“When Will We End The Human War?” – Arvind Dilawar’s brief digest in Tablet of Allen’s political identity, published just last week, is a useful reminder. For a more in-depth study, however, see Eliot Katz’s The Poetry and Politics of Allen Ginsberg (2015)
and speaking of poetry and politics, it’s thirty years today (three decades!) since Abbie Hoffman passed away, Allen’s feisty confrere on the front lines. See here and here and Eliot’s article, “Abbie Hoffman – American Dissident and Political Organizer Extraordinaire”
“Lawrence and Allen are friends. Lawrence, seventy-years Allen’s senior, is in his centenary, and Allen has been gone over twenty years. They are loyal comrades, they are also totally competitive. A Coney Island of the Mind has sold more copies than Howl. Yet publishing Howl makes City Lights Books exist. Allen lives on his yearly royalties from City Lights and Lawrence publishes a huge array of poets, who otherwise might not see publication, off the profits of Howl. The Pocket Poets books are ingeneously designed to make poetry portable in coat pockets on all continents. When Allen signs on with HarperCollins, he insists that City Lights be allowed to continue publishing the Ginsberg titles. Lawrence thinks of Allen as a sometime pain in the ass that forces a poet or two on him and Allen sometimes calls Lawrence a businessman. But they do not fight openly. Allen always calls Lawrence Larry! Lawrence hates it. I once call him Larry and quickly am corrected. Lawrence often signed his letters to Allen, Daddy! When Lawrence visits New York, he stays on 12th Street. He buys items for Allen’s impoverished apartment – a new bathtub plug, a new strainer for the kitchen sink. They are old world rivals who love each other and never call just to talk. Allen rings Lawrence just before dying to share the news. These two poets of a shared common tongue together create an unparalled universe of poetic imagination and societal accomplishment.”
Here’s Michael Schumacher, Allen’s biographer, with his response to this book:
“I always felt that Allen was at his very best when he was traveling. (I told him as much.) The work he did in China, in my opinion, ranks amongst his very best. World Citizen.. is a wonderful introduction to Ginsberg the Traveler. I’m reminded here of the “Night of the Wolfeans and non-Wolfeans”, [see Kerouac’s November 13, 1945 letter to Ginsberg (sic)] which found Ginsberg and Burroughs, during an all-nighter with Kerouac and Hal Chase, defining their European lineage, while Kerouac and Chase defined their American influences. I believe that Allen’s work from his visit to China indicates a merging of his Eastern and Western influences.. World Citizen.. brings all this to the front in its own clear-headed way. Of course, as I’m learning while editing The Fall of America Journals, AG had his own “discovery” of America in his middle years, and it’s a joy to see this man travel in his native land, shadowed by the Vietnam War, using what he’s seeing to prophecy a grim future. World Citizen.. is a valuable primer in getting readers to see this development.”
and Simon Warner:
“Allen Ginsberg was the polar opposite of a parochial poet. While the US bore him, the planet shaped him: from Europe to the East, from Africa to South America. British Beat historian David Wills’ recently published World Citizen: Allen Ginsberg as Traveller reminds us of the man’s globetrotting instincts, his hunger for experience and an evangelising desire to spread his word. An intriguing account and an enlightening travelogue, the volume also lists the 66 (sixty-six!) countries where the writer visited and made his mark.”
A full list of all currently-available Beatdom books may be found – here
Bill Morgan has been in Venice, Italy, this month and this weekend he’ll be making a presentation
Meanwhile, in Woodstock tomorrow, Woodstock Library Forum – “Hard To Beat – The Beat Sensibility Lives On” (at least, mercifully, it’s not “The Beat Goes On”!). In celebration of National Poetry Month, Mikhail Horowitz will be hosting a “Salute to the Beats”, featuring Ed Sanders, Andy Clausen & Pamela Twining, Bruce Weber, Sue Wilens, Kush and Mikhail Horowitz himself.
Don’t know how we missed this – Dan Richards on the Cascades – an evocative travel piece – “The unspoiled wilderness Jack Kerouac called home”
and next Tuesday (April 15) at Old Key West Bar and Grill, St Petersburg, Florida, hosted by the Friends of the Jack Kerouac House, an evening of live music and a reading of “Howl”. Musicians will be the Florida Boys, Grant Peeples and Ronnie Eliot. Readers will include Bob Devin Jones and Peter Meinke.