Wednesday, December 16, 2009

WS Burroughs: The Junky's Christmas

This got us all in the holiday spirit…

[The video and information for this is now available here 

Laki Vazakas's videos: Herbert Huncke, Charlie Plymell, Mary Beach and more

Laki Vazakas, has been posting his videos of the last 17 years that feature some of the beat generation's great unsung heroes & we can't thank him enough. There just isn't enough footage of any of these colorful personalities, so we jump at ever chance we get to see & hear them. Included in this pantheon are Herbert Huncke, Mary Beach (collagist, translator, editor, wife of Claude Pelieu and so much more) Charles Plymell (old friend of Allen's since they roomed together with Neal Cassady in 1963), and that's just for starters. We'll get you going with Herbert Huncke at Cafe Nico, NYC in 1994.

And an interview with Mary Beach....

And Janine Pommy Vega, poet friend of Allen & Peter since 1960, reading her poem 'Across the Table' at the Bowery Poetry Club, September 2003.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Interview with John Lofton 1989

We stumbled across this humorously puerile You Tube video-skit based on Allen's interview with the arch-conservative former Washington Times columnist John Lofton and couldn't resist posting. The You Tube page takes you to the full script of the interview on Beliefnet as it was printed in Harpers Magazine in January 1990 [or it did, the link, that particular link, no longer works], so we figured that we may as well just post the link here too, but with the caveat (and that's a huge caveat) that it's abridged and that the complete version is published in David Carter's meticulously transcribed and edited collection of Ginsberg interviews, Spontaneous Mind: Selected Interviews 1958-1996 (with an introduction by Vaclav Havel), which we can't recommend enough. David Carter points out that John Lofton wrote in 1999 that he'd wanted to interview Allen to "confront him with the Truth of God's Word." He also points out the first transcription was done by Lofton himself.

From HARPER'S MAGAZINE, January 1990, Readings
[Reprinted from "The Puritan and The Profligate," an interview with Allen Ginsberg in the December issue of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture , published in Rockford, Illinois. The interview was conducted by John Lofton, a former columnist for The Washington Times.]
JOHN LOFTON: In the first section of your poem "Howl" you wrote: "I saw the best young minds of my generation destroyed by madness." Did this also apply to you?
ALLEN GINSBERG: That's not an accurate quotation. I said the "best minds," not "the best young minds." This is what is called hyperbole, an exaggerated statement, sort of a romantic statement. I suppose it could apply to me too, or anybody. People who survived and became prosperous in a basically aggressive, warlike society are in a sense destroyed by madness. Those who freaked out and couldn't make it, or were traumatized, or artists who starved, or whatnot, they couldn't make it either. It kinda cuts both ways. There's an element of humor there.
LOFTON: When you say you suppose this could have applied to you, does this mean you don't know if you are mad?
GINSBERG: Well, who does? I mean everybody is a little mad.

full interview

Monday, December 14, 2009

Village Voice Clip Job - Congress Drops Acid with Allen Ginsberg

These Village Voice 'Clipjob' posting are and endless source of entertainment these days, and a real reminder of how some things have changed, while others haven't.

"Congress Drops Acid with Allen Ginsberg" covers Allen's 1966 testimony to a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on his own experiences with LSD in an attempt to dispel government disinformation that was proliferating at the time.

"I'm here to tell you about my personal experiences," he began softly, "and am worried that without sufficient understanding and sympathy for personal experience laws will be passed that are so rigid that they will cause more harm than the new LSD that they try to regulate."

read full clip >>

Friday, December 11, 2009

Aaron Sinift's 5 Year Plan

Sinift's refreshingly sensible art project uses jhola bags made from "khadi" - that handmade cotton based cloth common to Indian rural villages, and essentially the backbone of Gandhi's self sufficiency program - transforming art into the practical, while employing villagers, funding Doctors Without Borders, and offering art patrons & collectors something as well. His literary supplement includes something from one of Allen's more obscure books Luminous Dreams (1997 Zasterle Press, Gran Canaria), long out of print.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Poetry Project offering Kate Simon Prints of WS Burroughs/36th Annual New Years Day Marathon Reading

[Kate Simon. WS Burroughs no. 7. c. Kate Simon]

Kate Simon has donated twelve different prints of William S. Burroughs to the Poetry Project to help them raise funds for a potentially huge rent increase they're facing at St Mark's Church. Simon photographed Burroughs from 1975 until his death in 1997. Each print is signed by Simon with a description of the scene and the year taken in her script.

They are offering one Simon print of your choice for the purchase of a Patron Membership ($1,000 or above) or any donation above $1,000. This is definitely hands down a rare opportunity for you to own an original work of art. For more information email them at or Check their site for more info and a list of prints >>

And of course if you're like a lot of us, and can't shell out 1k for Poetry Project support, there's always the Annual New Year's Day Marathon Benefit Reading (if yr in the NYC area) For a mere $18, you get a few poems from each of those listed below, and plenty to drink and eat (well, those last two cost extra). We're on the 36th one now! and it's a guaranteed heap of fun!

36th Annual New Year’s Day Marathon Benefit Reading
Friday January 1, 2010
2:00 pm - ?

