Allen Ginsberg – Montreal 1969 (Q & A – 1)

Nicanor Parra, Miguel Grinberg & Allen Ginsberg in Havana, Cuba, February 1965

Following his October 31 1969 reading in Montreal,Allen answers a number of questions from the audience.

Q: What happened in Havana?

AG: What happened in Havana? To me? I got kicked out of Havana or arrested in the morning, one morning, for having complained, loudly, to friends and newspaper reporters and local bureaucrats and literary people that the government was kicking all the fairies out of the theater-school, and was arresting and bugging young poets of the El Puente group (the Bridge group) for being too beatnik boys,and looked down and police arrested people who had Castro-type beards and long hair in Havana because that was considered degenerate.

Q: What year was that?

AG: That was 1965. I didn’t make any particular point out of that because they were very sort of (out of their minds) of their own bodies.

The question was what happened in Havana? So I got deported to Prague, Czechoslovakia that is I got.. about five in the morning– I was there for a literary conference with a lot of fellow- poets and a bunch of mean uniformed detectives came to my room at about eight in the morning, knocked, opened it up and told me to pack., (and wouldn’t let me) get in touch with Nicanor Parra, who was my friend, who was there, or any of the other poets, and then they and drove me out to an airfield. So I said, “What have I done here? Wait a minute, hold on”, and the Oficial de Immigracion said, “You’ve broken the laws of Cuba”. Well, I said,”What laws have I broken?” – And he said, “You’ll have to ask yourself that!”
– I didn’t even get laid (while I was there)! – or, only once!

Q: What’s going on in Chicago with….

Jean Genet, William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, on the front-line at Chicago, in 1968

AG: What is going on now [1969] in Chicago? – A long trial (which will cost them about 200,000 dollars – Doctor Spock’s trial cost $150,000, the Chicago trial will probably be $200,000 . That’s, as far as I can tell, the main problem. You know, the government of the United States (has) tactics at the moment is bleeding everybody financially by setting up cases which, sooner or later, generally, are won by the victims of government attack. So costs amount to prove the innocence. As in the case, of, say, LeRoi Jones, (Amiri Baraka), (who’s lawyers’ costs are ten, fifteen, twenty thousand – more probably).As in the case of Timothy Leary, (whose Supreme Court Appeal cost – which he won – cost something like thirty, forty, or fifty, thousand), and in the case of Doctor Spock, (one-hundred-and fifty thousand). And, according to (Leonard) Weinglass, (Jerry) Rubin’s lawyer, two hundred thousand for that.

I haven’t been out there. I’ll be going out there (to speak) as a material witness, because there were two points that I’m supposed to testify, regarding. One is I’ve had a lot of letters from Abbie Hoffman, after an Easter police riot in Grand Central Station, preceding Chicago Convention Day. And the conversations I’d had with Rubin and Hoffman were powerful insights into (the fact) thatyou could make a kind of Festival of LifeBethel (Woodstock) scene there, but nobody had unconsciously, or consciously, the power to pull it together- that was something that the people would have to do themselves. But the conversations and letters I’ve had with Abbie Hoffman were, like, all different peaceful proposals to safeguard the scene in Chicago so that there wouldn’t be violence.
So I have to testify to that – i.e. the conspiracy and preparation having been peaceful.

And also I have to testify to a single moment when Dave Dellinger, the head of the Mobilization Committee, is accused of having tried to foment a riot, having conspired all to form a riot, on the precise moment when he calls meup, in front of the line of marchers, on Wednesday of the Convention week, that were holding a march without (the) police permit and who wanted to assemble on the streets. (While he was negotiating with the police, he asked me to pick up the microphone and chant Buddha chants. So it was for this precise moment that he was being accused of fomenting a riot). So I have to go there and chant in court for twenty minutes and demonstrate exactly, what was going on, actually, in the front row of the march, as I had stepped out (a front row which included William Burroughs, Terry Southern, and Jean Genet (all together) – at Dellinger’s request, we all assembled on the front of the line). So the point I am making is that this precise moment is legally the moment when he’s accused of fomenting a riot for.. So actually it’s a quite good prognosis, as far as evidence, but it will still cost several hundred thousand dollars.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, (third segment) beginning approximately fifty-seven-and-a-half minutes in and concluding approximately sixty-two-and-a-half minutes in]

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