An Allen Ginsberg Symposium coming up next week at the Poetry Project. Three days of events next Thursday through Saturday. Full details of the programming can be found here. Highlights include, “Allen Ginsberg: An International Poetry, Its Genius & Particles”, a keynote talk by Alice Notley, workshops with Anne Waldman and Ed Sanders, an opening-night (Thursday-night) reading with Anselm Berrigan, Rin Johnson, Patricia Spears Jones, Sharon Mesmer, Lara Mimosa Montes, Trace Peterson, and sam sax, and much more.
Iron Curtain Journals by Allen Ginsberg, edited and introduced by Ginsberg biographer Michael Schumacher, is the first volume in a forthcoming trilogy of Ginsberg’s unpublished journals from the University of Minnesota Press. It will be followed by South American Journals and The Fall of America Journals.
Iron Curtain Journals documents Allen Ginsberg’s 1965 travels to Cuba, where, ignoring all advice, he behaves in his usual wonderfully provocative way and is deported to Prague. This leads to a remarkable and moving journey through the Iron Curtain countries, to Russia, to Poland and the Warsaw ghetto and to Auschwitz. When he returns to Prague, he runs afoul of the government when local students crown him “The King of May” and tour him around in a flatbed truck. He is beaten in the streets a few days later, arrested, and deported yet again: this time to swinging England, where he arrives just in time to help stage a massive international poetry reading at the Royal Albert Hall.
The second volume in this trilogy, South American Journals (Fall 2019), follows Ginsberg on a six-month trip in 1960 as he travels to Chile for a literary conference, and then to Machu Picchu and the deeper, remote regions of Peru, seeking a source for the mind-altering drug yage. The South American Journals act as an important reference to The Yage Letters, co-written by William S. Burroughs and Ginsberg.
The third volume, The Fall of America Journals (Fall 2021), finds Ginsberg using a tape recorder given to him by Bob Dylan for spontaneous composition as he travels around the United States from 1965 to 1968. This volume will combine his journal writings with unreleased material from the transcription tapes, adding up to nothing less than the essential backstory to The Fall of America, Ginsberg’s 1974 National Book Award-winning volume of poems.
Three volumes! – a trilogy of Ginsberg journals – quite a coup, University of Minnesota Press!
The Beat Museum in San Francisco has plans to expand. Hoodline has a substantial article about the organization and its fund-raising plans. The place, remarkable to note, is now fifteen years old! “We originally opened in Monterey in 2003, but it soon became apparent that the true home to any museum honoring and archiving the Beat Generation would be here in North Beach,” Jerry Cimino, the museum’s director, is quoted as saying. When the museum opened, “the U.S. had just invaded Iraq, and people were asking me, ‘Where is Allen Ginsberg when we need him?’” (They’re still asking that question!). “Every generation, every revolution”, he observes comes back to the Beats”.
Ken Kesey’s Acid Quest – must-listening is Brooke Gladstone‘s last week’s episode of “On The Media” (via River Donaghey) “about how acid shaped Kesey, spawned Tom Wolfe’s famous book, The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test “, (Wolfe is among those who are interviewed) “and de-normalized American conformity” – “De-normalizing American conformity” – now there’s an interesting phrase!