Poets and performers this year include Ammiel Alcalay, Bruce Andrews & Sally Silvers, Penny Arcade, Arthur’s Landing, Ari Banias, Jim Berhle, Charles Bernstein, Anselm Berrigan, Edmund Berrigan, Ana Bozicevic, Donna Brook, Michael Brownstein, Franklin Bruno, Tyler Burba, Peter Bushyeager, Reuben Butchart, Callers, Yoshiko Chuma, Church Of Betty, Michael Cirelli, Todd Colby, John Coletti, CAConrad, Brenda Coultas, Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle, Mónica de la Torre, Mina Pam Dick, Steve Dalachinsky, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, Maggie Dubris, Douglas Dunn, Marcella Durand, Steve Earle, Will Edmiston, Joe Elliot, Christine Elmo, Laura Elrick, Maggie Estep, Avram Fefer, Jess Fiorini, Corrine Fitzpatick, Foamola, David Freeman, Ed Friedman, Greg Fuchs, Joanna Furhman, Cliff Fyman, Kelly Ginger, Pepi Ginsberg, John Giorno, John Godfrey, Toby Goodshank, Nada Gordon & Gary Sullivan, Stephanie Gray, Ted Greenwald, Tim Griffin, Miguel Gutierrez, John S. Hall, Janet Hamill, Robert Hershon, Tony Hoffman, Lisa Jarnot, Paolo Javier, Patricia Spears Jones, Pierre Joris, Adeena Karasick, Erica Kaufman, Lenny Kaye, John Kelly, Aaron Kiely, David Kirschenbaum, Bill Kushner & Merle Lister, Susan Landers, Joan Larkin, Dorothea Lasky, Denizé Lauture, Joel Lewis, Brendan Lorber, Michael Lydon, Kim Lyons, Dan Machlin & Serena Jost, Judith Malina, Filip Marinovich, Chris Martin, Gillian McCain, Legs McNeil, Tracey McTague, Taylor Mead, Jonas Mekas, Sharon Mesmer, David Mills, Rebecca Moore, Tracie Morris, Will Morris, Eileen Myles, Elinor Nauen, Murat Nemat-Nejat, Jim Neu, Geoffrey Olsen, Dael Orlandersmith, Richard O’Russa, Yuko Otomo, Gary Parrish, Simon Pettet, Nicole Peyrafitte & Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Kristin Prevallet, Brett Price, Arlo Quint, Elizabeth Reddin, Evelyn Reilly, Ariana Reines, Citizen Reno, Bob Rosenthal, Douglas Rothschild, Tom Savage, Michael Scharf, David Shapiro, Frank Sherlock, Elliott Sharp, Nathaniel Siegel, Christopher Stackhouse, Stacy Szymaszek, Anne Tardos, Susie Timmons, Edwin Torres, Rodrigo Toscano’s Collapsible Poetics Theater, Tony Towle, David Vogen, Nicole Wallace, Lewis Warsh, Phyllis Wat, Simone White, Emily XYZ, Don Yorty, Rachel Zolf & more t.b.a.

This event will be held in the Sanctuary. General admission $18, Students & Seniors $15, Members $10.

Also, we apologize for swapping an e and an l in Rebecca Nagle’s surname!

Asia Society: Beats in India Symposium

In 2008, the Asia Society hosted a mini conference on the Beats in India, partly to celebrate the publication of Deborah Baker's book A Blue Hand that follows Allen, Gary Snyder, Joanne Kyger, Peter Orlovsky and the mysterious Hope Savage through India. The conference offered some lively debate on who influenced who, and the whole legacy of this first trip they all made back in 1961. This clip, produced by the Asia Society, is a full day simmered down to 5 mins, with playful jibes and comments from Gita Mehta reading from her book Karma Cola, Ed Sanders, Ginsberg biographer Bill Morgan, Steven Taylor, John Giorno, Joanne Kyger and Gary Snyder.

Old Pond

Allen with Peter Orlovsky on banjo, Steven Taylor guitar and all singing Allen's rendition of Basho's "Frog" Haiku at the Nova Convention, NYC, 1978.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Red Noir: Anne Waldman, Judith Malina & the Living Theatre

On December tenth, The Living Theatre will open a new - and bold - production: Red Noir. The play is written by poet Anne Waldman and directed by Judith Malina herself.

Red Noir
Greedy hands close a black market deal...
A glamorous detective pursues a corporate agent with a valise containing danger…
A rogue lab technician follows them with a valise containing hope...
A chorus of anarchists brings sanity and peace to a world of strife and struggle...

Red Noir was derived by poet Anne Waldman from the metaphors of film noir... it's a drama of technology, erotics, and politics.

An inspired Living Theatre cast works under the legendary direction of Judith Malina.

This is visionary theatre that lets the audience and players collaborate to defeat evil.

Red Noir runs December tenth through January 30
Wednesdays: pay what you can
Thursdays through Sundays: $20
(no show December 18)
previews December 7, 8, 9: pay what you can

The Living Theatre

Thursday, December 3, 2009

LOST & FOUND: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative

CUNY Professor Ammiel Alcalay has spearheaded a pretty ingenious idea, the the Lost & Found publication project, which is currently announcing it's first batch of booklets. It's an exciting project that looks set to bring into print materiel that would otherwise be too costly to make.

They're celebrating their inaugural series this Tuesday at the CUNY Grad Center in NYC, details below.

