The Streets of Laredo

More Ballads.AG: Then it gets to the American ethos, and, in this book (The Penguin Book of Ballads), I hadn’t seen it before, but there’s a.. one complete version of the great American ballad, which everybody knows, known as “The Streets of Laredo”, which is a classic ballad, as good as any of these other ones. Does anybody know the whole thing? Student: Didn’t Marty Robbins write it?AG: Well, I don’t know who did. Student: I thought Marty Robbins wrote it.AG: No, I don’t think so. Who’s Marty Robbins anyway?Student: The guy who popularized it..AG: I’ll find out.. Let me … Read More

The Wild Colonial Boy

Allen Ginsberg on the ballads continuesAG: Then, one I dug when I went to Australia.  Because a lot of ruffians and criminals were sent off to Australia to settle Australia originally, there was a fantastic growth of ballad there, and Australian ballads, among modern ballads, (nineteenth, twentieth-century), (are) among the most.. are among the strongest. And one of the most archetypal is a great one called “The Wild Colonial Boy”Anybody ever hear that one? – It’s just a….”Tis of the wild Colonial Boy,/ Jack Doolan was his name/Of poor but honest parents/ he was born in Castlemaine/He was his father’s only … Read More

Yevgeny Yevtushenko


[Yevgeny Yevtushenko in conversation with Allen Ginsberg, 1985]

Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Distinguished Professor of Literature at the Henry Kendall College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tulsa, poet, novelist, essayist, dramatist, publisher, editor, actor, director and screenwriter, turns 84 today.  [April 2017 update –  he died “surrounded by relatives and close friends in Oklahoma, where he taught at the University of Tulsa”]

Arguably the most famous living Russian poet (certainly the best-known in the West, from his frequent trips, and now residence, there), he seems strangely inexhaustible, still, in his advanced years, an intrepid world-traveller (he … Read More

William Burroughs, 1976 – 6

       [William S Burroughs, Lawrence, Kansas, March 1992. Photo: Allen Ginsberg]

continuing from yesterdayWSB: Now to combine the tape-recorder experiments already described with Raudive’s procedure. Raudive’s recordings were made in a soundproof studio because he was concerned with demonstrating that the voices were recorded under controlled conditions and could not be attributed to accidental background sounds or voices, people talking in the street, a radio broadcast next door, or, of course, people talking in the studio. And I think that anyone who examines the evidence will agree that he has, in fact, proved his case.  

So … Read More

William Burroughs – 1976 – 5

WSB: Someone asked at the last session what the (Raudive) tape voices had to do with poetics? – Well, everything..  Writers work with words and voices as painters work with colors. An important point here is the misconception that a writer creates in a vacuum using only his very own words. Was he blind, deaf and illiterate from birth? A writer does not own words any more than a painter owns colors. So let’s dispense with this “originality” fetish. Is a painter committing plagiarism if he paints a mountain or a landscape that other painters have painted?  Writers work with … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 276

Today (July 15) is the official publication-date of the newly-revised Allen Ginsberg biography, Dharma Lion. Michael Schumacher‘s epic and well-received 1992 critical biography of Allen is being reprinted (with the addition of two new chapters) by the University of Minnesota Press. For full details – see here  That cover shot, incidentally, by Michael Tighe (we’ve featured it before on the Allen Ginsberg Project) – It turns out the precise location of the photo was East 14th Street (215 Avenue A at 14th Street, NYC). For such pleasing geographical minutae we are grateful to the intrepid Bob Egan and … Read More

Thursday July 14 (Bastille Day and Woody Guthrie’s Birthday)

Bastille Day and Woody Guthrie‘s birthday today. 

We take the occasion to re-post/shine some more light on this article, that appeared, earlier this year (January 2016), by American Studies Professor and Woody Guthrie scholar, Will Kaufman, in The Conversation (subsequently picked-up by Raw Story).  

Here’s Woody from a vintage radio broadcast singing “All You Fascists Bound To Losesee also our earlier Allen Ginsberg Project Woody Guthrie post (from 2012) on the occasion of the Centennial. … Read More

Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye

AG: Then there’s the famous “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye” –  which goes to (William) Burroughs‘ writings and through movies all the time. You know.. Does anybody know that? [Allen begins singing the melody] – “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye” – I think I remember the tune to that too – “While going the road to sweet Athy /Hurroo hurroo / While going the road to sweet Athy /Huroo hurroo/ While going the road to sweet Athy/ A stick in my hand and a drop in my eye/A doleful damsel I heard cry/ “Och, Johnny, I hardly knew … Read More

Pablo Neruda

[Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)]

July 12 (1904) marks the birthday of Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes y Basoalto (known to the world as Pablo Neruda). We choose to celebrate his birthday, rather than his death- day (23rd of September – originally supposedly from prostate cancer, but now known to be the result (also) of political intrigue, poisoned by supporters of the Pinochet regime that had come to power via coup d’etat less than two weeks before – Need we bother to prevaricate and say “allegedly poisoned”? – “It’s clearly possible and highly probable that a third party” was responsible for Neruda’s Read More

Foggy Dew and The Miller’s Daughter

Continuing with an examination of the ballad tradition (from Allen’s June 1980 Naropa class) – Two English balladsAG: Then skipping up to more modern times. Ballad, as you know, goes on, to present day, up through modern folk song, with as great power as it ever did, so there’s the famous “Foggy Dew“? Who sings “Foggy Dew”?  Does anybody know?Student: Burl Ives

AG: Burl Ives made that famous in the (19)40’s, I guess – “When I was a bachelor early and young/I followed the weaving trade/And all the harm that ever I done/ Was courting a serving maid./ … Read More