Kim Seong-Kon, a professor at Seoul National University, bemoans the weakness of his country’s intellectuals, and holds up Allen as a model for independent thought (and action!), in an article for the (English-language)Korea Herald – Where is Korea’s Allen Ginsberg?. “No hope Communism, no hope Capitalism..” – “Thirty years have passed, and yet Ginsberg’s husky voice and the defiant atmosphere of his poem still lingers in my ears”, Seong-Kon writes. “I often wonder why we don’t have such a great poet in Korea. Why do our famous poets, caught in a territorial dispute, have to rush to Dokdo and chant anti-Japanese poems there, claiming “Dokdo is our territory”, whenever our politicians and media instigate patriotism (and pernicious ultra-nationalism)?” – “What would Allen (Ginsberg) have done?” – “If Ginsberg were still alive”, Seong-Kon suggests, “he would have definitely added (to his poem, the lines): “I don’t like the human rights violations in North Korea – (but) I don’t like the nukes in the Korean peninsula either”.
More Allen memories. Here’s Ken McCullough, “Poet Laureate for Winona, Minnesota“, in the midst of a review of his visit last year to the 20th Medellin International Poetry Festival (in Colombia, Latin America): “Back in 1973 I was driving poet Allen Ginsberg around Montana and we had stopped in Butte, a classic mining town fallen on hard times. We were getting a beer in a place called, fittingly, The Terminal Bar, and Allen was talking with some of the men at the corner of the bar, all guys who had worked in the mines, and one of whom had actually known Neal Cassady, protagonist of Jack Kerouac’s novel On The Road, and Allen’s good friend. Allen was taking some notes, as he was wont to do wherever he went. Just then a guy swooped over and said “Who is this guy, and what’s he snoopin’ around about?” Butte had been a hotbed of Wobbly activity earlier in the century, and, in the early ’70s the FBI was doing a lot of snooping around in general all over the country. Residents of Butte were suspicious by nature. Someone said “Sit down and shut up — he’s a poet.” “Well…okay then” was the response. No reason to be suspicious”. The complete text of McCullough’s piece may be found here.
Some time since we featured a parody, but we’re always amused by a good one – like this< – from the current New Yorker. Dave Hanson imagines a poets’ “app” – “global positioning” – “You, who take Route 80 past the saxophone-screaming fever-dream factories, belching steam like hoochsmoke out of a Negro tenement/Who take Exit 62 and shine on the one-eyed no-legged veteran at the bottom of the ramp who wants to get back on his crackling hydrogen lightship”, etc, etc. Hanson gives T.S.Eliot, Robert Frost, Dylan Thomas, and William Carlos Williams the same treatment.
Did you know that the OED has, for some time now, erroneously it seems, cited Allen as the original source (1961) of the term “shit-faced” (!) ? We didn’t. “A satisfying usage but 1961 seems a bit late to me”, writes amateur lexicographer Paul Collins, who then continues to delve into the word’ s origins (in an amusing and informative piece for Slate magazine). Turns out his intimations were right, that Allen was not the originator. Collins traces it all the way back to a “1825 edition of John Jamieson’s Dictionary of the Scottish Language” – and even prior to that, perhaps?
More “Indy rock” news – Philadelphia-based group, The Wonder Years, have a new album (release date – June 14) coming soon from Hopeless Records. “Inspired, in part, by Allen Ginsberg’s 1956 poem “America”‘, it’s called “Surburbia – I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing”.And Marianne Faithfull has a new Hal Willner-produced album, Horse and High Heels out soon (release date – June 28).
Ulysses McQueen recently visited Allen’s grave-site (at Gomel Chesed Cemetery, Newark) and took some pictures.