Conrad Rooks – Chappaqua

Chappaqua, the legendary 1966 film, written and directed by Conrad Rooks (Rooks not Brooks – sic), now available, in its entirety, on You Tube [2014 update – they come and they go, Chappaqua is no longer available in its entirety on You Tube], is this weekend’s Allen Ginsberg Project focus.  

Here’s the original trailer

As Jack Sargeant, in his essential account in Naked Lens – Beat Cinema points out:  “Rooks began to experiment with alcohol in his teens and later with drugs [a variety of drugs], to which he became addicted” [as he declares quite explicitly in the opening … Read More

Allen Ginsberg, James Franco & “Selfies”


The “selfie” (word of the moment), the ubiquitous “selfie” – As Paul Gallagher noted recently, on one of our all-time favorite blogs, Dangerous Minds – “Along with being a poet, Beat writer, radical, teacher, diarist, singer, musician, photographer and Buddhist, Allen Ginsberg was also the pioneer of the selfie. Long before everyone was posting their self-portraits on social media, Ginsberg was out there taking snaps of himself in front of every hotel mirror. He snapped himself cross-legged, naked, half-dressed, fully-dressed, vulnerable, confident, unwashed, washed, smiling, squinting, happy-face, ugly-face, old-man-tired-and-going-to-bed face – the Ginsberg selfie captured it all”. Here’s a … Read More

Gary Snyder’s Birthday

This past February, as part, (part two), of the Tales From Two Cities – Writing From California Conference, (held at the Los Angeles Public Library, under the auspices of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West), Gary Snyder (following an enthusiastic introduction by LA Times book critic, David Ulin, and with the assistance of, and with deep gratitude to, poet and environmentalist, Lewis MacAdams) spoke and read to a large and engaged predominantly local audience. 
The full reading (including MacAdams (instigator of the exemplary (LA) River Project
FoLAR (Friends of the Los Angeles River) concluding the reading, reading from his … Read More

Expansive Poetics 63 (Osip Mandelstam)

Osip Mandelstam

[Osip Mandelstam (1891-1938)]

AG: Another funny little poem, 1920, by (Osip) Mandelstam, who looked like this as a young man…[Allen shows photograph of Mandelstam] –   Let’s see.. where am I? I’ve got these people mixed up. No, no… Student: (Nikolay) Gumilev? AG: (Osip) Mandelstam now. I’m interleaving them. (Mandelstam and Gumilev). This, being Mandelstam now as a young man Student: Let’s see that picture. Tumblr_lf2pwjm7eH1qzrkvzo1_500 AG: Very elegant, with big, big, satin cravat. Already Mandelstam had begun digging that it was going to be death to all the poets. Mandelstam himself died in a prison camp in … Read More

Expansive Poetics – 62 – Nikolay Gumilev)

[Nikolay Gumilev (1886-1921)]

Allen reads Russian poet, Nikolai Gumilev’s poem “The Lost Tram-Car”

Заблудившийся трамвай

Шел я по улице незнакомой И вдруг услышал вороний грай, И звоны лютни, и дальние громы, Передо мною летел трамвай. Как я вскочил на его подножку, Было загадкою для меня, В воздухе огненную дорожку Он оставлял и при свете дня. Мчался он бурей темной, крылатой, Он заблудился в бездне времен… Остановите, вагоновожатый, Остановите сейчас вагон. Поздно. Уж мы обогнули стену, Мы проскочили сквозь рощу пальм, Через Неву, через Нил и Сену Мы прогремели по трем мостам. И, промелькнув у оконной рамы, Бросил нам вслед
Read More

Expansive Poetics – 61 (The Stray Dog Cafe)

File:Stray dog logo 1912.jpg
[Stray Dog Cafe, St Petersburg  (1912 logo)]

AG: The Stray Dog Café – There’s a little tiny footnote on it in a Russian literary quarterly, which also has  translation of a poem by Anna Akhmatova of the (19)40’s,(19)50’s, and (19)60’s, which she compiled secretly, and was published outside of Russia, her major poem. “Poem Without A Hero”. – “The dog that she mentions is a vagabond dog, a bohemian St Petersburg cafe, decorated in part by Olga, Sergei Sudeikina‘s husband, habituated by most of the writers and the artists of the period, 1912-1915. Before the Revolution, it was named … Read More

Expansive Poetry – 60 – (A Quick Review)

[Hart Crane (1899-1932) in 1930 in New York City – Photograph by Walker Evans}] ]
AG (looking back on “Expansive Poetics”, so far): We had started with a few early precursors. I started, (since this was an international shot  – or, at least, a Western shot), I started with a couple of poems of (Alexander) Pushkin, which were prophetic, about the poet putting burning coals on his tongue, or the poet meeting a seraphin the middle of the desert who pressed burning coals into his heart. And (then) we had, for expansive rhythm, an early nineteenth-century sample of high
Read More

Poetry In Motion

Ron Mann’s groundbreaking 1982 film, Poetry In Motion, (we have featured, in the past, snippets, including Allen’s enthusiastic “Capitol Air” performance) is now available, in its entirety, on the incomparable UbuWeb.  From their informative notes:  “It was re-released in 1994 in an innovative format on CD-Rom..and, in 2002, as a DVD. Poetry In Motion 25 was also made available (“a one-hour television special featuring outtakes from Poetry In Motion with many of the artists featured in the original film”, (different poems, different settings), “plus a bunch of new faces (including Peter Orlovsky, Alice Notley, Jerome Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 175

[Allen Ginsberg throwing out the first ball at the San Francisco Giants game at Candlestick Park, June 2, 1994 – Photo courtesy Steve Silberman]

Our friend, Chris Funkhouser has a must-read piece (part of a 4-part series) in Jacket 2 on his experiences with audio recording (and in this case, in particular, the recording of Allen Ginsberg). “I studied with Naropa in 1986”, he writes. “He was my teacher and friend from then onward. There’s no question my sense that poetry could (if not should) be an electrified-multimedia performance came from (him). With so many years of practice … Read More

Expansive Poetry – 59 (Heroic Loud-Mouthed Style)

Lilya Brik in Alexander Rodchenko’s poster for the Soviet publisher Gosizdat, 1924

[Lili Brik in poster designed by Alexander Rodchenko in 1924 for the Soviet publisher, Gosizdat]

AG: ..heroic style, loud-mouthed style, hot-air style, exaggeration style, post-Surrealist style, imaginative, hyperbole, rhetorical, ecstatic , inspired, open-mouthed, oratorical, oratory, dreamy, day-dreamy, fantastical, inspired  – (meaning inspiration, meaning breath). Inspiration-exhalation-expiration. By “inspired”, I mean breath – the quality of breath, which is unobstructed breath, or that breath known when the body is a hollow reed and the mind is unobstructed and improvisation and images flow through the body without check and with abundance. Expansive imagination. It’s a state of body and a

Read More