Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bay Area Writers React to the Movie HOWL

Great roundtable discussion on Howl after a Berkeley screening last weekend, with Brenda Knight, Suzi Olmsted, Marc Olmsted, Gerald Nicosia, Nick Mamatas, Seth Harwood, and hosted by East Bay Literary Examiner's Tony R. Rodriguez. A lively conversation with fantastic insights all in all but we do have to note that we're a bit perplexed with Nicosia's allegation that Peter was 'locked up in Vermont by some lawyer.' It's a little unclear how he's so certain that that's the case, since, as far as we know, he himself never spent any time up there in St.Johnsbury with Peter. So it goes...

Original 1955 Book Cover. Photo: City Lights Books

"We all came from different parts of the Bay Area, each of us a writer with a keen interest in seeing the premiere of Howl, a film addressing the “obscenity trial” surrounding the controversial poetic offerings of Allen Ginsberg, one of the architects who helped launch what would later be called Beat Literature. Our rendezvous point was the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood in Berkeley, just near the lively corner of College and Ashby. At just about 4:15 on this recent Friday afternoon our small band of Bay Area writers snuggled ourselves inside this hospitable theater that many regard to be Berkeley’s finest cinematic venue. Gathered with eager smiles were: Seth Harwood, action writer of impressive talent, who authored Jack Wakes Up; Brenda Knight, poetry scholar and author of the exceptional book Women of the Beat Generation; Nick Mamatas, gifted neo-Beat writer of You Might Sleep …; Gerald Nicosia, Beat historian and acclaimed biographer of Jack Kerouac, who penned the most important life history on Kerouac with his book Memory Babe; Marc Olmsted, student of Allen Ginsberg and writer of What Use Am I a Hungry Ghost?, which contains an introduction by Ginsberg himself; and Marc’s wife, writer and artist Suzi Olmsted." Read full story >>

And, a glowing review in the LA Times. Just the kind we like >>

Michael Gizzi 1949-2010

"Hey Father Death..." sad news to report. Word reached us yesterday of the untimely passing of poet, editor and teacher, Michael Gizzi, (1949-2010), The Allen Ginsberg Project sends its deep condolences and sympathies to family and friends.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Howl Reviews New York Magazine & The Advocate (& the LA Times)

Since the Sundance opening of James Franco’s take on Allen Ginsberg in Howl, I’d heard the movie was howlingly bad — which makes me think that some of the best critical minds of my generation have been destroyed by cynicism. The film, directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, is an exhilarating tribute from one form (cinema) to another (poetry). Read full story >>

While your at New York Magazine, check out Franco's favorite poems list >>

And then there's James Franco in the October issue of The Advocate. (a few more day's of HOWL press and we'll stop, we promise. We realize it's been a bit non-stop, but this kinda film only comes around once in a life time we figure, so why not lay it on thick!)

The Beat Goes On

James Franco isn’t a gay man, he just plays one—frequently. The busiest guy in show business takes a break to discuss how he came to play Allen Ginsberg in Howl. Watch a behind the scenes video with Franco here. Full story >>

And whether you've gone on to read the above or not, here's an illuminating behind-the-scenes during the advocate interview youtube clip with Franco talking about the process of learning his Ginsberg role.

And over at LA Times Book Blog Carolyn Kellogg gives good props >>

Monday, September 27, 2010

Regina Weinreich: Howl for Peter Orlovsky: A Clash of Aesthetics

From Gossip Central: A Diary of the Arts

A scheduling glitch created the following conundrum: Best Generation poet and Allen Ginsberg's longtime mate, Peter Orlovsky, who died in June, was remembered on Wednesday at St. Mark's Church. Meanwhile the New York premiere of “Howl,” the new movie starring James Franco with Peter (Aaron Tveit) in a small role took place a few blocks across town at the IFC Center. Having filled the prestigious slot of opening night film at this year's Sundance Film Festival, the anticipation was high for this movie: part animation, part courtroom drama, part period piece about the creation of the iconic beat poem and the censorship trial for obscenity that followed its 1956 City Lights publication. Read Full Story >>

