Sunday 9th – John Lennon


December 8 is the anniversary of the infamous day when he got shot, but we thought we’d celebrate John Lennon on a more upbeat note, on the anniversary of his birth(day), and spotlight the Ginsberg-Lennon-Beatles connection. Wayne Mullins gives a pretty good account in this Beatdom article – Long John Silver and the Beats. He quotes in part (recalling their very first meeting) Marianne Faithfull‘s account – It’s London, 1965 – “Then Allen Ginsberg came in..He went over to the chair (Bob) Dylan was sitting in and plonked himself down on the armrest…John Lennon broke the silence … Read More

Allen with R.D.Laing at the ICA

The ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) in London has recently released a wonderful archive video from 1980. Allen Ginsberg and Steven Taylor perform, following a sit-down discussion with Allen and psychiatrist R.D.Laing (part of the Writers in Conversation talks series). The Laing-Ginsberg unrehearsed exchange spotlights Allen’s candor and is great, but the real treat here is.. an impromptu one-minute meditation (recalling this – or, perhaps, this, for that matter). Can you get away with it? – “Yeah, you can “get away” with it, why not?”. Laing is a little nervous, to begin with, looking at his watch, but soon … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up 44

Like today, daddy-o, is supposed to be Talk-Like-A-Beat day! Here’s the David Barnett article that started it all. Here’s another pitch for it – The Beat Poets of the Forever Generation. Here’s a judicious qualification by Ian Crouch in The New Yorker – “Talk Like a Beat Day is a good idea, if it nudges us back to the rich sources that were later obscured by parody”, Crouch writes. We agree. We’ve got nothing against Maynard G Krebs (you dig?, a cool, a very cool cat), just don’t go confusing it/him with the real thing.

Speaking of The
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History of Poetry 10 (Allen and Gregory – Bickering Over Shakespeare)

[Owl glyph at Luxor Temple – “SonomaPicMan” via Flickr]
( (A) History of Poetry continues today, with more Shakespeare (and gad-fly Gregory Corso bickering with Allen, and almost taking over the classroom).)
AG: There are a few songs of Shakespeare that you might not know that have a funny kind of literality. What they’re good for is to see that crazy Shakespeare, or funny Shakespeare, was funny precisely because of his totally accurate observation. Almost William Carlos Williams-like kitchen-sink mindfulness. Specifically, in a little song from Love’s Labour’s Lost – “When Isicles hang by the wall ,/ And Dicke … Read More

History of Poetry 9 (Drayton & the Sonnet)

[Michael Drayton, painted by unknown artist, oil on panel portrait, 23 1/2 ins x 18 ins, from 1599 – courtesy National Portrait Gallery]

(Michael) Drayton has a funny kind of S&M scene here in a sonnet called From “Idea”” The whole sequence is “Idea”. It’s a series of, I think, several hundred sonnets. One of which I’ve always liked. It’s for a closet queen – the perfect expression of lack-love – “Since ther’s no helpe..”, “Since ther’s no helpe, Come let us kisse and part” (K-I-S-S-E). [Allen then reads this Michael Drayton sonnet in its entirety – … Read More

History of Poetry 8 (more Daniel and Campion)

[Bartolomeo Coriolano (1599-1676), The Triumph of Hymen, early 17th Cent. Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco.]

AG: ..I’m going to continue where we left off and go back once again to one other poem of Samuel Daniel from Hymen’s Triumph. Daniel was the one we had – “Are they shadowes that we see/ And can shadowes pleasures.. be”. That was an odd, Buddhist-like statement of the late 16th Century. What I’m doing is equating these with traditional Buddhist notions, for those of you who know some dharma, just to point out, partly, how sharp the 16th and 17th … Read More

Shig Murao Website Announcement

[Shig Murao, his Grant St Apartment, San Francisco, where Allen often stayed when visiting the city. May 22, 1988. photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]
One of the, frankly, egregious errors of the Howl film was the erasure, or non-appearance, of Shigeoshi “Shig” Murao, City Lights bookstore manager, and one of the central participants in the Howl trial (it was he, and not Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who was arrested by the San Francisco police department and spent a night (before being bailed out) in the Bryant Street jail).
We reported on this omission here, following up on Patricia Wakida and J.K.Yamamoto’s … Read More

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

Marcel Duchamp passed away 43 years ago on this day. We salute and remember him. (July 28 was the date of his birth)

The classic 1966 BBC (Joan Bakewell) interview, excerpted above, may be seen in its entirety here (on the Dada Companion page (along with details on a variety of Duchamp interviews).

More rare BBC archival footage may be viewed here and here. Perhaps the most useful survey of his career might be this – “Marcel Duchamp In His Own Words” (here, and with a second part, here). Also, essential (and en francais), Jean-Marie Drot’s … Read More

Peter Orlovsky with Steven Hall and Arthur Russell

“The Poetry Project burns like a red hot coal in New York’s snow”. Our good friends in New York at the St Marks Poetry Project spotlight Allen’s high praise of that venerable and beloved institution (and rightly so!). For their fund-raiser earlier this year, they teamed up with the equally-venerable Anthology Film Archive, to present first-time-ever showings of selections from a remarkable trove of old video-tapes – Public Access Poetry, produced, as the organizers are quick to point out, by the poets themselves, “with little or no broadcasting experience”, for the nascent local cable-access tv channel. “Even if … Read More