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
“The Last Word on First Blues is as essential to an understanding of Ginsberg as his Collected Poems, and just as much fun. The set also shows that those who only know Ginsberg as a poet of the printed word ans not also as a performer of the spoken word know him merely by half”
[Kaddish (50th Anniversary edition), Allen painted by Naomi, Allen & Naomi]
Allen’s classic poem “Kaddish” has been featured on several occasions on The Allen Ginsberg Project (notably here, here, here and here). Today, we’re doing so again.
Today’s version (noticeably missing Part II) – (low-, but nonetheless serviceable, fidelity) is from a recording included in the Robert Creeley collection (the collection of audio tapes bequeathed by the Estate) currently available on the University of Pennsylvania’s unparalleled PennSound site.
The tape, as UPenn’s curators inform us, “appears to have been recorded at the Creeley’s home … Read More
Roger Domani founded the politically engaged Théâtre de Poche in Brussels (Belgium) in 1951. Allen was on hand in 1976 for the 25-year celebration. The Théâtre de Poche had famously produced a stage adaptation of his Kaddish in 1967
[Stage Nudity – The Living Theatre – Paradise Now, 1967]
Allen is seen (and heard) here chanting – “AH” – and making the following declaration:
What seems strange and shocking perhaps in 1945 or (19)55 seems usable, workable now as, for instance, a few years ago, twenty years ago, we all had the dream of people naked on stage, … Read More
AG: I don’t know if Reggie (Ray) went over the Bodhisattva vows – all four? – did he? (I think he went over three or something) but I’ll go over it once (not as Buddhism, but just as ordinary mind thoughts, the sort of thoughts that you’d have as a kid, or that you’d find expressed in (Jack) Kerouac or in (Percy Bysshe) Shelley. Remember we began with Shelley’s, the end of, “(Ode to) the West Wind” – “Drive my dead thoughts over the universe/ Like withered leaves to quicken a new … Read More
AG: “Kaddish”, (which is a long poem, celebrated, and it’s supposed to be sort of a kind of terrible masterpiece), is really just writing what I hadn’t been taking into account. Just a release of particulars that may have occured to me at one time or another but I never particularly strung together and made any kind of coherent exhibition of (to myself, or others). So it was a recognition of feelings that I had to(ward) my mother, as well as images. When I wrote down that line – “with your belly … Read More
The climax of that method (applying Abstract Expressionist techniques to poetics) is a poem called “Europe” by John Ashbery, which was published in Big Table in 1961 or so, and then reprinted often, because it was his attempt completely to dissociate the language from representation, and to make something like (Willem) de Kooning, or Jackson Pollock, Jackson Pollock more, with a scattering of words on the page arranged in an odd way, floating around on the page, so that you would not be able to join the words. You’d have … Read More
A couple of weekends ago, we featured Allen’s 1995 rendition of “Howl” (recorded at the Knitting Factory in New York) as part of an intensive week of performance (it was Allen’s intention to read comprehensively through his entire corpus). Today, we feature another reading from that engagement – a reading of his other (“Contest of Bards”, notwithstanding) major epic poem – Kaddish.
Once again we are indebted to the extraordinary Ubuweb
Allen’s introduction to Kaddish on that occasion is here
“So this is an extensive poem. I’m not sure about the time, probably about half an hour – … Read More