Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy 100th Birthday, Paul Bowles

[Paul Bowles preparing mint tea on arrival at acquaintance Christopher Wanklyn’s souk household in the medina, I took train from Tangier and stayed with them a week, Marrakesh, Maroc, July 20, 1961. (Allen Ginsberg caption) c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

Paul Bowles Centennial Today - December 30 2010 - Paul Bowles (1910-1999)

For a decent breakdown on how his life intersected with Allen's or how he gets incorrectly heaped in with the "Beats," click on over to the official Paul Bowles site.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday's Weekly Round-Up 6

Here’s for the holiday season our now-regular miscellaneous Ginsberg round-up, the last round-up for 2010

More Arthur Russell/Allen Ginsberg

You all know Arthur Russell’s appearance playing cello on “Do The Meditation Rock” from Nam June Paik’s Good Morning Mr. Orwell (1984) but here the two are again, Allen intoning this time on Arthur’s “Soon To Be Innocent Fun”, featuring John Moran with Allen Ginsberg, from the 1993 Meet The Locusts, produced by Philip Glass. Vocals are by John Moran, Joyce Bowden and Allen Ginsberg. Arrangement is by John Moran. Allen’s recorded voice also featured as “a patriarchal commentator named Justinius” in “Mathew in the School of Life”, Moran’s 1995 “science fiction techno opera”.

Ezra Pound and Allen Ginsberg

We’ve been meaning to get to this. Rodger Kamentz’s powerful verse essay, Allen Ginsberg Forgives Ezra Pound on Behalf of the Jews” appeared recently in the Jewish Daily Forward. A verse essay, Kamentz explains is “a form that allows the exploration of ideas and associations as well as the use of documentary material” .The stepping off point of the poem was a 1992 interview. Read more of Kamentz’s introduction and the “essay” here. Here’s some more on Ginsberg and Pound (a 1967 poem from Allen that he dedicates to Pound) from the Winter 2008 issue of Flash Point magazine, and a photo taken by Ettore Sottsass.

Howl DVD and Blueray

January 4 2011 is the date of the release of the DVD and the Blueray versions of Howl, the movie, not too long to go now. Oscilloscope have informed us that these new Howl releases will feature the following bonus materials:

“Commentary by James Franco and the Directors”; Holy! Holy! Holy! Making of Howl”; “Original interviews with Allen Ginsberg's friends and collaborators”; “James Franco Reads "Howl”” – (An) “Audio Excerpt Performance: Ginsberg in 1995 at NYC's Knitting Factory” (with additional BD-only clips); (A) “Q&A Session with the Filmmakers, as moderated by John Cameron Mitchell “(BD-only)

Harold Chapman’s Photos

January 4 also marks the date of the Harold Chapman Paris and the Beat Hotel sale at Bonham’s in London. A collection of Chapman's prints titled "Peter Golding's Harold Chapman Archive" is going up for sale. See our recent note on his last show this past summer at London’s Proud Galleries. The Archive consists of 108 photographs, approximately half of which were reproduced in Chapman’s 1984 The Beat Hotel book (which featured introductory texts by William S Burroughs and Brion Gysin – see also Harold Chapman, Beats A Paris: Und Die Dichter Der Beat Generation 1957-1963). A selection of prints are up for viewing now, and the entire set be viewed upon request.

A recent BBC film report on Chapman’s work can be found here.

Dylan and Ginsberg

Sean Wilentz, whose book on Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan in America, is another book we’ve profiled, was recently interviewed in American about the Dylan-Ginsberg link "The two of them had a profound impact on each other in terms of cultural imagery”, Wilentz declares, ”Dylan helped inspire some of his greater (sic) poems, including “Wichita Vortex Sutra.” Ginsberg helped legitimize Dylan’s lyric writing as serious poetry, and Dylan helped render Ginsberg into a kind of pop figure which he had not been before."

On The Road Film

We told you last month that we’d keep you posted about the filming of On The Road. You know the one where Tom Sturridge plays Carlo Marx/Allen Ginsberg? Well, shooting’s wrapped up, apparently. Here’s a photo-essay from our good friends in San Francisco at the Beat Museum. More to follow.

