Friday Weekly Round-Up – 117

The Line Has Shattered Robert McTavish’s hour-long documentary on the legendary 1963 Vancouver Poetry Conference premieres next Thursday in Vancouver at the Djavad Mowafaghian World Arts Center (Simon Fraser University). The film, narrated by poet Phyllis Webb, will be introduced by original conference participant (and Canada’s current Poet Laureate), Fred Wah.

Allen’s famous group-shot of several of the key participants (with him at the center, and, significantly, absent Denise Levertov and Robert Duncan) may be viewed below:

Jerry Heiserman (later Sufi “Hassan”), the late “Red” a poet, Allen Ginsberg, Bobbie Louise Hawkins Creeley, Warren Tallman, Robert Creeley above Charles Olson, left to right top rows; seated left Thomas Jackrell then student poet, Philip Whalen & Don Allen anthologist & Postmodern Poetics editor, last days of Vancouver Poetry Conference late July 1963, car parked in front of host professor Tallman’s house — he’d sent me a ticket to come back from a year and half in India for the assembly — which included Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov. (c. Allen Ginsberg Estate)

Here’s another snap, from that occasion, of Allen (with, in the background, in profile, Charles Olson).

Poet George Bowering recalls Allen as exuding at this time “some kind of spiritual aura. The air shone around him”.
Recordings of the Conference are available and can be listened to here  (an extraordinary trove!).
A brief taste of Robert McTavish’s film may be had here.

Iain Sinclair‘s writings on the Beats, we’ve noted here before (his account of his visit to Gary Snyder in Kitkitdizze is well worth a read – here’s his talk on Charles Olson)
– and here’s, (a preliminary draft), an account of visiting William Burroughs in Lawrence, Kansas. His next book, American Smoke: Journeys to the End of the Light (we’re very much looking forward to reading it) is due out (in England) at the end of the year.

The Jay DeFeo Retrospective (that opened last year at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) is currently on exhibit in New York at the Whitney. Who was Jay DeFeo, you may ask? – As Peter Schjeldahl notes in the current New Yorker, one might reasonably speak of an “empathetic cult”, (a central figure in San Francisco’s North Beach in the ’50’s,, her epic painting-construction piece, “The Rose” was one of the centerpieces of the Whitney’s landmark 1995 show, Beat Culture and the New America). She was in attendence, as Schjeldahl points out, at Allen’s first public reading of “Howl” (at the Six Gallery, in 1955 – organized (the gallery was indeed co-founded) by her husband, Wally Hedrick), and works of hers were up and hanging in that same gallery.

Michael Minzer of Paris Records (Allen’s producer for 1987’s The Lion For Real) is interviewed on Michalis Limnios’ exemplary Blues@Greece site this week. Another must-read.
(By now, we’ve kinda lost count of just how many extraordinary (Ginsberg-related, Beat-related) interviews may be found there!)

Allen Ginsberg and Michael Minzer in 1987, during “The Lion For Real” recording sessions


“The iconic songwriter joins Allen Ginsberg, Ezra Pound, Duke Ellington and Martin Scorsese“, trumpets USA Today.  Congratulations, Bob Dylan, on induction to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. 

(Allen was, it might be remembered, extraordinarily proud of his own membership and petitioned frequently (tho’ not always successfully!) to get his friends in).

Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg at Albert Grossman’s house, Woodstock, NY, 1964 – photograph by Douglas Gilbert

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