Lou Reed, Allen’s iconic backstage image, juxtaposing the brooding rock star with an equally brooding Samuel Beckett leads off an Allen and rock n roll week here on the Allen Ginsberg blog. It may be worth remembering the time when Allen and William Burroughs (along with Susan Sontag) met up with/visited Beckett in Paris – Steven J Gertz at Booktryst recounts the less-than-comfortable encounter – here.
Lou Reed was 17 and still a student at Syracuse University when he wrote this
and then, of course, there’s this, a typically world-weary observation – ” All the poets they studied rules of verse,/ and those ladies, they rolled their eyes” (from the memorable lyrics of another Velvet Underground classic, Sweet Jane)
At Syracuse, he studied with, and came under the influence of, an extraordinary charismatic teacher, the poet Delmore Schwartz
In 1971, he published poems in The Harvard Advocate. They can be read here.
And in 1976, in the Coldspring Journal – here
Further early poems (from Fusion magazine) can be found here.
“Laurie if you’re sadly listening” appeared in the New York Times following the events of 9/11″
Here’s his disturbing “Harry’s Circumcision”.
And then, of course, there’s his considerable Edgar Allen Poe work. – Here he is reading “The Raven” – “I kept the exact rhythm, and if you don’t believe me, you can check it line by line.. I wanted to bring him up-to-date. I wanted to make it contemporary, a lot of his stuff was arcane..” Here he is reading from “The Valley of Unrest”– “Samuel Beckett had said the sun came up because it had to. Interesting parallel, yes? – or maybe it’s not. What do you think?”
Something all-too-fitting about the title of this 2001 album – American Poet (the album was a live recording of a 1972 concert that had previously been circulating as a bootleg).
And here’s Timothy Greenfield-Saunders revealing documentary from 1998 for PBS – Rock and Roll Heart [2014 update – both of these video have now been taken down]
We’ll conclude with one more photo of Allen’s