I had the good luck to have enjoyed from my young days a close friendship with Jan Zábrana, the chief translator of Ginsberg and other Beat writers, so that I had access to the literature even if it was not and could not be published. I have to admit that in those years—through the fifties and sixties—I found the Beat authors’ way of writing and their way of thinking very close to my heart as I was just a little younger than the original Beat Generation. I believe I understood their views and their protest as I could share much of it.
I first met Allen Ginsberg at the renowned student May Day festival at which he was elected king (Král Majáles). After that I participated in one of the private gatherings with him in a Prague apartment. Then I had the luck to see him in Viola, a poet’s café, and I believe it must have been at the moment when the notorious theft of his notebook took place. Not far from me Ginsberg was sharing a table with some young friends, and he seemed to be constantly occupied in looking for something all around the table space. I gather it must have been the notebook that he was missing; that was very likely as right next to his table there was seated a group of men, with the undeniable appearance of plainclothes men, who must have stolen it then or a while earlier.
Later,after 1989, when I had become president, I had the opportunity to see Ginsberg a few times. A couple of times we went to a pub together, and I also went to see his performance at the Chmelnice theater hall.
I have always held the poet in great esteem. I truly appreciated his “Howl” when I was a young man, and I was, of course, deeply moved by what I felt to be his untimely death. I have also greatly cherished his sophistication, his intellectual power, and his scope of vision.” We greatly cherish (and will miss) Havel’s sophistication, intellectual power and scope of vision.