Ego and A Dream (A Leap Year Posting)

Leap Year, 1958, all those years ago, 31-year-old Allen had been dreaming, the night before, about.. T S Eliot. “What’s my motive dreaming his/ manna? What English Department/would that impress? What failure/ to be a perfect prophet’s made up here?” – (an) “overambitious dream of (an) eccentric boy”. All through his life Allen wrote down his dreams, looked for their portents and signs – “God forbid (that) my evil dreams come true”! – and, in so many ways, they did, didn’t they?
Last nite I dreamed of T.S.Eliot
welcoming me to the land of dream
Sofas couches fog … Read More

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s Birthday

[“The Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche drove down from his favorite spot on Bear Mountain for rendezvous with me at his secretary Beverly Webster’s house in Boulder. He’d been ill, rumor’d to’ve been “”Visiting the Dakinis.”” I asked him where the Dakinis were, once we’d got in the living room, he said “”Right there”” pointing to the window-sill above the sofa. “”What do they say?”” I asked, he replied, “”Sometimes they criticize me for teaching too much Vajrayana, too many secrets. Sometimes they tell me to teach more.”” We looked at my photographs, he gave me wise advice on domestic crisis. … Read More

Kenneth Koch (1925-2002)

[Kenneth Koch and Allen Ginsberg, St Mark’s Church, NYC, 1977. Photo courtesy the Poetry Project]
Kenneth Koch‘s birthday gives us an excuse to reprint this wonderful interview with Allen. It appeared in October 1977 in The New York Times.
Allen paid back the compliment, interviewing Kenneth the following year – (on “Writing For The Stage” – on the occasion of a 3-week run of his play, “The Red Robins”, at New York’s St. Clemens Theater). It (that interview) is included in Koch’s collection The Art of Poetry. It’s also, happily, available on line hereRead More

Gang of Souls


Maria Beatty’s 1989 documentary, Gang of Souls: A Generation of Beat Poets, is our film focus this weekend. It, as Clint Weiler explains on the IMDB site, “explores the insights and influences of the American Beat poets..(and)..conveys their consciousness and sensibility through (simple unadorned) interviews”. It also “weaves in additional commentary from contemporary musicians, poets and writers” (four of them – Marianne Faithfull, Henry Rollins, Richard Hell and Lydia Lunch), and “expands upon how the poets reached new levels of creativity and inspired social change”.
Among … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up 62

[Anton Corbijn – Allen Ginsberg, New York, 1996 – via Philips de Pury]

Barney Rosset’s passing, on Tuesday, continues to seem like a watershed moment in the history, certainly in America, of literary censorship (see our posting here and Rosset’s New York Times obituary here). Louisa Thomas’ 2008 Newsweek profile of him can be found here and Loren Glass’s two-part piece for the Los Angeles Review of Books here.

Emeritus professor at the University of Massachusetts, Jules Chametzky, in Jewish Currents, honors Allen as a “pioneering poet and activist”, and concludes with a personal testament, saluting (his) … Read More

Hal Willner’s Kaddish

Tonight is the world-premiere of the Hal Willner-produced “Allen Ginsberg’s Kaddish (for Naomi Ginsberg (1894-1956)“), commissioned by the Park Avenue Armory in New York and featuring a score by Grammy Award-winning jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, (a) visual design by “Gonzo” artist Ralph Steadman, and the unique idiosyncratic “conceptual energy” of Willner. It’s part of the on-going “Tune-In Music Festival” for Philip Glass. “Philip Glass’ affinity, reverence and collaborations with the great Allen Ginsberg”, the organizers note, “make for a deeply personal achievement for this work..”.
Tomorrow, Patti Smith and her band join Glass for “The Read More

Barney Rosset (1922-2012)

[Barney Rosset, New York City, June 21, 1991. Photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]
Barney Rosset, heroic and maverick publisher, founder of the legendary Grove Press (he paid $3000 for the nascent press in 1951), champion at the forefront of the key battles in the 20th Century against literary censorship, died at a hospital in New York last night. He was 89 (he had been undergoing a double heart-valve replacement procedure). Here is the AP notice. Here‘s Becky Krystal in The Washington Post.
From his testimony in the “Howl” trial (alongside fellow Evergreen Review publisher, Don Allen): “The
Read More

Ray Bremser (1934-1998)

[Ray Bremser master poet returned to New York after 8 years’ absence wrinkle-faced as before, to attend my “Rainbow Body Reading Series” at Brooklyn College & same night read at St. Mark’s Church Poetry Project. Next evening we did two poetry readings shows together for jazz-club Village Vanguard anniversary week celebrations. He left early next morning by bus, for safety from drink, to his upstate New York Utica apartment. Saw him this way the night before all these poetry scenes, at my house, February 21, 1995. (Ginsberg Caption) photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

Ray Bremser (1934-1998) was one of the … Read More

Father Death Blues in Brussels, 1984

More footage of Allen and Steven Taylor in Europe in 1984. This from the fourth “Nacht van de Poezie” (Night of Poetry) at the Vorst Nationaal performance space in Brussels, organized by Guido Lauwaert and Francois Beukelaers and featuring the Belgian poets, Herman De Coninck and Hugo Claus, the Dutch poets Remco Campert and Jules Deelder, the Russian poet, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Allen, and several others. Allen and Steven appear approximately five-and-a-half minutes into the film, seen performing the always-moving “Father Death Blues”.

Read More

Oo Bop Sh’bam At The Poetry Slam 1997

February 20, 1997, fifteeen years ago today, Allen gave what turned out to be his last public performance at the first-ever NYU (New York University) Poetry Slam – “Oo Bop Sh’bam/ At the poetry slam/Scream & yell/At the poetry ball/ Get in a rage/On the poetry stage…” (this poem, a little bit of doggerel that he composed, almost a month later, recollecting the event, is one of the last poems he ever wrote, and is included in the concluding pages of his posthumous collection, Death and Fame).
Bob Holman, Bowery Poetry Club m-c, recalls the evening: “Bob Read More