Great news! – Omnivore Recordings, and Pat Thomas, (who gave us last year the extraordinary The Last Word on First Blues), are issuing, as a two-CD package, Allen Ginsberg’s The Complete Songs Of Innocence And Experience, is both a reissue of Allen’s original Blake release from 1969 on MGM, with the unreleased 1971 recording sessions that were to be Blake Volume 2. The release will include, along with the two CDs, a booklet featuring several unseen photos, alongside revealing new interviews, conducted by Thomas himself, with the original session musicians. Release-date is June 23.
We’ve featured some of our good friend Ben Schafer’s memories of Allen before on The Allen Ginsberg Project. Always real and unpretentious, he’s almost as good a story-teller as he is editor. Editor of the Herbert Huncke Reader, his current post at Da Capo Press is the focus of his interview here – interviewed by a talking-dog, no less! – on The Steve Wright Show. Ginsberg-content comes at the very end of the interview around twenty-two minutes in.
A new version of Hydrogen Jukebox? – Well, not so very new, but this weekend’s production by the TriCities Opera Company (Binghamton) breaks some new ground – “While the opera was originally written as a series of unconnected songs, Stage Director Alison Moritz has written acting scenes that pull the pieces together into a single narrative using more of Ginsberg’s verse. She has set it in his East Village apartment on the day of his death as he welcomes friends, recalls scenes from his past and even has dreams and delusion”. Local actor, Bill Gorman portrays Allen. The staging is also unconventional with Ginsberg’s apartment in the middle of the hall and the audience in bleacher seating on either side. The opera will also be performed next weekend.
National Poetry Month here in America. Belated notice of the news that the great (pre-eminent) translator of Chinese and Japanese poetry into English ( – into American) – (and noted Columbia University alumnus) – Burton Watson died (in Japan in his home) earlier this month. (April 1st, to be precise). He was ninety-one.
For further memories and obituary notices, from friends and admirers, of a key figure in East-West transmission – see here