Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg, San Francisco, 1965, photo c. Larry Keenan
Yesterday’s announcement of Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize still has us reeling. Better late than never, Allen’s letter to the Nobel Committee, from November 20, 1996 (sic):
“Dear Members of the Swedish Academy, For the Nobel Prize in Literature I propose Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan is a American Bard & minstrel of XX Century, whose words have influenced many generations throughout the world. He deserves a Nobel Prize in recognition of his mighty & universal poetic powers”
Allen Ginsberg, Poet, Member of American Academy of Arts and Letters, Co-Director Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, Naropa Institute, Distinguished Professor of English,Brooklyn College.”
On to other things…
Jack Kerouac – Satori in Paris – cover of the UK (Quartet publishers) 1977 paperback edition
Ed Foster – “Self Portrait in a Bathroom Mirror”
“I remember once, Allen wanted to attend a faculty meeting at my school [Stevens Institute of Technology]. He was just curious: “What’s a faculty meeting like?” “Allen, they’re boring. Like all meetings, they’re terribly boring!” But he insisted, and he came over, with Ted (Berrigan). So, I introduced him to the then president, who introduced him to rest of the people there: “We’re very honored today, the great poet, Allen Ginsberg, is here with us,” and so on. And then, we go into business, the business of the meeting.
Allen falls asleep. Instantly. That’s the best thing you could possibly make of any meeting anywhere at any time – just fall asleep! Meetings are inhuman, they’re awful. In the seven or eight years that I was the director for the humanities and social sciences at my school, I never held a meeting. Not one.”
and, again: “I recall that, when I went out to Naropa to teach, Allen knocked on the door just moments after I arrived and took me to the local grocery store to buy supplies – but only organic! – and chided me when I chose a tomato that didn’t meet that standard!”
“..He was the most generous, open, and helpful of people.”
Nate Mackey in Perimeter 4, another recent publication, with more of Allen-teaching recollection:
“It’s funny that.. when I met Allen Ginsberg, one of the writers whose anti-academicism had given me pause, when I really got a chance to sit down and hang out with him—I guess it would’ve been the first year I went to teach at Naropa for a week in the summer, so that would’ve been 1991, something like that—a lot of what he talked to me about—maybe it was because he saw me as this guy who’d been in academia all those years and was looking for a common place of connection—a lot of what he talked about was teaching at Brooklyn College.
He was proudly announcing that he’d gotten tenure. [laughter] I was trying to get him to tell me stories about the people I was interested in. “What was (Robert) Duncan like? What was (Lawrence) Ferlinghetti like back in those days?” That kind of stuff. “Who were the musicians you were hanging out with? I hear you’re a friend of Don Cherry.” He’d talk about that too, but he was quite proud of his syllabi. He was telling me about what he was teaching, the reading series he ran, who he was inviting. and stuff like that. He seemed to be genuinely delighted with the whole teaching project, both at Naropa and (also) at Brooklyn College”.
True Confessions – More true confessions – Somehow we missed this last month in Bustle
(and, not entirely unrelated, from a little bit further back – this) Bob Dylan, Nobel Laureate! – Yes! – Allen would’ve been so pleased!