Saturday, September 25, 2010

James Franco on Letterman

2012 update - James Franco's September 23rd 2010 appearance on the David Letterman late-night tv show (originally embedded in this posting) is now no longer available by that means/ in that format. It can however still be seen on You Tube here

Friday, September 24, 2010

Visualizing Madness: The Art of “Howl” Steve Silberman interviews Eric Drooker

Steve Silberman interviews Eric Drooker and gets behind the animation element of HOWL, the section we think is so far the most under-appreciated component to the film.

Visualizing Madness: The Art of “Howl”

More Howl Reviews

Angel-Headed Hipster

Artist Eric Drooker howled with Ginsberg, illustrates his epic poem

By Jerry Portwood

You probably know artist Eric Drooker’s work even though you may not recognize his name. He’s produced artwork for over a dozen covers of The New Yorker, several depicting books stacked to resemble skyscrapers. Now his art has been adapted as animated sequences in Howl, the film about the landmark 1957 obscenity trial on the publication of Allen Ginsberg’s epic poem Howl, starring James Franco. Read full review in NY Press >>

And A.O. Scott's New York Times Review.

Aaron Tveit and James Franco in “Howl.” Jojo Whilden/Oscilloscope Laboratories

Leaping Off the Page, a Beatnik’s Poetic Rant

I saw the best poems of previous generations destroyed by sanity, well-fed, calm, neatly dressed, tiptoeing through lecture halls at 10 a.m. looking for a passing grade on a term paper. Read full New York Times Review >>

Bob Holman's review for

Howl - The Movie

James Franco IS Allen Ginsberg


I want medals all around for those who are bringing us the movie Howl, already released in San Francisco, due in New York next week—I mean that tells you something right there, and I like it! Yes, this is a movie based on a poem—when was the last time you saw one of those? And it’s done real smart too—while they get most of the lines of Ginsberg’s classic into the film, they serve another purpose here, or several purposes, and a linear rendering just ain’t one of them. Read full review >>

And a quite good one from NPR's Scott Tobias as well...

James Franco, Loosing A 'Howl' In Ginsberg's Honor

James Franco as Allen Ginsberg

In an interview with Playboy magazine — see, people do read it for the articles — Allen Ginsberg was asked about his struggles to accept his homosexuality. His answer, re-created in the unconventional and illuminating biopic Howl, cuts to the heart of what his poems (and this movie) seek to express. Read full Story >>

And the Wall Street Journal gives especially good review of Drooker's animation sequences.

An animated scene, drawn by Eric Drooker, from the new film 'Howl.' [Oscilloscope Laboratories]

"Howl," the new film about Allen Ginsberg and his controversial poem, is no simple narrative. The action flits among the titular poem's first public reading—at San Francisco's Six Gallery on Oct. 7, 1955—to the obscenity trial that followed in 1957 to an interview with the poet (played by James Franco). Meanwhile, soaring in and around all this are long stretches of animation depicting the text's urban, surrealist visions. Read full story >>

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Howl Premiers Tonight!

After so many years, some 9 years in fact, Howl premiers in NYC tonight and opens in NYC & SF theaters Friday and nationwide (US) next week. Congratulations to Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman for completing this monumental project, to Eric Drooker for the herculean task of animation design, & John Hays at Wild Brain! for shepherding Drooker through that task, Werk Work Works for coming in and financing the project, to Jawal Nga who jumped in at the very beginning before anyone had a clear idea of where the film would go or even if it would ever happen, the best cast and crew NYC has to offer and of course Oscilloscope as the hippest distributors in the business.

Reviews keep coming in, but we'll direct you to Ron Silliman's review since he's pretty much as poetry-centric as it gets.

