TM: “I first met Allen in Cuba under rather unusual circumstances. We instantly became best friends and then four or five months later he wrote to me saying that he was doing some readings in London (incidentally amazingly well-paid) and asked whether he could stay with me. Of course I agreed. Initially he spoke of staying only a week or two. He stayed for two or three months.
When I was a mere 18, I bought a cottage in the Black Mountains. It was just a simple stone building but it became my favorite place in the whole world. It was so special that over the years, I invited only four or five people to spend the weekend. And even when I was at the Hay Festival, a few miles away, I hardly asked anyone to visit me.
I knew instinctively that Allen would adore Carne (my cottage). It is in a remote and dreamlike place . The cottage is surrounded by sheep and seemingly wild Welsh ponies. On the first morning just after breakfast Allen produced a small silver tin. In it he said there were two pills. They were LSD. He said he brought in case I’d never taken LSD and might want do so. I had for some time been wondering about taking LSD but now it seemed like the perfect opportunity for my cottage is totally remote with no sound of any kind. I mean real silence that is to say a profound silence and not just the absence of noise.
Allen announced that he would not take his pill until three or four hours after I’d taken mine. He wanted, he said, to make sure that I was OK. Its a well known fact that some people flip when they take LSD. His concern shows just how caring a friend he was. I had heard Allen was a drug fiend. He told me that he had in fact only taken LSD on five other occasions.
After breakfast Allen suggested we went on a long walk. Then he pointed up to the sky and memorably he said that the gods would see us as just two more sheep. When we returned to the cottage Allen sat down in a chair overlooking the valley in which my cottage sits. And there he began to write a poem. He called it “Wales Visitation”. Cape had just bought a small printing press and we issued the poem. It was not for sale but just to give to dear friends.
I had read that in addition to being a drug fiend, Allen was also something of an unreliable lunatic. Naturally I was concerned about my home. In fact Allen turned out to be a model guest. He was meticulous in every way. Just one example. Whilst Allen was staying with me we would often have dinner together at home. Just the two of us. Naturally we agreed a time, say 8 p.m. At, perhaps, 8.15, the telephone might ring. It was Allen announcing that he would be back no later than 8.30.
There is one other aspect of Allen that I must mention. It is a well-known fact that he was a homosexual. I loved him dearly but there was not ever the slightest awkwardness about our relationship. I thought of Allen only as Allen. He was simply my friend. And I didn’t even think of him as the great poet he obviously was. Our relationship is probably the single most precious one I have ever had…”
The Kerouac House in St Petersburg, Florida, has finally been sold (for $22,000, to a company, Flip Side, that specializes in flipping over properties). Attempts to buy the house by a non-profit proved, finally, sadly, unsuccessful. According to the realtor, the house is “in pretty bad shape. The roof is leaking. Windows are busted out from people breaking in”. He estimates that it needs at least $30,000 worth of repair work put into it. The Estate had been for some time attempting to unload the property. The non-profit is still in touch with the realtors but the papers have been signed. This, the Tampa Bay Times reports, will be “the first time in more than five decades (that) the St. Petersburg home… is not directly linked to Jack Kerouac or his family.”
Upcoming July 14 – (at Les Ateliers des Capucins) – Kerouac in Brest, Brittany – René Tanguy‘s ““Sad Paradise”- The Last Road of Jack Kerouac”, an exhibition featuring the work of photographer René Tanguy, focusing on Kerouac’s intense relationship with Breton poet, musician and sculptor Youenn Gwernig – Kerouac, in his last years, obsessed with and revisiting his Breton roots.
Here’s Gwernig on Kerouac. Here‘s Tanguy speaking on the project back in 2017. The show is up all summer and closes October 18.
& Ragged Lion Press (out of London) continues its adventurous audio-tape releasing. In collaboration with Sea Urchin Editions (out of Rotterdam), as part of the Counter Culture Chronicles cassette tapes series, they have made recently available – Nina Zivancevic‘s “Selected Poetry” – and alongside it her 1995 interview with Allen – for more details see here