moving, not the mouth, moving..

Student: That's what I think Williams does in "The Injury"

AG: It may be so. Maybe he does that, but I'm saying that's Whalen's main practice..

Student: Yes

AG: Whereas Williams main practice was the speech.
Then, in a poem like this, where he's talking about the Imagination, or refining the speech to make a poem, of course he's not talking about the same thing as Whalen now. Here Williams is almost idealizing, and will later idealize, the poem. He'll talk about the poem as a land, almost, as a land of Imagination (which actually affected me in those years - '53, '54 - as I began thinking about the land of Imagination the poem - the poem exists, blessedness exists in the Imagination - The land of blessedness exists in the Imagination, not here. But Williams was pointing out that we can imagine, or what we could imagine, what we could make up with our own minds, would be more endurable than the transient matters here. Which is a different matter from Whalen saying, "I'm interested in the changes of my mind". It's a different use of mind there. Am I talking about the same thing you are?

Student: Yeah.. Somewhat.

AG: I'm just making a footnote now saying that this poem ain't got nothing to do with Whalen's practice, this particular poem, I don't think, because this is just about how the poem is the mind and how you can make a changeless mind by making a poem.
You had a question? Bill (sic)?

Student: Yeah..One thing with Whalen..the big difference that I've noticed (I've been really influenced by Whalen myself) is this self-consciousness. Williams?..Williams?..there's very little of it in his work, I mean, it's, like.. going out.. like Whalen has all this trouble between being alone and... and his public existence ..like Whalen is just so.. while Williams, he lives in the.. well, he's a doctor and that's his way of thinking. Like there's this (absolute) connection between himself and other people it seems...

AG: The word you said was "self-conscious" in Whalen, and that is true. Whalen's poems are very self-conscious.

Student: Whalen talks self-consciously about his body, and his weight, and...

AG: And also self-conscious about writing

Student: Yeah, right.

AG: So a lot of the subject of his poetry is that sort of intersection moment of, "Here I am, writing a poem on a piece of paper".

Student: Yes

AG: Except Whalen's one of the few people who does that charmingly. Most people when they do that (are) really annoying and obnoxious. You know, "Why don't they get off that and get on to something?" But Whalen somehow has been able to make that particular hang-up of self-consciousness about writing one of his major subjects, without making it a drag. It's a drag with most amateur writers.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mind, Mouth and Page - 53 (Pictures from Brueghel)



AG: I'm into (William Carlos Williams') Pictures from Brueghel at the moment. And I have a copy of it, signed - December 24, 1964, "Hi Allen, so glad you turned up, Affectionately, Floss" - "turned up", after being in India. Williams was dead. (I) went to see his wife and she gave me a copy of the book (or she asked me if there was any book I didn't have). So I've had this copy a long time. I went through it and picked through the poems I liked.

Williams called this book "Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems" because there are a whole series of descriptions of paintings by (Pieter) Brueghel (the Elder). He liked Brueghel because Brueghel was so naturalistic and down-to-earth, (painting) children's games, self-portraits, hunters in the snow (with) lots of details. (Some of the poems here are) descriptions of the details of the Brueghel paintings - "The Peasant Wedding"

AG: I guess everybody knows who Brueghel is. Anybody not know who Brueghel is? Okay, a few. Then I suggest you go down to Back Country Bookstore [in Boulder], or a library, and just look at some pictures by Brueghel. They're real interesting. Just have a ball. What is he? Dutch? 15th century

Student: German.

AG: German? No, Flemish. Flemish. Fifteenth century. Much detail. Earthly detail. His most interesting painting - though Williams didn't write about it - is in the Prado (Museum) in Madrid, (Spain), and it's called "The Triumph of Death", in which everybody is being checked out by a skeleton! So there are people dancing, and the skeleton is looking, sort of intervening, trying to pick up the dance, people are being hung (there are skeletons hanging them), kings are reading poetry to themselves (and skeletons are holding the book!) - So everybody has got a skeleton checking him out! (like the fuzz!). It's called "The Triumph of Death", and its, like, a huge canvas, like a Tibetan painting, in a way, in which every corner is covered and every activity of life is covered. Infinite detail.
I'm not going to read these poems because they're poems about paintings. I'd rather get to his direct views. So there's a little thing on page 15. Does anybody here have Pictures from Brueghel, the book? - Yeah, page 15 (I'll give you the numbers) - "Exercise" - a really curious little nasty note by Williams - [Allen reads, in its entirety, Williams' poem "Exercise"] - "Maybe it's his wife/ the car is an official car/ belonging/ to a petty police officer/ I think/ but her get-up/ was far from official/ for that time/ of day" - Everybody get the point?

