Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 541

Steven Taylor and Allen Ginsberg in Europe 1986

Steven Taylor on Allen Ginsberg – a follow-up to that earlier piece that we noted here appeared last week  on Simon Warner’s Substack . Steven cogently comments on Allen’s differing relationship to Paul McCartney and Philip Glass, his differing relationship to the music of McCartney and Glass

Allen Ginsberg, Paul McCartney, Philip Glass

On McCartney’s poetry:

“Allen said to me that it’s remarkable that here’s this great songwriter, so fluent and powerful in song, and the poetry’s not as strong. It must have been lacking in the Ginsbergian must-haves: energy, vividness. McCartney notes that Allen said ‘Eleanor Rigby was a great poem. That’s because it has the must-haves: sharp visual images, drive, and nary a wasted syllable. And it’s not about feelings; it’s all pictures, keen observation, the ‘face that she keeps in a jar by the door’. This part of Allen’s aesthetic comes from  (Charles) Olson and (Ezra) Pound: image, energy, and economy, condensare.”

& and on Glass:

“Allen didn’t understand Philip Glass’ music at first. We actually talked about that. He said Philip wanted to do something, and he asked me what I thought of the music. That would have been ’88. I probably said something academic about minimalism. He didn’t know what to think of it…

When Philip did that piece on ‘Wichita Vortex Sutra’, I think in ’88, that was the first collaboration, and it was just beautiful. That was the breakthrough for A.G. The opening chord sequence sounds so American, like Aaron Copland, who was one of Philip’s influences..”


Speaking of Black Mountain (we were)
Over on Beatdom, David S Wills reviews Matt Theado‘s anthology,  The Beats, Black Mountain and New Modes in American Poetryciting, amongst others, Erik Mortenson‘s piece on teaching that asks, “Should colleges teach students how to live and, if so, how should they do it?” – ” Accounts of Ginsberg’s teaching”, he (Mortenson) writes, “are generally positive, but nevertheless problems did arise. As with Charles) Olson, Ginsberg could be narrow and prejudiced in his beliefs. Despite a stated desire to “give the students permission to be as intelligent as they secretly are,” Ginsberg rarely tolerated deviations from his own style of poetry.” “(Marc) Olmsted“, he notes, “an admirer of the poet, admits that “if a student wavered into surrealism or language poetry, he was going to get some flack from Allen.”
For a teacher devoted to the idea of each student exploring their own mind, Ginsberg often ended up praising work that was similar to his own.”

Mention might also be made of Luke Walkers contribution – “Allen Ginsberg and Black Mountain Poetics”  (“Ginsberg appears to have been the first” Walker points out, “to use this particular term, (“Black Mountain”) in print”, “several years before the canonization of the Black Mountain grouping in Donald Allen’s The New American Poetry (1960)”


David S Wills, who wrote most recently here on Allen and Hunter S Thompson, will be giving a talk this coming Friday (December 10)… in Cambodia (Siem Reap)  – On the Road – Ginsberg in Siem Reap and & Other Beat Tales”. He’ll be kicking off the first session of the Siem Reap Writers Festival (organized by Wayne McCallum’s ‘Howl” organization). The festival runs from the 10th to the 12th


Allen’s arch-nemesis  Norman Podhoretz is curiously complementary in the midst of a mostly self-serving and fawning profile by Guy Denton in The Dispatch

Of his Columbia contemporaries:

“One of them was Allen Ginsberg,” Podhoretz told me, “who, before he became a radical beat (sic), could master any poetic form. He could write heroic couplets, Elizabethan sonnets, blank verse, plays. That changed when he decided that he was against all traditional poetry and literature generally..”  (Podhoretz, clearly not familiar with open form)


Kerouac’s 100th fervor builds – Kerouac Centennial starting January – Jacob Vitali runs down some of the early plans (plenty more to come) for the local paper, the Lowell Sun 

Kerouac @ 100

– “Kerouac @ 100 is looking forward to unveiling a collection of lovingly curated tributes to Lowell’s favorite native son in readings, magnificent exhibits, and concerts — all unfolding across 2022 as we light those roman candles across the stars in celebration of the Centenary birth of an American icon.”

One comment

  1. Nice to see my chapter on “Ginsberg and Black Mountain poetics” get a mention here! My claim is actually a little narrower: Ginsberg seems to have been the first to refer (in print) to a “Black Mountain school” of poetry. Overall, he played a vital role in promoting the Black Mountain poets, both individually and as a “school”, in Europe as well as America.

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