Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ellen Pearlman: My Lunch With Mihoko

Ellen Pearlman is currently working on a history Buddhism's influence on the American avant garde & her lunch with Mihoko is a result of some of that research as well as of course her own curiosity.

The following article originally appeared in American Buddhism as a Way of Life, recently published by SUNY Press.

Allen Ginsberg lay in a coma, dying. An oxygen tube laced across his nose as he tossed and turned against his portable hospital bed. Sitting beside him that early April night, I held his cool, surprisingly delicate hand and meditated with him despite his coma. I breathed in, and he breathed in then breathed out. Both of us became one breath of bare attention. Suddenly, as if distracted by a thought, he tossed and turned, like a balloon trying to break its tether. His bed in his East Village apartment was placed to face the traffic below. Buses swooshed by, horns blasted, and the soft tching tching of delivery boys' bicycle bells clanged as they wove their way through traffic. Friends, relatives, and former lovers -- some famous, some not -- came and went. Off to one side of the room sat Gelek Rinpoche, a Tibetan lama, with three other monks performing pujas and prayers. I served them tea, then sat down among them to practice.

Two hours later Allen was dead of a massive heart attack.

It seemed as if a linchpin of the universe had been removed, and the firmament shifted. An ancestor, a keeper of the flame of knowledge -- at least for me and others of my generation -- was extinguished. It wasn't only Allen who had died. It was also the first wave of those who had discovered and engraved Buddhism into the New York avant garde. John Cage had died a few years previously; William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Jackson Mac Low, Nam June Paik, and others would soon follow.

As I grieved, I thought about how Allen and I, both agnostic Jews from Eastern Europe, became Buddhists. What forces had shaped our commitment? In my 20's I was part of, depending how you looked at it, a second wave of Buddhist transmission to America: Allen had been one of the first who went to the East to study with revered Buddhist masters. In New York, I knew increasing numbers of artists developing Buddhist inclinations. In Boston, I had walked into Memorial Church at Harvard University and was engulfed by a Philip Glass's opera, Einstein on the Beach. The music's repetitive, pounding, varied tempo was a representation of exactly what I had experienced during meditation retreats. I found this same sensibility in the work of other artists, in readings by the poets Anne Waldman and Patti Smith, and at John Cage concerts at the Museum of Modern Art. But to most people in the art world, Buddhism was just a buzz word. I interviewed many people in the New York creative world and practically all roads, without exception, led back to the Japanese scholar, Dr. D.T. Suzuki. Everyone, it seemed, had read him, especially in the l940s and 1950s, before ordained Buddhist teachers were readily available in the West.

continue >>

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Allen inscription to Timothy Leary "We are complete successful failures'

For Timothy & Barbara Leary
amid the noise of kisses and chatter in H'wood
late evening in March, dining with Agents
photographers, poets, reprobate-politicos
intelligent wives, beautiful
feet & noses, candle light, salad, champagne
Rock 'n roll bands coming out of our mouths
all of us complete successful failures.

March 11, 1985
Allen Ginsberg

(1) Refuge name: Lion of Dharma
(2) Bodhisattva name: Heart of Peace

Stephen Gertz at Booktryst posted this yesterday & did a perfect job transcribing. He queries why Allen'd capitalized Agents and we do too. Sometimes Allen capitalized randomly, more often not. This was right after Collected Poems 1947-1980 was published, and Allen's new agent Andrew Wylie hand engineered a huge book deal for Allen with Harper Collins, so quite possibly Wylie was on his mind when signing that book. Check booktryst >>

This copy of Ginsberg's Collected Poems 1947-1980 is being offered by Benjamin Spademan, who is asking £5,000 ($7,400)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Responsibility of Allen Ginsberg

Really been itching to post this poem that Helen Weaver wrote a few years ago and posted on her blog for Allen's birthday this year. So, finally here it is! While we're on Helen Weaver, be sure to check out her recently published book The Awakener published by City Lights. A fantastic fun read.

The Responsibility of Allen Ginsberg

for a friend who said she couldn’t put “Allen Ginsberg” and “responsibility”
in the same sentence

Clearly I have a different definition of the word

I think Allen was one of the most responsible people I’ve known

He was responsible to his Muse

He was responsible to his friends

He was responsible to all the poets who got busted for smoking grass and who he bailed out when he was living in a cold water walkup on nothing a year

He was responsible to his job which was waking people up telling the truth and making his life into poems

He was responsible to all the scared gay guys who now aren’t scared any more

He was responsible to the people who still aren’t ashamed to call themselves liberals or even socialists

He was responsible to New York San Francisco Denver Mexico Canada and all the continent in between

He was responsible to the King’s English and the queens

He was responsible to Blake and Whitman, to Kerouac and Burroughs and Cassady, to Corso and Rimbaud and Artaud

He was responsible to the future which is more than you can say for the motherfuckers who run this country from the banks and boardrooms of Moloch

He was responsible to all the kids who burned their draft cards and went to Canada and to the pacifists of old and to the pacifists who weren’t even born yet