"I saw the best exposition of a poem in a major motion picture, Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman’s Howl, coming to art theaters starting on the 24th & also, I believe, available thru various video-on-demand services. Howl is also perhaps the only major motion picture I’ve ever seen that is, in both form & function, the close reading of a text. I have never seen a film based on a work of literature that even remotely approached Howl’s devotion to the words on the paper. If you’re a writer, or care about poetry, you are almost certainly going to love this film. Howl was made for you, with intelligence & more than a little cinematic bravery, and it shows. Howl is a wonderful motion picture." Read full review >>


Howl's been officially picked up in Italy with apparently a large enough market for them to dub it instead of going with subtitles.

With everything going on, we forgot to wish Leonard Cohen a happy Birthday, for which we'll direct you over to Frank Beacham's blog that has fun shots of Allen with Leonard Cohen at a booksigning in LA back in 96. Happy B' day Leonard!

And just to follow up briefly on the saga of 437 East 12th Street, New York Times' East Village blog introduces us to the new tenant, an employee of Yelp! no less, which of course lends itself to some fun wordplay in the title...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Newsweek Review: Bohemian Rhapsody When is a biopic not just a biopic? When, like 'Howl,' it's got poetry in its soul.

The movie opens in black and white with a bespectacled poet adjusting his glasses and preparing to read. In the audience, college kids drink wine from glass jugs and blow cigarette smoke dramatically skyward. The poet begins. “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness.” It’s Allen Ginsberg (James Franco), the poem is Howl, and this is the point at which a traditional biopic would flash back to Ginsberg’s childhood, then proceed forward in a dutiful, linear manner, detailing all the events that led the man to create the work. Instead, filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman make the convention-defying, refreshing choice to focus on Ginsberg’s art, not his biography. Read full story >>

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Peter Orlovsky Memorial: Wednesday September 22, 8pm. St. Mark's Church, 2nd Ave & East 10th St., New York City

There will be a memorial Reading for poet, Peter Orlovsky on Wednesday, September 22, 8pm. St. Mark's Church. 10th St at 2nd Ave, NYC. The event is free.

Peter Orlovsky (July 8,1933-May 30, 2010) Poet, singer, farmer, yodeler, banjo-picker, Buddhist practitioner, Allen Ginsberg's lifelong-companion, Kerouac's Simon Darlovsky in Desolation Angels & George in The Dharma Bums, the generous & wonderfully whimsical Peter Orlovsky, was an unforgettable & hugely colorful presence in the East Village, and in and around the Poetry Project.

Please join us in a night of music, video, song and poetry, as some of his closest friends pay tribute to him including: Chuck Lief - Philip Glass - Ed Sanders - Steven Taylor - Hal Willner - Janine Pommy Vega - Andy Clausen - Patti Smith - Ambrose Bye - Miriam Sanders - Anne Waldman - Gordon Ball - Rosebud Pettet - Simon Pettet - Juanita Lieberman - Bill Morgan - Anselm Berrigan - Bob Rosenthal - Beverly Isis - John Godfrey - and others TBA

Presspop's Beat Poet Figurine in stores this month

Presspop's Ginsberg Figurine is just about ready now. As you'll see from the box below, the doll, designed by SOF'BOY creator, Sea and Cake's Archer Prewitt comes with an unassembled uncle Sam hat, a choice of Plutonian Ode, Collected Poems, Howl & Other Poems and Kaddish and Other Poems that you can put in his hand. Also included is a cd mini sampler with 5 poems and 1 song, all unreleased.

Officially approved by the Allen Ginsberg Estate

" I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked........"
The voice of the great poet reverberates even more, today!

