Saturday, June 29, 2013
[Peter Orlovsky & Allen Ginsberg, 1963 - photograph by Richard Avedon c. The Richard Avedon Foundation - "I'm Gay For Ginsberg" t-shirt - Allen Ginsberg with unidentified friend, c.1968 c.The Allen Ginsberg Estate]
Gay Pride Weekend - We draw your attention, first off, to this important posting here.
Our Gay Pride 2o11 post is here, 2012's posting here
We just had to - once again (in case you didn't know!) remind you of the Whitman-Ginsberg (and onward!) "Gay Succession"!
[Gavin Arthur aka Chester Alan Arthur III (1901-1972), "who slept with Edward Carpenter who slept with Walt Whitman - who slept with.." - "The Gay Succession"]
Here's Allen (in 1994) on right-wing homophobia:
Here's a scholarly piece by Dagmar Van Engen (of Boston College) - "Howling Masculinity - Queer Social Change in Allen Ginsberg's Poetry"
Friday, June 28, 2013
[Allen Ginsberg's very last photograph (1997), taken from his loft at 404 East 14th Street, New York City (and featured in the show 404 East 14, currently on exhibit at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York)]
[Composite view of the bookshelves in Allen's loft - Photograph c. The Estate of Allen Ginsberg (for a large composite panoramic view of the loft see here)]
[Allen Ginsberg - pencil drawing, by his upstairs neighbor Larry Rivers (another inhabitant of 404 East 14th - and likewise featured in the current Tibor de Nagy show)]
404 East 14th Street, Allen's last address, his loft, features in a lively exhibition curated by Tom Burckhardt, and on view these summer months at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York, through until August 2nd
In case you missed it, here's footage of him showing off the place (freshly bought and, sadly, scarcely to be inhabited - by him) to the late Taylor Mead
Jean Jacques Lebel's Beat extravaganza continues in Metz. Here's Frank Browning's report in The Huffington Post - Here's another brief video preview (featuring a fleeting appearance by Allen)
We'll be looking at Allen's relation with Artaud in the coming weeks - here's an early primer.
Last week's City Lights 60th anniversary celebrations went well, we're pleased to report
and last week's Snapshot Poetics Now - Queer Encounters with Allen Ginsberg -
Tirza Latimer has this report -
Gay Pride Weekend coming up this weekend, June 29-30. More about that tomorrow
Thursday, June 27, 2013
[Marianne Faithfull in Minneapolis, 2001]
Marianne Faithfull and Gregory Corso, together in his last days - January 5, 6 and 7, 2001, in Robbinsdale, Minneapolis (Gregory died ten days later), recorded by Michael Minzer , produced by Michael Minzer, Hal Willner and Marianne Faithfull, and released, in 2006, under the title Lieders, on Minzer's Paris Records.
Minzer: "This CD consists of recordings that were not included on the (earlier) Gregory Corso Die On Me release"...""Lieders" was a title he (Gregory) suggested for the original album."
Marianne: "I speak with the voice of Allen Ginsberg" - "I speak in the voice of Allen Ginsberg. You've always.. Yes, yes, yes. Allen always told you you should do this with Hal, now you're doing it, and you're not getting out of it - no way, you little fucker..."
Lieders opens with random unedited conversation. Gregory to Hal: "Will you do me a favor? Open this here for me, the whisky, and pour it in here..." - Marianne to Gregory: "I hear you've been gambling a lot, darling" - Gregory: "I love it, I win" - Gregory to Michael: "Take me gambling". The opening cut (recorded conversation) can be accessed here.
Conversation continues - Gregory regales Marianne with tales of Greek mythology [this is from Die On Me"] - "I love Greek mythology" - Gregory: I would be so happy if the Angel (Marianne) would do my poetry..." - Marianne: Well I don't know if you'll like the way I read them" - Gregory: "I like you and you like me, we're similar in a way... "The goodies remain, the rest of the crap is culled out.."
Marianne reads Gregory's "No arrangement was made" (this one, similarly, from the Die on Me collection - as is "Getting To The Poem" ("I have lived by the grace of Jews and girls..."))
