Columbia University RBML Exhibit: “Naked Lunch”: the First Fifty Years

[William S Burroughs: Self Portrait 1959]

Last fall the Columbia University Rare Book Manuscript Library mounted an exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of Naked Lunch’s publication by Maurice Girodias’ Olympia Press.

The accompanying website is up indefinitely and has some rare items posted, including scanned letters to Allen Ginsberg, and original manuscript manuscript excerpts that offer another layer of insight into the hombre invisible. Also posted are clips of Burroughs reading Naked Lunch, original book covers, a video of the Gysin/Burroughs dream machine and an odd assortment of photos.… Read More

Yakov Rabinovitch: Elegy for Allen Ginsberg

Yakov Rabinovitch wrote this elegy not long after Allen passed away & he hadn’t had a chance to include it in a book for quite some time after. He’s included in his collection of poems Peep out of Me available through Invisible Books.

A note of preface from Yakov:
“I knew Allen Ginsberg for about 25 years, and learned from him at every phase of my life. As a foolish teenager, as a mature man who fully appreciated his artistic achievements, and finally, as a middle-aged man, I saw his nobililty in his age and decline. I was never an
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Buddha’s Footprint

[Buddha’s Footprint drafted by Harry Smith, 1982.]

[Buddha’s Footprint. Hand drawn frontispiece to Indian Journals by Allen Ginsberg]

Often we get asked the meaning of that “three fish” symbol on all of Allen’s Harper Collins books, as well as in the frontispiece of Indian Journals, and for the most part only had the simple answer – It’s the Buddha’s footprint that he saw while in Bodh Gaya in 1962 – but couldn’t really say much more. Recently however we unearthed this paragraph he wrote for the Catholic Worker back in 1967, which is the most thorough and complete description we’ve … Read More

And wherever did that pesky term ‘Beatnik’ come from?

The SF Chronicle recently posted some of Herb Caen’s most memorable columns. This famous one from April 2, 1958, is the first appearance of that word “Beatnik,” forever after credited to Herb Caen.

Starts off like this..

WORDS, WORDS, WORDS: Press release, dated March 31, from the S.F. Chamber of Commerce: “Officers or employees of the City of San Francisco should be local residents, according to a statement unanimously adopted by directors of the S.F. Chamber of Commerce. `San Francisco provides cultural and community facilities not surpassed anywhere in the United States,’ said President Alan K. Browne. `Housing is of … Read More

Happy Birthday Carl Solomon!

[Carl Solomon in his Prince Street apartment several years after residence with me on sixth floor ward, New York State Psychiatric Institute, afterwards working mid-town at his uncle’s Ace Books Publishers, where he edited Wm. S. Burroughs’ Junkie paperback first edition. New York, 1953.(Ginsberg caption) c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

[Carl Solomon & Allen Ginsberg, Holly Solomon Gallery, New York City, 1991. photo c. Rich Wilson]

It’s pretty difficult to track down Solomon’s out-of print-books Mishaps Perhaps and More Mishaps, [but not impossible, we’ve seen copies on Abe Books] – and we’ve seen copies of his later Emergency MessagesRead More

Happy Birthday Gregory Corso!

[Gregory Corso, Tangier, Morocco, July 1961. c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

[Gregory Corso & Allen Ginsberg. New York City, September 1989. photo c. Pamela Hansen]

So we thought a little walk through Corso was in line. Starting with a more obscure poem “Way Out: A Poem in Discord” published as a limited edition by Ira Cohen’s Bardo Matrix press in Kathmandu, 1974, posted here by the good people at Jack Magazine:  

Next stop, Woodstock Journal’s memorial, published a few months after Corso passed away, including tributes & poems by Robert Creeley, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Ed Sanders, Andy Clausen, Anselm Hollo and… Read More

And on this day in 1957…

United States Customs seized 520 copies of the second printing of Howl & Other Poems, declaring it to be obscene. “You wouldn’t want your children to come across it” San Francisco collector of customs, Chester MacPhee, was quoted as saying. However an additional 1000 copies slipped through undetected.… Read More

Happy Birthday Lawrence Ferlinghetti


[Lawrence Ferlinghetti in his office with pooch, Whitman photo, files, coat racks, book bags, posters, at City Lights up on balcony, B’way at Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, October 1984. Allen Ginsberg (c. Allen Ginsberg Estate)]

…and we just happened to be sifting through the Bureau of Public Secrets website’s enormous catalog, where they’ve posted Kenneth Rexroth’s complete columns from the San Francisco Examiner, and came across this timely tidbit. It’s from from exactly 50 years ago about Ferlinghetti, freshly returned from a trip to South America with Ginsberg . (It begins just below the Beckett and Ionesco paragraphs >>Read More

Peter Marti & Marc Olmsted Interviewed by Julie Adler

[Peter Marti & Marc Olmsted, San Francisco Main Library, January 2010. photo: Liz Rodriguez]

Allen’s Dharma pal poet friend Marc Olmsted sent us this 2008 interview with him and poet Peter Marti by producer/painter/performer Julie Adler & we can’t thank him enough. This one really gets inside Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche‘s influence on their poetry & lives as well as Allen’s and the early days of Naropa University.

It ends with a genius version of Allen doing his poem “Birdbrain” backed by Olmsted’s band, The Job. Recorded at On Broadway in North Beach, San Francisco, (directly above the legendary … Read More