Introducing the 3rd figure from the Great People Series by Archer Prewitt! The Allen Ginsberg Doll, officially approved by the Allen Ginsberg Estate. Comes with fabric cloth jacket, glasses, book, Uncle Tom hat, beaded necklace, and CD with 5 poetry readings and 1 song (all of the recordings are previously unreleased material). Limited to 1000 pieces.

content: doll, 5 accessories, and CD
doll height: 6"(152mm)
package size: 7.3"x5.5"x3.2"(187mm x140mmx83mm)
doll material: soft-vinyl
accessories: fabric jacket with 1C print on the back, book (paper), hat (paper), glasses (PVC), beaded necklace (plastic)

CD: 5 poetry readings and 1 song (previously unreleased recordings)
1.Bricklayer's Lunch Hour
2.On Burroughs' Work
3.Wales Visitation
4.Manhattan May Day Midnight
5.After the Big Parade
6. Capitol Air

designed by : Archer Prewitt (The Sea and Cake/SOF'BOY)
sculpted by: Kei Hinotani
release date: 9, 2010
retail price: 4,500 yen

2012 update - see also the Boing Boing review here

The sexy Howl brings 1950s poetry to life

Watermark's Lawrence Ferber interviews Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman

by Lawrence Ferber, WaterMark online, Key West. September 15, 2010

One of the year’s most buzzed-about gay titles is Howl, in which award-winning documentary filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (Paragraph 175, The Celluloid Closet) bring “Beat Generation” poet Allen Ginsberg’s landmark 1955 poem to life.

The Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival will screen the hit at Muvico Baywalk on Wednesday, Oct. 13, at 7:30 p.m.

Employing a triptych structure and superb name cast, the directors weave several strands together: scenes from Ginsberg’s youthful years (and relationships with fellow Beats Jack Kerouac and Peter Orlovsky), recreations of the 1957 obscenity trial against the published poem (utilizing actual court transcripts), and a gorgeously animated interpretation of Howl designed by erstwhile Ginsberg collaborator Eric Drooker. Read interview >>

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

One more apt coming up for rent at 437 East 12th Street

The apartment Allen had at 437 East 12th was actually two combined (#22 & #23), but since the renovation, the owner has restored them to single units. The first went on the market last month, and was scooped up immediately for some $1,700 a month. Now #23 is about to go on the market for a wee bit more at $1,875. The Real Deal have done up a little story on this whole business.

Monday, September 13, 2010

John Tytell on Allen Ginsberg: Howl's Echoes

Howl's Echoes

(from the Chronicle of Higher Education)

"Is there a great mad wave of fame crashing over our ears?," Allen Ginsberg asked Jack Kerouac after the publication of On the Road in a letter from Amsterdam in the fall of 1957. The query was prescient, the image apt. Ginsberg would learn how to surf that wave, while Kerouac would capsize and drown, one of the early casualties of contemporary American literature. Read full story >>

Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg

Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg Allen's exhibition comes down this Thursday, September 16. If you haven't seen it, and plan to be in the area, it's last chance. It's been getting very positive reviews, and loads of coverage, and to top it off, The New York Times have given it one last plug in yesterday's Sunday Times edition.

["Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg": Neal Cassady and Natalie Jackson in San Francisco, in the show at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate.]

Poet With a Kodak and a Restless Eye

WASHINGTON — The poet Allen Ginsberg, who died in 1997, adored life, feared death and craved fame. These obsessions seemed to have kept him, despite his practice of Buddhist meditation, from sitting still for long. He was constantly writing, teaching, traveling, networking, chasing lovers, sampling drugs, pushing political causes and promoting the work of writer friends. Read full review >>

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ballad of the Lights: Arthur Russell & the Flying Hearts feat. Allen Ginsberg

Nice little plug from pitchfork as well as Consequence of Sound (CoS)

CoS's great quote: "Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear, who worked on Love is Overtaking Me and just generally seems to admire Russell, handled the digital transfers for the vinyl version of “Ballad of the Lights”. The vinyl’s B-side will be an old Russell and Ginsberg work, 1971’s “Pacific High Studio Mantras”.

To indie it up a little, Archer Prewitt of The Sea and Cake designed the cover art (pictured)."

