Conversations With Allen Ginsberg

We briefly mentioned David Stephen Calonne‘s Conversations With Allen Ginsberg (from University of Mississippi Press, part of their Literary Conversation series), earlier this summer. Time to mention it again.

Allen “loved the art of conversation”, editor Calonne writes. “Among Beat Generation authors, he was the most generous by far in granting interviews to journalists, academics,  television or radio personalities and virtually anyone who wished to speak with him.”

A comprehensive selection of interviews, Spontaneous Mind – Selected Interviews 1958-1996 edited by David Carter was published in 2001

& not forgetting Michael Schumacher‘s First Thought (2017)

This present volume happily compliments both those books.

The earliest interview here is from 1962 with R.Parthasarathy (discussing poetry with Indian poets – this may be fruitfully compared with an interview three decades later, in 1993, with Suranjan Ganguly discussing India and spirituality). The last is from 1997 – Stuart Coupe – “The Last Australian Interview”

“A notable feature of the interviews”, the editor writes, “is Ginsberg’s unflagging intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm concerning a capacious range of subjects. We witness his gift for speaking intelligently and provocatively on gay rights, the relationship between music and poetry, nuclear disarmament, censorship, Gnosticism,  the spiritual history of India, the major themes in literary masterworks he admires. Readers will also be dazzled by his articulate virtuosity in speaking about political matters – for example regarding drug control or the history of censorship in the media – and by Ginsberg’s seemingly effortless recall of specific references and documentation to support his arguments..”

“Ginsberg’s interviews of the ‘sixties are marked by the intense political, ecological, sexual, and artistic upheavals of that apocalyptic decade… The ‘sixties interviews  also track Ginsberg’s extensive travels throughout the world…” (conversations with David Widgery and William D Knief, and, significantly, in the underground press, with John Bryan in the LA-based Open City and with Robert Head in New Orleans’ Nola Express). Interviews from the ‘seventies, include those with Harry Cargus (1974), Michael Andre (1975), Alan Twigg (1978), and from the ‘eighties, Connie Goldman (1982), Thomas Gladysz (1985), Robert F Cunha Jr. (1986), Regina Weinreich (1987) – from the ‘nineties,  Jim Moore (1994), Harvey Kubernik (1996) – this is just a partial listing

The book includes Allen’s conversations in 1968 with Hare Krishna guru, A.C.Bhaktivedanta,  Michael Scharfman, Howard Mandel and Sam Hemingway in 1970 on Louis and Allen, (Ginsberg fils and Ginsberg père),  Jeffrey Dunn’s 1987 conversation with Allen on William Burroughs.… and… and..

All in all, another essential document in the Ginsberg canon.

And don’t miss, while we’re at it, David Stephen Calonne’s earlier contribution to Literary Conversations – Conversations With Gary Snyder (now in paperback).

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