“Theatrics” During the Vietnam War

Allen Ginsberg on William Blake continues

AG: “That the Poetic Genius is the true Man. and that the body or outward form of Man is dervied from the Poetic Genius” (William Blake) –  “…it’s just a very simple point that he’s saying, (which) is that anything, any life lived, is lived according to the interpretation of the guy who’s living.  In that sense, “Poetic Genius”.  In that sense, poetic.  Poesis is making.  Actually “poet” means “maker”, interestingly enough. The root, etymologically, of “poetry” is “making”.  So, it’s like the universe is what we make up.  So … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 375

The Beat Scene – Photographs by Burt Glenn – edited by Tony Nourmand and Michael Shulman (with an essay by Jack Kerouac), a dazzling portfolio of images shot between 1957 and 1960,  both in New York and San Francisco – close up, contemporaneous, and at the heart of the Beat phenomenon – has just recently (just this month) been published by Reel Art Press.

From the publishers’ notice:

“This magnificent volume features a remarkable collection of largely unseen photographs of the Beat Generation by renowned Magnum photographer Burt Glinn. This amazing, untouched treasure trove of images was … Read More

May Day (Kral Majales)

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

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up -346

[Allen Ginsberg in the studio, recording William Blake’s “Songs of Innocence and Experience”]

Amanda Petrusich, writing in The New Yorker

“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

Allen Ginsberg 1974 San Francisco tv Interview – “I Believe” – part 2

continuing from yesterday – (transcript of Allen Ginsberg and Father Mike S Riley’s 1974 conversation picks up approximately sixteen-and-a-half minutes in)

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

60th Anniversary of the Howl Verdict

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

Allen Ginsberg, Salman Rushdie, & Meditation

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

The 1973 Glasgow Review Interview

 [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

1974 – Scottish International Interview

[Allen Ginsberg – Photograph(s) by Ian Dryden]

We’ve previously featured here footage from Allen’s 1973 visit to Scotland     ( a reading for the Center for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow). We also featured some grainy footage (and some transcription from his press conference). Here (with some duplication) is the interview that appeared in Scottish International, September 1973. Allen, as a note in the magazine reveals, had been visiting with Chogyam Trungpa (in exile then in Scotland)  and the Buddhist community at Samye Ling monastery at Eskdalemuir, near Dumfries, as well as giving readings and traveling around.  He had also taken time … Read More

1967- Ginsberg-Corso-Berryman at Spoleto

The recordings of Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso (and of an unlikely third-party, John Berryman, at the 1967 Festival of Two Worlds (“Festival dei Due Mondi”) at Spoleto in Italy, organized by Gian Carlo Menotti is the focus of this weekend’s post

[Allen Ginsberg, Spoleto, 1967]

Allen’s reading (which was also subsequently featured in the recording Ginsberg’s Thing (1969)), was the subject at the time of some controversy.   As his biographer Bill Morgan explains:

“The police in Spoleto seemed to be waiting for him and they picked up copies of the Italian translation of his poem “Who Be Kind Read More