Remembering today on the anniversary of what would have been her eighty-seventh birthday, the late, great, incomparable, Joanne Kyger (1934-2017)
Transforming Minds, Kyabje Rinpoche & Friends, the breathtaking photo-exhibition that opened this past September continues at Tibet House in New York. It closes on December 12th.
For those of you not able to make it to New York, there’s another opportunity, a virtual tour (see here)
Here’s a statement from Tibet House US President Bob Thurman:
“Allen Ginsberg is an extraordinary being, I met him in the ‘Sixties when I was still a Tibetan monk, when we worked on translating a certain Tibetan song, he had found profound things in India before me, and had extraordinary creative energy. We kept bumping into each other over the years sharing a determination to discover more of there truth and beauty of our infiniverse. A last memory was a call in the post midnight hour in the same morning when he passed. He was leaving a message on the answering machine which my wife Nene heard and woke me to rush and pick up the phone to touch base with Allen, who said he wanted to thank me for introducing him to Tibetan Buddhism, meeting and learning from his teachers, Trungpa Rimpoche and Gelek Rimpoche. What he most wanted me to know was that he was in the process of dying and was not in the slightest bit afraid, he would have liked to hang for longer but he was totally ready for the adventure and was himself amazed and delighted about the lived fact of it. I thanked him for all he had given, wished him the very best, and told him I hoped I could recognize him when we meet again in our future lives and could pick up our unfinished translation work. We both laughed. Since then I have learned more from his fabulous poetical work, even recently hearing that in Allen’s early twenties he received transmission from William Blake that he must dedicate his life to poetry. Indeed, my friend Jonathan Cott directed me to a poem of Blake’s that I quote here as an inspiring description of and tribute to Allen’s great achievements.
In the song from a mythic figure, a woman from Blake’s Four Zoas, presented in the lines he rendered, without punctuation: “Now my left hand I stretch to earth beneath/And strike the terrible string/I wake sweet joy in dens of sorrow and I plant a smile/In forests of affliction/And wake the bubbling springs of life in regions dark death”
Allen certainly did sing like that, playing his harmonium, putting an end to wars and despair, and celebrating love and joy! He shared his tremendous gift at many our Tibet House annual benefit concerts with Philip Glass, and it is our honor at US Tibet House Cultural Center to host this exhibition of some of the traces of this precious man, great poet and beloved friend of the Tibetan people and all living beings!’
Ai Weiwei‘s recently-published memoir, 1000 Years Of Joys and Sorrows – We’ll be featuring it again in the weeks to come. This past week he appeared on American television (and, significantly, on the PBS show Firing Line (with Margaret Hoover, who’s been hosting it since 2018) – Firing Line, you may recall, in its original incarnation (from 1966-1999), was the showcase of Allen’s arch-nemesis and sparring partner, William F Buckley Jr, who famously interviewed him and whom he famously read to – here
Hoover presented him with a clip from that reading. Ai Weiwei’s response:
“I kind of like that..He is truly amazing. He’s not a normal poet. He’s a soul.
He’s representing the soul of the intellectual world in America and he’s so beautiful”
“Well, it was Ginsberg who told you, ‘You need to write down your memories.’”,
Hoover points out. Weiwei fervently agrees.
The entire interview, (“Artist, activist and former political prisoner Ai Weiwei discusses resisting authoritarianism in China and beyond, whether the West can handle China’s rising influence, and his latest act of self-expression, his memoir”), may be seen here
PEN International, an organization that Allen was a proud member of, is celebrating its one-hundredth anniversary this year. As part of the celebrations it has just published PEN International – An Ilustrated History -“The book takes the reader through the key moments of PEN’s history over the last 100 years, in 320 pages and more than 500 pictures, letters, documents, posters and maps.” – A remarkable and sobering document.
We’ll begin with Joanne Kyger and end with Jack Spicer (an important new book just out)