After Ginsberg – theVERSEverse

Allen Ginsberg and AI continues. Following their appearance last Friday at the Paris Art Fair, theVERSEverse collective, alongside Nicholas Fahey and the Fahey/Klein Gallery, debuted yesterday at Unit London, “After Ginsberg“, the first stage (as they see it) of continuing exploration focusing on Allen’s “textual and visual legacy”combining it with “the resolutely modern world of web 3″.”These works speak to us from the past and invite us into the future”, theVERSEverse poets declare, (specifically the future of machine technology). “Just as Ginsberg proclaimed that “the poignancy of a photograph comes from looking back to a fleeting moment in a floating world”,  theVERSEverse looks to the past to illuminate the present, whilst understanding and deeply appreciating the technologies which continue to transform our world”, they write.

Unit London have launched a detailed site (including the essay “Honoring Allen Ginsberg’s
Legacy As A Poet And Visionary“) – for those looking to look further into theVERSEverse’s aspirations – see here

As part of a brief Q & A following speeches at yesterday’s event, the collective was asked, what did they think that Allen himself would think of their plans?

Sasha Stiles, speaking on behalf of the group, addressing the question, replied:

“We’re all such huge fans… I forgot to mention this before.  I think I’ve told the story, so I’m not going to mention it here, but I actually had the great good fortune of meeting Ginsberg in person when I was a student and I was just sort of beginning to try to..try to.. how to figure out be a writer, and I would not be a poet if it were not for that. You know, there was this one very formative conversation we had where he actually helped me workshop with my poems and I still have the pieces of paper where he crossed things out, and it was, like, “this is bad”, and, “this is good, do more of this”, and so I.. in many ways, I would not be here without Ginsberg.
I think, to echo what Nicholas (Fahey) said before (sic), you know, one of the reasons why we really felt this was appropriate is because Ginsberg and his cohorts were very interested in using technology in different ways. I remember, when I went to Ginsberg’s apartment and met him that time, one of the things he did which sort of shocked me, was he took out a, like, a tape-deck, and played a cassette of a poem that he had just recorded and he was really kind of excited to show this sort of multi-media version of this poem that was not just on a piece of paper, (but you know of course, he was.. he was a wonderful performer and, you know, one of the most amazing spoken-word poets around, so I think being able to use technology like tape-recorders and cameras and all that, was very important to his practice, and, of course you know, there were folks in his circle as well, like William Burroughs, who famously, were using techniques like automated writing and cut-ups and all of that, to sort of do an early version of what we’re now doing with generative text, powered with AI). I think, (and having discussed this extensively with Peter Hale from the Ginsberg Estate and others who were close to Ginsberg way back when), I think it’s fair to say that he would be somewhat skeptical, in some regard, of this new technology and of the ways that, you know, we’re using AI to engage with his work, but I think he would also be, (and this is what Peter said), he would be very open to the experimentation and he actively would encourage us to experiment in this way, and it.. in fact, that’s exactly what poetry is for, it’s for that kind of experimentation, and, for us to come in, as newer poets, as younger poets, and kind of push back against the conventions of what is considered canonical literature, or what are considered traditional approaches to poetry, is exactly what we’re meant to be doing. So I hope and I think that we’re honoring that mind-set of his and proceeding in a way that is, you know, respectful of the Estate, respectful of Ginsberg, and also, really, just plays with the idea that all of us as poets are being influenced and being inspired, you know, by all these different forces at all times, and, really, we’re continuing to do what poets have always done, with some new tools, which just happened to be in our disposal right now.”

On the Unit London web-site, there is the announcement of “the next phase of “After Ginsberg” – Goodwin x Ginsberg” – “the next iteration…presented by pioneering data poet, Ross Goodwin“. Things are moving fast. Goodwin’s series “drops”, we are told, November 21st, (in just five days time).

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