Instigating the Howl Trial – March 25, 1957

Sixty years ago today, the US Customs, in the person of Collector of Customs, Chester MacPhee, confiscated five-hundred-and-twenty copies of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”  – a pivotal moment  

From Bill Morgan‘s  Howl on Trial – The Battle for Free Expression:

“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

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 299

The Best Minds of My Generation – Very pleased to announce a new Allen Ginsberg publication (due out in April)  from Grove Press – “A Literary History of the Beats” –  (“A unique and compelling history of the Beats, in the words of the movements most central member, Allen Ginsberg, based on a seminal series of his lectures”), edited, (as judiciously and informatively as ever), by Beat scholar, and our good friend, Bill Morgan

From the Grove Press web-site:

“In 1977, twenty years after the publication of his landmark poem “Howl” and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, Allen Ginsberg … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 295

howl-and-kaddish

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[Two early French editions from 10/18, Editions Christian Bourgois]

 

The European Beat Studies Network’s 2017 Annual Conference, the sixth, (this past year (2016), it was held in Manchester, England), will have a decidedly Francophile bent this coming year – “Paris Interzone – The Transcultural Beat Generation (Collaboration, Edition, Translation)”.

From the announcement by the conference organizers:

“This year’s conference will honor and address the key role that the French capital and Francophone cultures have played in the transculturalism of the Beats, by welcoming submissions in both French and English and holding a plenary session on language barriers and … Read More

Michael McClure’s Mephistos

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[Michael McClure, Mephistos & Other Poems, City Lights Books, November 2016]

Michael McClure‘s new book of poems has just been released by City Lights:    “A landmark work of bio-romanticism, Mephistos and Other Poems is (McClure’s) first completely new collection in five years…. The title sequence, “Mephistos” stems from (his) ongoing “grafting” experiment, growing new poems from fragments of his older works. “Some Fringes: is a series of haiku-like nature poems, while the seventeen-part “Rose Breaths” derives from the poet’s practice of meditation. The freestanding poems grouped under the title “Being:” pay homage to many of McClure’s collaborators and fellow … Read More

Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s Birthday

Lawrence Ferlinghetti of City Lights book shop  

 [Lawrence Ferlinghetti – Photograph by Barry J Holmes]

An article in The (London) Observer last month on San Francisco and the alarming effects of the dot.com boom, “Is San Francisco losing its soul?” paid the obligatory visit to Lawrence Ferlinghetti – “He complains of a soulless group of people, a “new breed” of men and women too busy with iPhones to “be here” in the moment, and shiny new Mercedes Benzs on his street…”It’s totally shocking to see Silicon Valley take over the city.” says Ferlinghetti who still rents in North Beach. “San Francisco is rapidly changing and … Read More

Friday Weekly Round-Up – 168

[Allen Ginsberg in drag – from Pickup’s Tricks,  Gregory Pickup’s 1973 documentary about the legendary exploits of the San Francisco drag-performance group, The Cockettes (this footage is also included in Bill Weber & David Weismann’s 2002 feature-length movie)]

March madness. Ginsberg silliness. It’s not April Fools Day yet, but will be soon.  First off, Exploitation Corner – more bizarre, inappropriate items, starting with.. 

Surely what the world needs! – an  “Allen Ginsberg  Luggage Tag” ! The same company offers an “I heart howls [sic] Reusable Shopping Bag”  I heart howls Reusable Shopping Bag (presumably for those moments of “hungry fatigue” when you find yourself … Read More

Allen Ginsberg June 1986 Radio Interview

City Lights put up (as a podcast, on-line) earlier this summer, an interview (a phone-interview) with Allen, dating from the mid-1980’s, the (Ronald) Reagan era, (June 2 1986, in fact, the day before Allen’s 60th birthday!). We thought to shine some more light on it, to feature it this weekend.  Here follows a transcription.  Allen, with the two interviewers, Walter Isgro, and another, un-named, (the context being a visit to the state of Maine), discuss poetic history, censorship, art, education, politics (both global and local) and Allen and the Beats as representatives of a tradition, the tradition of … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 132

[Allen Ginsberg’s very last photograph (1997), taken from his loft at 404 East 14th Street, New York City (and featured in the show 404 East 14, currently on exhibit at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York)]

[Composite view of the bookshelves in Allen’s loft – Photograph c. The Estate of Allen Ginsberg (for a large composite panoramic view of the loft see here)]

[Allen Ginsberg – pencil drawing, by his upstairs neighbor Larry Rivers (another inhabitant of 404 East 14th – and likewise featured in the current Tibor de Nagy show)]

404 East 14th Street,

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Spontaneous Poetics – 93 (Philip Lamantia – 2)

[The Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia – edited by Garrett Caples, Andrew Joron & Nancy Joyce Peters (with a foreward by Lawrence Ferlinghetti) forthcoming from the University of California Press, this summer]

AG: I want to read you one or two other short poems of his [Philip Lamantia‘s]

Student: What was that (last) one?

AG: That’s called “There is this distance between me and what I see” (on page 6o of Selected Poems by Philip Lamantia, City Lights, published in (19)67 – they’re his main poems up to 1966, and I put it in the Naropa library, … Read More

Spontaneous Poetics – 92 (Philip Lamantia – 1

[Philip Lamantia – from the cover of his book Narcotica, published by Auerhahn Press, San Francisco, 1959]

Allen Ginsberg’s Spontaneous and Improvised Poetics class (sic) held at Naropa Insitute, July 7, 1976 continues – [note from original transcriber, Randy Roark, “the recording is recorded a great distance from the speaker, which accounts for some of the difficulty obtaining a complete and accurate description” – however…]

AG: So I’ve been using as texts..various modern poets. So, where I left off, in terms of formation of lines on the page and the litany form of the poem.. (So), picking up

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