Allen Ginsberg – Charlie Rose Interview 1994

CR: When Allen Ginsberg belted the raging words and rhythms of his poem “Howl” in 1955, a generation with a new beat took hold. For five decades he’d been the poet-laureate of protest and heir-apparent to William Blake and Walt Whitman (I think, the last time he was on this show was to talk about Walt Whitman), also an essayist and pacifist, Allen Ginsberg continues in the forefront of the American social debate, a Guggenheim Fellow, and recipient of the National Book Award for Poetry, he is at sixty-seven, still performing before sell-out crowds of all ages. A new … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 278

[Ai Weiwei with recent Ginsberg materials –  Beijing, July 2016 – Photograph by Larry Warsh]

Leading off this week with Ai Weiwei displaying some recent Ginsberg materials. We haven’t written of Ai Weiwei for some time (tho’ back in 2011, we were very much monitoring his situation (see, for example, here, here, here and here). The young artist, as is now well-known, struck up a crucial friendship-mentor relationship with Allen, during his period living in New York (New York’s East Village) in the middle-to-late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

[Allen Ginsberg and Ai Weiwei, 1988 – Photograph by Ai Weiwei] … Read More

Helen Adam

AG: So..then.. oh I wanted to read, from… “Willie the Weeper”... Probably she knew… Helen Adam knew… one or two ballads by Helen Adam…which is the..?…if I can find it.. .Best to have them done by her –

(First off), the “Cheerless Junkie’s Song” – “a maudlin ballad” “Seeking love upon a day, a day of summer’s pride/I left Long Island’s suburbs for the Lower East Side,/The train it roared and thundered,/And I sang above its scream./There’s a cockroach coming towards me/But it cannot spoil my dream./Love! Love! and L.S.D./It shall not spoil my dream/ Blue moonlight … Read More

Sam Hall

AG: You all know – “My name it is Sam Hall…” – what is it?

‘My name it is Sam Hall, it is Sam Hall/”Oh, yes my name it is Sam Hall and I hate you one and all/Yes I hate you all and all goddam your eyes’? – You know that song? That’s also a modern ballad. I don’t know it. And “Waltzing Matilda”, and what not..

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately sixty-six-and-a-half minutes in and concluding at approximately sixty-six-and-three-quarter minutes in]… Read More

Willie the Weeper

AG: And then there’s the other, equally great, American (ballad)  “Willie the Weeper”. Do you know that?

“Hark to the story of Willie the Weeper/Willie the Weeper was a chimney-sweeper/He had the hot habit and he had it bad/ Listen, while I tell you ’bout a dream he had./ He went to the hop joint the other night/When he knew the lights would all be burning bright/I guess he smoked a dozen pills or more/When he woke up he was on a foreign shore./ The Queen of Bulgaria was the first he met/She called him her darlin’ and her lovin’ … Read More

Cocaine Lil and Morphine Sue

AG: Then there the great ballad of Cocaine Lil (sic)  (we’re coming up into modern times!) – Yeah, anybody know this one? – “Cocaine Lil and Morphine Sue“?

Student: I’ve heard about four or five different versions.

AG: You know the tune on it?

Student: I’ve heard one that’s Cocaine Lil and Morphine Sue, and..

AG: Uh-huh. The one I have here. I can read this one. I don’t know the tune, actually (but I heard it years ago)

“Did you ever hear about Cocaine Lil?/She lived in Cocaine town on a Cocaine hill,/She had a cocaine dog and a … Read More

William Burroughs – 1976 – 8 (Q & A)

[William S Burroughs signing copies of The Western Lands at the Bunker, New York City, December 1987. Photo: Allen Ginsberg]

William Burroughs 1976 Q & A continuing from yesterday

Student: I read an interview with you once in Rat magazine

, where you said that nothing happens unless it’s written, and I was wondering if you meant that seriously, and how that fits in to this whole notion of a pre-recorded universe? WSB: Yes, I meant it seriously, to some extent. When the Arabs say mektoub, (it is written), they mean just that, that, according to their concept of fate, it’s all … Read More

William Burroughs – 7 (Q & A)

[William S Burroughs, Naropa Institute, 1985. Photo Allen Ginsberg, courtesy Stanford University Libraries/Allen Ginsberg Estate]

Student: [in media res] ….maybe something like that, and then… I was given sodium pentothel, and, trying to stay alert while going under, the last thing that went was my hearing. All my other senses went before them. WSB: Well, naturally your sight would go first. Student: And hearing, that just kind of folded back, and hearing was the first thing that came back. WSB: Did you remember anything from the operation? Q: No I don’t (didn’t) WSB: Well, it’s there, it can be … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 277

More gems from the Paris Pompidou Center Beat Generation show:

[Wallace Berman – Untitled (Allen Ginsberg) (1960)]

[Gregory Corso – “There Is No More Street Corner” – undated – poem/manuscript]

[Brion Gysin – “Calligraphie,” (1960)]

See also Pauline Magdeleinat’s wonderful installation photos from the Pompidou show, (in Slash) – here

and read Geoff Dyer in The Spectator on John Cohen‘s famous shot – “The picture that captures why Jack Kerouac will last forever”

Three reviews of the Criterion William Burroughs DVD (we’ve featured some reviews before) – here, here and … Read More

Ahimsa (“Returning To The Country For A Brief Visit”)


Old-one the dog stretches stiff-legged, soon he’ll be underground. Spring’s first fat bee buzzes yellow over the new grass  and dead leaves What’s this little brown insect walking zigzag Over the sunny white pay of Su Tung-P’O‘s Poem? Fly away, tiny mite, even your life is tender — I lift the book and blow you into the dazzling

Allen Ginsberg  4/20/73


Springtime 1973 Cherry Valley meditations (but also fitting for a long hot summer’s afternoon).

(on) –  “I do not know who is hoarding all this rare work.”

(from Allen’s “Annotations to Amitendranath Tagore‘s Sung Poetry”, … Read More