The first time I met Allen Ginsberg was around 1991, when I was an undergrad at Carnegie Mellon. We had been studying Howl and he came to read. I was young and awestruck while standing in a small auditorium watching this crazy old guy with a big beard chanting “ohhhh, suck tit, suck tit, suck cock suck cock, suck clit, suck prick but don’t smoke nicotine.” He was dancing around like a loon and banging two sticks together. I remember giggling and thinking, “so THIS is higher education”. Afterwards he signed a book … Read More
Regina Weinreich in the Huffington Post has it right, speaking of the zeitgeist, Allen is pretty ubiquitous at the moment. Who would have thought?, Allen at the Oscars!. Well, not Allen exactly, but James Franco, who so remarkably “has him down” in the film role and is co-hosting the Oscar ceremonies tonight. Here’s he and Jon Hamm talking about the (Howl) film last year at the Sundance Film Festival. [2015 update – regrettably this video is no longer available] Franco was, interestingly, interviewed, not only about this role, but also about his upcoming role as another great modernist poet, Hart … Read More
Most people are aware of Jack Kerouac’s French-speaking background. In 1967, he appeared on the French service of the Canadian Broadcasting Service on the program Le Sel de la Semaine,interviewed by Fernand Seguin,
but perhaps less well-known is Allen’s more-than-serviceable French. Here in this rare clip from Jean Michel Humea’s 1965 movie Viva Dada, he can be heard discussing the relationship of poetry and drugs. The interview takes place at the Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris, standing alongside him is a surprisingly quiet Gregory Corso.
Gregory’s delightful Italian may be sampled here … Read More
News has just reached us that the poet Akilah Oliver has died. Footage of her reading with Anne Waldman and Lavonne Caesar has been posted on Naropa University’s SWP blog and there is a detailed and heartfelt note today on The Poetry Project blog . A tireless teacher, activist, parent, sister, our thoughts go out to family and friends in the community. She will be sorely missed.… Read More
[Larry Rivers, Jack Kerouac, David Amram, Allen Ginsberg, & Gregory Corso (in hat), during the filming of Pull My Daisy. c. John Cohen, courtesy L Parker Stephenson Photographs]
In today’s Guardian, Hermione Hoby has collected some entertaining accounts from Joyce Johnson, John Allen Cassady, Steven Taylor and Anne Waldman, memories of Allen, that can be read here on the Guardian site.… Read More
Jay Landesman died this past week in London, aged 91. Here’s James Campbell, writing in The Boston Review about Landesman’s seminal (sic) magazine, Neurotica:
“The closest there was to a beat magazine (thought it could only be seen that way in retrospect) in the late 1940s and early ’50s was a slim, eccentric journal whose contributors moved among the bases of art, sex, and neuroticism… Ginsberg’s first contribution to a magazine with a nationwide circulation appeared in Neurotica 6 (Spring 1950), by which time the magazine had adopted a furtive beat identity. Ginsberg’s brief “Song: Fie My Fum” (an early … Read More
Since you were in Columbia in the Fifties, you were also at the center of the Beats, since they all went there.
Allen Ginsberg was a student of Lionel (Trilling)’s and of mine, not in our joint course (a seminal “great books” seminar), but separately. But we joined together to save him from the penalties of … Read More
[Lawrence Ferlinghetti, 1957, after winning the Howl trial – photo by Bob Campbell]
Howl Movie Opening in England
In advance of next week’s UK opening at London’s Curzon cinema on Shaftesbury Avenue, James Campbell has a review in The Guardian – “Howl At The Movies – Is the new film about Allen Ginsberg and the Howl obscenity trial a little too sane?” (Well, we, of course, would say no!). “I once filmed the middle-aged Ginsberg reading “Howl” to an audience of professors at a literary conference in New York. It was about as wild as a Women’s Institute evening.”, writes … Read More
Yeah, it was one of the most.., I mean it was the most, challenging thing I’ve ever done, it was extraordinary, but fortunately he, unlike a lot of the rest of them (sic), had a lot of recently-published material, so, for example, there is the Book of Martyrdom (and Artifice), which is his childhood poetry and diaries, and his letters to Jack, and his letters to Neal, and