Poetry Tattoo


[Photo via The Word Made Flesh]

The first time I met Allen Ginsberg was around 1991, when I was an undergrad at Carnegie Mellon. We had been studying Howl and he came to read. I was young and awestruck while standing in a small auditorium watching this crazy old guy with a big beard chanting “ohhhh, suck tit, suck tit, suck cock suck cock, suck clit, suck prick but don’t smoke nicotine.” He was dancing around like a loon and banging two sticks together. I remember giggling and thinking, “so THIS is higher education”. Afterwards he signed a book … Read More

Allen Parle En Francais

Most people are aware of Jack Kerouac’s French-speaking background. In 1967, he appeared on the French service of the Canadian Broadcasting Service on the program Le Sel de la Semaine, interviewed by Fernand Seguin,

but perhaps less well-known is Allen’s more-than-serviceable French. Here in this rare clip from Jean Michel Humea’s 1965 movie Viva Dada, he can be heard discussing the relationship of poetry and drugs. The interview takes place at the Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris, standing alongside him is a surprisingly quiet Gregory Corso.

Gregory’s delightful Italian may be sampled here

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Friends and Colleagues Remember Allen

[Larry Rivers, Jack Kerouac, David Amram, Allen Ginsberg, & Gregory Corso (in hat), during the filming of Pull My Daisy. c. John Cohen, courtesy L Parker Stephenson Photographs]

In today’s Guardian, Hermione Hoby has collected some entertaining accounts from Joyce Johnson, John Allen Cassady, Steven Taylor and Anne Waldman, memories of Allen, that can be read here on the Guardian site.… Read More

Jay Landesman (1920-2011)

[Jay Landesman]

Jay Landesman died this past week in London, aged 91. Here’s James Campbell, writing in The Boston Review about Landesman’s seminal (sic) magazine, Neurotica:

“The closest there was to a beat magazine (thought it could only be seen that way in retrospect) in the late 1940s and early ’50s was a slim, eccentric journal whose contributors moved among the bases of art, sex, and neuroticism… Ginsberg’s first contribution to a magazine with a nationwide circulation appeared in Neurotica 6 (Spring 1950), by which time the magazine had adopted a furtive beat identity. Ginsberg’s brief “Song: Fie My Fum” … Read More

Faulty Memory Syndrome – A Note on an Interview with Jacques Barzun

Jacques Barzun, man of letters, fixer.

We were glancing over an old (more than 10-years-old) interview we stumbled upon with scholar/teacher/cultural historian Jacques Barzun The Man Who Knew Too Much. It appeared in October 2000 in the Austin Chronicle and can be read in its entirety here.

Interviewer: Since you were in Columbia in the Fifties, you were also at the center of the Beats, since they all went there.

Jacques Barzun:

Allen Ginsberg was a student of Lionel (Trilling)’s 
and of mine, not in our joint course (a seminal “great books” 
seminar), but separately. But we joined together to save him
 from the penalties of … Read More

Researching, Prepping…

[Tom Sturridge at the Beat Museum, San Francisco. photo courtesy Beat Museum]

Tom Sturridge, the young actor, on playing the part of Allen in the up-coming On The Road movie: 

“Yeah, it was one of the most.., I mean it was most, challenging thing I’ve ever done, it was extraordinary, but fortunately he, unlike a lot of the rest of them, had a lot of recently-published material, so, for example, there is the Book of Martyrdom and Artifice), which is his childhood poetry and diaries, and his letters to Jack, and his letters to Neal, and so there is a

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Allen Ginsberg on Penn Sounds

Allen Ginsberg’s page on the incomparable audio archive PennSound has just been updated with a newly-segmented 1971 recording (from the reel-to-reel collection of Robert Creeley)

As Michael S Hennessey at PennSound Daily points out:

Creeley’s scant notations on the tape indicate the location of these recordings as San Francisco’s Intersection for the Arts in August 1971, and it appears, from Ginsberg’s comments, that these sixteen tracks were part of two, or perhaps three, readings with the split coming between tracks 11 and 12. The final track, an excerpt from “Howl, Part I” has a different sonic character than the reset

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Friday’s Weekly Round-Up 12


Allen and Jack – The Letters

Ellen Pearlman‘s recent review of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters in the current Brooklyn Rail, reminded us again (as if we needed reminding!) of the centrality and importance of that book. We noted it here last year, both pre-publication, Publisher’s Weekly, and post-publication (a whole slew of reviews, seven in fact, including two in the New York Times!). Amplifying that link that leads you to those reviews, here’s links to a whole bunch more.  Michael Dirda’s review in The Washington Post can be found here. Donald Faulkner for the … Read More

Jerry Aronson, Johanna Demetrakas and Alex Gibney

All of this talk about Howl (and rightly so) but let us not forget, arguably, the film on Allen, Jerry Aronson’s 1994 award-winning documentary, The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg just re-issued a few years back as a deluxe two-disc set that includes loads of goodies, interviews, with the likes of Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono, Bono, rare footage, out-takes etc., six hours of newly updated and previously-unseen footage. Here’s a recent interview with Jerry talking about the making of that film, along with with some curious insights into how he finally decided on the film’s format. It’s bookended … Read More


Right now in Jim’s Coffee House in downtown, Elyria, Ohio, an attempt is being made on the world-record for a marathon, non-stop, poetry-reading. “Snoetry 2: A World Record Winter Wordfest — 150 Hours of Poetry”, organized by Diane Borsenik and her poetry partner John Burroughs (no relation!), began last Wednesday, and is scheduled to go on through till Tuesday, just before mid-night, in an attempt to break the record of 120 hours, set last April by Kansas City’s redoubtable Prospero’s Books.

What pleases us is that Dianne Borsenik’s reading of the complete Howl kicked off the event. … Read More