Allen Ginsberg Reading at St Marks Poetry Project 1977

[Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell, St Mark’s Church, February 23, 1977. Photo: Martin Wechselblatt]

We featured one, from the extraordinary trove of recordings of Allen readings, last week, from PennSound (from the Robert Creeley collection – 1971 at Intersection, San Francisco). Here‘s another, six years later- from the St Mark’s Poetry Project in New York. The occasion was a now-legendary coupling of Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell (it was on this occasion that Lowell was memorably heckled by Gregory Corso). Allen reads a variety of works, referencing his recent visit to Australia, his Vajrayana Buddhist Read More

Robert Herrick – “To The Virgins To Make Much of Time”

Three Graces – (detail from The Primavera (or The Allegory of Spring)) by Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), in the collection of the Uffizi Gallery, Florence

AG: So therefore the next poem [to Student] – you want to read that please? – Gather.. To The Virgins! – “To The Virgins, To Make Much of Time

Student: “To The Virgins, To Make Much of Time”

AG: How many people have read this poem before? – only five? six? – okay, half the class. This is the poem in the English language that everybody knows as the lightest, brightest, sweetest, nicest … Read More

Gay Pride (Allen Ginsberg – Out Since The ‘Fifties)

[Plaque for Allen Ginsberg in San Francisco’s Castro, on the sidewalk, on the Rainbow Honor Walk]

Gay Pride – Allen Ginsberg –  LGBT hero –

Today, celebrating the day,  a little fugitive footage – queer tv – from Network Q’s,  “Out Across America” –  episode 35, from  September 1994 – (for the rest of this particular episode see here).

Filmmaker Jerry Aronson is interviewed, on a sunny day in Boulder, about his film “The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg,”   Allen makes a number of appearances.

Producer-director, David  Surber begins: “Our cinema feature this month is part … Read More

Bob Dylan’s Mother

[Bob Dylan, alongside his mother, Beatrice (“Beatty”) Rutman, at the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony, Washington DC,  1997]

AG: [speaking in 1980, to his Naropa students] – I had supper…  I had lunch with Bob Dylan’s mother  (It was funny ..). She was very plump. She goes in a house with wall-to-wall carpeting and plates on the wall, and little gimmicks and geegaws, and bowls that she picked up from her travels to Las Vegas, (or) Scottsdale, Arizona, where her daughter is… {editorial note -Allen is confused here, Dylan doesn’t have a sister, just a younger brother, Read More

Thomas Carew – (“Ask Me No More”)

[Thomas Carew (1595-1640)]

AG: And (Thomas) Carew has one of the prettiest cadences of repeated.. it’s like a.. it’s a very beautiful cadence, for the first line of page three-oh-one – A song – It’s (the cadence) –  da da-da da  da  da-da da – da  da-da da  da  da-da da – Da da-da da da – da-da da. It’s just really nice, that. “Ask me no more where Jove bestows,/When June is past, the fading rose;/For in your beauty’s orient deep/These flowers, as in their causes, sleep/ .Ask me no more whither do stray/The golden atoms of the day;/For … Read More

Revisiting Jack Kerouac’s Poems – 1

AG: We don’t have that (Jack) Kerouac poem, let’s see -Kerouac’s serious death shot (you know, mortality) was a poem that ends “Poor!  I wish I were…”  [“Poor! I wish I was..”] – Yeah, I got it, okay… number 211 (in Mexico City Blues)  – (the) 211th Chorus, in Kerouac.. Just to bring this up to “Like To The Falling of A Star” or the little (George) Herbert poem that we had wherein all died – “Virtue”? – “The root is ever in its grave/ And thou must die”, “My music shows ye have your closes,/ And … Read More

Peter Orlovsky Parinirvana

Peter Orlovsky’s Parinirvana.  Allen Ginsberg’s long-time companion, died, seven years ago, on this day.  Those who knew him will certainly never forget Peter. His remarkable and inspired book of poems, Clean Asshole Poems and Smiling Vegetable Songs, idiosyncratic spellings and all, is quite like any other book of poems. His papers (now residing at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas, Austin) yielded the posthumous companion-piece Peter Orlovsky – A Life In Words.  There is also the sadly-out-of-print 1980 volume, Straight Hearts’ Delight. We’ve quoted from it before. Here’s another letter from Peter … Read More

George Herbert – 9 (“Love” – 2)

[Portrait of George Herbert in Bemerton by William Dyce (1806-1864)]

Allen Ginsberg continues to examine George Herbert’s poem “Love”

Student: Allen, isn’t there a sense, in that last bit, of a change from “My dear” to “I will serve you”?

AG: Yes, I was wondering what that means. I don’t understand that.

Student: Well, he seems to be feeling unworthy even though he’s..

AG: Oh yes, he’s been saying that all along

Student: He takes the heat off, Love takes the heat off. Obviously you’re worthy to be here because whatever sin you brought it was paid for by Christ … Read More

George Herbert – 8 (“Love” – 1)

[Rembrandt Van Rijn, “The Supper at Emmaus”  (1648)]

AG: So, (George Herbert’s)  “Love Bade Me Welcome”

“Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back Guilty of dust and sin./But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack/ From my first entrance in,/Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning, If I lacked any thing.” – (that’s pretty good, actually, he’s gotten into Love (whatever it is) and he’s gone slack, or he’s lost his.. lost the hardness of his impulse!)- “observing me grow slack/ From my first entrance in” – (for a divine poem, this is pretty raunchy, actually -except, it’s so … Read More

George Herbert -7 (“Death” – 2)

Allen Ginsberg and his Naropa students continue their discussion about George Herbert’s metaphysical poem, “Death”

Student; I love the reasoning (in the poem)….

AG: Well, it’s not so much reasoning. It’s just making up, you know, some funny ideas about death

Student: (Yeah, I know – (our close) relationship to death)

AG ; Yeah, well, it’s going to get worse before we’re out of the thicket. It seems to accompany the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, the mills of thought begin grinding. This is.. what? Sixteen thirty-nine? . It’s the beginning, they’re exploiting America, you know, their bringing all … Read More