A fascinating show just opened this week at the John Natsoulas Center For the Arts in Davis, California – The Beat Goes On – Poets as Painters. Paintings, illustrations, self-portraiture, and portraits by and of Beat contemporaries are on display (many from private collections) in this groundbreaking exhibition. For more information on the exhibit see here (and if you missed it from last week – see Jerry Cimino‘s interview with Joe Lee, the show’s primary donor – here
Tomorrow (from 6:30 to 10pm) will be the official opening-night celebration, with live jazz and poetry (featuring performances by Dr. Andy Jones, John Natsoulas, and Tony Passare). The Linda Bair Dance Company will perform an original dance, “Jack Kerouac”.
The show will run through to December 4th.
Allen, translation, and Artificial Intelligence, we mentioned, briefly, a couple of weeks ago the Stanford University presentation – “The Beats Within – Comparing AI & human adaptations of “Howl” – Quinn Dombrowski and Kathleen Smith, the two presenters, have just put up on the Stanford Libraries blog a more detailed account with a number of intriguing illustrations (Allen filtered through “Sweet Valley High” and “The Hardy Boys“?, “What if the opening line of “Howl” was part of an English regency romance?.”.. “What if Jabba the Hutt were a beat poet?”) – Don’t miss this article – You can see it in its entirety – here
Wayne Kramer’s Words and Music Book One we also mentioned a couple of weeks back. We mentioned his setting of Gregory Corso. Here’s Wayne’s complimentary music to Allen’s “At Apollinaire’s Grave”
He goes on (about Allen):
“He was the hardest working poet on earth, always accessible to any young writer or poet, looking for guidance. And now he is gone. But his words will never die, and the gentle thunder of his voice rings eternal. Few poets wielded the kind of power Allen possessed. He was Zeus tossing words of lightning down from Olympus, like so many raindrops. I was lucky enough to have been caught up in a few of those storms, at least for a little while.”
In it Monteagudo pinpoints Allen’s essential role:
“Though the San Francisco poets were the first to write about their homosexuality – (Robert) Duncan’s “The Homosexual in Society” was published in 1944 – it was Allen Ginsberg who made queer sex a major component of Beat literature. Part of “the homosexual tradition in American poetry” that began with Walt Whitman, Ginsberg was connected to Whitman as only men-loving men could. In his Gay Sunshine Interview Ginsberg told Allen Young that Cassady, a former lover, “slept with Gavin Arthur, who slept with Edward Carpenter, who slept with Whitman,” thus establishing a sexual link between the two poets.”
“More than any other work, it was Ginsberg’s “Howl” that made homosexuality, both overt and sublimated, the hallmark of the Beat Generation. Its “description of gay male sexuality as joyous, delightful, and indeed even holy turned contemporary stereotypes of homosexuality upside down,” (so) wrote John D’Emilio in Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities. “’Howl,’ along with other poems in Ginsberg’s first collection, offered gay male readers a self-affirming image of their sexual preference. And, as the San Francisco writer most clearly identified as ‘beat,’ Ginsberg served as a bridge between a literary avant-garde tolerant of homosexuality and an emerging form of social protest indelibly stamped by the media as sexually deviant.”
More sexual politics – and yet another must-read – Francesca Wade in the current on-line edition of The Baffler – “A Living Weapon In Your Hand” – notes on the inspirational correspondence between long-time friends Diane di Prima and Audre Lord (This essay also appears in the recently-printed Silver Press (UK) revised edition of Diane’s Revolutionary Letters )
Simon Warner’s Substack – Rock and The Beat Generation continues to be a spot well-worth checking. Recent posts of note – Beat scholar, Nancy M Grace, is interviewed here
(For an earlier Nancy M Grace interview – see here),
Samara Kuperfberg, daughter of Tuli Kupferberg, is interviewed (the movie Tuli, Tuli, Tuli has reached its Kickstarter target – we’re happy to announce)
and “Remembering Larry Keenan”, (a note on the great West Coast Beat photographer)