From the publisher’s blurb:
“During the late 1960s, when peace, drugs, and free love were direct challenges to conventional society, Allen Ginsberg, treasurer of Committee on Poetry, Inc., funded what he hoped was “a haven for comrades in distress” in rural upstate New York. First described as an uninspiring, dilapidated four-bedroom house with acres of untended land, including the graves of its first residents, East Hill Farm became home to those who sought pastoral enlightenment in the presence of Ginsberg’s brilliance and generosity. A self-declared member of a “ragtag group of urban castoffs” including Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky, Herbert Huncke, and the mythic Barbara Rubin, farm manager Ball tends to a non-stop flurry of guests, chores, and emotional outbursts while also making time to sit quietly with Ginsberg and discuss poetry, Kerouac, sex, and America’s war in Vietnam. In honest and vivid prose, he (Ball) offers a rare intimate glimpse of the poetic pillar of the Beat Generation as a striving and accessible human being at home on the farm and in the world.”
Michael Schumacher, Allen’s biographer, writes:”In writing a memoir about the time he spent managing Allen Ginsberg’s farm in upstate New York, Gordon Ball has detailed an important yet often overlooked side of the poet’s colorful life. Anecdotally fertile, with a memorable cast of characters, East Hill Farm is informative, entertaining, often very funny, and ultimately important. Allen Ginsberg and Friends live again in these pages.”
and Lawrence Ferlinghetti:
“I couldn’t stop reading East Hill Farm and learning so much of what really went down on that farm in that so crucial period in the lives of the Beats. I visited the farm just twice but wish I had Ball’s innocent yet so perceptive eye”
Lesley Wheeler’s review is here. Marc Olmsted’s review here.
For 28 years Gordon Ball took well over a thousand photographs of Allen and of other members of the Beat Generation. A selection from those photographs may be viewed on his web-site here (a perceptive essay on them, published in Jacket magazine, in 2007, may be read here).
He also edited three books with Allen – Allen Verbatim, Journals Mid-Fifties and Journals Early Fifties and Early Sixties.
He’s also, in addition, an accomplished film-maker (see his memoir, ’66 Frames). A DVD of his work, a retrospective, came out in 2010 – sadly, not including his Cherry Valley footage, 1968-1969’s “Farm Diary”).
His stewardship of the farm was from 1968 to 1971.
Here’s Elsa Dorfman’s classic shot of Allen on his new property.
Here’s an image of a winter-wrapped Herbert Huncke up there in 1969.
Here’s Allen and Gordon (photographed by Peter Orlovsky) (Allen in crutches)
Here’s a young Gordon (and “the early 70’s Allen”) working together on editorial projects in New York:
Gordon Ball will be appearing with Bill Morgan at City Lights on Wednesday March 14