The 1996 National Security Archive Interview – part 2



[Allen Ginsberg, reading at The Knitting Factory, New York City, 1995]

Allen’s 1996 Interview for the National Security Archive at George Washington University continues from here

AG: So I found I was kicked out by the Prague police and the Havana police. Then, when I got back, I took part in various anti-war demonstrations. But I found that the day I arrived in Prague, I had been put on the dangerous security list of J.Edgar Hoover as a crazed, violent, or.. I don’t know what he thought I was! – And that he should talk, I must say! … Read More

The 1996 National Security Archive Interview part 1



[Allen Ginsberg, reading at The Knitting Factory, New York City, 1995]

Poetry and politics – The ‘Fifties and the ‘Sixties. Allen Ginsberg’s  August 8 1996 interview with the National Security Archive at George Washington University, which appears on their web-site (and was cited last week in our post about Allen’s FBI  files and investigation), is here re-posted, with a number of amplifications and necessary minor corrections.  For reasons of length, the interview has been broken up into two sections. The concluding section will appear in this space (on The Allen Ginsberg Project) tomorrow.                  

[Senator Joe McCarthy on Edward … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 220

Meditation and Poetics – 99 – Haiku 12 (Allen Ginsberg Haiku Class)

遠山が目玉にうつるとんぼ哉tôyama ga medama ni utsuru tombo kanaReflected In the eye of the dragonflyThe distant hills(Issa)

Student: Allen?AG: YesStudent: ((The compound) eye of a dragonfly, (comprises) a thousand [thirty-thousand] facets,  you can’t (actually) get a reflection from it (as a singularity))AG: All dragonfly’s eyes are thousand-faceted?  Well, I don’t know what we’re going to do with that.  I think (here) it does come from some observation of some (natural)…Student: (But it’s not biologically accurate..)AG: We’d have to question, then, the translation, maybe. But, actually, he might have had a little ant-heap, (for) which a thousand-faceted reflection would be the distant hills.

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Meditation and Poetics – 98 – Haiku – 11 (Haiku and The Gap of Space)

AG: (Haiku) …and the gap of spaceBillowing clouds –An antclimbs on to the ink stone(The ink stone where he’s mixing his ink to make the painting of the billowing clouds) – “Billowing clouds -/An ant/climbs onto the ink stone”.A cow is lowingin the cowshedunder the hazy moon(That’s very similar to that (one earlier)… (tape ends and then restarts here)  …the lowing of the cow and the hazy moon).Then, again, like the one of the firefly’s neck really is red in the daylight (“The firefly’s neck/in the daylight/is red” (Basho) [Hiru mireba kubisuji akaki  hotaru kana]). So other examples of minutely-perceived … Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 97 – Haiku – 10 (Ginsberg on Haiku continues)

Student:  (Allen, what about the sound in (haiku) poems?)   

AG:  Oh, sure.  There’s a whole sound (presented) in certain of these books, if you want the sound.  These books by (R.H.) Blyth, he’ll give you the Japanese lettering, he’ll very often give you some phonetic transmission of the Japanese sound, as well as, incidentally, explanations, footnotes, and comparisons to Western poems. 
Sound is important.  It’s a seventeen-syllable machine, with certain kinds of internal rhymes, and certain phrases like “ah“, or “oh“, or “kana” – “kana” – which are used for emphasis and filler of syllables.  Filler meaning filler emphasis-isms.
Student:  (I … Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 96 – Haiku – 9 (Haiku continued)

AG: One (haiku) that suggests space:

      Oh, snail
      climb Mt. Fuji,
      but slowly, slowly.
That’s Issa, who is the most like William Carlos Williams in temperament – that is to say, he includes himself as a solitary, lonesome, weepy object, a sort of objective picture of self.  He was the one that had for a brushwood gate, for a lock, the snail. He also was the one, 
      The young girl 
      blew her nose
      in the evening glory
      Beaten      at battledore and shuttlecock
      the beautiful maiden’s anger.
That’s like a tiny novel, too.  
      An autumn night,      … Read More

Sunday May 24th – Bob Dylan’s Birthday


Emperor (Allen Ginsberg): I’ve heard through the grapevine that you have certain powers Alchemist (Bob Dylan): Oh no, that’s not me but I know who you mean  Emperor (Allen Ginsberg): You’re not the alchemist? Alchemist (Bob Dylan): No, but I’ve seen him come through here, carrying his bags full of bottles. We talk now and then. Emperor (Allen Ginsberg): What’s he tell you? Alchemist (Bob Dylan): Nothing special. I’ve seen him perform certain mysterious gestures though. I never say nothing’ about it. I just watch. Emperor (Allen Ginsberg):  What does he do? Alchemist (Bob Dylan): Sometimes very … Read More

Allen Ginsberg’s FBI files


                                        [Allen Ginsberg in Cuba with a plane shot down in The Bay of Pigs]

We are immensely grateful to Shawn Musgrave and MuckRock for the recent (April, 2015) release by the FBI, (following a Freedom of Information Act request first filed in November, 2012), of 89 pages of investigative documents held in government files on Allen Ginsberg.  As MuckRock pointedly notes, “The agency’s response letter indicated that there may be additional FBI files pertaining to Ginsberg, but that a search for the missing records “met with unsuccessful results” and that other documents may have been transfered to the National

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The Essential Ginsberg



Next Tuesday (May 26th) is the official publication-date for the new Allen Ginsberg book (published by HarperCollins in the United States and by Penguin in the United Kingdom and Australia) – The Essential Ginsberg (a vital – indeed, essential – 400-page plus compendium, covering the entire range of his art, skillfully edited by his biographer, Michael Schumacher – curiously, the first such one-volume survey).  Lawrence Ferlinghetti notes that it is “An intellectually impeccable selection, distilling Ginsberg as visionary mystic and dark prophet foretelling what people in power didn’t want to hear”. Michael McClure writes: “In these memory orchards … Read More