Monday, May 31, 2010

Fare thee well dear Peter

[Cover image: Elsa Dorfman]

Snail Poem

Make my grave shape of heart so like a flower be free aired and handsome felt.
Grave root pillow, tung up from grave & wigle at blown up clowd.
Ear turnes close to underlayer of green felt moss & sound
of rain dribble thru this layer
down to the roots that will tickle my ear.
Hay grave, my toes need cutting so file away in sound curve or
Garbage grave, way above my head, blood will soon
trickle into my ear –
no choice but the grave, so cat & sheep are daisey turned.
Train will tug my grave, my breath hueing gentil vapor between weel & track
So kitten string & ball, jumpe over this mound so gently & cutely
So my toe can curl & become a snail & go curiousely on its way.

1958 NYC (Peter Orlovsky from Clean Asshole Poems & Smiling Vegetable Songs City Lights, SF)

Peter died yesterday morning at 11:30 am. We are working on the funeral arrangements now, which will take place at the Karme Choling Meditation Center in Barnet, Vermont. Most likely on Tuesday, June 1. Judy and I-and particularly Peter- appreciate all your support and good wishes.

-- Chuck Lief

There will be a Buddhist Sukhavati Ceremony at 5pm, Tuesday, June 1, at Karme Choling, Buddhist Retreat Center, in Barnet VT.
This is open to the public

Thanks to Chuck and Judy for taking such good care of Peter, and thanks to Peter for loving Allen, for all the poetry and song and organic vegetables, and for being so sweet to me when I was a kid-poet. Goodbye, dear Peter.

-- Steve Silberman

Anne Waldman: Death of Peter Orlovsky

“The Shellean farmer astride hid Pegasusian tractor” as Gregory Corso once knighted him passed on today, May 30 2010 to the elysian fields, a bardo of becoming. First glance hour earlier Peter was resting with “trach” in throat in orange sheets at the kind Vt Respite Center in Williston, Vermont ( but no extra tubes/ heroic measures for this advanced cancer on his lung!), a copy of the Songs of Saraha by his pillow, photo of beloved Allen Ginsberg companion of many years on the wall, other Buddhist images, iPod of music he loved including chants by Buddhist nuns, cards from friends and out the window a bird feeder with finch and red-winged blackbirds landing/taking off. Chuck and Judith Lief, faithful guardians and friends at his side. He had been moved less than 48 hours earlier from intensive care at a hospital in Boston, finally to hospice. His body we were touching we noticed suddenly turned cold like death was in the room. We got the nurse. Judy and I stepped out when suddenly Chuck called us back. Peter had opened his eyes. Chuck said “It might be the last time”. By his side now, looking into his eyes told out love, I thanked him for his presence in our lives, his poetry his care and love for Allen, his work at Naropa. Ah, I thought a flash of recognition shivering through! slight movement of mouth, light coming in on his handsome face through the window now, and Judy singing om a hum vajra guua padma siddhi hum in crystal voice said “don’t be afraid”. Joined in. Last breathes, one coming late, staggered: his heart/breath stopt. Poet Christina Lovin in room with nurse gave gentle witness who checked the clock 11:39 I think or so a.m. Earlier we’d played recording of Peter singing his Raspberry Song with great heart-soaring yodel and “how sweet you are”. “Make my grave shape of heart so like a flower be free aired and handsome felt” ( “The Snail”). Tibetan Book of the Dead readings, in full final repose arranged with blue shirt, hands folded, consciousness a joyful gardener sprite? no fear, no fear working its way out…

Anne Waldman 5.30.2010
Vt Studio Center

[Peter Orlovsky, San Francisco, 1955. Photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

[Peter Orlovsky, San Francisco, 1955. Photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

[Peter Orlovsky, Venice, September 1957. Photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

[Peter Orlovsky & Gregory Corso, likely at Maurice Girodias' nightclub 7 rue St. Sevrin, Paris 1961. Photo c. David Hamburger]

[Peter Orlovsky, Calcutta, 1962. c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

[Peter Orlovksy and beggar woman, Calcutta, 1962. c Allen Ginsberg Estate]

[Peter Orlovsky & Allen Ginsberg, Robert Frank's Studio, NYC 1984. Photo c. Brian Graham]

[Peter Orlovsky, St. Johnsbury, VT 2006. Photo: John Sarsgard]

