Today is the official release day for The Complete Songs Of Innocence And Experience, Allen’s Blake settings, re-released on CD and Digital by Omnivore Recordings, for the first time, (plus a second disc of rarities and previously unissued songs). For earlier announcements on the Allen Ginsberg Project – see here and here.
“Allen always saw poetry and music as linked, not separate, art forms…and had a long history with Blake going back to that 1948 vision or “auditory hallucination”, as he called it – in that apartment in Spanish Harlem that he was staying in. So Blake was sort of his “resident monster” for a long time. Allen more or less says that in his poem “The Change” where he finally shuffles out from under the influence of Blake and is always seeking something visionary, Nonetheless, Blake stayed with him, because there he is five years after that, starting to put all of Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience to music.”
Thomas: “This package offers a collection of miscellaneous Blake poems that Allen set to music between 1968 and 1971. Disc two is packed with rarities, not only Blake material but also some wild Tibetan Buddhist mantras! A few of these 1971 recordings leaked out on the 1994 Holy Soul Jelly Roll boxed set, but, until now the ’71 San Francisco Recordings have never been released in their entirety”
Speaking of Blake, Northwestern’s Block Museum has just announced an important upcoming exhibition, “William Blake and the Age of Aquarius” (opening in September and running through to March 11, 2018) – “The first exhibition to consider the impact of Blake on American artists from the end of World War II through 1970”, the show will feature “more than 150 paintings, drawings, photographs, films, posters and other medium from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, and more than 50 rare Blake rare engravings and pages from illuminated books”
“This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius” – It’s also, (Summer Solstice, two days ago), the 50th anniversary of the “Summer of Love”. Notwithstanding curiously divisive city politics, San Francisco, the epicenter is celebrating. There is a major exhibition (on through August 20) at the de Young Museum. (and we’ve already mentioned Lavender Tinted Glasses at the GLBT Historical Society – Allen’s one of four artists prominently featured in that one). There’s also Kate Haug’ & Ivan Uranga’s kiosk display on Market Street for the San Francisco Arts Commission – 50 “Summer of Love” Trading Cards – see here (Allen is number 26)
Ira Chernus, in The Nation this week, points out the abiding contemporary relevance – “The Summer of Love is Far More Relevant Today Than You Think” – “”Fifty years later the hippies’ rebellion against the national security state is more important than ever.”
‘”Viscerally resonant parataxis” – (by which we mean ” the way he places stunning images together without explaining the connection, favoring visceral effect over meaning or metaphor”) F.Simon Grant proposes this as, equally, a fiction-writing possibility – “The Best Lesson A Fiction Writer Can Learn From Allen Ginsberg”
“Ginsberg and Sons – What Happens When Poetry Is The Family Business?” – Brian Hooey looks back on Michael Schumacher‘s wonderful compendium of letters between Allen and his father, Louis – “While the letters in Family Business show a frequently contentious dialog between the two writers—who failed to see eye-to-eye on Communism, the Vietnam War, and other controversial issues of the era—they also show a relationship underpinned by real love and admiration…”
“Allen Ginsberg’s First Trip To Africa” – Last month on Beatdom, David S Wills posted an excerpt from his forthcoming book, World Citizen – The Travels of Allen Ginsberg. We await the finished book (tentatively completed next year) with anticipation.
A must-read, Margalit Fox’s harrowing obituary notice on violinist virtuoso, Paul Zukofsky, (Louis Zukofsky‘s son) – ” The Zukofsky household was a singular milieu. Visitors might include E. E. Cummings, William Carlos Williams and Allen Ginsberg. At eleven, Paul stood on the lawn of St. Elizabeths Hospital, the Washington psychiatric institution, and played Bach for his father’s friend Ezra Pound, a resident there.”