The Center for the Humanities invites you to celebrate the publication of
The Amiri Baraka/Edward Dorn Correspondence
The Kenneth Koch/Frank O’Hara Letters: Selections
Muriel Rukeyser: Darwin & the Writers
Philip Whalen’s Journals: Selections
Robert Creeley: Contexts of Poetry, with selections from Daphne Marlatt’s Journals
the inaugural chapbook series in
The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative

Tuesday December 8th, 2009
6:30 pm, Martin E. Segal Theatre
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street
New York City
Ammiel Alcalay
Readings and Presentations
Stefania Heim, Claudia Moreno Pisano, Josh Schneiderman, Brian Unger,
special guests David Henderson, Bill Berkson, and others
Books and drinks for all!
Lost & Found is a publication project emerging from archival and textual scholarship done by students at The Graduate Center, with the primary focus on writers falling under the rubric of the New American Poetry. Since accessibility to archival material proposes alternative, divergent and enriched versions of literary and cultural history, the Lost & Found initiative takes the New American rubric writ large, including the affiliated and unaffiliated, precursors and followers.

Some More YouTube Gems

Our friend, poet Simon Pettet (Hearth), has been scouring the web this last few weeks and tracked down some things we had no idea existed, others we'd forgotten.

First off is "The Ballad of the Skeletons," directed by Gus Van Sant, from 1996. This aired on MTVs buzz chart through the month of October during the last days Clinton/Dole presidential race. Tom Freston was wanting more politically engaged content for the days leading up to the election and had suggested Allen do a video for his Ballad of the Skeletons track he'd recorded with Paul McCartney, Lenny Kaye and Philip Glass. Allen enlisted Van Sant and this was the result:

We couldn't post the last without including Van Sant's great Burroughs collaboration "Thanksgiving Prayer" (a week late on this!)

Next up, a segment of Peter Whitehead's film Wholly Communion, the whole of which was floating online but has apparently been yanked. Something that desperately needs to be reissued, this documented the reading at Royal Albert Hall, London in June 1965. It included Harry Fainlight, Gregory Corso, Ernst Jandl, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Anselm Hollo, Andrei Voznesensky and many more. So, we're left with this tiny teaser of Allen reading "The Change: Kyoto-Tokyo Express." Unfortunately it comes in at the 13th Stanza of part II "Allen Ginsberg Says this: I am/a mass of sores and worms/&baldness & belly & smell/I am false Name the prey/of Yamantaka Devourer of/Strange Dreams, etc.."

And if you needed reminding you were looking at computer screen...

Oh, and heck, while were at it, why not listen to a little bit of Kerouac singing "Ain't We Got Fun"

Vocals: Jack Kerouac
Musicians: unknown
Recorded and mixed by Jerry Newman at Stereo Sound, circa late 1950’s.
Digitally transferred from original tapes by Sean Slade at Fort Apache.

Sundance Announces Schedule of Competition Films

[James Franco as Allen Ginsberg in film scene from “Howl.”]

After almost 8 years in the making, it's official: Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman's Howl film has been accepted to Sundance. Check here for complete listing of competition films >>

Yony Leyser's film Burroughs: A Man Within got accepted to Sundance's sister festival, Slamdance and will be premiering that first week as well. Here's a little teaser trailer to whet your appetites...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Andy Clausen

Andy Clausen & Allen met in Berkeley in 1968 and the two fast became friends. Allen was a huge fan of his poetic style and did what he could to get him published. Clausen was often a guest at Naropa as well as for Allen's Brooklyn College courses in the 80s and 90s. Some of his titles include 40th Century Man Selected Verse: 1996-1966 (Autonomedia) Without Doubt (Zeitgeist Press 1991), and Poems for the Nation: A Collection of Contemporary Political Poems (7 Stories Press, 1997) which he co-edited with Eliot Katz and Allen Ginsberg.

In Allen's own words, "Andy Clausen's character voice is heroic, a vox populi of the democratic unconscious, a "divine average" thinking workman persona. As "one of the rough," a Whitmanic laborer, precisely a union hodcarrier longstanding, his bardic populism's grounded on long years' painful sturdy experience earning family bread by the sweat of his brow. His comments on the enthusiastic sixties, defensive seventies, unjust eighties, and bullying nineties present a genuine authority in America not voiced much in little magazine print, less in newspapers of record, never in political theatrics through Oval Office airwaves. The expensive bullshit of government TV poetics suffers diminution of credibility placed side by side with Mr. Clausen's direct information and sad raw insight. Would he were, I'd take my chance on a President Clausen!" (Allen Ginsberg, Deliberate Prose Selected Essays 1952-1995 Harper Collins 2000)

Andy Clausen on Vladimir Mayakovsky at Naropa, August 1980 >>
Andy Clausen Reading with Philip Whalen and Anselm Hollo at Naropa, July 1980 >>

Monday, November 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Ted Berrigan

Ted Berrigan reading his poem "Whitman in Black" from Ron Mann's film Poetry In Motion (1982). Huge apologies this cuts of the very last three words (!) "...Whitman's walk unchanged after its fashion" but we gander its still worth a posting.