He was responsible to Lenny Bruce and free speech and the Bill of Rights and the ACLU

He was responsible to all the people who got electric shock treatments in the fifties and who died insane anyway

He was responsible to his mother Naomi who served him uncooked fish and an inedible childhood and died in Greystone State Mental Hospital eli eli lama sabachthani

He was responsible to his father Louis also a poet for whom he wrote his most beautiful song Father Death

He was responsible to all of us including people who never heard of him and people who’ve heard of him but never read him and people who’ve read him but can’t spell his name

He was responsible to Life

He was responsible to America and we should be so lucky to have one like him again

From Helen Weaver

Monday, June 14, 2010

Allen's 12th St Apt gets gutted

[photo: blah blog blah]

Steve Silberman spotted this posting on blah blog blah blog that's by a friend of one of Allen's 12th St neighbors. He reports they've started gutting the 12th St apartment, and posts some shots of ghastly looking windows - one of those we're so used to seeing out of from the "out my back window' photo series. We knew it was just a matter of time after Peter passed away that they'd go in and gut the place - that landlord had been gnawing at the bit to get that unit since long before Allen died when they transferred the lease to Peter - but it's still pretty shocking for some of us to see it happen so quickly.

[View out my kitchen window August 18 1984, familiar Manhattan back-yard, wet brick-walled Atlantis sea garden's Alianthus (stinkweed Tree of Heaven) boughs waiving in rainy breeze, Stuyvesant Town's roof two blocks north on 14th Street - I focused on the raindrops on the clothesline - Allen Ginsberg (c. Allen Ginsberg Estate)]

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Leslie Scalapino Memorial at St Mark's Church

We definitely want everyone know about the the Leslie Scalapino Memorial on Monday at St. Mark's Church here in NYC. She's yet another poet to pass away over that rather devastating Memorial Day weekend. Apologies again for listing NYC-specific events, but we felt we really needed to add this one. There is information below for those who can't attend but would like perhaps to contribute somehow.

Monday, June 21, 8 PM
Memorial for Leslie Scalapino

St Mark's Church, 2nd Ave & 10th St, New York City

It is with heavy hearts that we will open the doors of the Parish Hall so that we may all come together in friendship and grief to remember and celebrate the life and work of Leslie Scalapino, one of our greatest poets, who passed away on May 28th. Guests who will speak include Petah Coyne, Simone Fattal, Joan Retallack, Charles Bernstein, Susan Bee, Ann Lauterbach, Susan Howe, Paolo Javier, Molissa Foley, Fiona Templeton, Laura Elrick, Rodrigo Toscano, Steve Clay, Rachel Levitsky, Susan Landers, James Sherry, Brenda Iijima, Pierre Joris, Judith Goldman, E. Tracy Grinnell and Tom White.

There will be a wine and cheese reception to follow. We’ll have a book table with titles by Leslie, plus 50 canvas bags that she collaborated on with Kiki Smith. We’ll be accepting donations for the bags starting at $25. All proceeds from books and bags will be donated to Poets In Need


If you can’t attend but would like to honor Leslie Scalapino, please consider a charitable donation in her memory to: Poets in Need, PO Box 5411, Berkeley, CA 94705; Reed College for the Leslie Scalapino Scholarship, 3203 Southeast Woodstock Boulevard, Portland, OR 97202-8199; The AYCO Charitable Foundation, PO Box 15203, Albany, NY 12212-5203 for the Leslie Scalapino-O Books Fund to support innovative works of poetry, prose and art; or to a charitable organization of your choice.

Village Voice Clip Job: Allen Ginsberg Explains Timonthy Leary

[Timothy Leary psychedelic research pioneer and Neal Cassady first meeting at Millbrook N.Y. in Ken Kesey-Merry Pranksters' "Further" bus which Neal'd driven crosscountry S.F. to N.Y. via Texas before Fall 1964 presidentiad, with ""A vote For Goldwater is a Vote for Fun"" logo painted large across bus side, L.S.D. cool-aid pitcher in icebox. Neal scratching amphetamine itch in his driver's palm. (Ginsberg Caption) photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate. licensing via Corbis]

Another great one from the Village Voice 'Clip Jobs' series:

Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the
Voice archives.
December 12, 1968, Vol. XIV, No. 9

[This essay was subsequently published in Allen Ginsberg's Deliberate Prose: Selected Essays 1952-1995. Ed. Bill Morgan]

Remarks on Leary's Politics of Ecstasy
by Allen Ginsberg

By the late '40s of this memory Century the people I knew best and loved the most had already broken through the crust of old Reason & were dowsing for some Supreme Reality, Christmas on Earth Rimbaud said, Second Religiousness according to Spengler's outline of civilization declining through proliferation of non-human therefore boring technology; Blake had called "O Earth O Earth return!" centuries before, echoing the ancient gnostic prophecy that Whitman spelled out for America specifically demanding that the Steam-engine "be confronted and met by at least equally subtle and tremendous force-infusion for purposes of spiritualization, for the pure conscience, for genuine aesthetics, and for absolute and primal manliness and womanliness --" Ezra Pound's mind jumped to diagnose the dimming of the world's third Eye: "With Usura the line grows thick." Continue >>

Stella Levy: Whatever Happened to Peter Orlovsky.

