William Burroughs Conversation – 1 (intro)

William Burroughs  – photo: Allen Ginsberg

This week we begin featuring transcript from the William Burroughs Conference that took place in July 1985 at Naropa Institute. Burroughs himself was present.  We’ll be featuring it in the days ahead. It should be noted, from the outset that it (the discussion) takes a little while to get properly started, that this was spontaneous conversation, and that individual’s memories were challenged – and that Gregory Corso (what else is new?) was in a particularly provocative (i.e. sexist, racist, argumentative) mood.  

AG: So shall we begin now?  All in favor?
Students: Aye
AG: Any..anybody wanna wait? No.
So, Gregory, who shall begin? Do you want to? Or shall I? Do you want to talk first or shall I?

GC: You knew the man before me.

AG: Okay – I think what I would like to do is..  (Allen points to microphone)  (is this.. Is this working now?…Ok, now?.
GC: Talk into it!
AG:  Yeah?
Student (technician):  You don’t have to be too close.
GC: Oh, They taught me, I was with seventy thousand people, two weeks ago, in San Francisco..
AG: Not so close.
GC: They said “get close to the microphone”…
AG: Not so close. That’s a rock n roll microphone, this is a different kind.
GC: Oh, no wonder they told me that.
AG: Three inches.
GC: Ok. How’s that?
AG: A little closer.
GC: How’s this?.
AG: Fine.
GC: Great.
AG: Is that alright?

Well, I haven’t prepared any schematic outline. What I would like to do is start in 1953, rather than 1944 or (19)45 when William Burroughs and I first met, because since Gregory, distinguished poet at the height of his poetic powers, is here now, then we should take advantage of his presence to discuss matters and times, recollect what we can from fading memory of times that we shared together, which would begin..

GC: 1953.
AG: Or (19)49.
GC: For you (19)49
AG: For me and Gregory?
GC: Burroughs was (19)53.
AG: Right. So Gregory and I first met 1949?..
GC: (19)49, end of ’49.
AG: ..and were friends, and had met Kerouac before 1953. At that time, Bill was where?
GC:  South America – and his yage

to be continued

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at the beginning of the tape and concluding approximately two-and-a-half minutes in]

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