Anne Waldman: Janine Pommy Vega, Beat Sister

Janine Pommy Vega, Beat Sister
February 5, 1942- December 23, 2010

A great sister spirit, woman extraordinaire of the Beat literary movement who left her home in Union City, New Jersey age 15 to seek out the Beats, died December 23rd at her home in Willow, New York, outside Woodstock. She was close to Gregory Corso, Herbert Huncke, Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky. Peter was her first lover at a tender age. They lived together and she confronted the complicated sexuality and male chauvinist ethos early on when Allen took Peter off to India, with nary a thought to her feelings. “Is this the way it is with the poets? This is my first lover and this is the way it goes? Fuck those people, man, I don’t want to know about the writers. I rather meet the painters, the musician, the magicians, let’s get to the street.” And meet them and the street she did. Janine was a populist, a street fighter, a survivor, a world traveler and hugely prolific writer many decades. Tracking The Serpent: Journeys to Four Continents is an amazing account of an adventuresome life. She spent the last 11 years with poet Andy Clausen, tending her garden when she wasn’t traveling the world performing her magnetic and politically engaged poetry, and doing the scholarly work as well, burning the midnight oil. Even after being hampered with debilitating arthritis she was out on the road, her uplifted voice and spirit cutting through anyone’s gloom.

We were together in Prague at the height of celebration right after the Velvet Revolution, dancing in the streets, and I was with Janine as she shook her egg rattle and up and down Italy on the Pullman Bus Tour, with Lawrence Ferlinghetti and others. People loved her at every turn, moved by her warmth and deep-rooted compassion. She was a guest at Naropa’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics recently, admonishing students to get active and do the work to benefit others. I count her in our band of “tattered bodhisattva” poets. At Naropa she spoke of “serving something other than the ego, serving as the glue of a civilization, serving clarity of thought, the specific vision of your truth”.

Janine was an indomitable activist on behalf of women’s rights and taught tirelessly inside the prison system, working many years for the PEN Prison Writing Committee. A poem from her collection, The Green Piano (David R. Godine, Published, 2005):

Christmas at Woodbourne

Sodden cardboard manger
at the front gate
to Woodbourne Prison
shrouded hills, lone gull’s
screech atop the searchlight

Who says we are separate
from what we love?
would call that ignorance
separate voices, separate
troubles, separate cells –
connectedness is
from the consistency
of grace

( Janine Pommy Vega
Woodbourne C.F., Woodbourne, New York
December 1996)

Janine: you continue to soar with your dignity and exquisite -- yet fearless -- grace.

Anne Waldman
The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics
Boulder, Colorado

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Janine Pommy Vega: Februrary 5 1942-December 23, 2010

We just received the sad news that poet Janine Pommy Vega passed away this morning. Her warmth & presence in the poetry world will be sorely missed.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

William S Burroughs & Allen Ginsberg on the Yage Letters, Ayahuasca, & Junky's Christmas

Came across this little gem recently from Charles Ruas' WBAI show, from 1975, a segment entitled "In Search of Yage." It's 95 per cent Allen on William Burroughs & their collection of letters, The Yage Letters (which, incidentally, was re-issued in 2006 by City Lights, with extensive notes by Oliver Harris and additional materials, as The Yage Letters Redux). Recordings of Burroughs reading a selection of the letters are also scattered throughout the program. A good number of Ruas' shows have now been posted to, including, notably, one of Allen reading (in 1968), and a 1975 discussion on Naked Lunch that includes James Grauerholz, Maurice Girodias and Carl Solomon and also sections of the book read by Burroughs himself. Other shows currently available feature such luminaries as Ed Sanders, New Directions' James Laughlin, and theater director, Richard Foreman.

While we're on the subject of yage, it's worth posting, perhaps, this all-too-rarely-seen classic of Burroughs narrating a short film on ayahuasca:

And of course what Christmas season posting would be complete without Burroughs' "Junky's Christmas!"
You can watch The Junky's Christmas here

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Buddhist Art & Music in the 70s & 80s: Marcus Boon on Arthur Russell's Buddhism & Creative Process

Just came across this fantastic take on Arthur Russell's creative process in connection with Buddhism by Marcus Boon. Definitely worth a read. (btw, If you haven't had a chance to check out Tim Lawrence's Arthur Russell book Hold on to Your Dreams, we highly recommend that too especially if you've got more than a passing interest in the NYC art/music/poetry scenes of the 1970s & 80s. )

"I’m just finishing Tim Lawrence’s excellent biography of Arthur Russell, Hold On To Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973-1992. In some ways, New York in the 1970s is starting to be very well charted territory, but the complicated web of connections between different scenes which is described in this book is still news, and Lawrence draws out these connections with the same loving detail he brought to his first book, Love Saves The Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-1979. " Read complete entry >>

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ginsberg's poem for Ingrid Law

Celebrated Children's book author Ingrid Law recently revealed a unique Allen Ginsberg “lost poem” – well, kind of. As she explains in her blog, Straight From The Jar, it was 1977, and she was 7 years old. “It was at a fund-raising event, I believe. And, at the time, I did not even understand much about who Allen Ginsberg was, let alone how cool it would be to have this poem years later”. Yes, Allen wrote a poem/inscription/lullaby note for the little girl (and her mother wisely held on to it). “I doubt you’ll be seeing this one in any anthologies soon”, she wryly remarks, “but still...”

