May Day. May Day. Revolution in the air. We welcome today this guest posting from Czech Beat scholar and Allen’s good friend, Josef Rauvolf
The King of May Revisited
When, on May the first, 1965, a thirty-nine-year-old Allen Ginsberg drove through the streets of Prague, observing the atmosphere in the crowded streets and in the park, where later the celebration and elections would take place, he definitely had good reason to feel elated. As the students’ candidate for Kral Majales, (King of May), he could, reasonably confidently, count on being elected.
Actually, he was already King of Prague. In the … Read More
“The membrane between poetry and“song,” as we think of it in 2017, has always been flimsy and permeable; once all poems were songs. Ginsberg’s weird, wobbly singing [in “The Complete Songs of Innocence and Experience” CD] is sometimes dissonant, but it gets at something essential to Blake’s work. It’s as good a narration of the phases of a life as I can think of..”
Might we recommend, as a holiday gift, this holiday…?
The re-release of Allen’s William Blake … Read More
MR: What’s a nice Jewish boy like you doing with all of the Christian metaphors and analogies?. It’s just “Christ,” “Jesus, “”the Church”, “Crucifixtion”…
AG: Well, what I’ve been talking (except to the reference to St John of the Cross) has mostly been formal Buddhist dharma, which is a perception of the Universe as transient, in the sense of.. The basic.. first basic thing is – all the constituents of being are transitory. So that’s why I’ve … Read More
Today is an historic day. The 60th anniversary of the landmark Free Speech verdict. On this day in 1957, Judge Clayton Horn declared that “Howl” was not obscene.
As he announced:
“I do not believe that “Howl” is without redeeming social importance. The first part of “Howl” presents a picture of a nightmare world; the second part is an indictment of those elements in modern society destructive of the best qualities of human nature; such elements are predominantly identified as materialism, conformity, and mechanization leading toward war. The third part presents a picture of an individual who is … Read More
Salman Rushdie, describing a moment, in 1989 in New York, in protective custody, following the issuing of the notorious fatwa that followed on the publication of his novel, The Satanic Verses
“I spent that day in a fourteenth-floor suite with at least twenty armed men. The windows were blocked by bullet-proof mattresses. Outside the door were more armed men with Schwarzenegger-sized muscles and weaponry. In this suite I had a series of meetings which must remain secret, except perhaps for one. I was able to meet with the poet Allen Ginsberg for twenty minutes.The moment he arrived, he pulled cushions … Read More
[Allen Ginsberg at his 1973 Glasgow Press Conference]
We featured here last week, Allen’s interview in 1973 in Scottish International. Featured today is a companion piece from The Glasgow Review (drawing from the same press conference). The piece was initially titled “Of Burns and Watergate” (referring to the two main topics).
Interviewer; What do you think of the present state of the Watergate affair?
AG: Well what the underground both in America and England have been saying for a long time now has become accepted currency in the minds of the above-ground, middle-class media. The specific conceptions that are … Read More
“The Collector of Customs, Chester MacPhee, confiscated 520 copies [of Howl ] because, as he said, “The words and the sense of the writing is obscene…you wouldn’t want your children to come across it.” U.S. Customs Law required a Federal Judge, upon application of the U.S. Attorney, to grant permission to destroy the books. But, as [City Lights publisher, … Read More
Allen and Philip Glass‘s 1990 interview with Studs Terkel (see here and here) concludes with Terkel offering Allen an open platform to “go off” on “anything of his choice”. Allen takes full advantage, listing the dangerous turn to censorship and repression in contemporary America circa 1990 (his “cautionary footnote”, as Terkel describes it, is a snapshot of a moment, but still reads chillingly, and regrettably, continuingly, pertinent in the light of present times.)
ST: Al, I thought we’d go off open-endedly, as they used to say in the … Read More