William and Allen

“Allen Ginsberg with His Own Portrait of [William S.] Burroughs”; from the series Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers. Gelatin silver print, 1986. Robert Giard (American, 1939–2002)

A great moment in time caught forever. Beat Generation founders William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg wearing old fashion cotton PJ’s with big buttons, in William’s house. Photograph by Pat Elliott, all rights reserved, used with permission.

William Burroughs, 11.pm. late March 1985, being driven home to 222 Bowery. Experimenting with hand held half second Roloflex exposure camera upside down for view, Burroughs phantom in street light stop sign illumination fuzzy, couldn’t move back further to focus sharper, I was in rear seat. – Allen Ginsberg (c. Allen Ginsberg Estate)

Happy Birthday Bill!

Another audio-visual salute

Here’s two priceless recordings, first a reading/open-ended lecture at NAROPA by Burroughs, his 1980 “Lecture On Public Discourse” (Allen gives an eloquent introduction then, four years later, similarly at NAROPA, Allen and William here together collaborating on a class (on William’s work)

This audio is part of the remarkable Naropa Poetics Audio Archives

“Allen Ginsberg class with William Burroughs. Ginsberg begins by reading from Burroughs’s work, including his book Nova Express. Burroughs arrives and discusses writing techniques, including the idea that “Life is a cut up.” He also talks about why he became a writer, Laurie Anderson, rolling drunks, biological warfare, weapons and retreats. The class learns some exercises for observing details while walking down the street”.

More of Allen’s thoughts on Burroughs may be found here  here   (a 1974 interview retrieved by Reality Studio).

Reality Studio: A William Burroughs Community is, and we tip our hat to it, the go-to place for all things Burroughs.

You Tube’s the home of the legendary William S Burroughs in Lawrence Home Movies Dangerous Minds   has some interesting comment on them).

Allen and William together. Jim McCrary has a memoir here of those twilight Kansas days.

And here’s yet another hommage – Peter Rose’s William Burroughs Stuff.   Elegy as fetishism, fetishism as elegy. We tip our hat (grey fedora, of course) today, Saturday February 5th, to El Hombre Invisible on the occasion of what would have been his 97th birthday.


  1. Allen and William read together on the stage of the Opera House in Lawrence, during the River City Reunion. While they read, Stan Herd, famed land sculptor, fastened sunflowers on the meters and street lamps. When the two friends came out the stage door, Allen grabbed some of the sunflowers and the two danced together. whirling in the night, having fun.

  2. I always thought it very interesting that the first weirdos in america ended up on the upper west side….lol…..ginsberg, burroughs, casady, kerouac…..amongst others.

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