2014 is – in case you didn’t know – the William Burroughs Centennial year (next month, February 5th, he would have turned 100), and, not only on the 5th, but on a variety of occasions, there will be events, arranged by a variety of groups, around the globe.
Here in New York City (the Allen Ginsberg Project’s home-base), for instance, there will be city-wide celebrations throughout the month of April.
Long before that, however, we’ll be witnessing happenings. Perhaps the biggest so far, organized by Charles Cannon, is in the unlikely location of Bloomington, Indiana, for five days, from the birthday of February 5 through to February 9 – “The Burroughs Century“, as Cannon has described it – “We are calling the event the Burroughs Century, but we are not looking backward, rather, we believe that the Burroughs Century is ongoing, that we are in the midst of it, and we intend to stage an event that indicates the full range of that continuing influence, including a film series, art and literature exhibits, speakers and panels, musical performances and more”. The celebration will culminate in “a two-day symposium featuring scholars, artists, critics, and musicians who will discuss Burroughs, his work, and its influence on American culture and beyond”. Beat scholar, Oliver Harris will be the keynote speaker. From January 24th to February 6 at the Grunwald Gallery of Art at Indiana University, as something of a preamble to the festivites, there will be an exhibition of Burroughs’ “Shotgun Paintings”. The Burroughs Century blog, incidentally, is well worth checking out (it’s being constantly updated) and can be accessed here
Earlier than that, however, is Patricia Allmergh and John Sears’ “Taking Shots – The Photography of William S Burroughs“, which opens January 17 at London’s Photographer’s Gallery (and is up through March 30).
A fully illustrated catalog co-published by The Photograpers’ Gallery and the German publishers, Prestel is (or rather, will soon be) available.
Harris will be lecturing there too (part of a Conference – “Beyond the Cut-Up – William Burroughs and the Image” – scheduled to take place in the Gallery, Saturday February 15 – poet/professor Allen Fisher (of Manchester’s Metropolitan University) has also been confirmed as a participant)
Meanwhile, in Lawrence, Kansas, at the Lawrence Arts Center, “an exhibition of William Burroughs’ art and collections titled “Creative Observer”” will be on show (opening January 17), January 17 through March 2nd – “This multimedia experience” – Ben Ahivers and Yuri Zapancic, its organizers, announce – “will provide insight into Burroughs prolific creative energy as well as revealing his ideas on observing art and people. Included in this exhibit will be collaborative works with such artists as Brion Gysin, Robert Rauschenberg, Kurt Cobain, Keith Haring, and George Condo, among others”.
As with the Bloomington, Indiana and London, England, celebrations, various ancillary events will take place around the main event. On January 28, “friends and acquaintances will share stories and memories of their time with William Burroughs”. On February 1st, Beat biographer, Barry Miles joins Ira Silverberg and James Grauerholz in a talk and the launch of Miles’ brand-new book (written in collaboration with Grauerholz) “Call Me Burroughs” (Miles, incidentally, appears for Rainy Day Books in Kansas City, a couple of days earlier, to sign copies and answer questions about the book)
No further news to report about the current hospitalization of Amiri Baraka, although he remains in our thoughts and prayers and we’ll keep you posted.
Some time since we featured Ginsberg parodies. (In recent years, “Yelp”, maybe, was the most prominent one, but we’ve noted several others). Debora Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle tried her hand, at years end, with “an Ode to Obamacare” – “Ow! (the annotated version) – with apologies to Allen Ginsberg” – “What sphinx of Beantown and beltways threw away the individual market and left adults yearning for their substandard policies//Amazon! Connectivity! Drones! Enrollees! Sign-ups are unattainable goalposts!..”
Speaking of San Francisco – The proposed “Rainbow Honor Walk“, that we reported on a couple of years ago, an equivalent to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a strip along Market and Castro Street, honoring LGBT pioneers, is now not just an idea but a reality. Singer Sylvester James, was the first of twenty LGBT legends to be so honored (Allen will be among that company), recently, with a bronze plaque.
Here’s Eileen Myles (from her book “The Importance of Being Iceland“) on Allen as a gay icon – “A Speech About Allen”
Meanwhile in New York City – the joyful return to the East Village of the Mee Noodle shop!