From Lieders, she (Marianne) reads Nevermore Baltimore, Thoughts Concerning Sickness, Many Have Fallen, Conversation in Taos ("The nicest place, I was ever nice at was Fort Bliss.."), New Poem Title Unknown - ("I'm not like him [like Allen], I'm straight"), and The Doubt of Truth ("In the Muse there is no rest home.." - Gregory: "That's right, there ain't no rest home, there's no Old Poets Rest Home.." - Marianne ruefully agrees).
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Philip Lamantia (1927-2005)]
AG: Would you like to hear some more (Philip) Lamantia?
AG; Lamantia and (Gregory) Corso, oddly, are  very much alive. Both Italian, both word-alchemists, mantic word-manipulators. This is called "Astro-mancy" - short lines.
The stars have gone crazy
and the moon is very angry
The old civilization
that rolled the dice of Hitler
is surely bumbling
into a heap of catatonic hysteria.
secret for sic thousand tears
is creeping on the crest of
future. I can almost see the
tin of its triangular star.
I'm writing this from lost Atlantis
I wonder when I'll get back
to the alchemical castle
where I can rebegin my work
left off in the Middle Ages
when the Black Beast roared down
on my weedy parchments and spilled me
into an astral waiting room
whose angels, naturally in flaming white robes,
evicted me for this present irony:
idleness, mancy & the Dawn
instead of getting down to
the super-real work of
transmuting the Earth with love of it
by the Fire prepared from the time of Onn!
No matter, I'm recovering
from a decade of poisons
I renounce all narcotic
& pharmacopoeic disciplines
as too heavy 9-5 type sorrows
Instead I see America
as one vast palinode
that reverses itself completely until
Gitchi Manito actually returns
as prophet of a new Iroquois Brotherhood -
this needs further devopment -
I foresee a couple of
a break-out generation
of poet-kings setting up
The Realm Apart
of sweet natural play
and light metal work
matter lovingly heightened
by meditation, and spirit
transmuted into matter,
the whole commune conducted by
direct rapid transcription
from a no-past reference
anti-rational, fantastically poetic
violently passive and
Each one his own poet
and poetry the central fact
food & excrement of culture
I see you smiling tolerantly
O liberal lip (another utopian
bites the dust) but no! you just
can't see what I'm reading while
in the act of transcribing it.
I know at least three other
supernatural souls who envision
much the same under different names,
but the nomenclature's not more than
the lucid panorama I telescope
as, on this summer night's
torpor, it passes from under my eyelid and
grabs you, earth returned
into the middle of Aquarius, one millennium forward.
AG: That's his basic prophecy.
[The Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia will be available this summer, published by the University of California Press. A momentous occasion. This poem will be among them.]
(Allen's reading of this poem of Lamantia's may be heard at approximately twenty-eight-and-a-half minutes in here)
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
[The Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia - edited by Garrett Caples, Andrew Joron & Nancy Joyce Peters (with a foreward by Lawrence Ferlinghetti) forthcoming from the University of California Press, this summer]
AG: I want to read you one or two other short poems of his [Philip Lamantia's]
Student: What was that (last) one?
