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.