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Peter Orlovksy in Vermont

[Peter Orlovsky, Allen Ginsberg's office, 437 East 12th St. New York City, 1984. c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

Peter managed to recover from a close call with pneumonia and was able to travel to the hospice outside Burlington, VT on Thursday. With only one functioning lung, he's not in great shape by any stretch, but is in much better spirits & in a much more comfortable environment.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Peter Orlovsky

[Peter Orlovsky, returned to New York from India, Avenue C and 5th Street, September 1963. c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

Word has just reached us that Peter Orlovsky, Allen's lifetime companion, who has been battling lung cancer these past few months, has taken a serious turn for the worse and his condition is unstable and rapidly deteriorating. His right lung is basically not functioning and he has developed pneumonia. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. More news to follow.

Waylon Lewis at Elephant Journal has assembled a decent mix of images and video clips of Peter over the years as little tribute >>

Monday, May 24, 2010

Happy Soixante-Neuf Bob!

[The Music Lesson: Ginsberg & Dylan on the Rolling Thunder Revue Tour, 1975. Photo: Elsa Dorfman]

Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters

First review of Jack Kerouac & Allen Ginsberg: The Letters is in. This from Publishers Weekly who usually get out the first reviews. The book is set for a July 12 pub date.

"Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters At times loving, at others blistering, sarcastic, often uncomfortably self-lacerating and intimate, these 200 letters, collected in a heroic editorial effort by Ginsberg biographer Morgan and independent editor Stanford, cover the years 1944–1963, the most fertile in the creative lives of Kerouac and Ginsberg. A disbelieving Ginsberg writes to Kerouac in 1952 that On the Road is unpublishable, while Kerouac asks Ginsberg to treat his magnum opus as the next Ulysses. Kerouac immediately praises Howl in 1955, and in return Ginsberg gives Kerouac the manuscript while recounting, like any hopeful author, how freebies have gone to Eliot, Pound, Faulkner. Throughout, the sometimes sporadic letter writing is filled with fragments of works in progress and pungent observations on the authors and publishing people who influenced them, from Dante and Gide to Malcolm Cowley and Sterling Lord. There also is plenty of gossip about Peter Orlovsky, William Burroughs, and others in the circle. A growing rift concludes the 1950s, as literary fame mixed with alcohol weighs on Kerouac, though these soul brothers reunite through letters of the early 1960s. On receiving Ginsberg’s work, Thelonius Monk exclaimed, "It makes sense." In its strange way, so does this intense and offbeat correspondence. (July 12)"

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tracing Neal Cassady's last footsteps in San Miguel de Allende

[San Miguel de Allende (Eneas via Flickr, Creative Commons]

Neal Cassady died in the middle of the night alongside the railroad tracks on the outskirts of San Miguel de Allende after leaving a party. It's been said that he died of exposure, but the cause of death was never quite determined. Here's an intriguing read by novelist Peter Ferry exploring Neal Cassady's connection with that central Mexican town long after he passed away.

Searching for Neal Cassady in San Miguel de Allende

Travel Stories: Novelist Peter Ferry hunts down the ghost of the beatnik legend who inspired Kerouac, Ginsberg and so many others.

When I first get here, the only thing I know with certainty about Neal Cassady’s time in San Miguel de Allende is that he died ignominiously just outside of town in 1968. And although that tie is admittedly tenuous, it’s curious to me that people in this artists’ colony who are surely used to outcasts and iconoclasts seem reluctant to claim him. At least at first. Read full story >>

Friday, May 7, 2010

Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg May 2–September 6, 2010

[ W. S. Burroughs at rest in the side-yard of his house, 1991, gelatin silver print, printed 1991-1997, image: 22.1 x 33 cm (8 11/16 x 13 in.), sheet: 27.9 x 35.4 cm (11 x 13 15/16 in.) Gift of Gary S. Davis © Copyright 2010 The Allen Ginsberg Estate. All rights reserved.]

Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg opened last weekend at the National Gallery in Washington DC and will be up through September 6. The coverage so far has been very positive. We'll start off with Clair O'Neill's NPR Story then over to Art Daily, and then, of course, The Daily Beast. The The Washington Post features a 13-image slide-show with a not-so-sweet review by Philip Kennicott, who seems to be asking: "If Allen wasn't as good a photographer as Robert Frank, should we take him seriously?"