Warwick 1979 (Ginsberg-Orlovsky-Taylor-Pickard)


Steven Taylor, Allen Ginsberg & Peter Orlovsky. Photo: Saul Shapiro


Tom Pickard

Last week, we featured a 1979 reading (November 6 1979) by Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky (and Steven Taylor) in Warwick, England. This week a further concert from that same visit (this time at the University and featuring the active participation of the English poet Tom Pickard)

Audio for this occasion may be accessed here

Student/Organizer: We welcome to Warwick, Allen Ginsberg, Steven Taylor, Peter Orlovsky and Tom Pickard

AG: We’ll begin with music from a book called Mind Breaths, Poems 1972-1977, by myself, Allen Ginsberg, “Gospel Noble Truths”, a Buddhist country-and-western song, featuring the three marks of existence – Suffering (existence containing suffering), existence containing mutability (as (Percy Bysshe) Shelley pointed out) and some empty-heartedness but no permanent reference point, no un-atman, in Sanskrit, no atman, no soul, a non-theistic country-and-western – [Accompanied by Steven Taylor on guitar and playing harmonium, (and with accompanying vocals) Allen & Peter Orlovsky, approximately a minute in, sing “Gospel Noble Truths”] (“Born in this world, you’ve got to suffer..”….”…Die when you die”)

[Next, at approximately five-and-a-quarter minutes in, the trio continues, with (William) Blake]                                                                                                            AG: To return to Albion, the numbers of (William) Blake’s “(The) Tyger” are basically heartbeat, the poem being a kind of magical homunculus consisting of heart and then the breath also. So the blood-system and the respiratory-system at least built in to Blake’s Tyger. So I’ve set that to CFDG chords and trochaic meter (which it is, heartbeat). You can sing along, (I guess you all know that by heart) – “Tyger, Tyger, burning bright’

{At approximately eight-and-a-quarter minutes in, Allen announces “The first poet to read – Peter Orlovsky“]


PO: I’m a farmer in upstate New York and I plant nut trees and apple trees, and if you buy a copy of my book of poems called Clean Asshole Poems and Smiling Vegetable Songs, I’ll plant you all the nut trees and quince and apple trees that you want – and grapes, and blueberries, and mulberries, and persimmons.

“Love Poem to A.J.Muste” (“Daydreaming last night, I went down to A.J’s grave..”…”did you pay Dear A.J.?”) – A.J. Muste was a man that was around. He was a minister that went to North Vietnam and saw the Bach Mai hospital that was bombed. He would get all the different Left groups around one conference table to plan strategy so all the different Leftist groups wouldn’t be arguing among themselves and be able to plan what to do to stop the war in Vietnam. So he could bring all the different Left groups together so they could talk to each other and not argue with each other as they constantly were doing.

[AG: He was a Quaker]

PO: He was a Quaker. He was a good eighty-three years old when he died,, I thought he was ninety-one .I asked him how many times did he come? what’s your sex life like, A.J?, he said, “once a week” (and at ninety-one, I thought, “my, that’s pretty good!”) – Wow!

[AG:  (heard off mic..) ..we invited the poet Gael Turnbull and would he be able to get in if he just gets here, he’s coming]

PO: How much more time have I got now?

AG: Lots

[At approximately fifteen minutes in, Peter Orlovsky continues with six poems]

“Some One Liked Me When I was Twelve” ( “When I was a kid in summer camp…”…”..that we just might of given each other”)

“& The Tea Will Seem Golden” (“OH, Oh mama whare did you go…”…”& we’ll pat bellies..and tickle each others feet”

Good Fuck With Denise” (“Good fuck with Denise/she laying face down…”…”wile bending deep down doing some funney work”)

“My Mother’s Memory Poem” – (“My mothers very funney aome times..”..”I always loved that storey & tell it fastwhen ever I can/ to sweet friendly girls”)

“Write It Down – Allen Said” (“1961 bus ride from Damascus to East Jerusalem…”…”Give him back his coffee shop so he don’t have to fool around/with atomic dust daydreams/dropings”)

“America, Give a Shit!/New York City Get Your Shit Together”” – (“You have to sit & think this thing out Peter..”…”Listening to mama’s human fertilizer song”)

PO: If there was a lot of compost. You can grow some big big raspberries as big as ..

AG: As big as Warwick..

PO: As big as Warwick University

[Peter concludes with a song – Peter on banjo, Allen on songsticks and vocal accompaniment, ] – “Feeding Them Rassberres To Grow”   – ( ‘Hey sweet Rassberrys growing in a row..”.. “on the radio”)


Tom Pickard: Of course reading with Allen and Peter reminds me, I don’t know if you remember, of an old music-hall act , Wilson, Keppel and Betty, used to do a sand dance   (with a loin-cloth, do this (dance) , but dance on sand. Of course, I feel like the bloke they used to throw the sand down for them to dance on

[Tom Pickard then proceeds to read a series of recent (1979) poems]

Gypsy Music in Krakow’ (“sitting in an alcove/ on the old/ city wall…”…” kiss the foot/ of the baby Christ/ if he appeared/ with such a/ moustache”)

This is a short poem.Actually, it’s a long title but a short poem – “A Poem By Toms Raworth and Pickard and Ted Berrigan Written On A Train Ride Between Amsterdam and Den Haag in Pursuit of A Polish Visa” – (“Anywhere is a bad place to be stuck”) – I think I’ll get my train poems out.

On the subject of mushrooms [sic] – ‘Liberty “ – (”not just something to put on the head, caps can be got under, come into… from beneath”)

I’m going to read you a poem called “The White Rose” (”you gave me a white rose/ put the lamp on the stove/ it caught fire… “you see/ the whole experience/ is electric”)

and,  a Train Poem [Northern Line] – (“A ten-year-old boy/ with glasses/and scraggy/ red hair/ keeps falling off/ to sleep..” ..”who’d you support/ newcastle?/I don’t suppose you/ want to talk about/ last Saturday?/ I didn’t’)  – (I still don’t) –  These are from..[audience  applause]  – ” Oh, I see. You’re a Sunderland supporter are ya? “-

These  are from my book Hero Dust and if you buy it, Peter Orlovsky will buy you a pint, right?

PO; [ laughter]

AG: I’ve got a copy. If you let me know from which page you’re reading?

TP: Oh yeah? Page Fifty-six – So, actually, before I read that, I’ll read “A Man With A Human Face” (“A man with a human face/ was taken off a train and replaced”….”I met a man with a human place/taken off a train..and refaced”)

So I’ll read “Hero Dust” which is a title (poem) and it begins with a poem by Robert Creeley, and it’s a one-line poem (most of his poems are two-line)

“Love is the highway to the door” (that’s Creeley’s poem) – “saw the gypsy lady/ told me all bad news/ said am goin on a journey/ to the land of the blues …”…”death’s eye/smiles with the mouth of a flower”

[At approximately thirty-eight-and-half minutes in], TP declares:  I think I’ll finish this half, my chunk, with an extract from a long poem called “Dancing Under Fire” – {“Marta”) – .   “Always shook, always trembled. Always walked. Marta from Westerhope…” …. “she licks my ears/ we love/ a little”

[Tom Pickard’s section of the reading concludes at approximately forty-two-and-a-quarter minutes in – (part 2 – Allen Ginsberg’s reading to follow)] 

to be continued tomorrow

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