AG: That's called "There is this distance between me and what I see" (on page 6o of Selected Poems by Philip Lamantia, City Lights, published in (19)67 - they're his main poems up to 1966, and I put it in the Naropa library, with notes in the book as to which poems to check out, if you want to read a little anthology of Lamantia). I think for nervous recording of immediate, fast, nervous movements of mind, he's one of the most interesting of the modern poets (also, for basic archetypal self-thought, thoughts that almost everybody has, but haven't quite expressed - (and he) came out of the drug culture too -) Sharp [Allen reads next (on the opposite page) Philip Lamantia's "I have given fair warning" - "I have given fair warning/Chicago New York Los Angeles have gone down/I have gone to Swan City where the ghost of Maldoror may still/roam/The south is very civilized/I have eaten rhinoceros tail/It is the last night among crocodiles/Albion opens his fist in a palm grove/I shall watch speckled jewel grow on the back of warsplit horses/Exultation rides by/A poppy the size of the sun in my skull/I have given fair warning/at the time of corpses and clouds I can make love here as/anywhere"
- Short lines and long lines. Each with the same impulse. Each with a relatively balanced... each one, a sort of impulse. A high state of excitement, high tension, rare among poets, generally (particularly among the poetry I've been teaching here, that begins with a much more quotidian base and much more muted level, much more rounded). Here, it's totally up in the air (although he's obviously playful and conscious, humorous, in what he's doing - "I have eaten rhinoceros tail/It is the last night among crocodiles" (actually, he just took some mushrooms!) - "A poppy the size of the sun in my skull" - (and) I like the last line - "at the time of corpses and clouds" - "at the time of corpses and clouds" (that's out of (Arthur) Rimbaud - "voici le temps des Assassins" (now is the time of (the) assassins)) - "at the time of corpses and clouds I can make love here as/anywhere" - (A) true apocalyptic poem.
(Next), a little poem called "High" - "O beato solitude! where have I flown to?/stars overturn the walls of my music/as flights of birds, they go by, the spirits/opened below the lark of plenty/ovens of neant overflow the docks of Veracruz/This much is time/summer coils the soft suck at night/lone unseen eagles crash thru mud/I am worn like an old sack by the celestial bum/I'm dropping my eyes where all the trees turn on fire!/I'm mad to go to you, Solitude - who will carry me there?/I'm wedged in this collision of planets/Tough!/I'm ONGED!/I'm the trumpet of King David/the sinister elevator tore itself limb by limb./ You can not close/you can not open/you break yr head/you make bloody bread!" - It's totally funny, totally "Ong"! ("Ong" is, I think, a word that was current in the late (19)50's, early (19)60's for being high) - Like (Jack) Kerouac's description of peyote in Visions of Cody - "peyote grooking in the desert" - "The peyote cactus grooking in the desert, under the sun" [the precise quote, referenced by Allen in his Visions of The Great Rememberer, is "Cactus with his big lizard hide and poison hole buttons with wild hair, grooking in the desert to eat our hearts alive, ack..."]
A couple of other interesting poems by him (Lamantia). One called "Blue Grace" (These are totally opposite in tone and grounding, as I keep saying, from everything else I've been reading, from what I've been reading as good examples for good boys and girls to write. All of which means I was only proposing those good examples as some sort of standard to refer to so that you don't get freaked-out in the poetry, but, if you're going to freak-out, then freak-out interestingly! - and your freak-out will be more interesting if you have some ground to begin with. In other words, I wasn't actually preaching coming down totally, but I was just saying at least be able to do that. Since everybody is so much up in the air, and so inartistically, it seems the only way to begin is to get back down to William Carlos Williams, Imagism, nothing happening, birds chirping on the telephone wires, at least have some kind of a mental clarity so that what you do when you freak-out has humor and spaciousness and playfulness, and is understandable as freak-out, rather than as an entire world where you're expecting everybody to enter, taking it seriously (unless you really are serious, and suicidal, wherein you can say your poem is grounded in reality and a death-machine screech - which (Artaudian seriousness) we'll get to). [Allen proceeds to read (in its entirety) Philip Lamantia's "Blue Grace" - "BLUE GRACE/ crashes thru air/where Lady LSD hangs up all the floors of life for the last time/Blue Grace leans on white slime/Blue Grace weaves in and out of Luneburg and "My Burial Vault"/unudlates/from first hour peyote turnon.."..."Man,/the marvel/of masturbation arts/intersects Blue Grace/at World's Finale Orgasm Electro-Physic Apocalypse!/ I sing the beauty of bodily touch/with my muse, Blue Grace" - It's a funny ending - Spring 1963 - That is, I think, one of the late great poems. There's a lot in Lamantia, if you don't know him. That is.. weird.. (a) total "kundalini somersault". Yeah?
Student: Allen, he was writing (this) when...?