Student: No

AG: Anybody not understand that? Anybody not understand that? - Okay, well he's in Rutherford and he sees the police car go by and a guy in it, probably in civvies, and "her get-up...far from official", meaning, likely enough, a real floozie, (as Williams would say), a real floozie, in whorish get-up (probably some kind of purple shoes and pink lipstick and bangles), sitting in a side street. I guess the policeman making out with a local whore - [Allen reads the poem again] - Just a little piece of local Rutherford gossip, which he called "Exercise", making a little poem out of it.

Twenty-one, "Suzy" (I imagine his grandchild). I think, by this time, he'd had a stroke, was partly paralyzed, couldn't write for a long time and had to creep way back to the typewriter, and could only type hunt-and-peck. (He) had to give up his medical practice by then, (and) was taken up to the country for a vacation, to recover, around this time (maybe around the time of the poem or soon after). You can see that finally he is beginning to get old and recognizes it. Everything before has been fresh and looking up toward an ascent, toward life, toward the accomplishment of an effort - toward effort and accomplishment and a new poetry. Here he's beginning to relax a little. [Allen begins reading the poem, "Suzy"] - "women your age have decided/ wars and the beat/ of poems your grandfather/ is a poet and loves you/ pay attention/ to your lessons an inkling / of what beauty means to/ a girl your age/ may dawn soon on you" - It's the beginning of that kind of triple line - "women your age have decided/ wars and the beat/ of poems your grandfather" - that's one line - "of poems your grandfather". But, ""women your age have decided/ wars and the beat/ of poems your grandfather/ is a poet and loves you". But, "of poems your grandfather/ is a poet and loves you/ pay attention/ to your lessons an inkling/ of what beauty means to/ a girl your age/ may dawn soon on you" - [Allen continues (section 2] - "life is a flower when it/ opens you will/ look tremblingly into it unsure/ of what the traditional/ mirror may reveal/ between hope and despair while/ a timorous old man/ doubtfully half/ turns away his foolish head" - Beginning to doubt himself a little - [Allen continues] - "Good place to sit" - [and continues with section 3] - "3" - to Suzy, his granddaughter - "a bunch of violets clutched/ in your idle/ hand gives him a place/ beside you which he cherishes/ his back turned/ from you casually appearing/ not to look he yearns after/ you protectively/ hopelessly wanting nothing" - So, to a grandchild, which is really interesting - "protectively/ hopelessly wanting nothing"

More and more poems about his family come up as his physical range diminishes, because he can't get around so much. I don't know at what point... (Here's) "The Stone Crock" (also recollections) - The beginning of the realization of what's going to be missing, or what is missing - deaths - [Allen reads "The Stone Crock" in its entirety] - "In my hand I hold/ a postcard/ addressed to me/ by a lady/ Stoneware crock/ salt-glazed/ a dandelion embossed/ dark blue/ She selected it/ for me to admire casually in passing/ She was a Jewess/ intimate of/ a man I/ admired/ We often met in/ her studio/ and talked/ of him/ he loved the early/ art of this/ country/ blue stoneware/ stamped on the/ bulge of it/ Albany reminding me/ of him/ Now he is dead how/ gentle he/ was and/ persistent" - So it's a very ordinary scene. He gets a postcard from a lady he hasn't seen for years, who is a friend of a scholar-artist, who he hadn't taken much account of, though they'd met and talked, and he'd talked with the lady about him. The postcard reminds him of the scholarship - "he loved the early/ art of this/ country" - and then the postcard - "blue stoneware/ stamped on the/ bulge of it/ Albany reminding me/ of him/ Now he is dead how/ gentle he/ was and/ persistent" - It's an odd little piece of recollection. Really, in illness, you'd think, someone would come up with that.

And then he got mad, too, at that point. He was a little bit cantankerous, thinking that the lessons that he had been teaching in America were not sufficiently appreciated by the Academy, so he has this little poem called "He Has Beaten Around The Bush Long Enough" - [Allen reads "He Has Beaten Around The Bush Long Enough" in its entirety] - "What a team/ Flossie, Mary, a chemical prof/ and I/ make to confront/ the/slowly hardening/ brain/ of an academician/The most/ that can be said/ for it/ is/ that it has the crystal-/line pattern/ of/ new ice on/ a country/ pool" - The verse-form has a funny little crystalline triplet form, too, divided into three.

More and more these poems are divided into sets of three but they're lined up on the page, up and down, vertical. Pretty soon he'll begin breaking them up and spreading them out on the page, in order to get some sense of balancing the lines out visually, balancing them out in his ear, seeing what they weigh like in his tongue and in his mind. [Allen next reads "Jersey Lyric"] - "view of winter trees/ before/ one tree/ in the foreground/ where/ by fresh-fallen/ snow/ lie 6 woodchunks ready/ for the fire" - It's a piece of music. It's a lyric. He's talking about the sound here, and the last stanza is "snow/ lie 6 " - the number, six - "snow/ lie 6 woodchunks ready/ for the fire" - And the "woodchunks" is all one word - "woodchunks" - as if he was hearing that as a pretty, funny, sound, as a pretty sound - "woodchunks" - as a lyric sound - "Woodchunk" - "6 woodchunks ready" - Well, "woodchunk", remember - "view of winter trees/ before/ one tree/ in the foreground" - Actually, a phonograph also [Allen reads the poem again, in its entirety] - So it's a combination of (a) funny little musical lyric (as he says) and photographic image.

