Ginsberg’s abiding relevance – 14-year-old Alec Pederson (along with his friend James Wyrtzen) performing this past Tuesday (Election Day) outside the East Rock high school polling place (East Rock, New Haven, Connecticut).
“The centerpiece of their half-hour Election Day concert”, their local newspaper reports,
“was a performance of Ginsberg’s 1956 poem “America,” with Pedersen reading the words of the Beatnik bard as Wyrtzen played “The Star-Spangled Banner” in the style of (Jimi) Hendrix.“
“Pedersen said he wanted to read the Ginsberg poem because of how resonant some of its lines still are then 64 years later.
He pointed to the line, “I say nothing about my prisons nor the millions of/underprivileged who live in my flowerpots under the light/of five hundred suns” as one such example.
“The statements he makes about America are definitely very accurate,” Pedersen said. “I think that’s still very true, that they’re kind of sweeping things under the rug and not apologizing.”
Here’s a later poem of Allen’s – “Calm Panic Campaign Promise” (from 1992, from Cosmopolitan Greetings) – “Calm Panic Campaign Promise – End of Millennium/Earth’s decay – / Fire Air Water tainted/ We’re the Great Beast -/ Dark bed thoughts/ Can’t do anything to stop it/Denial in Government, in Newspapers of Record-/ Like watching gum disease and not brushing teeth/ Getting heart failure, no rest much stress/ Putting salt on your greasy pork/Putting sugar in coffee you’ve diabetic/ Dysesthesia on foot soles/ Poor circulation smoke more cigarettes/ Kick your son under the table have another beer/Need President who’ll reverse the denial – / The Calm Panic Party/ to restore nature’s balance.”
The Calm Panic Party!
And from much-missed friend, Philip Whalen:
The Fall of America Journals will be available next week (next Tuesday). Speaking of prescience and wisdom. What could be more timely?
In advance of that, here’s Ron Jacobs’ perceptive review in Counterpoint – “Ginsberg’s America – An American Poet Describes An Uncertain Nation”
Nos lo inventamos todo, a Spanish bi-lingual edition of a forgotten little treasure (from Paul Cummings’ Catchword Papers) – the 1994 transcription of a 1979 spontaneous improvised performance by Allen Ginsberg and Kenneth Koch at the Poetry Project (moderated by Ron Padgett) and now freshly presented with a foreword by Martin Rodriguez-Gaona (and two interviews between Ginsberg and Koch as appendices) – happily appearing, we’re pleased to announce, from Barcelona’s Kriller 71 Ediciones (Kriller 71 Editions).
Here’s Andrew Epstein (Locus Solus) back in 2017 on the original item.
& yes we ponder a world in limbo.