Village Voice Clip Job - Hanging With Ed Sanders

A little bit of history behind the Peace Eye Bookstore and Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts from The Village Voice archives.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Philip Glass & Patti Smith

Philip Glass and Patti Smith have been collaborating on various tributes to Allen through the years and fine tuning it along the way. This one from Lyon, Les Nuits de Fourvière 2009, June 2009, performing "Wichita Vortex Sutra" interspersed with interviews gives you a little taste.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ben Gibbard & Jay Farrar

As we'd mentioned last week in one of our posts, Death Cab for Cutie & Postal Service's Ben Gibbard along with Son Volt's Jay Farrar, teamed up to write twelve original tracks based on Kerouac's words from his novel Big Sur, for the film One Fast Move or I'm Gone. If ya haven't got the cd yet, here are a few streams to break you in.

NPR Music (Benjamin Gibbard & Jay Farrar live at the 9:30 Club, Washington DC for All Songs Considered)

KCRW's Today's Top Tune: Breathe Our Iodine

and a little more press on the project and what it's all about....

"Jack Kerouac was a literary rock star, lionized by his fans. He was called the avatar of the Beat Movement, a new voice of his generation. But along with sudden fame and media hype came his unraveling. The new film, One Fast Move or I'm Gone- Kerouac's Big Sur, takes us back to the cabin he retreated to in the Big Sur woods. The story unfolds through Kerouac's prose, first-hand recollections from Kerouac's contemporaries, as well as writers, poets, actors and musicians who have been deeply influenced by Kerouac's unique gifts.Appearing in the film are Sam Shepard, Patti Smith, Tom Waits, S.E. Hinton, Donal Logue, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Robert Hunter and many more. The stunning, High Definition visual imagery is set to original music composed and performed by recording artists Jay Farrar of Son Volt and Benjamin Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie.

Gibbard stayed in Big Sur to compose songs for his band's 2008 Grammy-nominated, #1 selling, album, Narrow Stairs. For many years, Jay Farrar's songwriting has been inspired and influenced by Kerouac's compositional style. Gibbard and Farrar, having never previously met, discovered a mutual kinship in their passion for Kerouac's work while recording several songs for the documentary, produced by Kerouac Films. After the initial San Francisco recording session in July 2007, they decided to develop the project further to create an album using Kerouac's own words from the book as the lyrics."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Looking In: Robert Frank's Americans at Metropolitan Museum of Art

There's still time to catch Robert Frank at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through January 3. Unfortunately the film-series ended last week. We're hoping they'll have another series before the show comes down.

On Wednesday November 18, at 8pm, Symphony Space in NYC is hosting a companion reading of related stories (Kerouac's & others)

Zero Budget Festival Warsaw

....and if you just happen to be in Warsaw this coming week, check out the Zero Budget Festival hosted by the Grotowski Center Warsaw and organized by the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards (Italy). Workcenter will be performing two projects I am America and Electric Party Songs entirely based on Ginsberg's poems.

Check Zero Budget Festival's website for schedules. It's all in Polish, but pretty easy to figure out. As for the description, you might need this English version:

Based on the works of Allen Ginsberg, I Am America is a stream of dramatic structures featuring song, rhythm, dance, poetry and action. I Am America explores this terr
ain through the personification of America. She speaks of herself, of hope, of contradictions, desires and failures; she is a goddess with many faces. Her offspring are those who give body to her impulses, each one according to his or her own unpredictable paths. America is a mother with many children.

The Open Program team of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards presents Electric Party Songs, a flow of songs and actions based on the poetry of American poet Allen Ginsberg. The members of Open Program elaborated and composed all of the songs, approaching the meaning, rhythms and sounds of the spoken poetical texts as the seeds of musical and dramatic creation. Their varied backgrounds generate a stylistically diverse body of music, drawing inspiration from blues, rock, pop, opera, punk, and traditional sources.

Radio Wroclove talk on the events briefly, and amusingly aren't quite sure what to expect >>

Lawrence Ferlinghetti: Evolution of a Painter November 5, 2009 - December 19, 2009

For those of you in the San Francisco area, Lawrence Ferlinghetti's show opens at George Krevsky Gallery, 77 Geary Street, on November 5th & will be up through December 18. We highly recommend checking this one out, especially if you're only familiar with Ferlinghetti as a poet.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Edna St. Vincent Millay 2008
oil and silkscreen on canvas, 30 x 23 in.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Helen Weaver: The Awakener

Helen Weaver's book The Awakener: A Memoir of Kerouac and the 50s is now in stores, after nearly 20 years in the making. Weaver, whom Kerouac immortalized as Ruth Heaper in Desolation Angels, was one of the "two Helens" who awoke one snowy, cold December morning in 1956, to Allen, Peter and Jack freshly returned from Mexico with no place to stay. More details at City Lights online >>

Steve Silberman's written a decent review for SFGate/SF Chronicle >>

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

One Fast Move and I'm Gone

One Fast Move and I'm Gone, documentary on Kerouac's Big Sur opened last weekend in 20 US cities. The soundtrack featuring 12 original songs composed and performed by Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie, Postal Service) and Jay Farrar (Son Volt) with lyrics based on the prose of Jack Kerouac’s 1962 novel Big Sur, has an official release today.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Yes! It's a Ginsberg Figurine....