(Next) "Poem" - [Allen reads "Poem"] - "The rose fades/ and is renewed again/ by its seed naturally/but where/ save in the poem/shall it go/ to suffer no diminution/ of its splendor" - As he became physically ill, more and more he sanctified his poetry, he got very sentimental about it. More and more, he depended upon the whole idea of his career and of his poetry, his search for an American measure, as being the crucial theme of his earth(ly) existence. So the practical "doctor" got more and more hung (up) on the idea of "poet" and the idea of poetry as a way out, for the mind trapped in the body, as a way of preserving what had been accomplished by the mind, or of making solid, and, in a sense, immortal, or long-lasting, longer-lasting than the body, the mind perceptions, feelings, ardors. But, mainly, the discriminations, sense discriminations, common-sense discriminations, breakthroughs of awareness that the man had experienced whose brain was dying, suffering strokes - [Allen reads "Poem" again] - And that's the theme that he begins developing more and more from now on, as he has to find some appeal, some place, some more secure place than the body, or more secure place than Rutherford.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ginsberg Recordings Holy Soul Jelly Roll


Ginsberg Recordings brand-new digitalized re-released recordings of Holy Soul Jelly Roll is our focus today. All four sets are now available on i-Tunes:


Vol. 4- Ashes & Blues from Holy Soul Jelly Roll is out TODAY on Amazon! First of four digital re-release of Holy Soul Jelly Roll. Ought to be up on iTunes soon.  http://www.amazon.com/Holy-Soul-Jelly-Roll-1949-1993/dp/B00949U1UM/ref=sr_shvl_album_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346797011&sr=301-1


Vol. 3- Ah! from Holy Soul Jelly Roll is available on iTunes today: http://bit.ly/Nmwgt3










Steven Taylor's piece in Reality Sandwich is an absolute must-read -"When I first heard his songs, at the performance in the spring of 1976 where I sat in on guitar, I found them fascinating", he writes, "It was the words, the brilliance and wit of them. Words, obviously, came to him easily. He could improvise blues lyrics and rhymes endlessly.."  Holy Soul Jelly Roll is.. "a testament to and an instance of the return of poetry to the voice, (and) it's also testament to new media".

Last night's official launch of this, Ginsberg Recordings' initial recording, was, we're happy to report, a resounding success (great readings by everyone - we'll be reporting on this more next week) - and more (much more) to follow.





 [Anne Waldman, Steven Taylor, Eliot Katz, Alex Dimitrov, reading at Ginsberg in the Galleries: Holy Soul Jelly Roll Album Release at The Rubin Museum of Art. Poets and friends of Ginsberg. Photo: copyright Lawrence Schwartzwald(No reproduction without express permission).Photo: copyright Lawrence Schwartzwald(No reproduction without express permission).]

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Weekly Round-Up - 92


Steve Finbow is interviewed about his latest Ginsberg biography, and his time spent (this should be linked with Bob Rosenthal's published memoirs), in the early '80's, as secretarial assistant, working for Allen, up close, getting to know the real Allen. The Awl has his recollections here. There's also (in case you missed it) Dolly Delightly's five-star review of the book ("Resolutely straight-shooting") here.

and it's Ginsberg Recordings night tonight at the Rubin Museum - celebration of the complete release of Holy Soul Jelly Roll (volumes 1 and 2, following the recently-released 3 and 4). On hand to celebrate (as we mentioned last week), Anne Waldman, Steven Taylor, Eileen Myles, Sharon Mesmer and Alex Dimitrov - and two additional names, friends of Allen, added to the roster Eliot Katz and Bob Rosenthal. Come on down and check it out if you're in New York.

More on Holy Soul Jelly Roll tomorrow.























and more on Kerouac (Allen, as perceived by Kerouac) - "Tom Sturridge's Carlo Marx (Allen Ginsberg) is earnest, frank, soulful and filled with longing" (says Jordan Hoffman, reviewing the Toronto Film Festival showing of "On The Road") -

("Carlo Marx (Tom Sturridge) is full of pretentious poet-speak, but that's how it's supposed to be..." declares another reviewer).

We'll be featuring more "On The Road" reviews in the coming days.

It (the film) opens in Australia (see this article in The Australian) next Thursday (September 27) - in the UK, 12th of October, (and) in the US, December 21st.

Joanne Kyger's Harriet (Poetry Foundation) posts continue. Here's her on "The Community of The Curriculum of the Soul" (and here's her, just a few days later, on the wonderful (CUNY) "Lost and Found" Project).

