Allen Ginsberg died on this day, twenty-two years ago today, April 5, 1997. For those of us privileged to be in attendance, it was, to say the least, an extraordinary night. Rosebud Feliu-Pettet provides a clear-eyed and definitive account. Jonas Mekas has a video account. Peter Orlovsky, speaking in the video:
“He opened his eyes. He opened his eyes. There were about eleven of us there, all very awake, at 2.40 a.m. Friday…what day’s Friday?..the 4th– And he was laying in the hospital bed , and his cousin, Dr. Joel Gaidemak, who was a doctor, was there and knew more or less precisely the time that Allen was going to die. And it was a very peaceful death and Gelek Rimpoche now, Gelek Rimpoche, in front of Allen’s altar, is inviting Allen’s.. spirit?.. soul – he’s inviting Allen’s soul to come out and attain enlightenment right now. And if Allen can’t do that, Gelek and his Tibetan chanters are saying that..we wish..we want you to have a better rebirth than last time around.”
JM: So he went into coma. He worked all day. and then to coma, and then never woke up.
For those of you in New York – the New York Public Library’s “Walt Whitman – America’s Poet”, the Walt Whitman Centennial exhibition, opened this week. For an early review and brief introduction to it – see here
“As he was turning forty, Walt Whitman wrote twelve poems in a small handmade book he entitled “Live Oak, With Moss.” The poems were intensely private reflections on his attraction to and affection for other men. They were also Whitman’s most adventurous explorations of the theme of same-sex love, composed decades before the word “homosexual” came into use. This revolutionary, extraordinarily beautiful and passionate cluster of poems was never published..and has remained unknown to the general public—until now” –
& great news – “America, America” – El Habib Louai‘s eagerly-awaited anthology of poetry of the Beat Generation – in Arabic translation, will be available soon. We featured his translation of Allen’s iconic “America” poem, some time ago on the Allen Ginsberg Project – here
In other news -Jack Kerouac’s The Haunted Life. adapted for the stage by Sean Daniels and the Merrimack Repertory Theater is reviewed in the Boston Globe – (“Daniels and co-director christopher oscar peña have taken the autobiographical novella and made a good show out of it”)