Tokyo's Presspop Gallery introduce the 'Ginsberg Doll' we've all been waiting for. Adding Allen to their highly select list of American cultural personalities, Bob Moog & Raymond Scott among the most recent, Presspop enlisted Chicago based illustrator (Sof' Boy) & musician (The Sea and Cake, The Cocktails) Archer Prewitt for the design and we're more than pleasantly surprised! We'll try to keep you posted once it's available since Presspop run very limed editions of everything they do. As with their Raymond Scott figurine, Ginsberg will come with an unreleased recording on 7" vinyl to boot.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Poetry Project/School of Visual Arts/NYU & Columbia University Present: Naked Lunch @ 50

Wednesday October 7- Saturday October 10

School of Visual Arts (SVA), in conjunction with Columbia University and New York University (NYU), are presenting a series of free events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of Naked Lunch, with Screenings, talks and readings at all locations. Check the SVA website for complete schedule & list of guests, which will include poet Michael McClure, Burroughs scholar Oliver Harris (editor Yage Letters Redux, The Letters of William Burroughs 1945-1959) , Barry Miles (The Beat Hotel), Regina Weinreich (Kerouac's Spontaneous Poetics), Anne Waldman, producer Hal Willner, among many others.

The Poetry Project at St Mark's Church will kick things off Wednesday night (October 7) with readings by Eric Andersen, John Giorno, Jan Herman, Thurston Moore, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Simon Pettet, Jürgen Ploog, Anne Waldman and Nick Zedd, alongside a digital projection presentation of Kate Simon's Burroughs photos. For further information check out the Poetry Project website >>

Monday, September 14, 2009

Jim Carroll 1949-2009

[Jim Carroll, a the Bottom Line, NYC September 1984, c. Allen Ginsberg/Corbis]

Jim Carroll passed away on Friday at his home in NYC, he was 60 years old. So far, Tom Clark's got a moving tribute going on his blog really worth checking >>

Los Angeles poet, Lewis MacAdams, remembering Jim Carroll in the LA Times >>

Jeffrey Brown interviews Patti Smith on the life of Jim Carroll on >>

New York Times obit >>

New York Times "Jim Carroll's Long Way Home" >>

And Jim Carroll talking about Basketball in a 1991 interview in Cleveland. (via New Yorker "The Book Bench.")

Jim Carroll interview 1/18/91 Cleveland Ohio

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Gospel Noble Truths

Our friend Kirt Markle has been busy experimenting with collage images for quite some time. Starting with still images, he's recently moved into treating video & film footage with visual collage & textures. This round he took on Allen's "Gospel Noble Truths" performed with Steven Taylor, with stunning & pleasing effect

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Death of Joan Vollmer Burroughs

[Joan Vollmer, Morningside heights, NYC, ca 1944. c Allen Ginsberg Estate]

[W.S. Burroughs and Joan Vollmer, East Texas, August 1947. c Allen Ginsberg Estate]

[La Prensa September 1951]

So much to post, so little time! But, since September 6, a few days ago, was/is the (58th) anniversary of Joan Vollmer's death, we wanted to draw some attention to James Grauerholz' excellent, & meticulously researched, essay on the subject - the event which marks one of the most, if not the most, pivotal points in William Burroughs' life (for Joan, that goes without saying!) Joan's role in the early days of the Beats cannot, in any way, be overstated - it was her apartment where Allen first met Kerouac, and her wit and intelligence easily matched those around her, (as both Herbert Huncke and Allen himself would later recall). At any rate, kudos to Grauerholz for some amazing work here.

More recently, Jed Birmingham's take on the "William Tell act" posted on Reality Studio dissects it's symbolism as well as the Burroughs family dynamic from (father) Mort down to (son) Billy Jr.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Household Affairs

In 1987 Sony Corp gave out a batch of High 8 cams to artists and writers around the world, and in return they asked that each make a movie. Allen got one, and Household Affairs was the result. Edited by Allen's close friend and accompanist, Steven Taylor, this was filmed over a period of two months, October-November, 1987, and focuses mostly on Julius Orlovsky who'd been staying as a guest over that period. Brilliant insight into the daily routine at the apartement on East 12th Street back in the 80s, with 'cameos' from the likes of Harry Smith, Allen's Russian translator Viktor Sosnora, Jello Biafra, Robert Frank, June Leaf, Carl Solomon, Gordon Ball, Peter Orlovsky and many more.

Jonathan Leyser (Yony Leyser) and his William S Burroughs documentary

[photo: Akasha Rabut]

William Burroughs, Unabridged

Jonathan Leyser works to finish the first documentary covering the literary icon’s entire life.

Read full article >>

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I was that girl in the Robert Frank elevator picture!

[Robert Frank, Elevator—Miami Beach, 1955; gelatin silver print; 12 3/8 × 18 13/16 in.; Collection Philadelphia Museum of Art, purchased with funds contributed by Dorothy Norman, 1969; © Robert Frank]

One of those once-in-a-lifetime stories >>

Friday, August 21, 2009

Warhol's Junk

Huffington Post among others report that archiving finally begins on 610 boxes and cabinets full of Andy Warhol's "junk" collection (It took them this long to get started?) and for some reason this image seem to be the favorite for all the sites covering the story. We manged to track down this jpg large enough to read:

January 6 1978

Dear Andy --

Here's another big book Gordon & I manufactured -- with odd snapshots & Diary notes. See p 153 for Subliminal CIA-Iran story Oct 1960 -- No need to read this thru Just glance at it when you're too busy to remember what you're supposed to be doing.

Love Allen Ginsberg

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fernanda Pivano 1917-2009

[photo: Allen with Fernanda Pivano & Ettore Sottsass, probably in Rapallo near Genoa, at the time they were visiting Ezra Pound there, late Summer 1967. c. Allen Ginsberg Estate.]