Rosemary Machetta has some photos from the River City Reunion - that legendary gathering in Lawrence, Kansas in 1987. You can find more about that here.

Godfrey Reggio's 1983 film Koyaanisqatsi (the title is a Hopi word that means "life out of balance") is being re-released as part of a 3-volume boxed-set and will include an "early forty-minute demo version of (the film) with a scratch soundtrack by Allen Ginsberg" (to be issued in December, as part of the prestigious Criterion Collection).

Sad to have to report the passing of Louis Simpson, (only recently noted/seen on these pages in his Stony Brook days). Joseph Hutchinson ("Perpetual Bird") has a sweet story about Allen "outing" Simpson (not sexually, but poetically) - "the poet of suburbia, flushed from hiding"!
-  a contemporary of Allen's at Columbia, he was 89. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mind, Mouth and Page - 52 (Bureaucratic Interlude)




AG (to Student): Yeah, I like these. I just rewrote one. I rewrote the short one. In the back yard? or in the front yard in the grass? or where? - Not outside? - Ah, on the balcony. Well, okay - [Allen, attending to the students' poems] - "picks up, stuffing", rather than "and stole some" (I think)?. I mean, he didn't steal it, he.. what's the physical (object here)?

Student: I know, I thought of that after I'd...

AG: I just did that one. Rachael? [ sic]? - [no answer] - How many have finished their poem?, the assignment poem? Raise your hand. Now are they finished and ready to be handed in? or have they been handed in? Because.. those that have finished and have not handed them in, please do so at the end of the class. Is there anyone who has not finished it yet?. Raise your hand. High.real high (so I can see). One, two, three, four, just four. So see me, if you can do it, before the end of the class, or Monday. Is there anyone registered for credit besides Art? [sic]. You're registered for credit aren't you?

Student: No, not at all.

AG: I've got you listed as a credit student.

Student: That's a mistake.

AG: Well maybe go by and tell them (the office). Well let me check it out to be sure. Yeah. They got you registered as a credit student. So maybe just go straighten them out.

Student: Yeah, right.

AG: Is there anyone who's registered for credit who has not finished the poem? Huh - Okay - Because that's the main thing I'm worried about, that I have something (to grade). If I have to give marks then I have something to give marks on. I would also like, by the end of the week, for those who are registered for credit, to turn in a one-page paper, summarizing the gists of the entire session - from your notes, or from recollection, or from memory - the key points about poetics (not about my beard or something, but about poetics!) Yeah?

Student: Did you say that you do like a second poem instead of a paper, or do you want the paper?

AG: I would really be interested in a paper.

Student: Okay

AG: I mean I'd also be interested in a second poem, but I'd also be interested in a paper because I'm just learning how to teach, and I'm trying to figure out what is coming across

Student: Okay

AG: In other words, I need some kind of feedback, so that I know what it is I have said or what I've said clearly enough that it was heard..what I said clearly enough and strongly enough that it was heard and registered and will be bounced back. Because there were some really simple things that I was trying to say, over and over and over again, so I just want to see if it did get through.

Student: You're needing a critique of what you said? or a creative..

AG: No, (a) critique (is) not necessary, simply a Williams-like description of what was said. In other words, the facts of what went on in class, so to speak. If all that babble bullshit talk could be reduced to a few key phrases with examples. Mainly, I'm interested in what struck you most? what epiphanies, or what particular tiny visions you had in the classroom? (tiny visions of poetic language)? - the gists (Pound's word is "the gists and piths" - P-I-T-H-S - "gists and piths"), whatever got across that seems essential, the essential points. Is that clear? It would be useful to me (for the credit students, useful to make grades, but aside from that, for non-credit students, useful for me to know what I said and what was said clearly

Student: Are you giving.. is this like, you pass or you don't pass?

AG: Depends what you want.

Student: Or is this A-B-C.

AG: I can give A, B's or C's, or I can give (pass/no pass). If there's any need for letter grades, I'll give letter grades

Student: I just assumed it was a grading system, like in school

AG: No, I think the only reason grades are given is that people want to take them away to apply to other colleges [this is in 1975, and pre-Naropa accreditation] Some other colleges use pass/fail and some others require letter grades, so it's really up to you.

Student: What did you do the first session for grades?

