Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 258

Allen Ginsberg in China, 1984. Allen Ginsberg caption: “Downtown Baoding, Hebei University English Language school student guide that afternoon, November 1984, he was a friend of the young translator-student who rendered “Homework” poem into Chinese” – Photograph © The Estate of Allen Ginsberg

Another poem from the UnCollected – Wait Till I’m Dead- “Poem (“3’d day down Yangtze River, yesterday”):

3’d day down Yangtze River, yesterday passed vast mountain gorges and hairpin river-bends, mist sun and cement factory soft coal dust everywhere, all China got a big allergic cold. Literary dele- gation homebound after 3 weeks, now I’m traveling separately like I used to — except everywhere omnipresent kindly Chinese Bureaucracy meets me at airports & boats & takes me to tourist hotels & orders meals. I’m trying to figure a way out — envious of 2 bearded hippies traveling 4th class in steerage eating tangerines & bananas — sleepers in passageways on mats, Chinese voyagers playing checkers. Saw Beijing, Great Wall, tombs & palaces, Suchow’s Tang gardens, Hangchow’s West Lake walkway dyke to hold the giant water in years of drought built up by governors Tsu-Tung-Po and Po-Chu-I. Saw Cold Mt. Temple w/ Snyder who’d heard its bell echo across ocean.

– China, November 11, 1984

David Cope gives a little of the background: “Allen’s poem began as the prose script of a November 11, 1984 postcard he sent me from China, but I noted how tightly it was written, the complexity of what it expressed, and I suggested to him that I could publish it as a poem in Big Scream #20. He agreed and it was published in the 1985 issue….it occurred to me that this poem is a superb tightly-written late example of Allen’s use of Objectivist focus, containing ecological and community health observations, Chinese government thought-control bureaucrats, landscape appreciation, older famous man’s envy of freer hippies, travelogue & completion of life circle dream of Han Shan with Gary Snyder.

Speaking of Snyder, Keith Abbbott “Charter Member of the New Black Bart Poetry Society has unearthed a terrific December 1957 letter that Jack Kerouac wrote to him (on the back of a letter from Allen!). Abbott explains: “The letter reprises what Kerouac did that summer to go up to the Lookout in Washington (State). Snyder was on board the ship Sappa Creek, since August-April 1957 and he only received the letter when he returned to Japan and then left for the United Stats to live in Marin County, California….Kerouac’s letter to Snyder scattered some brilliant haiku throughout his crammed version of hitch-hiking up to Skagit Valley and its adventures..” (many of which, but not all appeared in “Desolation Pops”). The full letter and Abbott’s annotation can be read here

Han Shan (“Rough and dark…”)- Calligraphy & brushwork by Keith Abbott

Paul Bowles’ Moroccan music anthology (noted here a couple of weeks ago) is written up by Amanda Petrusich, “The Sheltering Sound”, in last week’s New Yorker
For a taste (of these extraordinary field recordings, from back in 1959), listen to Si Mohammed Bel Hassan Soudani ( “Fulani Iresa”) – here – and also here and here

Si Mohammed Bel Hassan Soudani, Marrakesch, 1982 – Photograph by Alberto Rainolter

Brion Gysin“Here To Go & Back Again: The Lives and Arts of Brion Gysin” by Matthew Levi Stevens appears over at our friends at Reality Sandwich here

Soon-to-be ninety-seven-year-old Lawrence Ferlinghetti is interviewed by the Italian media (la Repubblica) here – “Non vado in pensione scrivero finche posso” ( “I won’t retire, I will write as long as I can”)

Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady (in Spanish) – Jack Kerouac y Neal Cassady en San Miguel de Allende

Hot news of the week – the discovery and sale of the Bob Dylan Archive – (letters between Allen and Bob are among the many treasures in the collection)

Now here’s a rare item – (from Five Seasons Press, from 1979, one of only 350 copies – the poem itself, was, of course, written more than a decade earlier, in situ, in 1967) (the image and a photo inside are by Tom Maschler)

and, following the recent 50-year celebration,

KPTS, The Kansas Public Telecommunications Service, have produced, on its anniversary, a fine documentary honoring Allen’s epic poem “Wichita Vortex Sutra” .
Watch it here

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