[Ezra Pound, Allen Ginsberg and Fernanda Pivano La Gritta American Bar, Portofino, Italy, September 1967. c. Ettore Sottsass]

Yes, this is starting to look like some kind of obit page, but these things really do need mention. ANSA reported yesterday that Fernanda Pivano passed away Tuesday night at a clinic in Milan. She was 92 years old. A close friend of Allen's till his death (she & her ex husband Ettore Sottsass were one of the last phone conversations he had before slipping into a coma), as a translator she single handedly did more to introduce 20th Century American literature to Italy than any other Italian figure.

Her correspondence with Allen was so frequent and involved while translating his poems, that Allen would later use these as a basis for all his translation correspondences. The letter below is an example of just that sort of detail one could expect. In the early 2000s, Pivano donated her entire collection of letters and papers to the Fondazione Benetton Studi Richerche in Milan, and it is open to the public.

Letter from Allen to Nanda Pivano, Benares, March 2, 1963.
[courtesy Fondazione Benetton Studi Richerche, Milan]

Also, a clip of Pivano interviewing Kerouac:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Naked Lunch @ 50: Chicago Celebration & Fundraiser for WSB: A Man Within

We highly recommend this one. Should be an amazing event, with Academy-Award Nominee, Peter Weller (Naked Lunch), for an evening of art, readings, happenings and performances to support the new documentary William S. Burroughs: A Man Within, directed by Yony Leyser. Also appearing are Editor & WSB Estate Executor James Grauerholz, Poet Anne Waldman, Producer Hal Willner, Poet John Giorno, Beat-Scholar Tony Trigilio, and even former Weatherman, Bill Ayers!

Also featuring a rare exhibition of William Burroughs' paintings and drawings on paper, and a special preview-screening of the documentary trailer.

5:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Friday, August 28, 2009

If you can't make it to Chicago, stay tuned.. there are events in October planned for NYC, celebrating Naked Lunch @ 50.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Howl Festival 2009 Blog officially up and running....

Howl Festival 2009 launches the weekend of September 4th, boasting "Two Stages, Three Days, Art Around the Park, Hip Hop Howl!, Low Life! Howl Kidz!" & much much more more at Tompkin's Park in NYC's East Village. Loads of other events throughout the neighborhood will continute throughout the whole month of September including a film festival, poetry reading series, poetry lectures and more. Stay tuned to their blog "East Village Howler" for updates & developments. Also check the Howl Fest main website for the master schedule >>

Friday, August 7, 2009

Encyclopedia of the New York School Poets

Facts on File have just published The Encyclopedia of the New York School Poets, authored by Terence Diggory. This sort of thing is mostly intended for libraries, hence the $75 price-tag. On the other hand that means you're local library should have a few copies, and if they don't, ask them to get one!


The New York School started in the 1950s and was one of the most influential movements of American poetry—from the last half of the 20th century to today. In more than 450 entries, Encyclopedia of the New York School Poets is an encyclopedic A-to-Z reference to writers of the New York School, including John Ashbery, who is often considered America’s greatest living poet. This new book is a compelling examination of this significant movement in literary history and its development through the years.

Coverage includes:

  • Central poets of the movement, including John Ashbery and Frank O'Hara
  • Major works—including poems, books of poems, and fiction—such as Ashbery's "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror," which won the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, and National Book Award in 1976
  • Poets and artists who influenced the movement or were influenced by it, such as Andy Warhol, the Beat poets, W.H. Auden, and Robert Lowell
  • New York locales important to the movement, such as the Bowery Poetry Club, Brooklyn, the Chelsea Hotel, and the Nuyorican Poets Cafe
  • Magazines and journals
  • and more.

About the Author

Terence Diggory, Ph.D., is professor of English at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. His publications include The Scene of My Selves: New Work on New York School Poets, William Carlos Williams and the Ethics of Painting, and Yeats and American Poetry: The Tradition of the Self. His essays on the visual arts of the New York School have appeared in several journals and exhibition catalogues.

2o12 update - significant individual browsing in this book can be had via Google Books -

Monday, August 3, 2009

For those of you in the NYC area later this month...

New York International Fringe Festival Presents:

Kaddish (or The Key in the Window)

Created and Performed by Donnie Mather
Directed by Kim Weild

August 20-29th @Here Arts Center, 145 Sixth Ave (btw Spring and Dominick) New York, NY

The performance is based on the poem Kaddish by the iconic Beat poet Allen Ginsberg who wrote it for and about his mother Naomi. She died shortly after the success of his seminal work Howl in the late ‘50s. After a long night of drinking, speed and listening to Ray Charles, Ginsberg detailed his painful memories of his mother'’s battles with mental illness. Our production takes this poetic text and personal narrative to create a multimedia memory play. Kim Weild directs. We both share a great love of poetic theatre that works on many levels, mixing text and movement with music.

There was something in the poem when I first encountered it that I found quite universal, moving and touching. We all have memories that haunt us, childhoods that have left its mark on us. His story is of course quite unique and the language he employs is as well. It will be a wonderful challenge to find staging that matches the density of the poetry. I'm thrilled to bring this great American literary work to the theatre almost 50 years after its publication.