AG: He was hanging around San Francisco, mostly, with John Wieners, occasionally , and with Michael McClure, and Robert LaVigne, a painter. "Blue Grace" was a poem he read to Robert LaVigne, the painter (who used to be Peter Orlovsky's friend), and LaVigne painted a huge painting of "Blue Grace", with shades coming out of white automobiles on the streets of San Francisco - (an image of) a sort of an Angel, dressed in a blue suit and with dark shades - ((a) very heroin-ique image, heroin-ique image)
Student: Is he still alive?
AG:  - Yes. He's in San Francisco. He's editing Arsenal magazine [with Franklin Rosemont] and writing specifically Surrealistic poems. I saw him about two months ago, and spent an afternoon listening to him getting his theory down, suggesting that he come out and teach here [Naropa] but he said, "No, we're Surrealists we're not Buddhists". (I tried to) lure him out of his... he lives on Telegraph Hill in a little apartment and his family is Italian from San Francisco. So he's (from) an old born-in-San-Francisco native family.
Student: Has his style changed?
AG: Yes. This time he was more.. sort of.. well, he describes it here - that funny phrase in "Blue Grace" (which) would be "World's Finale Orgasm Electro-Physic Apocalypse!" - (that was the prophesy of the 'Sixties - it was a 'Sixties-ish Electronic Acid Planet News) - He's now, I think, probably, a little more dissociated, because he's zeroed in - he's left quasi-politics or neurological politics and he has now zeroed in - on a precise area ( he says it's precise) of his consciousness, whence comes certain images which have absolutely no rational usability. He wants a poetry that will not have commerce with the world, where the words are associated magically, and each image contradicts the other image, where the mind doesn't get a chance to solidify logical formations (or even sensory consistencies!). So the Surrealist method there is almost the opposite of everything (that) I've been teaching.
I feel a little more difficulty now with his poetry, in understanding it (because it's not meant to be "understood"). And (But) I would still recommend checking it out, the later developments.
But.. continuing with his early poems, when he was thirteen (fourteen, fifteen), called "Revelations of a Surreal Youth", up to recent.. well, (19)65, "Voice of Earth Mediums" [Allen proceeds to read (in its entirety) Philip Lamantia's "Voice of Earth Mediums" - "We are truly fed up/with mental machines of peace and war/nuclear monoxide brains, cancerous computers/motors sucking our hearts of blood/that once sang the choruses of natural birds!/We've had enough dynamos and derricks/thud-thud-thudding valves and pulleys/of the Devil Mankin's invention..."..."if the complete crowd-manacled Machine/ isn't dissolved back into the Earth/from where its elements were stolen/we shall call on/the Great Ocean Wave/Neter of waters/and the King of Atlantis & his snake spirits/otherwise known as/Orcus/Dagon & Drack!/to send up calamitous tidal waves/- a thousand feet high if need be -/to bury all the monster metal cities/and their billion bullioned wheels of chemical death!'.."Oh, William Blake!/thou can oversee, if it please thee,/this lesson of Aquarius Clean Sweep/that Earth's beautiful spirit of purifying Ocean/shall stop these weights on and plunder of/her metal blood and very thin skin/to teach us Terra's song of taoist harmonies!"
Well, let's see if you can do it (actually, you can do it, anybody can do it, if you want to do it that way - and it's done that way already, it's already happened - but it's (admittedly) pretty interesting, and prophetic of later development in national consciousness). He was calling these curses and exorcisms and prophecies out in the early (19)60's and so was a really brilliant poet. (Actually, some of (Michael) McClure, in a sense, is watered-down Lamantia, some of McClure's biological analysis of civilization - Lamantia, without that nervous intelligence and discounting.. discounting insistence.. tantrums, tantrums - these are like tantrums.
That was called "Voice of Earth Mediums". And there's one called "What Is Not Strange?" which ends "Go Away & Be Born No More!/ DO A KUNDALINI SOMERSAULT!", and which is set on the page very weird. It's zig-zag, a whole series of different lines, all zig-zagged on the page.
