Happy Birthday Patti Smith

[Berenice Abbott, Automat, 977 Eighth Avenue, Manhattan, 1936.]

Happy Birthday, Patti! (Patti turns 65 years old today)

Quite a year for Patti Smith – notably that National Book Award. We’re wondering who’ll play Allen in the (inevitable) film version of “Just Kids” (wondering who’ll play her and Robert Mapplethorpe, for that matter).

Here’s the iconic account of the meeting-in-the-Automat.
“…I went through our belongings and found exactly fifty-five cents, slipped on my grey trench-coat and Mayakovsky cap, and headed to the Automat. I got my tray and slipped in my coins but the window wouldn’t open. I tried again … Read More

Xmas Gift (from December 1972)


I met Einstein in a dreamSpringtime on Princeton lawn grassI kneeled down and kissed his young thumblike a ruddy popehis fresh face broad cheeked rosy“I invented a universe separate,something like a Virgin” –“Yes, the creature gives birth to itself,”I quoted from MescalineWe sat down open air universal summerto eat lunch, professor’s wivesat the Tennis Court Club,our meeting eternal, as expected,my gesture to kiss his fistunexpectedly saintlyconsidering the Atom Bomb I didn’t mention,

New York, December 14, 1972

Allen Ginsberg – from “Mind Breaths – Poems 1972-1977”Read More

Tom Waits – Closing Time/America

The ubiquitous Tom Waits-Allen Ginsberg mash-up “Closing Time/America” has got to be one of the most accessed Allen Ginsberg items on the web – 86,000 (and counting) hits on this particular up-load (since it was first uploaded in April of 2006), and that’s not counting the hits for other, more recent, versions, here and here and here. Of course, the two never recorded anything together. The reading of “America” is from Chicago, in 1959 (when Tom Waits was all of ten years old!)  and the Waits instrumental is the last track (and the title track) from his first … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up 55

[Anne Waldman, Václav Havel, Nanao Sakaki, Prague, April 199o. Photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

Kral Majales, 1965 – Allen’s intimate relationship with Prague Spring has been detailed by us previously here and here. This past week saw the passing of Vaclav Havel, post-Communist Czechoslovakia’s first president, and, after the country split, in January 1993, president of the Czech Republic. Artist-Politician, Politician-Artist – the links between the two men run deep. Here is Havel’s introduction to Allen’s 2001 (posthumously-published) volume, Spontaneous Mind: Selected Interviews 1958-1996 (his willingness to write it, an indication of the depth and the importance of their
Read More

Death Is.. An Improvisation (1975 Naropa out-take)

[Image: Mischievous Dead, Jose Posada / Public Domain]

One final transcript from Allen’s 1975 NAROPA History of Poetry classes – this curious and lively in-class improvisation. Gregory Corso and W.S.Merwin were on hand on this occasion to add their contributions.

AG: The subject of today’s improvisation will be death. So, in answering the roll call, “Death is…”, fill it in. No reading from old books. No stumbling on your own old quotations. Death is your tongue speaking right now.
Student: Death is your obsessive angel.
AG: Death is pure obsessive anger? Is that what you said?
Student: Your obsessive angel.… Read More

Kerouac Mexico City Blues & Corso (1975 Naropa Class)

AG: We still have Kerouac and Corso to deal with. What time is it?

Student: Why don’t you keep on going.

AG: [Allen begins reading from Jack Kerouac’s “Mexico City Blues”] – 5th Chorus, Mexico City Blues – “I am not Gregory Corso/ the Italian Minnesinger – / Of the song of Corsica”..”KIND KING MIND/ Allen Ginsberg called me”..” [reads next 10th Chorus] – “The great hanging weak teat of India… The Korea Ti-Pousse Thumb..” – “Ti-Pousse”, Canuck for “little thumb” (which is what his mother called Kerouac)  – “The Korea Ti-Pousse Thumb..”..”Spots of Foam on the Ocean” – … Read More

William Carlos Williams (1975 Naropa Class)

[William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)]


Continuing with Allen’s 1975 Naropa class.(For earlier Ginsberg-on-Williams on the Allen Ginsberg Project see here and here).

AG:..What I want to do is spend a little time on William (Carlos) Williams, a little time on (Jack) Kerouac, and a little time on (Gregory) Corso. Beginning with early Williams. He’s compact with getting his mind clamped down on objects, or his first early compact with “No ideas but in things”. His first early covenant with “minute particulars”, (which was (William) Blake’s phrase), is expressed in his long poem to the Passaic … Read More

Airplane Blues (ASV #26)

We’ve already featured Jonas Mekas and Allen here. Here‘s another Jonas-Allen, Mekas-Ginsberg document – Allen’s (table-) “rapping” a cappella “Airplane Blues” – to the delight and amazement of a company of assembled guests (isn’t that Japanese poet, Gozo Yoshimasu, who we glimpse, fleetingly, among the company? – why, yes it is).
The, frankly, definitive version was recorded several years before, in 1982, in Santa Monica, (re-mixed by Hal Willner and John Strother in 1993), and features Bob Dylan on bass (with Steven Taylor on guitar, David Mansfield on piano, organ, dobro, and Arthur Rosato on drums). From … Read More

Friday Weekly Round-Up 54

[George Whitman’s Shakespeare & Co Bookstore, 37 Rue Bûcherie, Paris. ]

[Ed Sanders’ Peace Eye Bookstore,83 East Tenth St, NYC
photo via Dangerous Minds]

Following up from a previous “Round-Up” – Rita Dove and the saga of the Ginsberg Penguin omission


Here’s Rita Dove being interviewed by Jericho Brown on the blog of The Best American Poetry. The full interview (wide-ranging and revealing, the trials and tribulations of the anthologist – not to mention the joys and delights too), may be read here. Here’s the Ginsberg-pertinent … Read More

A Brief Visit to William Carlos Williams

[William  Carlos Williams 1883-1963]

AG: So what do you remember about our visit to (William Carlos) Williams?

Gregory Corso: I remember..
AG: You remember different things from me
GC: Well I remember you telling me about…
AG: Yeah, Gregory, myself, Peter Orlovsky and Jack Kerouac, all went to see Williams one afternoon. 1957
GC: ..about that.
AG: Yeah. Jack went into the kitchen with his wife, and his wife told him all about how she and Williams were young in Vienna when he was studying to be a medical student and they went to beer-gardens and there were … Read More