AG: I gave letter grades, except for those who said pass/fail was all they needed.. They range generally from "B+" to "A-," "A" or "A minus". People who didn't try at all got a "B". A lot of "Incomplete"'s. A lot of "Incomplete"'s! I didn't have any record of some people being in class at all

(from the August 13 1975, Naropa, Allen Ginsberg class - "Mind Mouth and Page", (lectures on William Carlos Williams)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mind, Mouth and Page - 51 ( Gary Snyder)



AG: In sequence to that, then, [Whitman's Song of the Exposition], what's interesting is, in answer to Whitman, and in answer to Williams, a great number of poets rose to complete the study more awkwardly (and that, Williams developed a method for). And I think I remember (that) I told you that Williams got, by 1948, to Reed College and met Gary Snyder and Philip Whalen, and immediately influenced their styles, among many other poets. So, by 1955, when I was in San Francisco visiting Kenneth Rexroth, who was a correspondent of Williams, I was looking around for other poets that were influenced by Williams, or who had the same hardness, particularity, raw material, who had the same short line, who tried to place visual images on the page, and Rexroth directed me to.. as he said.."There's one guy that writes well, out in Berkeley. He lives in Berkeley, studies Zen - a guy named Gary Snyder, why don't you go and visit him?" - I was trying to organize a poetry reading. So I went out to see Snyder in his little cabin in '55, a tiny little miniature house about the size of half this stage, actually [Allen is conducting the class on stage] - literally - and about seven feet high, probably a backyard gardener's shed, converted to a tatami-mat-floor living-place, where you couldn't quite stand up, but you could sit cross-legged very neatly and cook that way (and) write that way. He had a springboard binder, which I noticed, filled with poems (and I used to use a springboard binder, so I was immediately impressed by his professionalism). And I opened up his little book of poems and started reading it and saw, "Oh, there's all these little particular descriptions - just like Williams!" - and the lines were balanced on the page - and, obviously, he'd read Pound - so we began talking, and I suddenly realized (that) there was more than one person with the same sort of understanding in mind. It was a big revelation to me that the perceptions that I was having, sort of an intellectual form of Williams that I had at 28 or so, other people had also. So it reaffirmed my own glimpse or grasp.
So what I thought would be interesting to do, out of Gary Snyder's latest (sic) work, Turtle Island, (is) read just a couple of poems, to see how he applies, in his own (way), for his own particular speech, Williams' method - In the country, in this case.. [Allen begins by reading "Two Fawns That Didn't See The Light This Spring"] - "A friend in a tipi in the/ Northern Rockies went out/ hunting white tail with a/ .22 and creeped up on a few.."..."...And the little/ hooves were soft and white"" - So that's almost Williams' style - just direct description and the beauty of the actual detail being the point of the poem, rather than some crazy story told, or some romantic-castle myth expounded on, or magic ring found. "And the little/ hooves were soft and white". Obviously you could see (that if) Williams (was) looking at Snyder's poetry, (he) would understand and dig what he was doing, the precision of it.
Snyder, however, had other training - Zen training and Pound training - so there's a way that he uses of juxtaposing to make his points, because he's got big, heavy, philosophy (that) he's been laying out a long time, but he still keeps it mostly to presenting two images, or two sets of facts, well-described, to make the point, rather than a big editorial. [Allen reads Snyder's poem "Steak" in its entirety] - "Up on the bluff, the steak houses/ called "The Embers" - called/ "Fireside"/ with a smiling disney cow on the sign..."... "And down by the tracks/ in frozen mud, in the feed lots,/ fed surplus grain/ (the ripped off land)/ the beeves are standing round-/ bred heavy/Steaming, stamping,/ long-lashed, slowly thinking/ with the rhythm of their/ breathing/ frosty - breezy -/ early morning prairie sky" - A heavy editorial in this, yet the poem itself composed of such details that the editorial, or philosophic, conclusion is possible.
(Next), "Front Lines" - Of course, here, I think, there's a certain element of bad poetry that enters in, as Snyder gets a little too hooked on his ideology and sneaks a little editorial generalization in occasionally, but there's enough solidity in the poem, in the poems, that you can see Williams' influence and its application (its healthy solidity compared to the slight(ly) vain empty edges of Snyder's insistency. [Allen reads, in its entirety, "Front Lines"] -"The edge of the cancer/ Swells against the hill - we feel/ a foul breeze -/ And it sinks back down./ The deer winter here./ A chainsaw growls in the gorge..".."A bulldozer grinding and slobbering/ Sideslipping and belching on top of / The skinned-up bodies of still-live bushes/ In the pay of a man/ From town..."..."And here we must draw/ Our line"- Well, there's enough actual real fresh sight that he's actually making his point - "The skinned-up bodies of still-live bushes/ In the pay of a man/ From town..." - Now, that's really true. It's "in the pay". The bulldozer "(i)n the pay of a man/ From town..." who's not on the site. So that there's a certain editorial composition which is built up of facts, which is really intelligent and precise in Snyder (and) worth doing.

Student: So what do you see as the bad part?

AG: The bad part was "The edge of the cancer/ Swells against the hill", the beginning, with the cancer, I mean, what's that?

Student: Why is it bad? I mean, why do you say it's bad?

AG: Because it's not a natural object. It's not a natural object serving as an adequate symbol [Allen obviously quoting Pound here]. It's his imposition of "cancer", which he doesn't again get to in the poem.

Student: Maybe it's a metaphor of cancer in the body..