(Audio for this section may be heard here from approximately thirteen-and-a-quarter minutes in to approximately twenty-eight-and-a-quarter minutes in - here)
Monday, June 24, 2013
[Philip Lamantia - from the cover of his book Narcotica, published by Auerhahn Press, San Francisco, 1959]
Allen Ginsberg's Spontaneous and Improvised Poetics class (sic) held at Naropa Insitute, July 7, 1976 continues - [note from original transcriber, Randy Roark, "the recording is recorded a great distance from the speaker, which accounts for some of the difficulty obtaining a complete and accurate description" - however...]
AG: So I've been using as texts..various modern poets. So, where I left off, in terms of formation of lines on the page and the litany form of the poem.. (So), picking up some pieces - (the) litany form of the poem, formation of lines on the page, and break-up of lines on the page, and elements of breath-stop, the creation of poems that use a repeated refrain to build up a series of ideas, or construct lines out of.. So, disparate elements, that's what we've been talking about in the last few days..
How many here have read Philip Lamantia? Raise your hands [class gives a show of hands] - Okay, so quite a few have. He's a friend of Philip Whalen, and was a friend of (Jack) Kerouac. (He) was from San Francisco. (He was) born there and grew up there, went to high school, was a member of the anarchist-Buddhist mystical Gnostic circle of Kenneth Rexroth and Robert Duncan in the (19)40's, and then, when he was thirteen years old, ran off to New York, around 1944, and looked up the Surrealists who were living in New York, and went to the office off Fifth Avenue, where there was a magazine called "View" run by a poet friend of William Carlos Williams called Charles Henri Ford, and slept on the floor of View magazine for a couple of weeks while he was in New York, claiming that he was the American (Arthur) Rimbaud! - So he was a spiritually ambitious poetical thirteen-year-old. ["Discovered & published at fifteen by View]. He now  is the leading member of the American Surrealist group - or the group of Americans who call themselves Surrealists, representing the official imperatives of the Surrealist doctrine and practice (they have a magazine called "Arsenal" which has issues every few years, and, actually, this year, in May, they had a large exhibition in Chicago, so they're still an active group).
Student: Where does that (magazine, Arsenal) come from?
AG: Chicago, I think
AG: Chicago and San Francisco (and it's available from City Lights in San Francisco, or Gotham Book Mart in New York, or other specialized bookstores in New York City). There's also a collection of their work in the last "City Lights Journal", which is in the library. They generally refuse to publish with other poets. They don't send poems out to poetry magazines or [Naropa's journal] "Sitting Frog" because they want to have their work (be) an axe that just cuts through with their one central conception of poetry that comes from a specialized state of consciousness, that is not rational and not sub-conscious, but comes from some plane that can be compared to the hypnogogic vision that is half-sleeping and half-waking. Lamantia says (this) is a special place in his consciousness that he recognizes when it appears and (that) the lines that come out of it are true Surrealist lines.
All other writing he does, is not. Writing he does in automatic hand-movement state, or conscious state, is not true Surrealist. So, he feels (that) there is a definite place in the mind whence Surrealist imagery (a)rises.
All this being a side-issue to what I'm bringing this up for. He has a poem called "Morning Light Song" which shows the impulse of breath riding through, line after line, to a certain ecstatic state (somewhat in the form of the Christopher Smart or Whitmanic poems we've looked at - and somewhat in the same style as Anne Waldman's series of poems that we were talking about last class, but here, in this "list poem", the lines are intensified and stretched out with Surrealist-style imagery). So you get to see what he does with that form - [Allen begins reading Philip Lamantia's "Morning Light Song - "RED DAWN, clouds coming up! the heavens proclaim you,/ Absolute God..."..."O poet of poets/Ancient deity of the poem - / Here's spindle tongue of morning riding the flushes of NIGHT/ Here's gigantic ode of the sky about to turn on the fruits of my/ lyre/Here's Welcome Cry from the heart of the womb of words - Hail/ Queen of Night!/ Who giveth birth to the Morning Star. Here's the quiet cry of/ stars broken among crockery/Here's the spoon of sudden birds wheeling the rains of Zeus"..."Here's my chant to you, Morning of Mornings, God of gods, light of light"..."That I hold converse with your fantasy. That I am your beauty/ NOT OF THIS WORLD and bring to nothing all that would stop me/From flying straight to your heart whose rays conduct me to the SONG!"] - That's one long continuous apocalyptic breath build-up, and he's using some weird combinations like "Here's the spoon of sudden birds wheeling the rains of Zeus" (in some respects, absolutely nonsensical, yet always some kind of crisp clear oddity in the lines) - Made up of spoons? - "Here's the quiet cry of stars broken among crockery" - So, although there's a great deal of intellectual extravagance, it always comes down to "spoon(s)" and "crockery" (the"spoon" may have been a heroin spoon, actually).
