Announced this week (and available in November), the third of the three volumes of Allen’s journals commissioned by the University of Minnesota Press (and edited by the redoubtable Michael Schumacher) – The Fall of America Journals 1965-1971.
(The first two titles, published consecutively, were The Iron Curtain Journals, January-May, 1965 (2018), and the South American Journals, January-July, 1960 (2019))
The publishers write:
Published in 1973, The Fall of America was Allen Ginsberg’s magnum opus, a poetic account of his experiences of a nation in turmoil. The Fall of America Journals, 1965–1971 contains some of Ginsberg’s finest spontaneous writing, accomplished as he pondered the best and worst his country had to offer. Transcribed, edited, and annotated by Michael Schumacher, a writer closely associated with Ginsberg’s life and work, these journals are nothing less than a first draft of the poet’s journey to the heart of twentieth-century America.”
We can’t wait!
The Beats in the Academy – Beat scholarship – Just out from Cambridge University Press, Steven Belletto (author/compiler of The Cambridge Companion to the Beats), has a new book out – The Beats: A Literary History.
“If you’re thinking “Not another book about the Beats!” then think again. Steven Belletto’s literary history is surely the first to bring together the rigorous command of scholarly and critical analysis found in specialist studies with the capacious engagement found in cultural histories or essay collections. The book’s double achievement is to read deeply and yet wonder broadly, keeping the writing always center stage. Grasping both how the Beats have been represented and how “representation” was itself the subject of their literary innovations, this is at once a sophisticated self-reflexive inquiry and a highly readable vademecum for anyone with an interest in the field”
A Robert Lee, on the EBSN site, seconds that enthusiasm:
“..(T)his account of Beat’s cultural narrative will assuredly rank among the best. It brings to bear a full and stirring shelf of interpretation buttressed by quite enviable fluency. In unthreading any assumption that, in his own phrase, Beat’s “republic of letters” serendipitously erupted as though some ready-made Big Bang, Belletto seizes upon the intricacies of gallery and chronicle with genuine stride. It invites admiration, a hurrah.”
He concludes, “(This is) a major contribution. Belletto’s re-telling of Beat cultural history deserves every recognition, truly fresh boots on the ground”
“Post-Beats”? – Meaning what exactly? – Is there really such a thing? – David S Wills will examine the topic and provide a few answers (coming shortly) – it’s the main focus of the upcoming issue (issue #20) of his essential and wonderful Beatdom magazine)
Jerry Cimino of The Beat Museum has an item you might be interested in – “World Exclusive – Allen Ginsberg’s Psychiatrist Speaks for the first time” – Dr. Philip Hicks interviewed by Kip Steinberg at the 2015 Beat Museum’s “Beat Shindig”. Hicks, it might be argued, set Allen on his path, following a brief period in a psychiatric ward and a frustrating early period in San Francisco trying to be “normal”, trying to be “straight”, denying his pure-poet soul – “If ..what you really feel would please you, what in the world is stopping you from doing it?” Hicks famously advised the young poet. A brief excerpt from the interview can be seen here (the full interview (available from the Beat Museum) runs just over an hour).
To conclude, a few (bitter-sweet reflections) memorial notes:
& Gem Spa? – lest we forget our obituary for New York’s legendary Gem Spa (where Allen would go on a Saturday night to pick up his Sunday morning newspaper). Closed for good, May 7. Another little spot of cultural history sadly and reluctantly disappears. More obit notices here, here, and here
– and May 29 (today) (cosmic alignment of all the planets and the spheres!), it’s Harry Smith’s birthday