Gordon Ball

Gordon Ball – photo: Dave Hess

Gordon Ball was a filmmaker friend of Jonas Mekas when Allen & Gordon first met in the mid 1960s, and it wasn’t long before Gordon and his girlfriend Candy O’Brien were completely ensconced in managing Allen’s Cherry Valley farm (no easy task considering the colorful cast attracted to the place!) By the early ’70s Ball edited & published the now out-of-print Allen Verbatim, the result of recordings and notes he made while touring with Allen. From then on he became editor of most of Allen’s published Journals, beginning with Journals Early Fifties Early Sixties. He’s currently a professor of English at Virginia Military Institute, where he’s got the latitude to teach the cadets “Howl,” and other 20th century poetry, & his recently-published memoirs 66 Frames are available through Coffee House Press. All that aside, we wanted to draw attention to him as a photographer. He was able to capture Allen and the circle of poets visiting Naropa, summer after summer, as well as document the Cherry Valley farm (about which he’s got a book in the works, though in prose, not photo). Here are a sample of those, but more can be found here on his website

Better yet, Jacket Magazine have posted Ball’s talk on photography, a transcription from a lecture that he gave on his experience as a photographer 

Cherry Valley, New York farmhouse: Peter Orlovsky, mama goat (“Shiva”) and baby, February 1970. c. Gordon Ball

Cadets read Howl, February 19, 1991 Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, Virginia. c. Gordon Ball

Allen Ginsberg’s Committee on Poetry, Inc. farm, Cherry Valley, New York Thanksgiving 1969. From left, standing: Julius Orlovsky, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gordon Ball, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley. Front, seated: Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky. c. Gordon Ball

Rene Ricard (poet; art critic; actor in Andy Warhol’s Chelsea Girls), poet and performance artist Anne Waldman, poet Stephen Hall, Naropa Institute, Boulder, Colorado, July l976. c. Gordon Ball

Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky, NYC New Years Eve, 1977. c. Gordon Ball

2012 update – the Cherry Valley book alluded to here has now appeared – East Hill Farm – see Gordon Ball’s Cherry Valley here


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *