Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 673

Poetry and Madness. We’ve examined the topic before, most especially in the light of Stevan Weine‘s recent groundbreaking book, Best Minds – see here and here – (and Allen’s alleged declaration – Don’t hide the madness”)

Weine, back in January,  was interviewed at length by Laurie Udesky for Mind Site News.
Our Brew reposts the interviewhere.

and looking back at earlier postings – check out this (a transcription of a 1968 symposium at Esalen) and this (Allen discussing the topic in conversation with Ruth Seymour)

“Does mental illness begat great poetry…?”George Mouratidis gives it a further airing in The Conversation, examining the question via four unique individuals – Allen, Bob Kaufman, Elise Cowen and Wanda Coleman

“Why do we turn to poets such as Ginsberg, Kaufman, Cowen and Coleman?”, he writes. “Perhaps it is because, to paraphrase (Karl) Marx, they wake the world up from its dream about itself.  These literary outlaws – renegades, mavericks, partisans – tell us the truth. Their “authenticity” stands, as they did, outside the systems and institutions that marginalised and pathologised them. They illuminate that which we are unable or unwilling to see in society and in ourselves – and perhaps liberate us, at least momentarily, from our conditioning and self-delusions.  In this, they take us outside ourselves. In their candid and vulnerable, often idiomatic, scatological and spontaneous transmission of consciousness and experiences that are atypical, they teach us empathy and compassion. In a dehumanising society hurtling nihilistically towards its endgame, these poets’ salvation of the human – in its varying sensibilities and vulnerabilities – is indeed revolutionary.”


Gregory Corso by “Sura” (Hope Savage) – from the archives of The Beat Museum

and this week from The Beat Museum – a singular treat – an extensive and revelatory chapter from Kurt Hemmer’s forthcoming Gregory Corso biography – The Poem Human. The focus is on Gregory’s first (previously undiscovered) romantic encounter –  Cynthia Clark – Gregory Corso’s “Swan Girl””

Cynthia Clark  (from The Freshman Register, Radcliffe Class of 1958)

Cynthia, it was, who he met, before encountering the great and enigmatic love of his life – Hope Savage . Gregory met Cynthia in 1954 when he was 24 and she was 18. Hemmer reproduces his two-page “Poem to C.C.”, an ardent love poem (“And you shall be the swan, my swan-girl/Of no wind and water..”), alongside (also reproduced) miscellaneous letters and communication.

Revelations  (that he once sent letters, (pseudononymously) in the early days to the Village Voice (Hemmer ferrets out the text of them), that he and Hope (his “Sura”) both hoped (sic) for a bond and continuing friendship among the three of them,  that Cynthia was at one time briefly engaged to his friend (and the brother of Warhol superstar Edie) Robert Sedgwick, that maybe Hope, and not Allen, was the one who first “coaxed (Gregory) into delving into Blake” – and so much more.  It’s a must-read.

Postcard from Gregory Corso to Robert Sedgwick, March 1959 – from the archives of The Beat Museum


Another book, recently noted in these pages,  Charles Plymell‘s, Over the Stage of Kansas: Selected Poems of Charles Plymell 1966-2020,  gets a rave review this week from Jonah Raskin in Simon Warner’s Rock and The Beat Generation

Raskin, among other things, notes two of the book’s extraordinary blurbs:

“Plymell has as much in depth to say about death as Hemingway did and a lot more to say about it in terms of the present generation stillborn into a world that can offer nothing.”  (William S Burroughs)

and from Allen: “Plymell and his friends inventing the Wichita Vortex contribute to a tradition stretching back from Lamantia thru Sherwood Anderson to Poe and earlier American vibration artists of those provinces.:”

Hear/see  Charley’s recent extraordinary (and rare) reading (given on the occasion of the publication of the book, just over a month ago) – here 


Kazuko Shiraishi, Tokyo, October 1988 -photo: Allen Ginsberg, courtesy Stanford University Libraries / Allen Ginsberg Estate

Noting the passing this week of, who Kenneth Rexroth memorably dubbed  “The Allen Ginsberg of Japan”, poet-performer, Beat icon, Kazuko Shiraishi – See our extensive posting, (from back in 2023), on this remarkable figure  – here

Obituary notices –    Yuri Kageyama, writing for AP celebrates her – here –  Euronews – here

John Giorno – check out the new expanded web-site of John Giorno
– and the current Summer issue of the Italian magazine, Mousse magazine  dedicates a 50-page “survey” section on him, and on the historic (and recently revived) Dial-a-Poem project. See selections from it here and here

David S Wills  writes and points out a little curio – the copy of Philip Lamantia’s Touch of the Marvelous in the Internet Archive has, for some reason, Allen’s signature in it – hmm – see here:

David is currently at work on a book about the legendary Six Gallery reading.

He notes an important discovery in his comments following our October 8, 2015 posting on the follow-up reading – see here

June 25,  next Tuesday, from 7 to 9:30 pm, at New York City’s Bowery Poetry Club (if you happen to be in New York City), “Praise Day for Andy Clausen”, a tribute for the late great  poet, who died, aged 80, this past April. Much missed.  An open mic and a gathering of friends.  Remembering Andy.

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