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]

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Crisis in Honduras (Petition)

Our friends Joseph Richey and his wife Anne Becher translated this call by a collective of Central American Poetry Festivals in hopes of extending its reach. Please distribute widely and consider signing on, since, as Joseph says "It would mean a lot to those in Honduras and throughout Central America. Sometimes it's as simple as an acknowledgment that we are attentive to what is going on when these political catastrophes begin." To sign on in solidarity, please send an email to Norberto Salinas

A Call from Central America:

Quetzaltenango, San Salvador, Panamá, San José, Medellín, July 1, 2009

In response to events in Honduras, both before and after the coup d’etat, the organizers of the following international poetry festivals: Festival Internacional de Poesía de Quetzaltenango, el Encuentro Permanente de Poetas de El Salvador, el Encuentro de Poetas de Panamá, el Festival Internacional de Poesía de Costa Rica y el Festival Internacional de Poesía de Medellín, released this statement on July 1st 2009.

I. The coup demonstrates the fragility of democracy in Honduras. In Honduras the powerful economic groups that governed previously in collusion with the armed forces claim unconditional powers and are backing the coup before Congress and in the media, waving a fake resignation from President Zelaya and his Cabinet to justify the installation of a new regime.

II. We repudiate the farce that has been whipped up about the supposed illegality of the non-binding referendum proposed by President Zelaya, to justify the violent coup d’etat against a legitimate government that was elected at the polls. We remember the line by Honduran poet Roberto Sosa: I entered my country’s house of justice and found a snake charmer’s temple.

III. We are concerned about the hubris of coup supporters blocking international and independent news, intimidating the population with the deployment of military force in the streets and curfews, the forced conscription of hundreds of young men into Obligatory Military Service, which was abolished in Honduras during the liberal administration of Carlos Roberto Reina (1994-1998) and the imposition of martial law. All of these actions, in conjunction with the establishment of a new regime, have brought their nation to the brink of a potentially fatal outcome.

IV. If this coup succeeds, it would open the door to other groups from the Americas and other parts of the world, to violate the right to democracy, and to return to dark times that we believed we had overcome.

V. As writers and as organizations that believe in humanity, we convoke poets of the world to raise their voice in defense of human dignity. Renounce every act of violence against the Honduran people.

Our call to international governing bodies and to elected governments: demand that the authors of the coup halt their repression immediately and reinstate Manuel Zelaya Rosales as the legitimate president of Honduras that he is, recognized by the United Nations, and every international organization and government in the world.

Translated by Joseph Richey and Anne Becher
Boulder, Colorado
July 5, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Ferlinghetti Documentary

[caption: Lawrence Ferlinghetti in his office with pooch, Whitman photo, files, coat racks, book bags, psters, at City Lights up on balcony, B'way and Columbus Avenues, San Francisc, October 1984. Allen Ginsberg. photot: c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

Chris Felver has photographed Lawrence Ferlinghetti probably more than anyone else by a long shot, (except for the photo above snapped by Allen) so on that level at least, he might be an ideal candidate for tackling a documentary on the San Francisco literary icon. Not seen the documentary yet, but we're going to recommend it based on some very good feedback from loads of sources, too many to cite here. San Francisco's Western Edtion reviews Ferlinghetti rather positively too >>

The Beats At Naropa Edited by Anne Waldman and Laura Wright. Coffee House Press

I know we seem a bit biased towards things Naropa around here. Anything even remotely associated and we drop everything else and write up a storm. So here we go again, but it really is relevant, after all, the Writing in Poetics department was Allen's baby, and we are all genuinely excited, especially about this one collection of lectures that Anne Waldman and Laura Wright have been working on for quite some time. For a table of contents, check Amazon dot com, while the Coffee House Press site offer other appetizers to fill you in. And, of course, there's always the Naropa Summer Writing Program's page

Beats at Naropa
On Beats at Naropa: Editors Anne Waldman and Laura Wright in Conversation
Laura Wright: What was the impetus behind this project?
Anne Waldman: Editing a Beats at Naropa anthology seemed a compelling project, because principals from this historical generation—William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Diane di Prima to name a few—had been at The Jack Kerouac School at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. From the start. And it was a great choice to get you involved, Laura, because you had been through the Naropa writing program, are a poet yourself, and have impressive editing skills. And Coffee House was, of course, very supportive.
LW: Could you speak about the early years?
AW: Allen Ginsberg and I came to Boulder in the summer of 1974 not expecting to found a poetics school, albeit a poetic school we decided to name for the outrider Jack Kerouac. We found ourselves in this marvelous predicament of being anti-academic (Allen was adverse to giving grades, for example), yet being encouraged to start an educational community, and to create a unique pedagogy based on discourse, or as Allen called it “high talk”—meaning smart, provocative, original. Poets would teach what they know, and things would be discussed, mulled over. The Beat writers had intervened on the culture. It wasn't just a matter of simply offering the usual kind of writing workshops, but reading and thinking lectures, panels, presentations, as well. The Beat writers have been exceptional as political and cultural activists, investigative workers, translators, Buddhists, environmental activists, feminists, seers. There's so much legendary history here.