“CIA Linked Homosexual Jewish Author Allen Ginsberg’s Sadomasochistic Poem “Howl” being used in Colorado High Schools To Mentally and Physically Violate 16 year old Girls Through Role-Playing Assignments”, runs the headline! Well, before we see the frankly anti-Semitic content on the rest of the site (which we’re reluctant to link to), it’s pretty clear which side this “cultural commentator”‘s on! – “Allen Ginsberg was a mirror image of his morally deformed mentor Wilhelm Reich“, he writes – (uh?) – “Ginsberg championed the importation of New-Age, Luciferian based, Eastern religions into America’s Christian majority, promoted sexual deviancy, pushed psychedelic drug use, encouraged pedophilia and bestiality, publicized pornography and homosexuality….” No need to go on. The Steamboat Springs brouhaha we reported on last week, regrettably, hasn’t entirely gone away, due to some fanning of the flames and specific pandering to (and by) the religious right. As the local paper, the Steamboat Pilot & Today, points out (“Steamboat family recruits help of religious rights attorney over “Howl” controversy”) – “In the wake of this most recent development, several television news outlets, including CBS, Fox News and ABC, have covered the local controversy” – and from there it goes straight to the zany, unhinged and more troubling forums (like the one mentioned above), not to mention an international reach and the wildfire distribution of the internet.
David S Wills on Beatdom this week has a measured response – (“Howl Continues to Offend In The Era of Tabloid Journalism”) – ‘Lewd controversy has always proven tantalising to tabloid newspapers and other sensationalist “news” outlets. Trying to research this story was difficult”, he writes, “I could hardly find any information in between the crude advertisements and clickbait headlines, and when I did, the typos and bad grammar made it like deciphering ancient limericks on a grimy bathroom wall”… “The lawyer’s letter to the school, along with Fox 8, Fox 31, the Daily Mail, Metro, and NY Daily News, all referred to the poet in question as “Allen Ginsburg.” Naturally, none of them seemed particularly familiar with Mr. Ginsburg’s (sic) life or work, or indeed the significance of his poetry. They did, however, manage to lift words and phrases from the relevant Wikipedia pages, so at least journalism’s not totally dead (!).”…”Having examined the evidence, it does seem as though the teacher was unwise to use “Howl” in his classroom, not because it is inappropriate for 16-year-olds, but because the teacher himself seems to lack a real appreciation or understanding of the poem.” The teacher, Ryan Ayala, is quoted in one of the documents,
“I do not (and did not in class) endorse Ginsberg’s central claims of the poem (Howl). He is a narcissist who thinks his mind is the greatest thing the earth ever received. I denigrate his depravity and lack of empathy. He is no one to emulate.”
and, keeping the global perspective, do you know that a statue of Moloch was recently unveiled in Rome (with, of course, attendant controversy)?
In Berlin, premiering recently, at the Volksbühne, David Marton‘s musical and theatrical presentation, “Howl, based” – (loosely based!) – “on Allen Ginsberg” – “Howl nach Allen Ginsberg“. So far, from the German press, not exactly a rousing response – Katrin Pauly in Berliner Morgenpost – “Von der politischen, gesellschaftskritischen und flirrenden Wucht von „Howl“ ist diese Inszenierung bedauerlicherweise meilenweit entfernt“. (“Regrettably, this staging is miles away from the political, socio-critical and shimmering power of “Howl””), and Anna Fastabend in Süddeutsche Zeitung – “..statt auf die suggestive Kraft der Sprache zu vertrauen, übersetzt Marton sie in eine lose Abfolge von musikalisch unterlegten Bildern..”(“…instead of relying on the suggestive power of language, Marton translates it (Howl, the poem) into a loose sequence of musically underpinned (and barely successful) images”)
“Howl nach Allen..” will be performed again on the 8th and 22nd of December.
What does get a good review is Bob Kaufman‘s new (posthumous) book of Collected Poems. James Sullivan in the San Francisco Chronicle – “Bob Kaufman wanted to be forgotten – a new book ensures he won’t be”..”Despite his urge to vanish, Kaufman left behind plenty of tantalizing traces”..”These Collected Poems, long overdue, assure us that a little Bob Kaufman, like his beloved Charlie Parker, will echo in the atmosphere”..”Kaufman’s poems are..much more than fusty Beat Generation time capsules. They’re cries of fury, or religious irony. Some are absurdist comedy routines…Others are a bleaker brand of humor or exuberant outbursts of language a la Allen Ginsberg… Several of Kaufman’s poems work through variations on meditative themes..”
Ed Sanders’ “glyphs” on show, this Tuesday, up in Woodstock – A “glyph”, as defined by the poet, writer, activist, musician is “a drawing that is charged with literary, emotional, historical or mythic and poetic intensity. A Glyph has the power to shake the spirit. It emblazons shapes, lines, colors, space and words into an intense zone of enhanced visualization…”. See more about Sanders and his glyphs – here
William Blake‘s birthday yesterday and his landmark Tate show in London continues (through to February 2020). For those of you in London over the weekend, don’t miss a unique and remarkable event – his final work (“The Ancient of Days”) projected on the giant dome of the historic St Paul’s Cathedral