Wichita Vortex Sutra“‘s 50th anniversary. Wichita State University Department of History, the Ulrich Museum of Art, and local radio-station KMUW, will be celebrating this Sunday the 50th anniversary of Allen’s first full reading of the poem. There will be a panel featuring Dr Jay Price, WSU Professor of History, retired Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religion (but active participant at the time), Dr Roger Irwin, and independent curator, James W Johnson. Following the discussion, KMUW commentator Jedd Beaudoin will present a reading of the poem.
Following a chanted mantra, Allen can be heard (on an undated tape from the Robert Creeley collection) reading from the poem – here, and, in 1995 at the Knitting Factory, reading the entire poem with the accompaniment of Philip Glass’s piano, here.
For more on the Beats and Kansas, see the content-rich “Beats in Kansas – The Beat Generation In the Heartland” page (including Lee Strieff’s detailed analysis – here, Allen’s comments, and comments from Paul Carroll, James F Mersmann, Cary Nelson ,Paul Breslin, and Michael Davidson – here, Charles Plymell’s first-hand recollections of traveling with Ginsberg – here – and Bruce Conner’s revealing note to University of Kansas, now UCSD, librarian, Robert Melton, regarding the derivation of the whole concept of “Wichita Vortex“, dating back to as early as 1951)
Rolf Potts‘ observations (first published in The Nation, and republished in The Believer) are now ten years old, but still well worth considering – “Howl” is turning fifty [in 2006, this is]”, he writes, “to much fanfare , but the less celebrated anniversary of Allen Ginsberg’s “Wichita Vortex Sutra” has more to tell about poetry and the state of America” – “Poetic language cannot properly commemorate the horrors of war, sure – but, more alarmingly, it has been diluted to the point where it has lost its effectiveness in preventing those horrors in the first place..”Wichita Vortex Sutra reads like a prophetic and final anti-war poem, an elegy for the power of language in an age of competing information.”
Other news? Allan M Jalon‘s piece, in the Jewish Daily Forward, “That Time Allen Ginsberg Wrote A Socialist Poem – About Bernie Sanders”, that we featured in last Friday’s Round-Up is now available on the Forward‘s web site (alongside a quirky cartoon image by Anya Ulinich) and is accessible – here
and he follows it up with a second article, “When Bernie Sanders Walked Out of Allen Ginsberg’s Poetry Reading” (this new story, updates the first and, alongside quoting Phyllis Segura on her Ginsberg-Sanders photograph, quotes Allen’s accompanist, Steven Taylor, (recalling an incident that may have happened in 1983 but may well have happened some years later)):
“What happened was we gave a show in some big municipal building…and Bernie got up and introduced Allen..,Bernie was proud to present Allen and Allen was then in the habit, if he had a new poem, he’d try it out on people..and he had a very graphic poem about anal sex. He had this kind of dirty streak, and he liked to talk dirty in public.It was partly gay activism and it was also something that he did.”
Jalon’s article goes on: “The poem was called “What You Up To?” and it appears in the final edition of Ginsberg’s Collected Poems. “Sanders”, Taylor said, “stood up” from his seat as Ginsberg read, “turned and walked out. You know I thought (at the time), [Jalon quotes Taylor here] “What a nightmare for a politician”. I thought, “Oh. God, he’s a socialist. Already he’s got problems. But now he’s got Allen up here reading about anal sex!”. It was not a good thing for Allen to do. He should not have done it. He should have been more careful, but he got excited. He got excited when he performed, and he was a great performer…”
The Mondriaan String Quartet performing in Rotterdam earlier this month, from “September on Jessore Road”, (Steven Taylor’s setting), their “Allen Ginsberg in the Netherlands – 1983 Revisited” show. The footage was shot by Filip Feij (the original 1991 backdrop footage of Allen and company by Chask)
A trumpet-blast and anti-gentrification warning. What are they doing to (What have they done to) William Blake’s grave? London Mayor, Boris Johnson, despite local council and preservationist entreaties, this past month has given the green light to the destruction of buildings overlooking the famed graveyard, Bunhill Fields, and the construction of “four tower blocks, (architects epiction below) two of which will be 10 and 11 stories high”. “Ironically”, the local newspaper notes,” the Blake Society has itself spent several years trying unsuccessfully to get planning permission for its own “development”- a 1m headstone to mark the poet and artist’s original burial spot, which is currently unmarked. His existing gravestone is in the wrong place.”
A petition may still be signed here
Must-buy music collections. Dust to Digital have just announced this (for pre-order):
“From July to December 1959, Paul Bowles crisscrossed Morocco making recordings of traditional music under the auspices of the Library of Congress. Although the trip occupied less than six months in a long and busy career, it was the culmination of Bowles’s longstanding interest in North African music. The resulting collection remained a musical touchstone for the rest of his life and an important part of his mythology”.
More notice of the Bowles collection here and here
More Paul Bowles on the Allen Ginsberg Project – here