Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 196

Allen Ginsberg with (portrait of) Walt Whitman – Photograph by Misao Mizuno

Mash-Ups – As we noted in an earlier post, “The ubiquitous Tom Waits-Allen Ginsberg mash-up, “Closing Time”/“America” has got to be one of the most-accessed Allen Ginsberg items on the web” (plenty of listeners still thinking, erroneously, that they must’ve recorded together – they didn’t) – We were pleased to receive originator, Ralph Beard’s wry comment (printed then – and now re-printed here), since it puts the piece in its (intriguing, allbeit antediluvian) context:

“Every now and then I do a search on this thing just to see what’s been written about it over the years. It’s not doing badly for something I cut together on a whim back in 1996 using a very Primitive copies of CoolEdit and Sound Forge. (The sound is a little tinny from the old noise removal tool)? You’re right, by the way, [We’d criticized the sound quality, perhaps?] the levels are all over the place and it kind of runs out of steam at the end. But it’s remarkably effective for something that only came about because I was changing cds, and went from one to the other. It wasn’t until I cut it together that I heard the live version of a reading where it’s performed as a crass comedy routine. Then again, it was never meant to go any further than my computer. I shared it to a friend on Soulseek 1999 and it made it’s way from there. Funny how some things can live on even if you don’t mean them to.”

“America”, of all Allen’s poems, seems especially suited to this process, hence this recent (2014)  contender – Allen Ginsberg and Jay-Z’s “Blueprint 2”  [2015 update – “for copyright reasons” no longer availablebut try this- Jay Z and Allen’s “Hum Bom”]

(but) other works aren’t immune from “the treatment” – here’s  a Mash-Up of Allen’s Howl” with “Dark Star” by the Grateful Dead

There’s even the off-shoot – the filmic mash-up. We missed it last Friday but here it is (always-timely, nevertheless), “The Ballad of the Skeletons”, (set against the 1929 Disney short, “The Skeleton Dance” – (A “Silly Symphony”))

Randy Lewis at the University of Texas provides results of “an experimental poetic exercise” – “60 undergrads (were asked) to write one line each for “their generation’s” “Howl”“on a card”..”No one knew what anyone else was writing, but the results”, he notes, “are somehow coherent”. See here for their “instant crowd-sourced poem”, “a collective howl of (American) twenty-somethings”, as he describes it, “thinking creatively about their world”

Teaching with Allen –  Here’s Michael Hennessey‘s (on-going) Countercultural Literature web notes – (would that all teachers were so scrupulous!) – here, here, here, herehere and here!

Open Culture announces Allen’s own teaching of the Beats – “The Literary History of the Beat Generation” ( from 1977 and 1981) – notice of the audio-tapes from Naropa

Another of our favorite web-sites, Dangerous Minds, has an extensive post here on Burroughs’  Cut-Ups

We mentioned last week, did we not, that, right now, in New York City, there’s an illuminating exhibition of Burroughs’ cut-up work at the Boo-Hooray Gallery.

Harriet, another go-to site, alerted us to some sad news – the death, just this past month, of the noted Bay Area writer and teacher Ron Loewinsohn

Ronald William Loewinsohn: December 15, 1937 – October 14, 2014

Ron Loewinsohn (1937-2014)

A significant figure in contemporary poetry for over five decades, (his poems appeared, notably, in the groundbreaking Donald Allen New American Poetry anthology)-“A great wave of Poetry is breaking over America now”, Allen wrote, on the occasion of the publication, in 1959, of Watermelons, Loewinsohn’s first book of poems (from LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) and Hettie Jones‘ influential, seminal, Totem Press), “& Loewinsohn’’s early hip beauty helps wet everybody”

Here’s Loewinsohn (from just last year) talking spiritedly about the Beat Generation

A detailed obituary note may be read here

Meanwhile, from outside the ‘States (in France, to be precise)…

Sabine Huynh‘s book-length essay/letter on Allen’s work,  “Avec Vous Ce Jour-La..” has just come out from Recours au Poème   For more from Recours au Poème see – here


  1. Many thanks for announcing the publication of my essay about Allen Ginsberg (in French), "Avec vous ce jour-là / Lettre au poète Allen Ginsberg."
    It would be awfully nice to have an English translation of it, said my publisher.
    — but reading a page in translation hardly proves "Influence," said Ginsberg about Pessoa in his poem "Salutations to Fernando Pessoa." 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.