I brought that up as an example of a good deal as far as deal of breath. Then, for parallel to (William Carlos Williams)' use of "aposiopesis", or hiatus, break, or perhaps, even, the cutting (the break, and then the continuing again somewhere else)."Aposiopesis" is a technical term, like "Those ships should be turned inward upon/...but I am an old man, I've had enough" - Remember that example?
There are two things I want to lay out with this poem ["There is this distance between me and what I see"] or use it as examples of. One was - it begins at the margin, and the lines are divided partly by vocal impulse, the vocal mouthing, and partly by mental cut, the cut of ideas. Some lines (are) long, some lines (are) absolutely short and abrupt, as if in the composition he ran out of idea and just began at the margin with another word - ran out of idea, began with another word, ran out of idea, then began with another idea and ran all the way over to the right-hand margin again. "There is this distance between me and what I see" is the title.[or the first line, the alternative title, "Still Poem 9"]. He was, at the time, I think, preoccupied with the idea of achieving some divine vision (he was taking all sorts of drugs and doing all sorts of hermetic and alchemical experiments on himself and so he was giving himself direction in how to behave mentally). I'll mark the beginnings of the line with (a movement of) my hand. [Allen begins reading Philip Lamantia's "There is this distance between me and what I see" - "There is this distance between me and what I see/ everywhere immanence of the presence of God/no more ekstasis/a cool head/ watch watch watch/ I'm here/He's over there... It's an Ocean.../sometimes I can't think of it, I fail, fall/There IS this look of love/there IS the tower of David/there is the throne of Wisdom/there IS this silent look of love/Constant flight in air of the Holy Ghost/I long for the luminous darkness of God/I long for the superessential light of this darkness/another darkness I long for the end of longing/I long for the/it is Nameless what I long for..." - He has the line broken as [Allen goes to the blackboard] - "I long for the/ it is Nameless what I long for/a spoken word caught in its own meat saying nothing" - The form there is really nice because you suddenly see the thought break off, jump down the line, and continue in another direction - "I long for the/ it is Nameless what I long for/a spoken word caught in its own meat saying nothing/ This nothing ravishes beyond ravishing/There IS this look of love Throne Silent look of love" - A continuous burst of energy, and, even when it breaks off - "I long for the/ it is Nameless what I long for" - the energy continues into somewhere else. It turns a corner and goes off in the other direction. I always thought that that was one of the best modern poems I've ever seen in terms of swiftness of mind and weird syntax. It's an immediate transcription of thought, an attempt at diagramming the way his mind moves on the page. It also, vocally, to speak it, is tremendous, because, in a way, there's no breath there - "I long for the/ it is Nameless what I long for" (or it could be "I long for the - pause -/ it is Nameless what I long for"), but I like it in one breath, and I heard him recite it and I think it was one breath that he used there. So the jump-down would mark, in terms of time - "I long for the/ it is Nameless what I long for" - a slight hesitancy. The forward push of the line a break in the speech, but not in the breath but the speech and then the continuation of the breath at the end. They're all equal, each line, in some respect or other - "There is this distance between me and what I see/ everywhere immanence of the presence of God/no more ekstasis/a cool head/ watch watch watch" - The "watch watch watch" is one line, (the) "a cool head" is one line, "no more ekstasis" is one line - It's just this mad rush of thought (or maddening rush of thought), but it's one of the best examples I've ever seen of someone thinking speedy, and writing speedy, and laying out a really sort of ecstatic rush of confession of desire, even if (as in with Hart Crane), a totally mystical desire, which, in a sense, has no object - "O Answerer of all..." O great nothing"
[Transcriber's note - "At this point, the tape [the tape he was working from] seriously deteriorates and is barely audible" - The audio recording in the on-line Archives at Naropa Institute, however, seems clear enough. The above is a transcription of the first thirteen and a quarter minutes of the audio here] - (to be continued..)