Fantastic reading of Peter's poem "Writing Poems is a Saintly Thing" by Stella Levy. Her entire You Tube channel is definitely worth taking a stroll through. We suggest starting with "Poem on Sex Organs for Peter Orlovsky."

Monday, June 7, 2010

Andrei Voznesensky

[Andrei Voznesensky and Allen Ginsberg, Adelaide, Australia, March 1972. Photo probably snapped by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, with Allen's camera. c Allen Ginsberg Estate]

[Allen Ginsberg & Andrei Voznesensky, Mexico City, 1981. photographer unknown]

With Peter Orlovsky's passing last week, we didn't get a chance to mention that Andrei Voznesensky passed away just a couple days later,  June 1st. Allen considered him the one living genius in Russian poetry. Allen met Voznesensky in Moscow, in April 1965 and the two fast became friends and would do readings together throughout the world as well as collaborate on poems. Their collaborative poem, "Angelic Black Holes" is included in Allen's Cosmopolitan Greetings.  The New York Times obit gives a decent comprehensive overview of his life & poetic & political accomplishments, calling him ("one of the) Soviet Union’s boldest and most celebrated young poets of the 1950s and ’60s." - (see also the obituary in the  London Independent - here )

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Oscilloscope picks up "William Burroughs: A Man Within"

Now for some more upbeat news. We'd been hearing rumors, but it's now official that Oscilloscope Laboratories have picked up Yony Leyser's William Burroughs documentary A Man Within. They plan a near simultaneous release (September) with Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's Howl. Both films you're no doubt somewhat familiar with if you've been following our blog, as it seems we mention them almost ad nauseum. All for a good reason, of course..

Oscilloscope nabs 'Burroughs' doc

Yony Leyser film about famed Beat writer

from Variety

By Gordon Cox

Oscilloscope Laboratories has picked up Yony Leyser's docu "William S. Burroughs: A Man Within" for a fall theatrical release.

DVD and digital distribution will follow, with the movie set for broadcast during the 2010-11 season as part of PBS series "Independent Lens."

Continue to Variety >>

Peter Orlovsky Remembered

The many tributes & elegies to Peter starting to pop up, including pretty thorough obits in the New York Times & Washington Post, are so moving that we want to post them all. Not quite sure where to start, so we'll jump right in with Steve Silberman's "Impossible Happiness" that he wrote for Shambhala's blog Shambhala SunSpace, and "Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's Remembering Peter Orlovsky" for The Advocate. And when you're done with those, hop on over to Tom Clark's blog for a few more

Remembering Peter Orlovsky: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman

Peter Orlovsky & Allen Ginsberg, Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris, December 1957. Photo: c. Harold Chapman]

Remembering Peter Orlovsky

Posted on June 02, 2010

Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman remember fondly their time spent with the late Peter Orlovsky while preparing to make Howl, their movie based on Allen Ginsberg's life, which opens in September.

By Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman

We first met Peter Orlovsky six summers ago, as we were embarking on our film based on the 1955 poem “Howl” by Peter's longtime partner, Allen Ginsberg. Peter was the first person we set out to meet as part of our research. He was then living a quiet retired life in a the woods of New England, lovingly cared for by friends arranged by Allen before his death in 1997. Continue >>

Impossible Happiness: An Elegy for Peter Orlovsky by Steve Silberman

[Peter Orlovsky, East Houston St and Bowery, New York City, 1964. Photo. c Allen Ginsberg Estate]

Impossible Happiness:

An Elegy for Peter Orlovsky

Posted on Shambhala SunSpace June 01, 2010

By Steve Silberman

Saxifrage is my flower that splits the rocks
– William Carlos Williams

The night I met Allen Ginsberg in 1976, his lifelong companion Peter Orlovsky raised a handkerchief to Allen’s nose a fraction of a second before he sneezed. We were in a basement club in Greenwich Village commemorating the death of Neal Cassady, one of Allen’s great loves, and the muse of Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road. The poet had a bad cold, and it was his second reading of the night.
Anticipating Allen’s need for a handkerchief was just one way Peter manifested what photographer Elsa Dorfman called his “unearthly sensitivity and caring” in an email to a friend after Peter died last Sunday. Kids, animals, and growing things adored Peter. Just before writing “Howl,” Allen pledged his love to him, recognizing in him a character out of a Russian novel: the saintly shepherd, a holy innocent. In Foster’s cafeteria in San Francisco in 1955, the two men grasped hands and vowed never to go to heaven unless the other could get in — a true marriage of souls. “At that instant we looked into each other’s eyes,” Allen wrote, “and there was a kind of celestial cold fire that crept over us and blazed up and illuminated the entire cafeteria and made it an eternal place.” Continue >>