John Keats (1795-1821)

[Photograph of John Keats‘ life-mask by artist Benjamin Hayden (1786-1846) – photo by Joanna Kane from The Somnambulists: Photographic Portraits From Before Photography]
Today (tonight) is fittingly Halloween – and John Keats‘ birthday.
Allen, like any poet, revered Keats, and was particularly taken by this letter/manifesto (from a note written to his brothers, George and Thomas, and dated December 21, 1817) – the notion of “negative capability” –
“I had not a dispute but a disquisition (with [his friend] (Charles Wentworth) Dilke”), Keats writes, “on various subjects. Several things dove-tailed in my mind, and at … Read More

On Ezra Pound(‘s 116th Birthday)


[Ezra Pound, poet, Rutherford, New Jersey at the home of William Carlos Williams, June 30, 1958 – Photograph by Richard Avedon]

“What thou lov’st well remains,/ the rest is dross/ What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee.” Ezra Pound (born on this day) reads here from “Canto LXXI”

[2013 update – regrettably the video that accompanied these lines is no longer available – but audio of the entire Canto (from Pound’s 1967 reading at Spoleto) may be listened to here – and here)]

. For audio, the PennSound page cannot be recommended too highly, featuring, … Read More

Perfect Wisdom Sutra (ASV#19)

Here’s Allen recorded by Mellon Tytell in 1993, on the occasion of Carl Solomon‘s passing, at a memorial event at the St Mark’s Church, reading the Prajnaparamita Sutra (the Perfect Wisdom Sutra, the Heart Sutra), in the translation that he had adopted (and adapted) from Shunryu Suzuki (with the roshi‘s consent).

His accompanist here, the man standing next to him, is, of course, poet and Fug, Ed Sanders.
Allen chants the Sutra also in a noisy New York City nightclub, around the same time, in recordings made by Jill Abrams, (here and, continuing, here)
There’s … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up 47

We refer you to our earlier postings – here and here – but Allen’s spirit continues to be present in the continuing (global) Occupy Wall Street protests. The inevitable “op ed” header has appeared (Austin Allen on Big Think) – “What Would Allen Ginsberg Think of Occupied Wall Street?” – (Claudio Willer and Eduardo Mora Basart have similar musings, in Spanish, here and here). Here‘s Aaron Kravig reciting “America” (complete with ambient sound and hand-held camera) on-site. Here’s an earlier article, in case you missed it, on “The Occupy Wall Street Read More

Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

[Dylan Thomas 1914-1953]
Dylan Thomas via Kenneth Rexroth? Dylan Thomas via Allen? Dylan Thomas via Bob Dylan? Whichever way it went, Dylan Thomas influenced Beat. Here’s Allen’s account, “Late April 1952” (he was 26 years old!), from Journals, Early Fifties, Early Sixties:

“Left Dylan Thomas and someone else with a big bruise on right forehead – thin mediocre type – in cab on 6th Avenue, 15 minutes ago.

I was in San Remo sitting relaxed towards closing time when they walked in. I only half-recognized him when they came in door & stood next to my seat at
Read More

Gelek Rinpoche’s Birthday!


[Gelek Rinpoche and Allen Ginsberg, at the reception after a Jewel Heart Benefit, Chicago, November 9 1991. Photo c. Jennifer Girard]
Gelek and Allen and Jewel Heart – Jon Kain in his piece for the Shambhala Sun, some years back, “Gelek Rinpoche’s Remarkable Journey“, notes “They [Gelek and Allen] met in the early 1990’s, forming a fast friendship. Allen eventually became Gelek Rinpoche’s student, with Rinpoche performing the ritual at Allen’s death. “Allen never missed the opportunity to teach me about American culture and language, Rinpoche told me”, (Kain recounts), “He pushed me all the time. He … Read More

History of Poetry 12 (class concludes)

Allen’s June 10 1975 NAROPA class concludes.
AG: It’s called “Dirge”. Now, (James) Shirley‘s 1596-1666, so now we’re getting about half a century later than Shakespeare. So that little airy thing in Shakespeare is beginning to get a little bit lost, but a kind of funny Buddhist Noble Truth logic horror is coming in. A Death’s Head is coming in. It’s perhaps stupidly, in a sense, like, Western mechanistic industrial-minded.. the wheel has been invented or something, and (William) Blake is about to be born pretty soon (well, maybe another century). It’s this kind of thing that … Read More

History of Poetry 11 (Hesperus – Allen & Gregory part 2)

Continuing where we left off, with Allen’s “History of Poetry” class. You might recall that there was some intervention from Gregory Corso, that intervention continues. Hesperus, the morning or the evening star? – a hart, a deer or a rabbit? – Ben Jonson or Samuel Johnson?. Fortunately Allen keeps his temper and things become clear. Allen reads Ben Jonson, John Fletcher and John Ford. Here is a transcript:
AG: Ah. Getting onto Shakespeare’s friend, (Ben) Jonson for a moment. Funny, witty Jonson, also writing for music. This is a hymn (so, literally, to music), but here more stately than … Read More

Philip Lamantia (1927-2005)

[Philip Lamantia – photo c. Christopher Felver, from his book Angels, Anarchists and Gods (1996)]
Philip Lamantia was born on this day. He died in 2005. He would have been 84. Obits from the San Francisco Chronicle, from the New York Times, and from the London Independent give the general picture. We’ve spotlighted already Andre Breton, but, for the Beats, for Allen, Lamantia was/is the essential figure, the key link between Beat culture and Surrealism. Garrett Caples writes on the Breton-Lamantia connection here.

Tom Vitale Interview (ASV #18)

ASV – Annotated Streaming Videos – additional notes on Ginsberg videos, (listed here on the right-hand side of the page) continues with notes on Tom Vitale’s 1990 New York City PBS profile. [This video is no longer available via You Tube. We have, however, retained the notes and transcription below]
(Vitale’s 2006 NPR radio report,”Revisiting Allen Ginsberg’s Howl at 50″, can, incidentally, be read and/or listened to here).
The film begins with Allen reading from “White Shroud” – “I am summoned from my bed/To the Great City of the Dead/Where I have no house or … Read More