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Happy (60th) Birthday City Lights Bookstore! City Lights Publications! City Lights!
Abandon All Despair, Ye Who Enter Here, the City Lights blog is here
City Lights web-site is here
City Lights Allen Ginsberg page here
Saturday, June 22, 2013
City Lights 60th Anniversary celebrations tomorrow. In anticipation of that august occasion, we look back on (and draw your attention to) the four-part series that appeared on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary, in the "local paper", the San Francisco Chronicle.
Among those interviewed or mentioned - Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Shigeyoshi Murao, co-founder Peter Martin, co-owner, Nancy Peters, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, David Meltzer, Joanne Kyger, Diane di Prima, David Amram, Larry Keenan, Robert Creeley, Henri Lenoir, (founder of Vesuvio's), Enrico Banducci, (founder of the hungry i and Enrico's Sidewalk Cafe), Bruce Conner, Peter Coyote, Robert Scheer, Herb Gold, Robert Hass, Daniel Halpern, Andrei Codrescu, Lenore Kandel,Thom Gunn, Elaine Katzenberger (executive director of City Lights), Maxine Hong Kingston.. the list goes on....
The four sections - The first, "The Birth of Cool 1953-1960", a City Lights oral history is here.
The second, "And The Beat Goes On - City Lights and the Counterculture 1961-1974", here. The third, "Literary Mecca - "City Lights Enters The Modern Age 1975-2003", here.
Section four focuses on the proprietor, the lynch-pin, Lawrence Ferlinghetti - "Lawrence Ferlinghetti - A Portrait in Words - The Long Dream of Survival", here.
Ten years on, and neither Lawrence nor the store show any signs of flagging. Au contraire..
Here's a complete list of the classic City Lights Pocket Poets - (including Plutonian Ode, number 40, Mind Breaths, 35, Fall of America, 30. Planet News, 23, Reality Sandwiches, 18, Kaddish, 14, and Howl and Other Poems, 4)
Friday, June 21, 2013
The Jean-Jacques Lebel multi-media Beat Generation exposition opened last week (simultaneously, in four European locations!). We've already shown one (Arte tv) - here's another - (Mirabelle) French tv - preview:
and here's a press preview of the German (ZKM Karlsruhe) manifestation
Lebel's opening/welcoming speech may be accessed here -
"Hello Beatniks", his introductory text may be read here
Meanwhile, back in the United States (San Francisco) at the CJM (Contemporary Jewish Museum), Beat Memories, the Allen Ginsberg photo exhibition continues. On Sunday (this Sunday) from 2 to 5 - "Snapshot Poetics Now - Queer Encounters With Allen Ginsberg" - "Inspired by Ginsberg's collection of inscribed snapshots, Bay Area artists and scholars will create a unique performance-based tour of the gallery. Performances will be drawn from encounters with Allen Ginsberg and his legendary cohort of Beat writers, artists, and lovers". "Performers and scholars" include Jewelle Gomez, Richard Meyer, Tirza Latimer, Justin Chin, Jaime Cortez, and DL Alvarez.
A previous Beat Memories-related event took place in the Museum a couple of weeks back - "Quiet Lightning - Neighborhood Heroes Edition" - Here's Tom Comitta introducing and presenting his "Howl" track 4 (from "Howl in Six Voices 20/10") from that event
More big celebrations in San Francisco this weekend - City Lights 60th Anniversary! - (KAWL's Holly McDede celebrates that here) - more about that tomorrow.
Happy Summer Solstice!
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Our feature today - A New Kind of Bohemia, segment two in a a six-part series by Kevin Alexander, made in 1999 for Canadian television, Rebels - A Journey Underground.
