Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 416

Allen Ginsberg and Karel Appel – “Armageddon Does the Job”

Allen Ginsberg and Karel Appel, in front of their collaborative painting of Jack Kerouac, Naropa Institute,1982

Ted Berrigan on Allen Ginsberg’s collaborations with the Dutch painter Karel Appel (1921-1996), the anniversary of who’s birth it is today)  “Those pieces that.. where Allen.. where Allen Ginsberg has written over paintings of Karel Appel, over at the gallery (at Naropa),(are) not bad – they’re not bad. They are art. I mean, they’re not very high art, but…(because the boys are new at that game), yet.. but.. I mean, that is a valid game, (the) art game…”

Anne Waldman on working with Allen (from an interview in the Dallas Observer):  “Because I worked with Allen closely at our Kerouac School, I really felt parity and equal with him. I was making as many decisions, and we agreed on a lot of stuff, I traveled with him, he gave me extensive room in our readings and performances together, deferred to me, so I had a personal relationship which was good. I can also critique him if he referred to women as “girls.” (laughs) And I appreciated his work on behalf of gay rights, lesbian stuff and the war stuff. We were protesting in a lot of places together. I think it’s everywhere when you look back at the art, culture, the lyrics of rock and roll, etc. in the ‘60s, which is when I really came of age.”

The rest of the interview is well worth reading, and another Dallas interview with Anne can be found – here

Patti Smith in The Philadelphia Inquirer: ” I went to a lot of poetry readings, and sometimes I found them boring, unless it was Gregory Corso or Allen Ginsberg or Jim Carroll.”… “W)hen I became friends with Allen Ginsberg, Whitman was like his mentor. Like his spiritual great-grandfather or something. In fact, when Allen died, we sat with him, and over his bed was a photograph of Walt Whitman.”  (“Patti Smith Remembers Growing-Up In Germantown and South Jersey Before Two Homecoming Shows”)

For the full article (Patti will be saluting Whitman May 30 at The Philadelphia Art Museum)  – see here

Gary Snyder’s interview in the New York Times, we mentioned last week, but so succinct and clear is Gary that the interview (Q&A) is well worth re-recommending

Jack Hirschman‘s podcast/interview (with Bernard Meisler) for Sensitive Skin can be found – here

Jonah Raskin just published an interesting little piece this past week in Counterpunch“Allen Ginsberg’s 1956 Poem “America” – A Lost Ending” – “Part II” of the poem, Raskin notes, (“which appears in Black Mountain Review #7, and not in Howl and Other Poems or in Ginsberg’s Collected Poems)  begins, “America how shall we cultivate the Cosmic Vibrations?” It ends, “All arbitrary discriminations hereby abolished Russia/ America — the Robin he just jumped into my tree/in the rain drops.” .

Here’s the complete Part II:

“America how shall we cultivate the Cosmic Vibrations?/America the mystical forces will not be denied./Every time the Rosenbergs sat down in the electric chair the mystical forces vibrated madly/ America they’re vibrating in my garden this very minute./ God openly seeks admittance. He knocks and vibrates at the doors of the Synagogue./The gates of the Catholic Churches are closed against Him/Consequently He vibrates with wine on the Bowery/ Only the Zen Buddhists don’t set up a counter-vibration and they’re all egotists./Walt Whitman alone of American poets was completely hip./Nowadays only the teaheads have any idea what Democracy means./ Only the Bop musicians seem to glimpse a Presence among us./ Man, listen to that band of angels swing!/ Man is inherently angelic,/ All arbitrary discriminations hereby abolished Russia/ America – the Robin he just jumped into my tree/in the rain drops.”

“It’s not Ginsberg at his best”, writes Raskin. “Nor is it Ginsberg at his worst. But it’s Ginsberg. And it’s worth reading about and thinking about.” – “He was right to cut them (these lines) and not to republish…”Still, there’s something endearing about the line, “Man, listen to that band of angels swing.””

& “Walt Whitman alone of American poets was completely hip.” – We like that one.

One comment

  1. Jonah Raskin, in his article in Counterpunch, Allen Ginsberg’s 1956 Poem “America”: a Lost Ending, makes two dubious claims.

    1) He writes that ‘Go fuck yourself with the atom bomb’ is ‘The most famous line in all of twentieth-century American poetry’; seems to me that a stronger case can be made for the opening line of another of Allen’s poems, a little ditty called “Howl”.

    2) Secondly, he states that “After all, Ginsberg insisted that he didn’t revise or edit his work. His mantra was “First Thought Best Thought.”” This is simply not true. We know that Allen revised constantly. The most obvious example can be seen in the facsimile edition of Howl that was published in the 1980s and that showed the numerous versions of the famous poem. Raskin’s comment betrays a misunderstanding of the famous mantra “first thought, best thought”.

    A more apt way of interpreting this phrase is to accept that your first thought is often intuitively the most natural & most spontaneous awareness of your mind, and is generally worth paying attention to & writing down (i.e., the “best thought”). But this doesn’t mean not to edit. To the contrary; once you have the “best thought” in place, THEN you edit & revise and work that thought into the best, tightest piece of writing you can.

    This is surely closer to what Allen meant when he championed this phrase than Raskin’s suggestion that it meant not to edit or revise.

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