AG: Sure.."like a cancer" - but he doesn't need it. It's awful(ly) soft, awful soft, angry, mindless. Everything else is really there - the winter deer.
"a foul breeze/ and it sinks back down./ The deer winter here/ A chainsaw growls in the gorge/ Ten wet days and the log trucks stop.." - That's all fine there. And he's making his point just with that - [Allen continues reading] - "Sunday the 4-wheel jeep of the/ Realty Company brings in/ Landseekers, lookers, they say/ to the land/ Spread your legs" - alright, let's him get away with that - "the jets crack sound overhead..."/ "A bulldozer grinding and slobbering/ Sideslipping and belching on top of/ The skinned-up bodies of still-live bushes/ In the pay of a man/ From town." - That's perfect. It's all real.

Student: But isn't he taking the land as a body, and, like, the planet...

AG: Yes, but it's just ridiculous to start "The edge of the cancer/ Swells against the hill". It's hysterical. It's just stupid. You can't see that it's out-of-place and dumb, just because you agree with it? See, it's why Williams said, "Your attention is called now and then to some beautiful line or sonnet sequence because of what is said there. So be it. To me all sonnets say the same thing of no importance. What does it matter what the line says?" - It doesn't matter what the line says. What really is important (is) that the line be clear, rooted in the world, and not be saying something like "The edge of the cancer/ Swells against the hill". It's bad manners. It's not Zen at all (whereas the rest of the poem is really Zen). In other words, it's exaggerated. It's not a cancer, except as a metaphor, but he hasn't carried out the metaphor as real cancer, actually.

Student: What's the title?

AG: "Front Lines" - On top of that, the basic metaphor is - it's a battle - here's where we draw the line, see? - So he's drawing the line against cancer? Nah, he's going to lose his "war", boy, if he (is). In other words, he's got the wrong image, it's off. He's prophesying his own doom if he does it that way because it doesn't exactly apply. If you want to make it a war, then you use that metaphor that way, as he's got it there, pretty good. A "war", forest, draw(ing) the line.. You have to be pretty precise. In other words, it just isn't precise enough (although the whole poem is terrific, I think, it's a really good.. it's just that you can see where it goes off).. Let's see..Ah, here's a good editorial thought here, I thought [Allen reads in its entirety Snyder's poem "Ethnobotany"] - "In June two oak fell,/ rot in the roots..."..."Boletus./ one sort, Alice Eastwood/ pink, and poison;/ Two yellow edulus/ "edible and choice"/ only I got just so slightly sick - / Taste all, and hand the knowledge down." - So his experience of mushrooms from the local region for his neighbors and friends - a local poem, actually - which mushrooms are good and which are bad. The editorial - "Taste all, and hand the knowledge down" (but he's doing that, and he is illustrating how he's doing it, so you (he) can put that in). I didn't read it very well but you can exactly get the point.

Student: Do you intend to read to us from Riprap ?

AG: No, I don't. I'm just reading a little section from recent (work). Riprap would be ideal, but this is what I had around, and I wanted to see what his practice was now, ripened. If you want Snyder, in a sense, at his sharpest, finest, there is a book called Riprap. Place the images."Riprap" is, I guess, logging, or Northwest, or mountaineering, lingo, to put stones close enough so that you can walk on a solid stone, one step to another, making a riprap path, a path of riprap.

Student: For horses

AG: For horses? Originally? What's the lingo?

Student: It's something the Rangers do, so pack horses...

AG: Ah, for pack horses. So it would be placing stones solidly pack horse step size. The main point being solidity, and making a continuous path for the mind. So he's got a whole book - you can see how that comes out of Williams - a whole book subtly titled "Riprap". "Rap"(is) also talking. So, in a way, that's his ideal...

Student: There's a poem in there, "Magpie's Song"

AG: Here? Yeah. Well, I wanted to get just the things that were so solid that there would be no mistake what was going on.

Student: Could you maybe read something that wasn't solid, and then say why it wasn't?

AG: Well, not that I'd mind doing it, but I'd rather work with what's there, rather than what's not there. Just like, in looking at people's poetry here, generally what I've been doing is just underlining what is active. Not even bothering with what is inactive, because if you can point out what's solid, what's riprap, what's real, what's things, that tends to lead the mind in the right direction, rather than setting up, like, a big argument. Negative - this is negative and I don't like it, or - it doesn't make it. It's always what makes it and is real, right, you can deal with it, it's palpable. So it's better to teach what's palpable than what's not.

