Allen and m(e)

Allen Ginsberg, Peter Hale, Chris Ide at Naropa, July 4 picnic, Boulder, CO 1986. photo c. Steve Miles

Speaking of Allen encounters, and we were. Here’s Peter Hale’s recollection of his first-meeting with Allen:

“I was a student at Naropa Institute in Boulder Colorado taking classes at their summer writing program in 1985. I was more a fan of (William) Burroughs at the time and knew very little about Allen. I was stopping by Burroughs’ summer apartment (as one could do, those days at Naropa) and had just missed him, but Allen was there cleaning up the place. We’d met a few times before, but this time I had him alone! Since he had quite a reputation around Boulder for always being on the make, I feared I might be warding him off but instead, since I’d read little poetry, he sat me down and gave me a reading list and suggested I sit in on his classes.

A few weeks later we did e (ecstacy) together. Gregory Corso had given Allen some, and it was just about to be made illegal here in the States. Allen had a little left and suggested we try it. He always started any drug, especially psychedelic/psychotropic type with 45 minutes of sitting meditation, Zen style. He definitely did not take this sort of thing lightly. Sitting next to old bard, Allen Ginsberg on the meditation cushion when the e kicks in about twenty minutes in, now that’s a life-changing moment! Allen was confused as to why it was called “ecstacy”, and insisted “empathy” more accurate.

It is also worth checking out the rest of the interview (about the Howl movie and more) at Dazed Digital.


  1. Dear Peter Hale, I met Allen when he was staying at 101 Cromwell Road, London in 67. He had a profound effect on me … I was only just 18 but he was central to the counter culture in London att. He had been one of the Beat Poets at The Royal Albert Hall in 65 and was filmed by Peter Whitehead, for his film Wholly Communion. Later Peter filmed him again in NY for is film, The Fall…

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