Yes, the annual Jack Kerouac Festival (Lowell Celebrates Kerouac) starts up again next week.
Among the highlights – readings by Anne Waldman and by Joyce Johnson (from her recently-published Kerouac biography) – and musical collaboration (poetry and jazz) from legends David Amram and from John Sinclair.
Meanwhile, “across the pond”, “the scroll” makes it over to London, England (to the British Library), in anticipation of next Friday’s official UK On The Road film-release. Here‘s a little feature on it on the BBC. In related events, on Sunday, (his birthday!), Amiri Baraka will be interviewed (the title of this talk is “Black Beats”) – and then, next Friday, at the same venue, novelist and Beat scholar, Howard Cunnell, will be on hand, to examine Kerouac’s annus mirabilis, 1951 – “showing a short film, playing some music, and talking about Kerouac’s great (under-rated) novel (completed the same time as On The Road), Visions of Cody.
“Exit 11/ Indiana State Police/ No Public Restrooms” – a perfect haiku! – don’t know how we missed this – this from Larry Siems, director of PEN’s Freedom to Write program’s memoir. The PEN American Center, in the month of September, celebrated its 90th anniversary with a series of posts, “case histories”, “emblematic free expression cases that trace the evolution and growing importance of PEN’s work” – here is the one on Allen (and here is the one on Amiri Baraka) – (Amiri Baraka’s “Blues and Greece” Michael Limnios interview, incidentally, yet another (the most recent) in that remarkable, all-inclusive, interview-series, may be accessed here).
This past Wednesday, by the way, marked the 55th anniversary (October 3, 1957) that, after its famous court trial, Howl & Other Poems was ruled not obscene.
Two recent articles from the San Francisco papers that we also might have missed – on the occasion of the closing of his art show (and the publication of his new book), a brief profile of Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
– and Jonah Raskin reviews Joyce Johnson’s aforementioned biography, here.
And, finally, for our readers in Spanish, Guillermo Parra recently published an intriguing memoir/note on Allen in El Nacional (Venezuela). Among the highlights:
“Mientras conversamos, su conocimiento de la poesia latinoamericana se hizo evidente. Cuando me preguntó qué poetas latinoamericanos estaba leyendo, le mencioné a Octavio Paz. Ginsberg hizo una mueca y me dijo, fastidiado: “Yo nunca entiendo sus poemas. No sé qué es lo que está tratando de decir con su poesía”. Supongo que quizás existió alguna rivalidad o hubo un desencuentro entre ellos. Me contó que conoció al poeta peruano Martín Adán durante un viaje a Perú en 1960, y que pasó una noche entera hablando con él en un hotel limeño. Adán le había recomendado el libro 5 metros de poemas (1927) del peruano Carlos Oquendo de Amat….El poema “To An Old Poet in Peru” [A un viejo poeta en el Perú], de su libro Reality Sandwiches (1963), fue escrito después de ese encuentro con Adán.
Me preguntó si conocía a los escritores venezolanos de El Techo de la Ballena. Contesté que no y como veía que no entendí muy bien el nombre del grupo, hizo un gesto abriendo sus brazos en forma de un techo y me tradujo el nombre al inglés, “The Roof of the Whale”. Me comentó que había estado en contacto con ellos durante los años sesenta y que lo habían invitado a visitar Caracas…..
Ginsberg mantuvo una actitud muy abierta hacia la poesía latinoamericana, una posición que pocos escritores estadounidenses han sostenido. Para él, la poesía no era simplemente algo que se escribía sino una forma de ser y estar en el universo.”
(“As we talk, [in Boulder, in 1993), his knowledge of Latin American poetry became apparent. When asked who I was reading of the Latin American poets, I mentioned Octavio Paz. Ginsberg made a face and said, annoyed: “I never understood his poems. I don’t know what he is trying to say with his poetry.” I suppose there was some rivalry, or perhaps there was a misunderstanding, between them. He told me that he met the Peruvian poet Martin Adan during a trip to Peru in 1960, and spent the whole night talking to him in a Lima hotel. Adan had recommended the book five meters of poems (1927) by Peruvian Carlos Oquendo de Amat… The poem “To An Old Poet in Peru” , in his book Reality Sandwiches (1963), was written after that meeting with Adan.
He asked if I knew the Venezuelan writers, “El Techo dela Ballena”. I answered no and, as he saw that I didn’t understand very well the group’s name, waved his arms, indicating a shelter, and translated the name into English – “The Roof of the Whale”. He told me he had been in contact with them during the ‘sixties and had been invited to visit Caracas…
Ginsberg had a very open attitude toward Latin American poetry, a position few American writers have argued. For him, poetry was not simply something that was written, but a way of being and living in the universe.”]