Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 425


Revelations this week concerning the politicking, back in 1967 in the UK, for the position, arcane position, of “poet laureate”.

Sanchia Berg, reporting for the BBC, writes:
“In May 1967, the appointments secretary at 10 Downing Street (John Hewitt) found himself having to draw up a list of the country’s best poets. The incumbent, John Masefield, had died after 37 years in the post…”

W.H.Auden and Robert Graves, two of the most obvious choices, were rejected on the grounds that both had left England and were no longer residents. And, in Auden’s case, (as new documents reveal), there was prudery, shock and opprobrium concerning the publication of his legendary “pornographic poem”, “The Platonic Blow”   (published in Holland, but published initially, it should be pointed out, by the great poet and iconoclast, Ed Sanders).

Various figures were considered for the post  (which went eventually to arch traditionalist,
Sir John Betjeman

Berg notes:
“As the months passed, more names were put forward. Some (even) nominated themselves. Allen Ginsberg proposed the singer Donovan, just 21, whose work Sunshine Superman” and “Mellow Yellow” had topped the charts. In August, (he) sent a hand-drawn “flower card” to Number 10 with the words “Donovan for Laureate”. (see above).  Officials did not respond.


Donovan (Donovan Phillips Leitch) in 1967


Et en françaisThe Joan Anderson Letter (“Lettre Sur L”Histoire de Joan Anderson“) – the legendary Cassady-Kerouac communication, the text that inspired Jack’s On The Road, was recently published by Éditions Séguier in a French translation (translation by Pierre Guglielmina, and with an introduction by A Robert Lee) – see here  (and recent reviews here and here

See also (en anglais) – here and here


City Lights 70th Anniversary celebrations continue this Sunday (July 23rd), 1-5 outside the store, in Kerouac Alley, with the first of two star-studded readings, “gathering  some of the Bay Area’s best poets” – with readings by Josiah Luis Alderete, James Cagney, Meilani Clay, soledad con carne, Donna de la Perrière, Forrest Gander, Tongo Eisen-Martin, Juba Kalamka, Joseph Lease, DA Powell, Jenny Qi, Dean Rader, Barbara Jane Reyes, Kim Shuck, Maw Shein Win, and Matthew Zapruder and musical accompaniment to be announced

MC is Peter Maravelis.  Earlier this month, Peter hosted the first part of a four-part series on the history of City Lights and all things City Lights (next talk is August 12th). Jonah Raskin reviews that occasion –  here

Anne Waldman has recorded a heart-felt tribute to this remarkable bookshop and publishing venture:

as have others – Juan Felipe Herrera, Jewelle Gomez, Joshua Mohr, Amber Tamblyn, Josia Luis Alderete, Lucy Corin, Johnny Temple, John EvansThurston Moore and C A Conrad

and there will be more.

We, of course, add our own joyful wishes – Viva City Lights!

Antonio Pagano, Jesse Goodman – and Peter Hale of The Allen Ginsberg Estate visiting City Lights yesterday

Our good friend, rower-poet (and Gary Snyder collaborator),  Wang Ping gets a high profile this week in John Branch‘s article in the New York Times
Four years ago on this day, the passing of the legendary iconoclast Paul Krassner

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