[Allen reads next, in its entirety, Snyder's poem "The Call of the Wild"] - "The heavy old man in his bed at night/ Hears the Coyote singing/ in the back meadow.."..."The Government finally decided/ To wage the war all-out. Defeat/is Un-American.." ..."So they bomb and they bomb/ Day after day, across the planet/ blinding sparrows/ breaking the ear-drums of owls/splintering trunks of cherries"... "All these Americans up in special cities in the sky/ Dumping poisons and explosives/ Across Asia first/ And next North America/ A war against Earth./ When it's done there'll be/ no place/ A coyote could hide"
Envoi - "I would like to say/ Coyote is forever/ Inside you./ But it's not true." - So there's a combination. There's a certain area of slippage there, you might say, of imprecision, but, at the same time, it's very inventive.
(So) he always comes back to (something like) "breaking the ear-drums of owls" (that's something so exact and interesting, you'd have to know about owls and bombs and see relationships to know that - there's some really curious beauty). Of course, there, he's intentionally exaggerating and making an editorial, but he weaves it together - a kind of political rip rap going on here - that does make it, and brings home a very clear point about the very nature of what America had become, as distinct from the desire of Williams (in fact, it's a funny complement to Williams). But Williams is saying we have to discover our particular place, or saxiflage and our earth, and here is a vision of Americans lost in "special cities" in the skies attempting to avoid that very earth - "And they never came down/for they found/ the ground/ is pro-Communist and dirty And the insects side with the Viet Cong" - a the specific insects. Yeah? You had a question?

Student: In a poem like that, isn't the generalization or conclusion which a poet makes valid because it arises naturally out of the poem? I mean..he lays the groundwork for the generalization in the poem itself ..

AG: Well, yes, except the generalization finally is a war against Earth, except that he's described what is literally a war against Earth. That's the miracle here. With the details he has selected, literally, "breaking the ear-drums of owls/splintering trunks of cherries/twining and looping deer intestines" and they "bomb/Day after day, across the planet", "in special cities in the sky/ Dumping poisons and explosives". Then "the ground is pro-Communist" (which is, quite literally, true. In the jungle war, they literally did find the jungles, the Mekong swamp, pro-Communist, in the sense that it protected the Viet Cong, so they had to leaf-icide a seventh of the swamp area. So there's a funny kind of literalness about all of this editorial detail). So it's weirdly literal, which is why the poem is so good, because it sounds outlandish and far-out - "Really? What? These Americans warring against the Earth?" - and yet, by accumulated specific information (rather than detail) and some selected exact detail ("breaking the ear-drum of owls"), you really do have an editorial which is identical with a statement of fact. Odd. There's a slight deception about it, I feel, sometimes, but I don't know, because it isn't totally composed of seamless particulars. There's still some intrusion of a person making a point, rather than a point being made through a person that's transparent. It's like Snyder taking responsibility to formulate and announce for poetry, for me, for you, for his group , his family, and for the hip culture, what is going on in this war (Vietnam). So there's this element of persona there, which is also poetic artifact, underlying it - that he's invented a poet named Gary Snyder who's taking responsibility to discriminate and make intellectual and social discriminations and to present a thesis regarding Earth and its survival.

Student: (Bob) Dylan's really good at that (too). I think.

AG: Yeah. More generalized often. Who else? Someone's hand (raised)?

Student: I just took a line. For instance, "like warts stuck out in the woods" - that's negating a lot of "no ideas but in things" simile

AG: Yeah. It's a little heavy - "The ex acid-heads from the cities../...dream of India, of/ forever blissful sexless highs./ And sleep in oil-heated/ Geodesic domes, that/ Were stuck like warts/
In the woods." Except geodesic domes do look a little like that.. But I wonder if it's exact. See, when he jumped to say "warts stuck out in the woods", he lost a fact. What would have been better would have been a description of the blue styrofoam, or the styrofoam bumpiness painted blue, leaky with brown-paper patchwork along the ridge edges where the geodesic dome structure doesn't match but lets the raindrops through, set in the midst of ponderosa pine that dwarf the tacky Puerto-Rican-drugstore blue surface of the dome. Then it would have been a little better for him to have relied on the actual detail (and the reason I know the detail is I know which domes he's writing about, and they're tacky blue-painted, and they look like Puerto-Rican-drugstore blue, or something). So he'd have been better if he'd stuck with detail instead of making it a mind-jump, I think. And that's a very subtle matter.

Student: It's just a particular mode. You said it's a subtle matter

AG: Pardon me?

Student: You said it's a very subtle matter

AG: Well, it's how sharp can you be? How sharp and attentive to detail are you really? And how much do you let go by and get away with? How much can you get away with? If you get a subtle matter, somebody will write something really beautiful like, "Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass/ Stains the white radiance of Eternity/ Until Death tramples it to fragments", well, there's a "dome of many-colored glass" there, that's true, and there's the "white radiance of eternity", and you can't deny that's the most beautiful line in the English language (if "Brightnesse falls from the ayre" isn't the most beautiful line in the language). I wouldn't be too insistent about everything being exactly literal (particularly (in Williams) as Williams get into his old age), but, at least, having that in mind, knowing it as a basic compass and standard, so you don't get deceived by your own bullshit is basic..

