Randy Roark’s Postcards

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Just over a year ago, we spotlighted Randy Roark’s memories of Allen on Newtopia.
That piece has now been considerably augmented. “A Poet’s Progress: Apprenticing with Allen Ginsberg: The Object Is To See Clearly” has now morphed (with the addition of further biographical and autobiographical materials) into “A Poet’s Progress – Life Lessons from Ginsberg, Snyder and Whalen“, and is very much worthy of a peruse, (not the least for a welter of captivating visual material).

Allen’s postcards to Randy, scanned for the purpose of the article [we offer only the reverse sides here] make, naturally, for a fascinating read. In the interests of aforementioned clarity (Allen’s spider-scrawl, never the easiest to decipher!), herewith some of their intimate content:

(rearranged into chronological order)

P.O.Box 582 Stuyvesant Station N.Y.10009 April 23, 1983 (Amster)dam

Dear Randy, Thanks for the marvellous tape, I’ve listened all through it, the [Mick] Jagger is clear and real Blues oomph, Dylan’s Mixed Up Confusion‘s new to me, & the [Phil] Spector [Leonard] Cohen tape I’ve never heard before – don’t remember hearing it anyway. I absolutely liked [double- underlined] the Friction Kerouac Festival issue, thought it was great. I had 4 minutes of self-recrimination laid temporarily on you when I examined my own letter and found I hadn’t edited it to my satisfaction but that was a brief fit of ego and not your trouble. I gave my copy to Phil Whalen. I was so proud of the issue. I’ll see you May 1 – o.k. see you May 1 – I’ll fly in – Allen

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4/24/83 NYC

Dear Randy, Whilst I can remember – for your poet’s issue – see Christopher John Holda (Holda) or Chris Holda 2322 West Eastwood, Chicago, Ill(inois) 60625  for his book “Invasion at a Distance” and Steve Kowit 1868 Ebers Street, San Diego, California 92107. Jonathan Robbins has also replied, I’ll have his address soon (he’s in Israel) – all this for Friction later – Allen Ginsberg  [maybe look at Gerry Rizza’s poems too?]

NYC 9/13/84

Dear Randy – Yes, send on tapes, index and a bill whenever you can – (Barry) Miles is ready to work with it – send them to me  I leave for China via L.A & S.F. Oct(ober) 1 – Saw Anne W(aldman) tonite at showing of 50 min(ute) Janet Foreman Kerouac ’82 film, like talking heads, Gregory [Corso] always fine. Tell Francis I saw Nicanor Parra tonite (at the film) and will read his translations here on the 24th. Nicanor asked after him. I’m fine. Thanks for articles. Did MTV of Father Death at ghostly Ellis Island – You OK? – Send me the Bill. OK – Allen

December 16, Nanjing-Shanghai train, 1984 [sic]

Dear Randy, Shaky hand on train desk – been down river Yangtze thru “Three Gorges” on a steamer – up to grey smogged industrial provinces teaching in hick college, eager students – Cultural Revol(union) was universal disaster, books burnt, temples vandalized, industry stopt [sic], laboratories destroyed, 20,000,000 sent to country & camps, now new “4 modernizations” lifts the weight, some relaxed freedom. Merry Xmas. Happy New Year. Love Allen Ginsberg

Dear Randy,  & Happy New Year to you – Answering mail  6 AM 1/7/86 – Allen G

1/19/87 Ginsberg

Dear Randy – Thanks for care package – All sorts of print I’d not see otherwise. Thanks for lively poem. Mother Teresa did a nice thing in N(ew) Y(ork), founded an A.I.D.S. shelter in N.Y.  Just at the climax of an anti-gay-aids hysteria, while politicians were wringing their hands about aids insurance and social benefits costs.
Peter [Orlovsky] out of Bellevue after 5 weeks, now trying Lithium to even out manic-depressive bipolar mood (gale) – Brooklyn College not as much fun as Naropa Ethos and I’m weeks behind in homework (reading student papers) but we’ll have [Herbert] Huncke, [Ray] Bremser, [Robert] Creeley, Peter O(rlovsky) & Phil Whalen in to read this term coming up – “Lit(erary) Hist(ory) (of the) Beat Gen(eration)! cycle. I’ll be out early March for a week Boulder then,  June-July. See you & thanks – Allen


Carl (Solomon)’s words the day before he died to Ted Morgan (whose March 30 birthday he shared) were “I’m expiring, but I have life insurance”. I gave my notes of conversation the night before to St Marks Poetry Project Newsletter so they’ll be available in a week or 2 – Thanks for card – Allen Ginsberg

11/26/93 – Olomouc, Czech Republic, U(university) of Palackeho [sic]

Dear Randy – Solo travel with a heavy canvas bag full of books, mss, reading copy-edited Poems 1986-92 to send back express mail this week. Bronchitis in Dublin kept me indoors in Oslo and Norse Coast cities – young listeners everywhere crowding poetry readings Berlin, Munich, Paris, Belgrad(e), Budapest, Vienna, Dublin (I did music video bit part at request of U-2’s Bono) Belfast, etc. End of this week, I’ll be in Prague at old haunt Cafe Viola + have date with (Vaclav) Havel before I leave for Barcelona. Saw Renaldo and Clara in Vienna (and Paris was it?) “I want you” – his voice in the fish restaurant where I’m lunching now – familiar minstrel energy! – as ever Allen (back in NY Noel)

P.O.Box 582, Stuyvesant Sta(tion), N.Y. 10009, NY [postmarked 2/11/94]

Dear Randy, Leaving for Paris and London tomorrow back mid-December. Peter Hale accompanying as (secretary) as I’m short of breath, he has lap-top and modem. Underground Chinese poet is famous Bei Dao. I’ll ask Bob (Rosenthal) to get you xeroxes of Journals in China. I got lots of photos (later). How far have you gotten in Naropa transcripts? up to what year? Who’re you dealing with in office now? I guess Peter Hale when he returns. Hope you’re well! – Love Allen

For more letters, ephemera, books, posters, photos, memories, etc – here<

“Randy Roark – The Lotus of the Beats”  on Michalis Limnios’ exemplary Blues@Greece site is here

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