Allen Ginsberg Memorial Day

Memorial Day. Twenty-six years since Allen’s passing. We feature today the New Jersey connection, the Memorial Event that took place that year at the Paterson Museum, sponsored by Maria Mazziotti Gillan and The Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College Honoring Allen that day were Bob Rosenthal, Peter Hale, Andy Clausen, Rochelle Kraut, Laura Boss, George James, Joel Gaidemak (Allen’s first cousin, speaking on behalf of the family), Eliot Katz, and others

The recording begins with footage Great Falls Park, Paterson, that day,  June 8, 1997 – Stephan Said leads the crowd in an impromptu rendering of Father Death Blues

Bob Rosenthal is the first speaker, followed by Andy Clausen. Congressman Bill Pascrell then drops by to praise Allen and praise PCCC organizer Maria Mazziotti Gillan. Peter Hale reads Allen’s poem Things I’ll Not Do”.  Rochelle Kraut remembers working (typing letters) for Allen. Joel Gaidemak. introduces members of Allen’s family, (Hannah “Honey” Litzky and Edith Ginsberg) and speaks of Allen’s last hours.  Laura Boss recalls her relationship with Allen (and with Gregory Corso).  George James, addresses Allen’s “bust” (for marijuana possession at Paterson’s Great Falls!) .  The tape also features remarks from several others.


Joel Gaidemak

Joel Gaidemak:   “…I am a physician. I was with him the last sixteen hours of his life, tending to him when he went into coma. There last words that he spoke were to me, saying that he was tired, he just wanted to sleep. He lay back in his bed and said to me, “Why don’t you read some of my latest poems, they’re over there on the chair”, I reached over, started to read them, looked up, he was asleep, he never awoke. He died at 2.39 the next morning. Many people were saddened by his passing, certainly all of us friends and people that he touched around the world. He was very kind, he was always honest, and very generous, a wonderful person, I’ll miss him dearly, as will the world.


Bob Rosenthal

Bob Rosenthal: “I worked with Allen for just shy of twenty years. I really can’t  give reminiscences  because for me, he’s… I think he’s some.. I don’t embody him  (maybe, in some little way he might embody a little part of me – not the poetry part).He taught me how to do his business. He taught me how to do his business as a Buddhist (I’m not a Buddhist, but he taught me Buddhist values) and he showed me, through nineteen-and-a-half years, how to pay attention, how to honor people, how to form an argument that is flawless. He taught me how to make things happen, and what Allen did, he brought people together like he’s brought us together, he remembered everybody he made contact with, he.. and then, when he got a piece of information, he would send it to that person (a-nd then tell that person to send it to this person – and sometimes  it was a little redundant and maybe the person over there would get it five times! – but he got it!  – and it worked). And Allen kept the information, and this is why he needed a staff, this is why.. not every poet needs to have a staff of two, sometimes three, sometimes four, people, because Allen was a work-maker. And I think his work was really valuable for our society and I believe, in that sense, it’s our shared possibility to not let that work fall down, because we all have that within us, to be able to do – to take activity, to write a letter, to call somebody, to keep a piece of information in a file and pull it out five years later and hand it to someone else. This is not hard. It just takes mindfulness. And this is what Allen showed us over all these years. And then, the fact is he was also a truly great poet, for millenniums. So that was the added bonus to Allen.


Eliot Katz

Eliot Katz:  Hello, I’m Eliot Katz, a New Brunswick poet and an activist.  I met Allen in 1976 but quickly got to know him after studying with him for a month at Naropa Institute in Boulder in 1980. It was a real pleasure to be here today. I’d like to thank Maria Gillan for organizing this.   What we got to see was a lot of people who knew Allen and admired Allen from a lot of different places. Allen was incredibly good at making people feel special and bringing friends from different scenes together and inspiring people in a lot of different ways. For me, Allen was always influential, both as a great poet and as an important political activist, somebody who really set an example of how one could live a principled life that was both poetically motivated, politically charged and filled with spiritual compassion and personal integrity”


Andy Clausen

Andy Clausen:

“..I think Allen’s encouragement of me was a manifestation of one of the things that I find very important, which is love of the common people, and, no matter how famous or well-known Allen became, it seems like he always had time for most people  (he would answer questions, amazing patience) …

Check out also earlier postings – here and here

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