You eat macaroni!
You eat donuts!
Do you eat the donut holes?
You watch Superman!
You visit Gilligan's island?
You sing roll & Rock!
You smell roses!
You touch your mom!
You think of going to

Allen Ginsberg
July 6,'77

Read her full entry titled "Poetry: Robert Burns, Allen Ginsberg, Gilligan's Island and smelling the roses" on her blog Straight from the Jar

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday's Weekly Round-Up 5

So last week we alerted you to another interview with Howl animator, Eric Drooker, so this week, here’s another interview with James Franco, Howl’s star (recorded earlier this month at New York’s 92nd Street Y, as part of Reel Pieces, their on-going, long-running, film-talk series). Interviewer here is series-host, and Columbia professor, film historian, Annette Insdorf).

Meanwhile, at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, “just down the street”, opening on Sunday, Allen’s screen test" by Andy Warhol is among those being featured in Andy Warhol: Motion Pictures, a show focusing on Warhol’s experimental, black-and-white, non-narrative, “portrait” films. Interesting juxtaposition, come to think of it, Andy Warhol and Allen Ginsberg, two great portrait artists! The show stays up till March.

Word salad! – In keeping with our occasional notice of hommages, parodies and experiments with Howl (indeed with any and all of Allen’s poems), here’s part of an on-going work by San Francisco-based poet, Tom Commita - Howl in Six Voices. Commita explains:

Howl in Six Voices is the sonic rendition of the textual procedure "inflationary erasure"--a fusion of lipogram and erasure.

In this procedure, a found sound file--Allen Ginsberg reading his "Howl for Carl Solomon"--is erased six times, each time including--in their original order--only and all words containing a particular vowel. Accordingly, "HAWL" includes all words containing the vowel [a]. "HEWL" includes all words containing the vowel [e]. "HIWL" includes all words containing the vowel [i]. And so on.

The six erasures together "inflate" Ginsberg's "Howl" by including more words--words containing two or more vowels--than the original.

Sample the whole thing here

No more responses to last week's request for favorite AG recordings?

Allen Ginsberg's Personal Ad

A good response to the posting of Bob Holman's "Poetry Spot" (Allen Ginsberg Does Tai Chi) last week. So here's another one. This, from his 1996 PBS series, The United States of Poetry. Allen reads (and acts out) his bitter-sweet late poem, ”Personals Ad” (from Cosmopolitan Greetings) . F.y.i., that young man in his skivvies just might be our very own Peter Hale!
The text of the poem can be read here - And perhaps we should also point out that this poem was one of twelve of Allen's chosen for Random House's audiobook, The Voice of the Poet - Allen Ginsberg. It was also given a memorable setting by composer David Del Tredici in his 20o1 song cycle, Gay Life.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Time for some serious errata: 1963 Neal Cassady photos & Charles Plymell

We've had a few shots of Neal Cassady on the website for quite some time with missing details and in some cases flat out wrong information. Not quite sure how we'd had it wrong after all these years, and why Allen hadn't kept more detailed info on that historic roll of film. At any rate, Charles Plymell took notice, and a good thing too, as he was there when they were shot, and in a few cases even took the photos himself with Allen's camera. Here some fantastic detailed background to these historic shots from the Summer of 1963.

Neal Cassady sitting in chair at Karen Sexton's house after arriving in Bolinas with Charles Plymell and Allen. According to Plymell, "Neal had spotted a copy of a Kerouac book and began reading his 'parts' to everyone." Charles may have taken this one, as he's thinking Allen had stepped outside while Neal was reading. Summer 1963. c. Allen Ginsberg Estate.

