The Best Minds of My Generation – Very pleased to announce a new Allen Ginsberg publication (due out in April) from Grove Press – “A Literary History of the Beats” – (“A unique and compelling history of the Beats, in the words of the movements most central member, Allen Ginsberg, based on a seminal series of his lectures”), edited, (as judiciously and informatively as ever), by Beat scholar, and our good friend, Bill Morgan
From the Grove Press web-site:
“In 1977, twenty years after the publication of his landmark poem “Howl” and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, Allen Ginsberg decided it was time to teach a course on the literary history of the Beat Generation. Through the creation of this course, which he ended up teaching five times, first at the Naropa Institute and later at Brooklyn College, Ginsberg saw an opportunity to present the history of Beat Literature in his own inimitable way. Compiled and edited by renowned Beat scholar Bill Morgan, and with an introduction by Anne Waldman, The Best Minds of My Generation presents the lectures in edited form, complete with notes, and paints a portrait of the Beats as Ginsberg knew them: friends, confidantes, literary mentors, and fellow revolutionaries.
In The Best Minds of My Generation, Ginsberg shares anecdotes of meeting (Jack) Kerouac, (William) Burroughs, and other writers for the first time, explains his own poetics, elucidates the importance of music to Beat writing, discusses visual influences and the cut-up method, and paints a portrait of a group who were leading a literary revolution. For Beat aficionados and neophytes alike, The Best Minds of My Generation is a personal yet critical look at one of the most important literary movements of the twentieth century.”
“This is not just a valuable reference book for scholars, but an incredibly readable text, and (one) that is a must-read for any fan of Beat Generation literature” (David S Wills‘ pre-publication review of the book in Beatdom may be read – here)
RS: Let me ask you about the impact of this movement called the Beats, because I know when we talked before you said “I’m not a Beat”. Was it like you were riding some wild tiger or something when you were…what were you, you were the publisher, you were one of the.. I thnk you’re the best-selling Beat poet aren’t you? or is (Allen) Ginsberg a better (seller)?
LF: I wouldn’t use the word “Beat” in there. I was the straight man.
LF: I was the straight man keeping the store back home. I was leading a respectable married life on Potrero Hill. These guys were much too far out for me. I didn’t go on the road with them, and I came from a former generation (when I arrived in San Francisco, I was still wearing my beret from Paris and we were known as bohemians – “bohemians” was the term that was used for people who lived an unconventional creative life, before the Beats came along, and then they started using the term “Beat” – but when I arrived in San Francisco no-one had heard of the Beats and North Beach was the “bohemian” scene. So I was really a former generation.
RS: So you decided to open the (City Lights) bookstore without having that as a particular connection, Beat poetry or anything..?
LF: No, no, it had nothing to do with Beat. We’d never heard the word “Beat” when we opened the bookstore.
RS: which was what..(19)55?
This is just a snippet. The whole half-hour plus interview is, of course, essential listening.
& finally, more sad passings – Jazz critic and syndicated columnist, Nat Hentoff died last week. (A good long life, he was 92). Here‘s Hentoff in 1995, on the Charlie Rose show, on a panel (alongside Allen, Steven Watson and George Herms) on the occasion of the Beat Culture and the New America show at The Whitney Museum. A passionate critic and a tireless advocate of free speech, he will be sorely missed.