Poetry and Madness at Esalen 1968

“Losing Your Mind To Come To Your Senses” – today some vintage audio from the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, from the ‘Sixties (1968) – Poetry and Madness – a symposium – The panel (introduced by research psychologist Julian Silverman) consists of two psychiatrists, John W Perry and Claudio Naranjo and two counter-culture heroes, Allen and Alan Watts. 
Allen’s contribution begins approximately fifty-and-a-quarter minutes in.
Julian Silverman: It has been said that at least certain kinds of schizophrenics and poets are in touch with the same things – except the psychotic makes a bigger pest of himself. What do … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 154

“America, I am the Scottsboro Boys“, Allen famously declared in one of the many memorable lines in his classic 1956 poem, America.  This past November 21 (last Thursday) the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles granted (some eighty years later!) posthumous pardons clearing the last of the group of nine black youths wrongly scapegoated and imprisoned for allegedly raping two white women. The case, one of the key cases in American jurisprudence, had immense consequences (it was fought all the way up to the Supreme Court) and was a crucial and important milestone in the development of the … Read More

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Time once again for an old favorite – Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  ok – tell it like it is, William!  (with film footage/juxtaposition by Gus Van Sant

“Thanksgiving Day November 28 1986”
Thanks for the wild turkey and the passenger pigeons, destined to be shat out through wholesome American guts.

Thanks for a continent to despoil and poison. 

Thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger.

Thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin leaving the carcasses to rot.

Thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes.

Thanks for the American dream, To vulgarize and to

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Manhattan Poetry Video Project 1984

Rose Lesniak’s Manhattan Poetry Video Project, from 1984 (three poetry-videos, Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, and Bob Holman) was, unquestionably, pioneering in its time. This was a good decade-and-more before the United States of Poetry, and the subsequent rise and development of now-ubiquitous video technology (a good two-decades-and-more before, even, the baby-steps of You Tube!) Allen’s contribution, reading “Father Death Blues”, is particularly poignant, because the film shoot was on Ellis Island (the old Ellis Island, before it had been refurbished and given its $156 million make-over/restoration) “Father Death, Don’t cry any more/Mama’s there, underneath the floor/ … Read More

Allen Ginsberg Is Sidney The Lawyer

It Don’t Pay To Be An Honest Citizen, Jacob Burckhardt‘s 1985 movie with Reed Bye, Yoshiko Chuma, David BrisbinVincent D’Onofrio, and cameos by both Allen (“Sidney the lawyer”) and William Burroughs (“Paul, the neighborhood mafia don” [not included in the excerpt given here]), is a curiously-dated, rarely-seen, but priceless, “lost”, underground “Beat” treasure.  The plot revolves around (the charmingly-wooden) “Warren” (Reed Bye), a documentary film-maker, the titular “honest citizen”, (victim of a late-night mugging, with the resultant theft, not only of his money but, of his precious stolen film – He desperately needs to … Read More

Jonas Mekas – (October 1987 – Allen Ginsberg)


From October 1987 – from Jonas Mekas’ Video Diary.    See here for the Video Diary  Allen reads from Cosmopolitan Greetings,  despite the indifference of little Sebastian, in Jonas Mekas‘  studio/loft/home. Allen takes over the camera and, with curious and roving eye, surveys the work-space of Jonas, impresario of the Anthology Film Archives, “pack rat of the avant-garde”.
“I seem to be making an inventory of your apartment.”, he declares. “I don’t suppose you have done this yet have you? No? Well this might be interesting – But there’s “all kinds of junk”, insists Mekas – “No, it’s
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Ron Padgett’s Collected Poems

It’s a red-letter day!  (or, to be accurate, a red-and-black letters day, on a plain cream-white background!). Coffee House Press have just published, in one 800-plus single volume, The Collected Poems of Ron Padgett.Ron Padgett‘s poems”, writes Anne Waldman, “are essential and Ron Padgett is a genius”. She goes on,”His poetry is masterful for its panoramic humanity and mind-stopping verbal wit, its breathtaking power and beauty. We want to stay with the person in these poems all day long, to be changed by the possibilities palpitating from the smallest increments of our existence to the most … Read More

Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman Reading (Naropa, April 1977)

Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman

We’ve already featured them reading together before – from 1974 here, and from 1976, here, but here, from 1977 is vintage audio of Allen and Anne Waldman reading. Allen begins, thanking his sponsors and setting out his plans. AG: We owe thanks to Naropa and Peter Lieberson and Meg for arranging this luxurious space for us to orate in, because, actually, it turned out to be a nice situation. I’m going to begin where I left off last summer (1976) in poetry reading with a series of poems on my father’s death – called  “Don’t Grow Old”  … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 153


[Doris Lessing (1919-2013), in Philip Glass’ kitchen, New York City,  March 10, 1990 – Photograph by Allen Ginsberg c. The Estate of Allen Ginsberg]

Nobel-prizewinning author Doris Lessing, who died last week, aged 94, recalling, in her typically acerbic, typically no-nonsense way, “an amused get-together with Allen Ginsberg and some fellow Beats” –  “They turned up in London, a whole lot of them, and I went to meet them” [this would be 1965, perhaps?]. “I thought they were extremely likeable, but that isn’t how they wanted to be seen. I thought then, and think I was right, … Read More

Another Ginsberg Meme/Jane Kramer

November 21 – Elsa Dorfman‘s photo and Allen Ginsberg’s signature – now another November 21 rolls by. 

Today, we thought we’d take time off to address another of those pesky memes. You know, “famous quotes of Allen Ginsberg”? – but when and where, and, did he actually say these things? We’ve already tried to address the Follow your inner moonlight…” (did he say that? – well, he sort of did, the nature of the meme is that it’s going to proliferate anyway!) So how about “Whoever controls the media controls the mind” or “Whoever controls the media, … Read More