Neal Cassady outside Charles Plymell's 1403 Gough Street house where Allen had met Peter 9 years earlier when Robert LaVigne lived there. According to Plymell, the other people in the photo were a "Hollywood filmmaker & cronies who came to Gough St. to visit." c. Allen Ginsberg Estate

Neal Cassady and his girlfriend at the time Ann Murphy. Referring to this image, as well as another on that same roll which unfortunately we don't have on hand, where Neal is looking toward the backseat, Charles Plymell writes:

"I thought for a while the famous headliner photo with Neal and Ann in front seat was mine, because Allen sat in the back behind Ann and the photo is almost in front with Neal turning completely around facing us. I know I told Allen to get the shot of headliner, or I would, but maybe he did. The car was a 39 Pontiac and Neal was speeding and Allen was telling him to slow down especially around curves where we were thrown into each other in back seat. Neal got mad at Allen telling him to slow down because it interfered with his arguing and slapping Ann when he had his hands free. He said the brakes were out anyway and speeded up using the hand brake and gear shift on floor to gear down on the steep hills while manhandling Ann in their eternal argument about who was fucking whom and scoring pills from her Dr. connection, so he sped up on purpose."

"When we stopped at a convenience store, I asked Allen to borrow his camera to take this shot as if nothing had happened and we went for a roller coaster ride. Neal was all smiles and otherwise had a nice time lying on the hills overlooking the shore at Bolinas. Allen was still in his Whitmanesque/India mode then." Photo & Caption: Charles Plymell

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Allen Ginsberg Does Tai Chi

Thanks to poet-entrepreneur Bob Holman for this one. Between 1986 and 1994 Bob produced over 50 “Poetry Spots” for the New York public television station, WNYC featuring a whole range of poets. This, the one on Allen, is one of the earliest of them. Check his You Tube channel for others. The text of the poem, “In My Kitchen in New York – for Bataan Faigao” (dated “Manhattan Midnight, September 5, 1984”) is included in White Shroud – Poems 1980-1985 and in Collected Poems and here
Bataan Faigao is a full-time faculty member at Naropa University, and chair of the Traditional Eastern Arts Department. He is also director of the Rocky Mountain T'ai-chi ch'uan Foundation. He began studying t'ai-chi ch'uan with Grand Master Cheng Man-ching in 1968 and for the next seven years practiced under his guidance. He has been teaching t'ai-chi ch'uan since 1976.

Friday's Weekly Round-Up 4

What do you think is the best, most representative, Allen Ginsberg recording? Allen Ginsberg at his “mojo-strongest”? Peter Conners, author of the recently-published White Hand Society - The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg following a tip from our good friend Steve Silberman, proposes “Kral Majales” in the version off The Lion for Real album. What do other folks think?
(An invitation to sample our extensive audio and visual links is hereby proffered to refresh your memory!)
White Hand Society is now out, incidentally (we announced it a few months ago), and an excerpt can be read here on Reality Sandwich, and here on the City Lights web-site. There’s also an illuminating interview here with the author, speaking of his time researching the book among the Ginsberg archives in Stanford.

Critical poems. It could be a poem like “Kral Majales”, or, for Seattle-based poet Martha Silano, "A Supermarket in California". Her memory of that poem’s life-changing affect on her is the subject of a radio essay recently aired on KUOW public radio.
Heard enough about Howl the movie? – I know we’ve featured such material before but here’s another profile/interview with Erik Drooker. It describes, among other things, his recent City Lights visit. Did we mention City Lights recent 50th Anniversary Edition of Kaddish? Yes we did.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Kaddish - 50th Anniversary Edition

With perfect timing (building on the interest created by Howl, both the
reprint and the film) City Lights have just issued, in the familiar
Pocket Poets format a new (50th Anniversary Edition) of Allen's classic
second collection, the ground-breaking Kaddish & Other Poems 1958-1960.
This new edition features an afterword by Bill Morgan, as well as
"previously unpublished family photographs, Naomi's paintings, and
documents and letters relating to the composition of the poem".
For more details click here

(2012 update - an interesting post relating to Allen and Kaddish may be accessed here)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Friday's Weekly Round-Up 3

Still off traveling but we thought we'd scatter a few crumbs. Couldn't miss the weekly, or semi-weekly, round-up!

There's a nice piece up about San Francisco's lively independent bookstore scene, including, of course, City Lights,
in the travel section of this Sunday's New York Times -
's a sneak preview.

Another snippet of news - James Franco’s selection as co-host for the Oscar ceremonies this coming February…Hmm.. How many mentions of Allen on Oscar night will this mean?

Franco's vivid portrayal of Allen in the movie has led a number of reviewers to recount their own memorable meetings with the real Allen. Here's two sides of the coin. Debra Ginsberg (for NPR) and Fritz Lyon (for the Maine Republican Journal), both mindful of the echoes contained in their names!).