Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 497

John Wieners and Allen Ginsberg, New York, 1985 – Photograph by Raymond Foye -courtesy Stanford University Libraries / Allen Ginsberg Estate

Today marks the anniversary of the birth of the great John Wieners (1934-2002)

For previous birthday postings – here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here
and  here,  here, here, here and here on The Allen Ginsberg Project

To celebrate the occasion, we re-publish a poem John sent to Allen in the Spring of 1962, (and that was included in Yours Presently, (Michael Seth Stewart’s masterful selection of John’s Letters) – An alternative version of the poem was, he notes, published in Ace of Pentacles (1964), “with several changes, notably the ending (“infinite longing” instead of “unutterable”), and a different sequence of line breaks that alters the prosody considerably” The poet Robert Duncan singled out that poem. calling it “as good as the best of Verlaine“‘)


For I have seen Love
and his face is choice Heart of Hearts,
a flesh of pure fire, fusing from the center
where all Motion are One.

And I have known
despair, that the Face has ceased to stare
at me with the Rose of the World,
but lies furled

in an artificial Paradise
it is hell to get into. If I knew
you were there, I would fall upon my knees
and plead to God

to deliver you once again in my arms.
But it is senseless to try.
One can only take means to reduce misery,
confuse the sensations

so that this face,
which aches in the heart, and makes each each new

less close to the source of desire,

from the flesh that fires the Night,
with dreams and unutterable longing.

John, as Seth observed, wrote and then deleted a last line – “in the years to come”


Rejected Religion – We’ve noted Luke Walker‘s ongoing research on Allen Ginsberg and the Counterculture and on “esoteric intersections”, before, (most notably, his work on the profound intersection between Allen and William Blake.) – Stephanie Shea in her Rejected Religion podcast recently sat down with him for an extended (two-part) conversation that covers a lot of ground and is well worth catching.  Listen to part one – here – and part two – here


& heads up on an intriguing and interesting new Ginsberg book, Best Minds (haven’t we heard that title somewhere before?) – Stevan M Weine‘s long-in-the-making psychological study, Best Minds – How Allen Ginsberg Made Revolutionary Poetry From Madness, is due out in March of this year (30% discount on all orders placed before the end of February, if you enter promo code GINSBERG30 at check-out)

“Allen Ginsberg’s 1956 poem Howl“, the publishers write, “opens with one of the most resonant phrases in modern poetry, “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness”. Thirty years later, Ginsberg entrusted a Columbia medical student with materials not shared with anyone else, including psychiatric records which documented how he and his mother Naomi Ginsberg struggled with mental illness. In Best Minds, psychiatrist, researcher and scholar, Stevan M Weine,M.D., who was that medical student, examines how Ginsberg took his visions and psychiatric hospitalization, his mother’s devastating illness, confinement, and lobotomy, and the social upheavals of the post-war world and imaginatively transformed them….In Best Minds, with a forty-year career studying and addressing trauma, Weine provides a groundbreaking exploration of the poet and his creative process especially in relation to madness.”

Best Minds “examines the complex relationships between mental illness, psychiatry, trauma, poetry, and prophecy = using the access Ginsberg generously shared to offer new, lively and indispensable insights into an American icon. Weine also provides new understandings of the paternalism, treatment failures, ethical lapses, and limitations of American psychiatry of the 1940s and 1950s.”

We’ll have more to say on this book in the weeks ahead.

One comment

  1. And another intriguing and interesting book, scheduled for the Spring – John Wieners’ Solitary Pleasures – “a collection of poetry, journal entries, letters and ephemera”, edited by Richard Porter with an introduction by Nat Raha from Pilot Press, likewise available for pre-order (from here –
    & more Wieners in England – check out here – – for recordings from March 2022’s Durham University John Wieners Symposium

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