I'm really interested in taking non-theatrical source material and turning it into a journey for the stage. Ginsberg is such an icon of the Beats, of downtown New York, and of American poetry. He was also interested in music and theatre. In fact, he assisted in a theatrical adaptation and an unpublished screenplay of the poem. I've wanted to adapt this for the stage for over a decade. Personally, I connected with the emotional drama in the poem. After a recent loss in my family, this story of grief took on new meaning for me.

Donnie Mather, creator/performer

Buy tickets for this show:

Thu August 20 10:15 pm
Sun August 23 2:30 pm
Wed August 26 9:45 pm
Thu August 27 4:45 pm
Fri August 28 8:00 pm
Sat August 29 5:45 pm

Oh.. and yesterday was James Baldwin's Birthday. He would have been 85.

[James Baldwin & Allen Ginsberg, Albion Bookstore Amherst, MA. March 22, 1986. photo: Patrick Warner]

Some Recent You Tube Nuggets

For quite sometime we thought photographer Harold Chapman had vanished without a trace. All we had was his amazing book of photos from the Beat Hotel in the late 50s and early 60s. His shots of Peter and Allen, Ian Sommerville, William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, and Gregory Corso, are among the most iconic ever shot of these people, but his chronicling of the characters and scene at the hotel on 9 rue Git-le-Coeur, is pretty much the only visual documentation there is of that era. At any rate, he resurfaced some 5 years ago with a few photo exhibitions here in the states via OMC Gallery in Huntington Beach, as well as in Britain, and now there's a short film in the works by filmmaker Alan Govenar telling his side of the story, that includes extensive interviews with him and Jean-Jaques Lebel. The trailer is now on You Tube. (this one doesn't fit right on the page for some reason. Sorry ya'll!)

LA Times ran a short mention over the weekend. They don't seem to be aware that a larger, expanded version of Chapman's Beat Hotel book is available, published by Kellner Verlag in Hamburg. We have copies available through the website. They're also available through the OMC Gallery in Huntington Beach.

Beat Hotel film website >>

Another recent You Tube gem is from Nam June Paik's PBS TV Special "Good Morning Mr Orwell" broadcast New Years Day, 1984. Here' Allen singing "Meditation Rock" with Arthur Russell, Steven Taylor and Peter Orlovksy.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Lionel Trilling and Allen Ginsberg: Liberal Father, Radical Son

Lionel Trilling and Allen Ginsberg:
Liberal Father, Radical Son
by Adam Kirsch

from Virginia Quarterly Review, Summer 2009

In the spring of 1944, as the Second World War neared its turning point, the first skirmishes of the generational battle that would define postwar America were taking place in a lecture hall at Columbia University. When Allen Ginsberg, then a seventeen-year-old freshman, signed up to study the Great Books with Lionel Trilling, neither one of them could have suspected that they were about to begin a lifelong friendship that was also a mortal combat—over literature and politics, morality and maturity, liberalism and radicalism. The Sixties, historians have variously said, started with the assassination of John F. Kennedy, or the Montgomery Bus Boycott, or Elvis Presley’s appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. But a good case can be made that the Sixties really began when Ginsberg walked into Trilling’s classroom.

Years later, Ginsberg recalled that Trilling took a special interest in him from the continue reading>>

Friday, July 24, 2009

Vancouver Poetry Conference 1963

[Jerry Heiserman (later Sufi "Hassan"), the late "Red" a poet, Allen Ginsberg, Bobbie Louise Hawkins Creeley, Warren Tallman, Robert Creeley above Charles Olson, left to right top rows; seated left Thomas Jackrell then student poet, Philip Whalen & Don Allen anthologist & Postmodern Poetics editor, last days of Vancouver Poetry Conference late July 1963, car parked in front of host professor Tallman's house -- he'd sent me a ticket to come back from a year and half in India for the assembly -- which included Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov. (c. Allen Ginsberg Estate)]

[Robert Creeley, Vancouver, July 1963. c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

The legendary Vancouver Poetry Conference was held July 26 through August 16th, 1963. Allen had been in India for 18 months, and quite broke, so Robert Creeley had arranged for the festival to fly him back to North America. Participants included Creeley, (Charles) Olson, Robert Duncan Denise Levertov, Philip Whalen, Bobbie Louise Hawkins and Margaret Avison among many others. The entire series of readings and lectures were recorded and are now available online through the Slought Foundation

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Now, for a little sumptin' on the academic side:

Call for Papers: Whitman & The Beats
March 26-28 2010
St. Francis College Brooklyn, NY

The English and Communication Arts Departments at St. Francis College calls for papers that celebrate the influence of Walt Whitman on Beat writers including but not limited to Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Jack Kerouac.

We seek papers that break new ground in addressing Whitman's presence in the works of Beat writers, the reception of Whitman's poetry by the Beats, and papers which address how the legacy of the Beats, their perspectives of their era and artistic innovations, may be traced to whitman’s influence on American literary culture. Topics may include (but are not limited to)areas of inquiry such as “the road”, “gender and sexuality”, “mysticism”, “religion and spirituality”, “America”, and “transcendentalism”. Examples of possible papers include (but, again, are not limited to)

“The Beats and the Search for Authenticity”
“Forging a New American Language”
“The Spontaneous Yawp: "New" Writing Styles in Whitman and the Beats”
“Cultural Minutia Found in Whitman and the Beats”
“Whitman's and the Beats use of New York City”
“The Beat's (Sub)Consious Rewriting of Whitman”
“Whose America? The Idea of a Nation in Whitman and the Beats”
“Homosexuality in the Beats and Whitman”
“War in Whitman and the Beats”
“Poetry for (and about) the People”
“Autobiographical Influences in the Poetry of Ginsberg and Whitman”
“Not Ready for Prime Time: the “Forgotten” Works of Whitman and the Beats”
“Nationalistic Drum Banging in Whitman and the Beats”

To submit, please send a 500-word abstract to Dr. Scott Weiss at by January 31, 2010. Finished papers should be 8-10 pages, capable of being read in 20 minutes or less. Please note on your abstract your technological needs for your presentation.

