Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 330

Allen Ginsberg on tv, May 7 1968 on Firing Line With William Buckley

from the Letters column in last weekend’s New York Times Book Review

“Reading Ann Douglas’s review of Allen Ginsberg’s “The Best Minds of My Generation” (Aug. 6) reminded me of a chance meeting with Ginsberg in the early ’60s. After a performance of Genet’s “The Blacks” at a small theater in the East Village, I waited in front for my then-fiancée. Also standing there was Allen Ginsberg. I mentioned a poem by his father, Louis Ginsberg, that appeared in the textbook I used to teach my high school English class. I said it went over well and that my class enjoyed it. At that, this man sometimes called “culture hero,” “apostate,” “barbarian jerk” and (by himself) “visiting gorilla” seemed none of these things. Instead, this “best mind of his generation” smiled broadly, not “the father of my country” as Sam Kashner later called him, but rather a proud son.” – Stephen J Kudless.

Here’s another Ginsberg anecdote – Marvin Bell, this month, in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

“I’m sitting on a stage in New York City at the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Before the event begins, we’re going to have our photo taken by a fellow with a portrait camera in the balcony. The audience has been seated, and they have to sit quietly while the photographer takes a series of shots. The Academy has filled in the aisles for the photo. I’m seated between John Ashbery and Richard Wilbur. Behind me is Allen Ginsberg. So here we go. The audience has been told to sit still. And I hear Ginsberg chanting, “Om ah rah sah bah-ah-nah, dee dee dee dee.” [sic] I happen to know that one, and I chant it too, quietly. Ginsberg asks me, “How do you know that?” I say, “I don’t know. I just know it.” And he says, “Do you know what it means?” I say no. And he makes a vertical chopping gesture with his hand and says, “Breaking down of distinctions.” Isn’t that good?

Ah, and lest we get accused of being hagiographers, here‘s a…er.. less flattering tale/memory of Allen from Peter Mayer. 

Last weekend we featured Allen among the venerable Objectivists – see here. Our friend, Colin Still’s film of Carl Rakosi, “The Last Objectivist” can now be seen as a trailer, a work-in-progress – here

(and check out his (Optic Nerve‘s)  other current works-in-progress – films on Robert Creeley ( “Black Mountain Blues“) and Jerome Rothenberg (“Vot Em I Doink Here?”).

Beat scholarship continues – Here’s Katelin Kelly’s reconsideration of Elise Cowen (who was briefly Allen’s lover)  here seen through the prism of Emily Dickinson  

Allen Ginsberg and Elise Cohen

“Born in 1933 in Washington Heights, New York, Cowen was briefly lovers with Allen Ginsberg, and her own poetry is often overshadowed by her associations with Ginsberg both sexually and creatively — she is most well known as the typist of his poem “Kaddish.”….”, the piece begins – (before, following the Dickinson-Cowen sisterhood and concluding, hailing her with the assessment as  “our queer poet”).

Jack Collom memorial reading at Naropa this past week – Anne Waldman and notes on it – here – (more memories of Jack here and here)  –   “Keep yodeling into the goat void of becoming, dear Jack!. You are missed and remembered”

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