Peter Orlovsky

[Peter Orlovsky age 21. We drove down to Los Gatos to visit Cassady family myself at wheel that one only time and motored to Yosemite. Car cost $125.00. Summer 1955. (photo by Allen Ginsberg, courtesy Stanford University Libraries/Allen Ginsberg)]

Allen’s partner, Peter Orlovsky, passed away on this day eight years ago, May 30, 2010. Gone, but certainly not forgotten.

Here’s what Allen wrote as back-cover copy for Peter’s legendary 1978 City Lights volume, Clean Asshole Poems And Smiling Vegetable Songs, a book which, if you don’t have, you should really try to seek out:

“First harvest of 1958-1978 eternal decades poetry by Peter Orlovsky, born July 8, 1933, in the vanished Women’s Infirmary on Lower East Side, N.Y.  Sometime ambulance attendant, farmer, house-cleaner, silkscreen handyman, newsboy, postal clerk, and instructor at Kerouac School of Poetics, he was discharged from military after telling government psychiatrist, “An army is an army against love”. Witness of the ‘5o’s San Francisco Poetry Renaissance, he was portrayed by Jack Kerouac as hospital nurse saint Simon Darlovsky among Desolation Angels, learned driving speech from Neal Cassady and taught heart in return, partook of psychedelic revolution a pillar of strength with Timothy Leary and Charles Olson, companioned Kerouac and William Burroughs in Tangier, was one of the first American  poets to make modern passage to India in early ’60’s accompanying Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg, studied  sarod, banjo and guitar, read poetry in Chicago and at Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, Yale, and New York’s St Marks Poetry Project , survived speed and junk hells, sang in jail at anti-war protest and political convention occasions, was published in historic Beatitude and Don Allen anthologies of The New American Poetry, played self in early underground Robert Frank movies, traveled with Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Review, farmed solitary upstate New York ten years organic and Herculean, fed and nursed decades of poetry families. An experienced Buddhist sitter and Vajrayana meditation practitioner, his Dharma name is “Ocean of Generosity”. After 20 years of shy genius this first poem book’s published on earth”
(Forty years on since its publication)

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