Wait Till I’m Dead, the eagerly-awaited new Ginsberg book, is officially out next Tuesday (the UK edition, cover seen here, has a pub date of the 25th of February)
Here’s Rachel Zucker from the introduction
“When I first read Allen Ginsberg’s poems as a teenager, they worked on me like a gateway drug. Leading me deeper and deeper into a life of poetry, Ginsberg’s poetry woke me up and whet a poetic appetite I’ve spent years trying to satisfy. I saw the world differently after reading “Howl”, “Kaddish”, “Sunflower Sutra” and “America“. Language became clamorous and mystical in my brain, words delicious and unwieldy on my tongue.
Reading Ginsberg gave me the chutzpah to complain to the chair of my high-school English department that there wasn’t enough poetry on the syllabus. The chair shrewdly offered to give me poetry on the side – as much poetry as I could manage. The poets he proffered – Elizabeth Bishop , Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens – sounded tame or impregnable to my adolescent ears. The chair gave me Sylvia Plath, but even Plath failed to turn me on (then), failed to bother me the way Ginsberg did, the way I wanted poetry to bother me. No, no, no! I wanted POETRY!: disruption, danger, mind-blowing, dirty-talking, proselytizing prophecy! I wanted the kind of Talmudic Beat-babble queer broken-guitar- Bob-Dylan American song that only ALLEN GINSBERG had the nerve to sing!…” And, confronted by the UnCollected:
“What a delight it is to read these old-new poems! It’s a bit like watching a memorial slideshow of someone I loved dearly. How beautiful he was in younger years! How innocent-looking! How wise! One marvels at what has come back into fashion or never went out of fashion, at the images that feel familiar but are, actually, seen for the first time. “Of course!” one thinks. Or, “I never knew!” I’m so grateful for these unearthed poems, for the moreness of them, which is not just memory but new connection, new discovery. I love Ginsberg’s fearsome prolificity, but the massiveness of his published oeuvre makes it difficult to get a sense of Ginsberg’s development across time…” Zucker concludes:
“In an age so full of fear, so obsessed with quarantine, isolation and self-protection, an age in which educators are instructed to provide trigger warnings to students about potentially disturbing material in the classroom and our government issues color-coded advisories about our current threat-level, Ginsberg’s poems remind us that art must infect, contaminate, upset, disturb, question, invade, threaten and excite. Ginsberg’s poems have always done that and continue to do so. They are dangerous. They are fearless. We need them.”
Neal Cassady‘s birthday’s coming up. The annual (seventh!) Neal Cassady Birthday Bash will take place on Saturday in Denver at the Mercury Cafe – “At the event, local poets, family members and other devoted artists like Jami Cassady, Molina Speaks and Jennifer Dunbar Dorn will pay tribute to the man with live performances. David Amram, a longtime friend of Cassady’s and an acclaimed composer and avant-garde musician who connected with the Beats back in Cassady’s heyday – will perform with his quartet”.
More on Amram here (and, for that matter, here)
Ed’s friend and fellow Woodstock resident, Raymond Foye writes: “During the writing of the book he told me he learned a valuable lesson: Never do anything for the money. But then at the end of the process he told me he was glad he did it, because he wanted to give people a portrait of a woman who he truly admired, a really talented comic actress. And also he felt the need to fulfill Sharon Tate’s mother’s request that he please explore the case more fully, as she never accepted many of the claims made (for example, that the murder was committed to set off a race war). Her mother felt there was a connection with Sirhan (Sirhan) and the RFK assassination. For that story you must read the book…”.
“Pseudo-anthropologist”? – Huh? – We’re not quite sure what the author, Margaret Rhodes, means in her Wired note on the recently-published Harry Smith Catalogue Raisonné, of paper airplanes (nice, we guess, at least, to see it noticed). Some confusion in the chronology (the actual nature) of Harry’s collecting in there too. That, and its companion volume – (on string figures – Harry Smith Catalogue Raisonné, Volume II), are, of course, essential purchases.
Speaking of Poetry –
“New York to San Fran”, the longest poem in Allen’s new book, an epic 1965 airplane meditation, first published in the City Lights Journal, will be published, in its entirety, in next month’s issue of Poetry magazine
The concluding section of Nick Sturm‘s excellent two-part series for Fanzine on Ted Berrigan‘s art writing recently appeared and can be accessed here (the first part, that appeared last July on that forum, can be accessed here)
Three years on, we remember our dear friend Anselm Hollo