Continue reading CoS >>

"Ballad of the Lights" is a collaboration between NYC avant-pop hero Arthur Russell and beat poet Allen Ginsberg originally recorded in 1977. The track was recently unearthed from Russell's archive and will be released digitally as well as on a limited edition 10" vinyl on October 19 via Japanese label Press Pop and Audika.

Howl Festival 2010 New York City September 10-12

Apologies for our last minute posting on this. This year's Howl fest officially kicks off tonite with a reading of Howl featuring: Anne Waldman w/Ambrose Bye, John Giorno, Betsy Andrews, Jennifer Blowdryer, Ana Bozicevic, Guillermo Castro, Steve Dalachinsky, Thomas Fucaluro, Greg Fuchs, Daniel Gallant, Alan Gilbert, Amy King, Mariposa, Douglas A. Martin, Angelo Nikolopoulos, Amy Ouzunian, Meghann Plunkett, Jon Sands, Susan Scotti, Jean Ann Verlee, Michael Warr, Chavisa Woods, Advocate of Wordz, RA 'R!' Araya. Host and MC: Bob Holman.

Check their site,, for a complete listing of events, which, although the core is this weekend, actually span the entire month of September. >>

In Tompkins Square Park NYC
September 10, 11 & 12
Two Stages • Three Days
Art Around the Park!!!
30 days of

Poetry, Theater, Performance Art, Film
Comedy and Dance
Sept 1-30 at
THEATRE 80 on St Marks Place

Events throughout the neighborhood
all month long at our many sister venues!

The Bowery Poetry Club, Ella Lounge, Bowery Electric,
Gallery Bar, The Poetry Project at St. Marks Church,
and more!

Vibrant, Iconic, and Stylish!
From the East Village/Lower East Side community
world renowned for its sense of adventure,
creative excellence and cutting edge!

Thank You to HOWL! Festival 2010 Sponsors

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Peter Orlovksy's Sukhavati at Karmê Chöling, Barnet, VT June 2010

Further to the last post on the internment of Peter & Allen's ashes, we'd like to point out that Jacqueline Gens has posted some beautiful photos of Peter's Sukhavati ceremony at Karmê Chöling from last June. Check the complete post on her blog, Poetry Mind.

Internment of Allen Ginsberg & Peter Orlovsky's Ashes at Shambhala Mountain Center, August 28, 2010

It was Allen's wish that a third of his ashes be buried in his family plot in Elizabeth, New Jersey, one third go to Jewel Heart, Gelek Rinpoche's Sangha, and one third to the Shambhala Sangha to be brought to Shambhala Mountain Center near Red Feather Lakes, Colorado. For quite some time we'd been planning appropriate placement for them with the help of poets Reed Bye, Anne Waldman and the staff at SMC, especially with artist Joshua Mulder, but couldn't quite seem to coordinate something. It took Peter Orlovsky passing away last spring and his similar wish to have his ashes brought to SMC to finally settle the issue. On Sunday August 28 we conducted the traditional Mahayana Buddhist Sukhavati ceremony of burning images of the deceased and aspiration prayers from from the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the Prajnaparamita Sutra as well as a group reading of Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind." Here are some images from that day.

[Peter's marker reads: Ocean of Generosity (Peter's Buddhist refuge name) Peter Orlovsky, July 8, 1933 – May 30, 2010. "Train will tug my grave, my breath hueing gentil vapor
between weel and track" (from 'Snail Poem')]

[Anne Waldman in front of Peter's marker.]

