Mayakovsky’s Birthday

[Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930)]
Vladimir Mayakovsky‘s birthday today. We’ll send you off immediately to our last year’s post (which has comprehensive links and resources). In English translation, the remarkable Ubuweb has Dorrian Rottenberg’s 1972 The Collected Poems of Vladimir Mayakovsky as a free download. We love Ubuweb! We mentioned last year Michael Almereyda 2012 anthology, Night Wraps The Sky. An evening celebrating that book can be re-experienced here. And for Mayakovsky’s own haunting voice and a little (in English) about the Modernist (Futurist) context, check out this little clip here (and this one too, while … Read More

Allen’s Recordings at the Woodberry Poetry Room

Harvard’s Woodberry Poetry Room (like San Francisco State on the West Coast, who we’ve reported on earlier) are in the process of digitalizing and putting on-line their extraordinary collection of poetry-recordings. We urge you to check them out here, on their web-site, at the so-called “Listening Booth” – unique recordings by Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, John Wieners, Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Robert Creeley, Charles Olson, to name but only a few of them. Allen’s contribution consists of three tapes – the first, a joint-reading with Peter Orlovsky from 1964 – … Read More

Mind, Mouth and Page – 28 (Gertrude Stein)

[Gertrude Stein (1874-1946]
Student: [“No ideas but in things” (William Carlos Williams)]

– Can you observe words that way? Like, can words become objects?

AG: Yeah, I think we were talking about that at the end of the last sitting here, when somebody asked me – since Williams, what was done, since Williams, what has been accomplished in poetics? – or, what new thing has been added? – and I was talking about the practice of some poets working out of Gertrude Stein, for whom words were objects, and so it was like the building of little sculptures … Read More

Mind, Mouth and Page – 27 (Paterson)

AG: I started out last time, or was just about to start on, the first scratchings for “Paterson” and his first inspiration for “Paterson”. (It’s) a long speech [by William Carlos Williams] giving his basic philosophy, where he first lays out that idea, “No ideas but in things”, and illustrates it. So I’ll read that. It’s more solid than other poems I’ve been reading of his. It’s on page 233, if anyone’s got the book.
He (Williams) was living around Paterson, New Jersey, and he decided that he would try to write a big, mournful, epic poem (an epic … Read More

In My Father’s Pants – 1975 Naropa Class Improvisation


[A Pica Pole – illustration by Benjamin Redington]
More quirky poetic roll-calls (this one from August the 1st, 1975). If you’re not yet familiar with this teaching trick of Allen’s, see here, here and here
AG: We’ll take the roll, (and), the lines, rather than beginning with a word, will end with, “in my father’s pants”. So when you answer the roll, just fill in whatever is … Read More

More Beat Background (from Czech tv)

Victor Bockris speaks first (he’s speaking as the video begins) – “One of the most fascinating things about the Beat Generation is that those three books [Howl, On The Road, Naked Lunch] are all completely different in style, there’s no comparison in the style of them. The grouping of the Beat Generation had nothing to do with the similarity in writing, it had to do (rather) with similarity in thinking, the similarity of being, (similarity) of the soul”

The focus then turns to Jack Kerouac, and Bill Morgan takes over for the rest of the

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Woody Guthrie Centennial

Woody Guthrie Centennial – We couldn’t let this one pass us by (just like we couldn’t pass by Robert Johnson’s Centennial earlier in the year). Happy 1oo years old, Woody! – Here‘s a rare 1944 interview with him (on BBC children’s radio of all places!) – and here, here and here are just three of his many memorable compositions. For more Woody info’ (comprehensive resources) please head on over to, “the official Woody Guthrie web-site”.… Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up 82

Indy-rock manifestations. Thurston Moore‘s new band Chelsea Light Moving recently released this Burroughs hommage (with an interesting compilation of WSB footage as accompanying vid – can you spot Allen in the footage?)
Not to be out-done, here’s Being There with “To Allen Ginsberg”
and here’s another (“machine version”)
Margaret Wood, Georgia O’Keeffe’s former caretaker, recollecting her famous charge, this week in the Albuquerque Journal:
“Allen Ginsberg arrived with his partner Peter Orlovsky. They admired the late afternoon light as they compared the nature of words to actions. O’Keefe declared that talk was easy but that it was action
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Pablo Neruda & Tuli Kupferberg

Today (Thursday) marks the birth (in 1904) of Pablo Neruda and the passing, two years ago, of the much-missed Tuli Kupferberg – two heroes and revolutionaries

What do we think of Neruda’s death? – Here’s a recent piece on Al Jazeeera.
What do we think of Tuli’s life? – an exemplary one. To quote the New York Times, he was
“a poet and singer who went from being a noted Beat to becoming, in his words, “the world’s oldest rock star” (sic!)
(not to mention, cartoonist, anthologist, publisher, pacifist, and trenchant social commentator).

Ginsberg Recordings

[Allen Ginsberg, San Francisco Civic Center Peace Rally,April 1971 photo c John Bonny]
A major announcement today – the formation of Ginsberg Recordings (a collaborative partnership between The Allen Ginsberg Estate and the Esther Creative Group (the management company of Lou Reed, The Gaslight Anthem and Bryan Ferry, amongst others). Ginsberg Recordings is a project aimed at releasing all of Allen’s work (both previously released and unreleased) under one single umbrella. The goal of this project is to create and distribute (and maintain) a fully comprehensive digital library of the recorded work. Ancillary to this is the intention … Read More