(The other episodes, incidentally, are also well worth catching - see here)
From the episode synopsis - "Following World War II, a new period of post-war social complexity overtook America. It was during this turbulent, often repressive Cold War time that Jack Kerouac coined the phrase "beat" and gave birth to a new literary movement. This film follows the activities of this new breed of writer - Kerouac, (Neal) Cassady, (Allen) Ginsberg, and a handful of outsiders who became known as the "Beat Generation"."
Featured on-screen observations by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, David Amram, Anne Waldman, Carolyn Cassady, Gerald Nicosia, Dennis McNally, Al Leslie, Ann Charters, Steve Allen..
Narration is by Kiefer Sutherland.
Harold Norse appears at approximately 26 minutes in and tells a delightful story about his first meeting Allen:
"I met Allen Ginsberg at 3 or 4 in the morning on a subway train going to the Village, from where I was.. had been.. I don't remember, and he walked into this empty car and sat down opposite me and started reading from a book and I.. and, as the roar of the train subsided at each subway stop, I could tell that it was Rimbaud that he was reading and I said, "The Drunken Boat - Rimbaud", and he looked up and he said, "You're a poet!"- and that's how we met. We ended up in my room, a little freezing room in Greenwich Village."
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
[The List Poem by Larry Fagin (2000, from Teachers & Writers Collaborative) - cover design by Trevor Winkfield]
Student: I feel I have to defend myself against (you and) the rest of the class
Allen Ginsberg: Do you have a “self” to defend? – okay, if you insist on having a “self”
Student: Well you said (my comparison with set theory wasn’t so helpful) but why I said that was, that if the members don’t interact, then that means that, just like in a sentence, that means there’s no articulation, (group consciousness) is not being put into form
Ted Berrigan: If you take a group.. you have to..
Student: It’s not articulation until the words interact, right?
Ted Berrigan: The articulation [in Anne Waldman’s “Fast Speaking Woman”] is in the dance of vowels and syllables, much more there than in “Pressure”, where everything there snaps. In this poem, everything sings (and when you see it performed, for example, you understand that very clearly because it comes off her so smoothly). The interaction is in the music so much more in “Fast Speaking Woman” than in “Pressure”, which has a great breathless quality
Allen Ginsberg: Well, then, her next move was “Musical Garden”, where she complicated the line, interestingly – “Can’t give you up, speech, can’t stop/ clamoring” – So then (she) began to augment the line, because she couoldn’t repeat the poem, or the same attack on the poem, one poem after another, with the same simple lines, so then she began expanding the musical possibilities and the ideation and image possibilities within the sweetheart, my tender/ chocolate big-lipped love/ Can’t give up all dear ones, your bright/ ears and delicate smiles” – So you see how she began developing that. Actually, it’s sort of like a primary course in the list poem, going from one poem to another to another of hers and seeing how she’s developed it, and finally, in the last [1976 -most recent] poem, “Shaman” ["Shaman Hisses"], there’s very complicated lines, involving description, with different actions, long, very long sometimes. Sometimes a short single-word line, but, most of the time, it’s a line describing a whole action – “Shaman, your mother’s calling you on the telephone”
The reason I brought this up was (is), if you have a litany, or a list poem, or if you want to try one like that, if you’re developing one, or if you’re revising one, or working on one, just to bear in mind that (a) single-word list poem has been done, a double-word list poem has been done. You’ve got to have something interesting in each line. Anne has developed it in this way. (Christopher) Smart started with a much more pedestrian line, you might say, (a) more everyday line. A major element in it all, however, is the ear for the line, keeping the line of such an elastic spoken quality that the whole thing hangs together as one tripping breath, or one vowel-ic breath (but there you’d have to pay attention to sound, you’d have to pay attention to having the imagery colorful enough enough to fill out a line).
And I’ll end there, because it’s eight twenty-five.
Student: I made the list into a narrative.
AG: Pardon me?
Student: I made the list into a narrative.
AG: Yes. You can (do) do that.
Tape and class ends here – to be continued