[Peter Orlovsky's marker]

[Allen's marker reads: Dharma Lion (Allen's Buddhist refuge name), Allen Ginsberg, June 3, 1926 – April 5, 1997. ~my life work Poesy, transmitting that spontaneous awareness to Mankind (from "Who")]

[Joshua Mulder designed the markers for both Allen & Peter. He is the primary artistic designer and sculptor for iconography within the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya nearby. Here explains how he settled on the design of the headstones and their position in the rest area]

[table set up preparation for the Sukhavati ceremony. Peter's ashes in the blue brocade box and Allen's in the Irish Steel Cut Oats tin on the right]

[images of Peter & Allen before burning during the Sukhavati ceremony]

[Reed Bye & Anne Waldman reading the Prajnaparamita Sutra (Heart Sutra) and aspiration prayers from the Tibetan Book of the Dead. This was followed by a group reading of Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind]

[Joshua Mulder & Anne Waldman]

[Joshua Mulder explains that the bench from where this photo was taken is designed to line up with Allen's marker, the Tibetan syllable for 'AH' behind it, and the notch in Marpa point in the distance, the power center of Marpa point]

[The tip of the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya as seen from the rest area by Allen & Peter's internment markers.]

[The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, Shambhala Mountain Center, Colorado]

[The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, view from the north]

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

HOWL Movie/Book Trailer Contest from City Lights

A little something we caught wind of via Shelf-Awareness Daily...

HOWL Movie/Book Trailer Contest from City Lights

Calling all "angelheaded hipsters." City Lights bookstore, San Francisco, Calif., is sponsoring a book trailer contest to celebrate the release of the film HOWL, and is asking potential entrants "to create your own personal book trailer for Allen Ginsberg's notorious epic poem HOWL, no longer than 90 seconds. E-mail us a link to your trailer to" Complete details are available on the City Lights Facebook page.

Deadline for entering the contest is September 24, the same day the movie opens nationally. City Lights will post selected video entries on its YouTube page, and the winner on its YouTube and Facebook pages.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Howl: A Graphic Novel Illustrated by Eric Drooker

[Allen Ginsberg and Eric Drooker, Allen's East 12th St. Apt, NYC, ca 1995. photo: Steven Taylor]

We're happy to see all the good press covering Eric Drooker's graphic novel for Howl. The New Yorker's The Book Bench gives it a positive sweet mention, there's a feature in Nowness, an interview in 7x7, and Comics Alliance have a full spread of images. Eric Drooker's posted his introduction from the book on his own site as well as some useful press info there as well. The book is a tie-in with the upcoming Howl film one quarter of which is motion-animation of Drooker's work set to the poem. It only made sense to have a companion book that included stills.

437 East 12th Street Gut Renovation

Last month we posted that Allen's East 12th Street apartment got the wrecking ball and featured some shots of the construction going on. EV Grieve picked up on the story and put their hands on the listing for the space at $1,700 a month, and even contacted the Realtor asking if he'd be capitalizing on Allen's history there, which in the end he decided to do, tho at the time it seems that he'd already had a tenant lined up anyway. The New York Observer have since confirmed the space is now rented for the asking price, and the paint's hardly dried! Sorry folks.

Incidentally, we highly recommend checking the comments on the EV Grieve posting, especially the one by the squatters who lived there the last two years before the renovation started. We had no idea!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Steven Watson on Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's Howl: A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich

Steven Watson lays it down for us in the current issue of Art Forum. He is the the author of The Birth of the Beat Generation, Factory Made: Warhol and the Sixties, Strange Bedfellows: The First American Avant-Garde among many others.

Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, Howl, 2010, still from a black-and-white and color film in 35 mm and Super 16 mm, 90 minutes. Allen Ginsberg (James Franco).

PROBABLY NO WORK of American literature of the mid-twentieth century has taken on so many identities as Allen Ginsberg’s 1955 poem “Howl”: Beat anthem, First Amendment cause célèbre, Lower East Side fringe festival. It’s safe to say that even those who have never read the poem would recognize its haunting opening lines: “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, / dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix.” It’s even safer to say that few of its admirers would have considered “Howl” a likely subject for a motion picture. Who would make a poem into a movie anyway? That’s even more unlikely than Ginsberg appearing in a Gap ad! read full story >>