Instigating the Howl Trial – March 25, 1957

Sixty years ago today, the US Customs, in the person of Collector of Customs, Chester MacPhee, confiscated five-hundred-and-twenty copies of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”  – a pivotal moment  

From Bill Morgan‘s  Howl on Trial – The Battle for Free Expression:

“The Collector of Customs, Chester MacPhee, confiscated 520 copies [of Howl ] because, as he said, “The words and the sense of the writing is obscene…you wouldn’t want your children to come across it.”   U.S. Customs Law required a Federal Judge, upon application of the U.S. Attorney,  to grant permission to destroy the books. But, as [City Lights publisher, … Read More

Joanne Kyger (1934-2017)

[Joanne Kyger and her companion Donald Guravich]

It is with great great sadness that we announce today the passing of the immeasurably wonderful and irreplaceable  Joanne Kyger.  She passed away yesterday, Wednesday March 22nd, at 11.11 a.m, at her home in Bolinas,  aged 82, in the year of the Rooster.

Here is John McMurtrie’s obituary in the San Franciscan newspapers

and Rod Meade Sperry in the Buddhist journal, Lion’s Roar.

[Joanne Kyger, hills leading to Himalayan Peaks, studying guidebook on wall in Amora, we were on Pilgrimage to Buddhist sites, here visiting Lama Govinda, March 1962. Photograph by Allen … Read More

John Donne – 15 (Conclusion)

Allen Ginsberg on John Donne concludes

AG: There is a poem of (John) Donne‘s which is not in the book which I would like to lay out. I think it may be his last poem or toward his last poem, his last, death, poem – “A Hymn to God The Father”, which doesn’t seem to be in this book, though it’s one of his best, in terms of puns. There is a late poem on death, at the end here (of your book), “Hymn To God In My Sickness, but I’ll read this other one because … Read More

Two Experiences (John Donne – 14)

[Jindra Noewi – “Lovers In Eternal Kiss” (2008)]

From a March 1980 classroom, Allen Ginsberg and Naropa students discuss John Donne and the experience of love, ecstasy, and hallucinations – continued from yesterday

AG: No, it says that they’re one  [the lovers in John Donne’s “The Ecstasy”]…they become one. Well, maybe everybody’s experience of love is different, but I’ve had the opportunity in the last few days (and other times too) to just lie a long time looking into someone’s eyes, you know, for hours preceeding the actual physical love-making, and there’s a kind of ethereal deliciousness that goes … Read More

“Common Hallucination” – (John Donne – 13)

[August Natterer (Neter) (1868-1933) – “My Eyes At The Time of Revelation”, (1911-13)]

Allen Ginsberg on John Donne continues from yesterday.

Student: Is he (John Donne) known as a mystic poet like (William) Blake?

AG: No, more of an intellectual. Some mystic towards the end but more..more, I guess..religious… divine, divine..

Student: In the footnote number eight (sic),, they use..(they say) that with “The Ecstasy“, the title. it refers to the standing out, and then the….specifically..

AG: Standing out of the body.

Student: ..mysticism. I got the impression in the first part, with all that “see/saw” and in earlier … Read More

Body & Soul – John Donne continues (John Donne -12)

[The Reunion of the Soul & the Body – William Blake – Etching – 296 mm x 232 mm – illustration to Robert Blair’s “The Grave” (1808) ]

Allen Ginsberg’s comments on John Donne’s “The Ecstasy” continues.

AG: So…. “That abler soul which hence doth flow/Defects of loneliness controls” – (controls the defect of being lonely – it’s just an inversion in the syntax there that makes it a little confusing – that love, that the abler soul controls loneliness’s defects ) – “We then, who are this new soul, know” – (in other words,, they get smart,, they … Read More

Remembering Willem de Kooning (1904-1997)

[“Willem De Kooning in his studio Springs Long Island. I visited with my stepmother Edith, his fly unbuttoned, he showed me his brushes lined up neatly on a table, “I wash them, clean them all myself,” and said of his new canvases,” I’m just a sign painter”” [Ginsberg caption]  – Willem de Kooning photographed by Allen Ginsberg, 1985 – © The Estate of Allen Ginsberg]

Willem de Kooning. Untitled XVII, 1984. Oil on canvas, 70 x 80 inches (203.20 x 177.80 cm). Private collection.

It’s twenty years since the passing of the great Abstract Expressionist master, Willem de Kooning. … Read More

Allen Ginsberg in Austin – Interview – 1978

Interviewer: So we want to figure out what’s best, you know, what will be most comfortable for you. What I want to do is an oral history of the ‘Sixties and Austin’s an interesting area because there’s a major university with a lot of anti-war… There was a segregtion case, a very famous law case here in 1959. There’s been an awful lot of work with the valley farm workers and Chicanos, plus we”ve got the Rothschilds here [sic], we’ve got all of LBJ‘s legacy. Basically, Austin’s sort of conservative but with the university and the State Capitol here, … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 307

[Am I Going Anywhere? – artwork, 1990, by Allen Ginsberg  (courtesy of Steve Silberman)]

Michael Schumacher‘s revelationary collection of fugitive pieces, First Thought, Conversations With Allen Ginsberg, out just this month is a must-read.  Here’s an excerpt (Allen on the necessities of drug legalization) – but there’s so much more.

[Allen Ginsberg Campaigning For Drug Reform, New York City, 1963 – Photograph by Benedict Fernandez]

Lawrence Ferlinghetti will celebrate his 98th birthday next week. Here he is interviewed by Penelope Bloom Aprile a student at San Francisco’s  Yick Wo Elementary School.

From the interview:

PBA: … Read More