Big Allen-celebration in San Francisco this evening, Beat Reunion For more details here.
The current July/August issue of Poetry magazine includes this memoir by Marjorie Perloff –“Allen Ginsberg – Remembering A Rose Rabbi” – “I have been listening to (his) lectures and marveling at Allen’s interest in the minutiae of prosody“, she writes.
She recalls his participation at the 1993 NPF (National Poetry Foundation) Conference (on American poetry of the (19)30’s) – (“(he) had been invited to pay homage to the ninety-year-old Carl Rakosi...”), recalls too, a later (sadly, their last) meeting; Allen, poignantly ignored, unrecognized in, quite literally (!) – A Supermarket in California (of all places!) – “Stanley Grinstein found us, and Allen said goodbye and toodled off into the sunset, No one in Gelson’s had recognized him. I never saw him again”.
Beat scholar (the author of American Scream), Jonah Raskin recorded last week (for local station KQED) a brief Ginsberg commentary. Not quite sure about the forthright declaration in the opening sentence – “Allen Ginsberg, the Beat poet, never married, never defended the institution of marriage and never defined himself as gay” – (uh?) – but we’ll agree with the basic thrust, with the rest of the piece – empathy and safety – “While you are not safe, I am not safe” (he’s quoting “Howl”, of course) – ” (H)e (Allen)”, Raskin writes, “felt that safety matters as much as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
An important posting this week on Dangerous Minds (one of our favorite sites!) by Kimberly J Bright – “The Feminist Backlash Against the Beat Generation – Cool Finger-Popping Daddies or Misogynist Jerks?” – Yes, this is not a simply-settled “debate” – the vexed question of “sexism” and “the Beats” – the issues remain abiding – “The backlash against the Beats in general, and (Jack) Kerouac in particular, is becoming more evident”, she writes (and outlines and surveys some of the recent debate) – Her conclusion is a measured one: “Taking Beat literature out of the context of the time and culture in which it was written robs it of too much of its power and importance” (and) “It’s unrealistic to examine written works from the late 1940’s and 1950’s and excoriate their views of women based on modern Feminist standards that would have been quite alien to men and women of that time”. Hmm.. Even so..
Three years ago today, the great Beat hero, Tuli Kupferberg died. We purposely saluted him alongside Pablo Neruda – here. Thelma Blitz triumphantly keeps the flame burning with her extensive selection of Tuli videos… Her Tulifuli You Tube channel (several hundred videos now available) is (very good to know) accessible – here