Trawling through the Ginsberg materials available on E-bay (as occasionally we do), we came across this (the recognizable scrawl!) – a postcard Allen sent to Diane Di Prima, Fall of ’81/early ’82 (back from a European tour – and the reference to a visit to the sick-bed of Peter’s father further dates it – Oleg Orlovsky died at Cabrini Hospital, New York City, later that year, November 13, 1982, aged 84).
Writing from New York City:
“Dear Diane, Yes, fine about PEN reference [sic]. I did nominate you for a reading grant which never came thru (it was a series of regular yearly nominations) – Peter and I are back from [a] couple of months [in] Jugo-Hungary-Austria-Switzerland-Germany – made little money but saw a lot – Red lands not good, Hungary pretty dreary bureaucracy. I guess Communism just doesn’t work. Austria seems pretty free and independent-minded. Lots of Yakking [?] and snow and ice and cold. Poetry and movies and parties in N[ew] Y[ork]. Peter’s father, 81 [83, actually] in hospital telling tales of Winter Palace 1917-1918 where he was. Love Allen.”
“No hope Communism no hope Capitalism Yeah/ Everybody’s lying on both sides Nyeah nyeah nyeah”. We’re reminded of the pretty much contemporaneous Capitol Air (“realizing that police bureaucracies in America and Eastern Europe were the same, mirror images of each other finally”). “The bloody iron curtain of American Military Power/ Was a mirror-image of Russia’s red Babel-Tower”. Not that Ginsberg’s disillusionment with Communism was so recent (as we reported recently in this post).
The card sold for just over $150.
A photograph of Allen circa ’82 (from the Kerouac conference) also appeared this week on E-Bay. From the photographer’s description:
“Allen Ginsberg was an animated character. In this photograph he is standing in front of a painting of Jack Kerouac by the late artist Karel Appel. Ginsberg collaborated with Appel and the writer Jose Arquelles to produce the painting and a series of visual poems that were exhibited at the conference [editorial note: further visual documentation of their collaboration is available here]. When this photograph was taken, Ginsberg was participating in a round-table discussion with (Timothy) Leary, (William) Burroughs, (Abbie) Hoffman, and several others. I had met (him) on a couple of occasions the year before..and I found him friendly, patient, and, at times, tired of being asked the same questions he’d been asked a thousand times before. But he’d always take the time to speak with people and tell him (them) about his work. Ginsberg once told me my pictures of him were very good at capturing his “energy field”… This photograph has appeared in publication (only) once, no additional prints were ever made, sold or published. (It) was published in 1982, not long after the conference ended, by the Ogden (Utah) State Examiner, where I was an intrepid writer-photographer enamored of all things Beat”.
Sadly, the photo only received minimum bid. Somebody snagged a bargain.
Currently on E-bay, “still available”, as they say, (bids ending in just a few days) – a 1971 note to Charles and Pam Plymell, an autographed signed “Note on W.S.Burroughs”, and an “autographed recipe for cold summer borscht” (!). We’ll keep you posted as to what they all fetch at the market-place.