Terry Gross. 1987 in the studio on NPR’s “Fresh Air”
“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn, looking for an angry fix”
TG: Allen Ginsberg, reading his now classic poem “Howl”. Ginsberg was a cultural hero to several generations. He was one of the leading Beat poets in the (19)50’s, in the (19)60’s he was an icon of the counterculture, through the (19)70’s and (19)80’s, he continued to write and to explore Eastern religions. By the (19)90’s, he was an inspiration to up-and-coming … Read More
“America, I am the Scottsboro Boys“, Allen famously declared in one of the many memorable lines in his classic 1956 poem, America. This past November 21 (last Thursday) the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles granted (some eighty years later!) posthumous pardons clearing the last of the group of nine black youths wrongly scapegoated and imprisoned for allegedly raping two white women. The case, one of the key cases in American jurisprudence, had immense consequences (it was fought all the way up to the Supreme Court) and was a crucial and important milestone in the development of the … Read More
Introducing the Holy Litany Project. M.L.Kejara and Akina Rahman Khan hit upon the interesting idea of perhaps updating Allen’s classic “America” for the 21st Century. They’re sending out an open call (0n Facebook) for new lines, new strophes – “We will try to emulate Ginsberg’s style..and update his work with our burning thoughts (contemporary thoughts) expressed in our own words.”…”Issues like the Zimmerman trial, environmentalism, gay marriage, legalization of marijuana, healthcare, information-privacy etc”, could, they suggest, “be best communicated by poetry, in the way that Ginsberg voiced his own frustrations (in the ’50s) in (the poem) “America”..”..”The (new)
We featured this past July 4, Allen’s still-surprisingly-relevant 1956 poem, “America”. Here’s Moroccan poet & scholar, El Habib Louai‘s, Arabic translation. He is currently working to translate Allen’s complete collected poems into Arabic.
America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.
America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956.
I can’t stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb
I don’t feel good don’t bother me.
I won’t write my poem till I’m in my right mind.
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
America when will … Read More
[Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky – “A.G & P.O. 5 Turner Terrace, Potrero Hill Housing Project, Peter’s kitchen, hot summer day 1956.” (Allen Ginsberg Caption) – Photograph c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]
Well, it’s a whole seven days later, but we couldn’t resist alerting you to the Doug Ireland skewered review of Steve Finbow’s bio (mostly for the clear, where-to-begin, response by Our Allen‘s Steve Silberman – thanks Steve, for setting the record straight! – or, rather, keeping the record queer!) – see also comments by Jim Cohn and others in the (in this case, essential) “Comments” section following Ireland’s, … Read More