Allen Ginsberg in London 1965

“Allen Ginsberg Reading At Better Books”, LP cover, 1965 – Illustration by Alan Aldridge

A rare and important Allen Ginsberg reading in London – his famous reading in the basement of Miles’  Better Books bookshop – in the Spring of 1965

“Recorded on a Ferrograph (reel-to-reel tape-recorder) by Ian Sommerville

“The reading originated after Ed Sanders provided Ginsberg with Miles’ name as manager of Better Books, a connection he followed up on his arrival in London from Prague in May 1965. The impromptu reading, though unannounced, was packed (the audience included Donovan, (who provided the pre-reading entertainment) and Andy Warhol, Gerard Malanga and Edie Sedgwick, (in town on their way to Rome), and its success provided the catalyst for the upcoming International Poetry Incarnation  (Albert Hall poetry reading).” 

From the sleeve-notes (of the limited edition LP, released 1965 – from which the following recordings were taken);

“Many of the poems Allen Ginsberg read at Better Books were introduced by him with comments on their nature. He introduced the reading by saying; “What I will be reading here tonight, since most everybody here is an editor of a little magazine or a friend, is caviar in a sense, which is to say writing which is not published, and which I do not know whether or not to publish because I do not know whether or not they are concerned. Also some poems written in the last five years and some written in the last few months in Czechoslovakia and Poland.”

“The first four selections on side one  [“Who Will Take Over The Universe?” – “From Journals” – “Women” – “From Journals“] – “Most of these I’ll be reading are writings from journals and so are not poems. they are writings, with the faults of writings rather than the perfection of poesy”]

“From Journals” continues (“Now I am brooding on a pillow with my arm resting on my head..”) –  “Vulture Peak” [“Vulture Peak is in India near where Buddha pronounced The Diamond Sutra and the Flower Sermon“]   – “Poem Around The Greek Jukeboxes” [Paerama is a small village outside of Piraeus, near Athens with a great many jukeboxes and Greek boys dancing to the jukeboxes, mostly Bazouki music, which is the contemporary music of Greece”] – “The Olympics” [“There’s a bugbeat group in Prague called The Olympics…in Czechoslovakia, like in London, there are young beautiful blonde kids, with long, long hair down to their shoulders and gangs of screaming twelve-year-old teenagers that come to theaters in the centre of Prague, and whistle and shriek and go into fainting ecstasies listening to them. This is a poem written listening to the Olympics, which also means Olympians or Gods, as you know.”]

[Side two – “Mantra”“Music of the Spheres” – “Morning“- “Why is God Love. Jack?” – “The Moment Return” –  [“The tracks (here) on side two had no introductions except the Mantra that opened the second half of the reading. This Allen called “an example of Tibetan concrete poetry””]

Still to come – the last two tracks on side two – “The Spectre” and  (Kral Majales) “King of May” 

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