May 31, Walt Whitman‘s 200th birthday is fast approaching. The centrality of the Whitman-Ginsberg connection can scarcely be overestimated (in this context, we might recommend Gary Schmidgall (author of Walt Whitman – A Gay Life (1997))’s informative essay, “Triangulating Blake, Whitman, and Ginsberg“, published in 2015, in the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review – “Their chief affinity”, “he writes, “is not prosodic (though all three reveled in the long line), but rests in their being exuberantly subversive outliers in the culture and society in which they lived. Radical individualism, courageously asserted, propelled them – all three were vigorously counter-cultural”
“Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher..” (the line is, of course, from “A Supermarket in California“) – “What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman..”
Schmidgall is among those quoted in Jim Beckerman’s recent piece for the local paper, the North Jersey Record, “Walt Whitman is our national poet and a gay icon” – Camden, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Brooklyn.. For an early taste/preview of the national celebration, we direct you to the estimable Walt Whitman Initiative – here, and here.
On other matters…. Looking forward to November and the next episode of the Michael Schumacher-edited Journals – the second of three to be published by the University of Minnesota Press – the South American Journals, January-July 1960 . No sneak previews yet but here is the cover
and just to whet your appetite – here’s our October 2013 posting about Allen in Peru.
Ronald K L Collins and David M Skover‘s The People v Ferlinghetti – The Fight to Publish Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. is reviewed by Alexander Adams for Spiked magazine – here
and Collins can be heard on Nico Perrino’s podcast, “So To Speak -The Free Speech Podcast”, for the Foundation for Individual Rights In Education (FIRE) – here
Diane di Prima is to be celebrated, this coming Tuesday-night, at the Poets House in New York, with Ammiel Alcalay, Iris Cushing, and Mary Catherine Kinniburgh, in coordination with the launch of a digitized copy of her 1973 chapbook Loba, Part I on the Poets House website, and on the occasion of a new publication of some of her work on Percy Bysshe Shelley, issued by CUNY’s Lost & Found..” – For more about that event – see here
Allen was an answer again on a recent Jeopardy (quiz show) –“ FACTS ABOUT POETS $800: This poet went to Columbia University & became friends with Jack Kerouac & William S. Burroughs”
Ethan Hawke, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the movie Reality Bites, tells the story (again) about Gregory Corso and his late-in-life windfall, recounting how his improvised rendition of Corso’s poem “Marriage” in the film helped relieve the beat poet of his mounting medical bills through his final years – “A couple years after (the movie) came out, I’m in New York City, and Gregory Corso is doing a poetry reading, and I’m there, and he comes up and he hugs me, and he introduces me in front of the group… He says, “This is an angel“, (because he’d been getting residual checks!)..“This movie saved (helped save) a beat poet’s last few years.”
And speaking of movies....