“Cool black night thru the redwoods/cars parked outside in shade/behind the gate, stars dim above/the ravine, a fire burning by the side/porch and a few tired souls hunched over/in black leather jackets. In the huge/wooden house, a yellow chandelier/at 3 A.M. the blast of loudspeakers/hi-fi Rolling Stones Ray Charles Beatles/Jumping Joe Jackson and twenty youths/dancing to the vibration thru the floor,/a little weed in the bathroom, girls in scarlet
tights, one muscular smooth skinned man/sweating dancing for hours, beer cans
bent littering the yard, a hanged man/sculpture dangling from a high creek branch,
children sleeping softly in their bedroom bunks./And 4 police cars parked outside the painted/gate, red lights revolving in the leaves.” – December 1965
Mickey Hart – “While there was some crossover between the Beats and the Hippies, nothing and no one connected the cultures to the extent that Ken Kesey did.
He was an undeniable literary force and took a lot of the ideas that were cultivated by the beats and brought them out into the real world. He made that struggle for complete and total freedom a tangible force.
I chose to compose a score to “First Party At Ken Kesey’s With Hell’s Angels,” because of that connection and because that’s the intersection where I first crossed paths with Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, and the Beat community at large.
I was struck by the honest realism of this poem. While most people tend to reflect the brightness of the era, Ginsberg didn’t shy away from the darkness. He writes the scene in all its complexity, the busts of excitements and Dionysian excesses as well as darker images, such as the sculpture of the hanged man.
He forces us to recognize the children sleeping in the bed and the police cars parked outside, red lights revolving in the trees.
For more on “First Party at Ken Kesey’s with Hell’s Angels” – see here
and also here
They will launch a three-season show, each season consisting of ten episodes, based on Jack’s Belief and Technique of Modern Prose. The show is currently in its planning stage and the hope is to feature “a wide variety of A-list musicians, writers, actors and others who have been influenced by Kerouac’s writings”.
Wedge and Sherman: – “As writers who were influenced by the counter-culture era that Kerouac helped create, we are humbled and proud to be partnering with the Kerouac Estate to share his genius with the podcast world…This is a dream project for us and we can’t wait for people to hear the stories of how Kerouac influenced some of our most beloved artists and musicians.”
Jim Sampas of the Kerouac Estate: – “Jack’s legend is only growing and this partnership is the next step toward bringing his spirit and words to new generations looking for artistic inspiration,”…Dave and Casey’s unique brand of immersive storytelling and track record of success make them the perfect partner to bring Jack’s groundbreaking work to the podcast space.”
Looking forward to this – and to the Jack Kerouac Centennial in 2022!
Beat Studies – We wrote about Beat Studies and pointed out the essay collection, The Beats – A Teaching Companion (edited by Nancy McCampbell Grace), noting David S Wills’ review of that volume, last month. Over on the European Beat Studies Network site, there’s another interesting review by John Shapcott, surveying it, like Wills does, but pondering the gap between academic Beat study and “direct unmediated experience, wondering if “direct unmediated experience of Beat lore is lost forever’ – “Grace’s collection contains an almost bewildering range of insightful close readings, astute contextualizing, and inventive lateral pedagogical thinking, charting the transformation of the Beat scene from its free-wheeling, self-help, heady revolutionary 1960’s days to its contemporary position as an increasingly respectable component of the curriculum”, he writes. “In the process, however, something precious has been lost by way of a freedom to live (and read) beyond conventional comfort zones, to challenge established orthodoxies, to celebrate youth as a promise that blooms outside the classroom. No syllabus can recapture the kind of street level transformation that so many of my generation – (Shapcott confesses to being a child of the ‘Sixties) – experienced”
The Beats: A Teaching Companion, Shapcott concedes, “is successful on a number of levels; it is a noteworthy contribution to the ever-expanding field of Beat studies and, more broadly, cultural studies; and it is a collection that at its best gives hope that in referring to its ideas the inspired teacher may still be able to enlarge the lives of his/her students.”
To single out one such “inspired teacher” – Tony Trigilio and his essay in the book ‘Teaching the Techno-Poetics of Allen Ginsberg’s “Wichita Vortex Sutra”’ – “(It) is”, Shapcott writes, “to be warmly welcomed for its readiness to bring a much needed element of fun into classroom practice. The groundwork is laid by a necessary exposure of Beat poetry’s engagement with historical forces, alongside a review of Ginsberg’s on-the-road embracing of the tape recorder for the recovery of authentic speech. Triglio’s extension of Ginsberg’s theory/praxis to the students own home recordings of a form of Yoga poetics, accompanied, as was Ginsberg’s tape, by background noise, is heart-warming in successfully bringing Beat poetics to life off the printed page.”
The annual European Beat Studies Conference, incidentally, this year, takes place as a virtual conference, scheduled over three days, from October 29 to October 31. The topic is ‘The Present and Future of Beat Studies”. We also draw your attention to the current Journal of Beat Studies (2020), Volume 8, also incidentally edited by Nancy M Grace, co-edited with Ronna Johnson) and its ‘State-of-the-Field Survey of Beat Studies Scholars”
Rita Dove in the New York Times last week – “In my late 20s I first heard the recording of Allen Ginsberg singing (William Blake’s) “Tyger,” and the connection was so visceral — two great poets whose lavish, afflicted souls shared a vision — that it reignited the thrill I felt as a 10-year-old curled into a corner of the sofa, whispering those same words” – The same Rita Dove who omitted Allen from her Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry back in 2013 ? – or was forced to omit – (see her version of that controversy – here)
Anne Waldman – check out Lucia Hinojosa Gaxiola’s review of Mundo Aparte / Offworld a recent bilingual collection of poems by Anne Waldman (translated by Mariano Antolín Rato and with an introduction by Ammiel Alcalay) in the latest Poetry Project Newsletter
Friday the 13th? – not to worry about Friday the 13th – just another (lucky or unlucky) day