Scott Weiss, PhD
Department of Communication Arts
St Francis College
180 Remsen St
Brooklyn Heights NY 11201
718 489 3487

And while we're on Whitman, our friend Steve Silberman made some dazzling composite images based on the few existing photos of Whitman, "in an attempt to pay tribute to Whitman's grand idea by allowing the figure of the poet to emerge from swarms of other events and other lives, from the microscopic to the macroscopic." He highly recommends viewing them with a graphics program like photoshop, in order to get the full effect. Go to site >>

[Image: Kosmos One]

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Aram Saroyan: What did we learn from Ted Berrigan, Jack Kerouac, and Allen Ginsberg?

[Original artwork by Paul Killebrew

What did we learn from Ted Berrigan, Jack Kerouac, and Allen Ginsberg?

by Aram Saroyan (via Poetry Foundation)

It's been more than a decade since the death of Allen Ginsberg, but in the interim I've found that he's stayed with me as an informing, tempering, guardian-like presence of a stature equaled only by my late father. Allen and I were never really friends, but having said that I feel an urgency to qualify and emend it. He meant as much as or more than any friend I can think of, and in the years since his death it's come to me that he was one of the two or three great teachers of my life. He looked me up and down, and looked me in the face, taking my measure for good or ill, and then informed me, on several critical occasions, where I had gotten it right or wrong. I bridled at the negative assessments but then quickly or slowly realized the generosity implicit in them and, more to the point, their correctness.

I also realize that with his passing there is simply no one to fill his shoes. He had the energy and curiosity and hunger for the crowd to be seemingly everywhere, and that is something we could do with more of in our poets. read full story >>

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Holy Barbarians: Lawrence Lipton, Gregory Corso , Anais Nin and Ginsberg's stripping act

As part of the Larry Harnisch Reflects on Los Angeles History series, the LA Times reprinted the section of Lawrence Lipton's Holy Barbarians where Allen strips naked at a poetry reading in response to a heckler. They've also posted Allen's as well as Anais Nin's version of the same night. Though he only did this stripping act maybe a few times after, it was this 1956 reading that got him the reputation for doing it all the time. Read more >>

2012 - This "infamous incident" is addressed more thoroughly, and properly contextualized, by The Allen Ginsberg Project here.

The entire Holy Barbarians is now available for perusal here

Simon Vinkenoog RIP

[Simon Vinkenoog on July 9, 2009. by Derrick Bergman via Webstek Simon Vinkenoog]

Dutch poet & translator Simon Vinkenoog passed away yesterday in Amsterdam at the age of 80 while recovering from a leg amputation. Often referred to as the Marijuana Ambassador stemming from days he spent in jail for marijuana possession in the mid 1960s, his poetry carreer began in 1950 with his first collection of poetry Wondkoorts, shortly followed by the anthology Atonaal that he edited, which is said to have lauched the Dutch 50s movement. (Not familiar with that one!) and had a prolific output since. A collection of his Dutch translations of Ginsberg's poems is due out later this summer by Dutch publishing house IJzer.

Earlier this year we posted selections of Allen's journals, transcribed by Dutch scholar, & friend of Allen & Simon's, Joep Bremmers, from his trip with Vinkenoog to Charleville, Rimbaud's hometown, in 1982. Read more >>

Obit in Expatica & Vinkenoog reading at "Save the Mushroom Demonstration" >>

Vinkenoog's blog >>

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Dial-A-Poem Poets

John Giorno's Dial-A-Poem/Giorno Poetry Systems series are a trove of recordings starting from 1972 and going strong until the last issue Cash Cow in 1993. The earliest collections being strictly poetry & literature, with a formidable roster including the likes of Amiri Baraka, Ted Berrigan, Taylor Mead, Joe Brainard, William Burroughs, & Jim Carroll to name just a few. Later the series expanded into more musical collaborations with Psychic TV, Meredith Monk, Laurie Anderson, Sonic Youth, Diamanda Galas, Philip Glass, Einsturzende Neubauten, David Johansen and many more. Almost the entire catalog is all available on line via ubuweb, but since they haven't included the cover art, we thought we'd post a few for your amusement.

[The very first Dial-A-Poem Poets record, 1972. "At this point, with the war and the repression and everything, we thought this was a good way for the movement to reach people."]

[Totally Corrupt 1976. ]

[You're the Guy I Want to Share My Money With. 1981. The original 2x12 LP features the last side cut as a triple-groove, so that where the stylus lands on the lead in-groove determines which artists' track plays. My friend at the record store flipped when he first played it. Couldn't figure out why a different track played everytime he started it]

[Sugar, Alcohol & Meat. 1980]

[A Diamond Hidden in the Mouth of a Corpse. 1985]