William Blake (The Four Zoas)

William Blake – The Four Zoas – from an illustration in Milton – A Poem (1804-1810)

We begin this week serialization of another of Allen’s Naropa classes – his 1979 lectures on William Blake. Today, a few preliminaries.

The initial tapes have a number of technical difficulties. As original transcriber Randy Roark explains:

“The tape machine malfunctions throughout this recording. A mechanical hum, sounding like a short in the microphone or recorder itself, interferes with the recording, which alternately comes in clearly.  The tape is labelled “Intro to Blake — Vala” — but almost none of this remains.”

Notwithstanding….… Read More

Lafcadio Orlovsky Recording

Lafcadio and Peter Orlovsky, August 1995 – photo: Allen Ginsberg

A quick note in preparation for some upcoming William Blake postings (it was announced recently by the Tate, incidentally, that, in September of 2019, through to February, 2020, they’re planning a major comprehensive William Blake exhibition)

January 1979, Allen is in New York with Peter Orlovsky and his brother, Lafcadio, on his way to Boulder, Colorado (to Naropa) to teach Blake.

The audio record is flawed (in several places), but it begins here – with Allen reciting Blake’ s charming  “My Pretty Rose Tree”, a cappella, and … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 373

[Allen Ginsberg – photo: Ira Cohen –  1978, from Ira Cohen & Carolina Gosselin’s “Bandaged Poets” Series]

Jeff Tamarkin reviews the Craft Recordings Howl box-set for Relix – here (For his review of The Complete Songs of Innocence and Experience – see here)

Eddie Woods, Amsterdam legend, remembers Allen in an extended interview on Dutch television (Kieurnet Television) – vid from back in 1997 – (nice to hear shout-outs to Simon Vinkenoog, Ira Cohen – and Benn Posset!)

This coming Sunday (July 8) in Los Angeles at Beyond Baroque – “Kerouac on Record”, “part conversation, part reading, … Read More

“Senior Citizen Old Boy Joy”

[Peter Orlovsky – Photograph by Allen Ginsberg, New York City, 1995]

Here’s another sliver from the Archives – Allen (on an airplane maybe?) composing directly onto the tape-recorder, a poignant little ditty, (audio – 78 at Stanford – from, as Allen duly informs us, 1992) – “For Peter Orlovsky in Rain” (but surely that’s a mistranscription? – shouldn’t it be “For Peter Orlovsky in Pain“?)

AG: “It’s recording I guess. I don’t know but I suppose it’s recording.  What time is it now? It’s about nine o’clock and it’s the 11th of March, 1992, and I’m preparing this … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 371 (Gay Pride)

[The original rainbow flag designed, in 1978, by Gilbert Baker]

Gay Pride in San Francisco and New York this weekend


Allen Ginsberg interviewed on Stonewall Nation, (WBFO-FM, SUNY, Buffalo), October 6, 1978, by Alex Van Oss and Al Hershberger (recording courtesy the incomparable PennSound)

AVO: You’ve been out as gay for so many years. Were you ever in the closet?

AG: I was, very much so, in Columbia, when I was going to school, at first, the first year. I was afraid somebody would find out, actually, and I never.. didn’t want to tip my mitt … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 368

June 3 – this Sunday – is Allen’s birthday. To celebrate the Howl Happening Gallery in New York City has organized once again it’s now-annual event.  This year it features David Amram, Ed Sanders, Hettie Jones, Eileen Myles, Simon Pettet, and Peter Hale (manager of the Ginsberg Estate), amongst others. The event will be hosted and m-c’d   by Ginsberg’s “right hand man“, his long-time secretary, the poet Bob Rosenthal (whose long-awaited memoir, Straight Around Allen, is due out this Fall). There’ll be a film presentation, and an energetic group-reading of “Howl” (“I saw … Read More

Peter Orlovsky

[Peter Orlovsky age 21. We drove down to Los Gatos to visit Cassady family myself at wheel that one only time and motored to Yosemite. Car cost $125.00. Summer 1955. (photo by Allen Ginsberg, courtesy Stanford University Libraries/Allen Ginsberg)]

Allen’s partner, Peter Orlovsky, passed away on this day eight years ago, May 30, 2010. Gone, but certainly not forgotten.

Here’s what Allen wrote as back-cover copy for Peter’s legendary 1978 City Lights volume, Clean Asshole Poems And Smiling Vegetable Songs, a book which, if you don’t have, you should really try to seek out:

“First harvest of 1958-1978 eternal … Read More

Allen Ginsberg 1982 Leicester Student Interview

Last week, we featured transcription from a tape in the Stanford University Archives that featured an interview with Jack Kerouac’s childhood friend (and Allen’s friend) jazz aficiando, Seymour Wyse. This week, from the same tape, the conversation is followed by an interview with an earnest young English student (presumably an undergraduate at Leicester University, prior to the reading Allen gave there with Steven Taylor and Peter Orlovsky in the Fall of 1982 – at one point in the transcript, Allen breathlessly itemizes his itinerary)

Interviewer (Student):  Do you make recordings of all your work?

AG:  Not all, but I have … Read More

Seymour Wyse

[Seymour Wyse, Horace Mann School, 1940 (courtesy of Dave Moore)]  

Returning to the extraordinary trove of tapes of Allen now in the archives at Stanford University, here’s a recently-discovered gem – Allen, in 1981, at Leicester University, in Englandin conversation with the figure who turned on the young  Jack Kerouac to a rich and life-long appreciation of jazz,  his old Horace Mann schoolmate – Seymour Wyse. 

Edie Parker Kerouac (remembering Seymour Wyse, in Boulder, the following year) : “Yeah and he used to scat, and he and Jack used to do this together. And the first time, … Read More

Compositional Practice – (Sustained Attention – 1)

Allen Ginsberg, at Naropa, from 1980, continuing with his lecture on Basic Poetics

AG: So, working last night reminded me of something that I hadn’t tried formulating, or vocalizing, which is that to write a work of genius, of any density and thickness and length (except for the little ditties and brilliant pieces that you can write right off, spontaneously, little short poignant things like that “On Neal’s Ashes”, which are, little poignant poems, which everybody has written of their own), the situation arising where you actually get involved in a work and sit continuously at it for twelve, … Read More