Now here's something monumental, composed of information and fact, where hardly any generalization is necessary. "What Happened Here Before, 300,000,000 (years ago)". It's got the dates, "300,000,000" - What happened here before - "here", being the Sierra land where Gary Snyder lives. [Allen then reads from "What Happened Here Before - 300,ooo,ooo" in its entirety, the poem begins at 300,ooo,ooo and traces through geological/historical time] - "First a sea, soft sands, muds, and marls/ - loading, compressing, heating, crumpling/ crushing, recrystallizing, infiltrating/ several times lifted and submerged/ intruding molten granite magma/ deep-cooled and speckling/ gold quarts fills the cracks...."...[The poem ends] - "Now - we sit here near the diggings/ in the forest, by our fire, and watch/ the moon and planets and the shooting stars-/ my sons ask, who are we?/ drying apples picked from homestead trees/ drying berries, curing meat,/ shooting arrows at a bale of straw./ military jets head northeast, roaring, every dawn/ my sons ask, who are they?/ WE SHALL SEE/WHO KNOWS/HOW TO BE/ Bluejay screeches from a pine.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mind, Mouth and Page - 50 (Song of the Exposition)

AG 1975 lectures on Williams continues

AG: I want to take a break from Williams now and go back to some other sources similar to his - Whitman again. I did a little Whitman before, but, there's a very funny poem called "The Song of the Exposition" , in which it's his statement, pre-figuring Williams, about the need for the invention of a completely native art for the United States. So this was for "the Exposition" (what Exposition, I don't know, actually - there's probably a note - probably the Chicago Exposition of 1868, or (18)72, or whatever World's Fair they were having at that (time) [actually, it was for the 1871 National Industrial Exposition of the American Institute, and was revived in 1876 on the occasion of the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia]. What is the date on this anyway?

Student: Montreal?

AG: No, not Montreal in (19)67! - no, this is Whitman in the 19th Century! - It's one of his worst poems, because of its ridiculous combination of Biblical rhetoric and hortatory bombastic... well, it's like a speech for a country-fair, (or a speech for a World's Fair), and, at the same time, it's so awkward that it's funny and imaginative and very beautiful. What he says is great and he says something that nobody would have dared say before, and said it just in time, when his contemporaries were writing a kind of perfumed verse - a library, bookish verse - that he comments upon here. So dig the parallel between the way Whitman approached the bad poetry of his time, imitative of Europe, and Williams approached the bad poetry of his time, imitative of European and English style. [Allen reads from "Song of the Exposition", beginning with section 2, and 3 - "Come Muse migrate from Greece and Ionia.."] - You know he's talking about the muse here. You all know that, I guess, because it begins, "Come Muse migrate from Greece and Ionia.." (but then) (the last line of section 2) - "But that she's left them all - and here?" - [Allen goes on, reading through the whole of the rest of the poem] - "To you, you reverent sane sisters" - the Muses - "I raise a voice for far superber themes for poets and for art,/ To exalt the present and the real/ To teach the averageman his daily walk and trade..."I say I bring thee Muse today and here.."..."This earth all spann'd with iron rails, with lines of steamships threading/ every sea/ Our own rondure, the current globe I bring" - Well, that was Whitman's call for a very similar theme.

Monday, September 17, 2012

William Carlos Williams' Birthday


[William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)]

Ken Kesey (1935-2001)


[Ken Kesey’d come to New York to perform his Bear myth cantata at Lincoln Center, I visited at midnight his room Hotel Excelsior 81’st Street near Planetarium, he held still a second in lamplight, said he had second thoughts about his former Monotheist faith after bus-crash demise of his athlete son - December 14, 1989. (Ginsberg caption) c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]



Ken Kesey, novelist, counter-culture icon, "Merry Prankster", was born 77 years ago today.
Alex Gibney and Alison Elwood's film "Magic Bus - Ken Kesey's Search For A Kool Place" is obviously a must-see. Here's the trailer:


and a further section (featuring some vintage footage of Allen) may be seen here.

Here's (from a documentary on LSD) Kesey recounting his very first (1960) LSD experience.

"The first time I saw Allen Ginsberg he was at a party, standing over by the fireplace..." Ken Kesey's memorial recollections of Allen can be read here

Here's Allen reading his famous early poem "First Party at Ken Kesey's With Hell's Angels"

Here's a few selected interviews with Kesey - from his 1989 NPR Interview On Misconceptions of Counterculture - from his 1993 interview with Robert Faggan for The Paris Review (On "The Art of Fiction") - from his 2000 interview with Digital Influence - a 2001 house-visit.

Another delightful cultural artifact - Kesey and Jerry Garcia on the Tom Snyder (late-night) tv show!

Here, by no means a conclusion but some sort of summary, his New York Times obituary

- "The Pied-Piper"? - wasn't that Neal Cassady?


[Ken Kesey, Ken Babbs, Sandy Lehman-Haupt et al, front porch of Timothy Leary's Millbrook estate, Millbrook, NY Summer 1964. photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]