Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Abbie Hoffman

[Abbie Hoffman, Mobilization for Justice & Peace in Central America & Southern Africa, March and Rally, Saturday, April 25, 1987, Washington, D.C. photo. c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

[Abbie Hoffman and son, America, Boulder Colorado June 1986. Photo: Allen Ginsberg copyright]

["Abbie Hoffman Makes Gefilte Fish" (in the Chelsea Hotel) - video by Laura Kroneberg Cavestani & Frank Cavestani, 1973]

Abbie Hoffman would have been 75 today  [November 30 2011]

His appearance, in 1980, on Coca Crystal's cable tv show can be seen here, here and here.
His interview with Barbara Walters ("mainstream media"), on ABC, that same year, may be viewed here.

Who remembers the 1970 album, "Wake Up America" on Big Toe Records?
- here and here and here and here and here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Daniel Radcliffe and Allen Ginsberg

[Daniel Radcliffe and Allen Ginsberg juxtaposition - courtesy]

Daniel Radcliffe, the actor, recently quoted by MTV:

I actually wrote a poem the other day for the first time in about eight months and I went, ah, actually that’s half-decent. Everything else I’ve written has been crap, but I wrote something today that I was actually pleased with”

and now comes the rumor/news – broken first by – “Daniel Radcliffe To Play Allen Ginsberg in John Krokidas’ Gay-Themed Thriller, Kill Your Darlings”

Here’s the news disseminated in New York magazine and in the Huffington Post. Here’s Mike Berlin for Out (a magazine Daniel graced the cover for).

We here at the Ginsberg Project reported on this projected film in 2009 (the filming of John Krokidas and Austin Bunn’s script has been very much a delayed project - but,hey, this is Hollywood!)

Harry Potter and Allen Ginsberg! – talk about zeitgeist confluence!

Blake (Allen's 1975 Naropa Class)

[William Blake (1757-1827) - Self-Portrait, 18o2 ]

AG: What I want to do today is to run through (William) Blake's "Songs of Innocence and Experience". Do most of you have the texts, or some of you have the texts? You might take them out. You've all read some Blake. Is there anybody here who never read any Blake at all? Raise your hands. Now, do most of you know some of the "Songs of Innocence and Experience"? I guess. Those of you who read Blake in grammar school, can you raise your hand? What schools did you go to?

Student: Public

AG: Where?

Student: In Detroit

AG: High-school, yeah, their regular high-school English. And then college? Yeah. Well Blake seems to be the one person who's penetrated through the educational system. [Allen begins, with harmonium, by singing the "Introduction" (from "Songs of Innocence") - "Piping down the valleys wild.." - followed by "The Shepherd" - "How sweet is the Shepherd's sweet lot.."].(And) the next, "The Echoing Green", I have recorded [he attempts to play the recording but the record skips] - can't do it, I'll have to sing it.

Student: Do you want some help?

AG: I need some help then. If somebody could come up and turn pages for me,

Student: Is there a chair?

AG: Yeah, there's a chair. Would you bring that over? [ Allen begins with the harmonium and sings, in its entirety, "The Echoing Green" ("The Sun does arise,/ And make happy the skies"), followed by "The Lamb" ("Little lamb, who made thee..?" "Little lamb, God bless thee" - he repeats the final refrain many times with the class] - (Next) "The Little Black Boy", which is the nearest to a statement of Gnostic nihilism, in a way, or anti-materialism, that Blake came to in this book, except maybe for the last poem, added on towards the end of his life,"To Tirzah".
[He sings "The Little Black Boy" ("My mother bore me in the southern wild..") and then follows it with "The Blossom" ("Merry Merry Sparrow..") ] - "The Blossom", which is Tantric yab-yum. Sparrow and blossom. Phallus and yoni. I think I have a recording of that I might take out [Allen plays a studio version of "The Blossom", with a chamber-orchestra accompaniment] - and "The Chimney Sweeper" [he plays a studio version of "The Chimney Sweeper", which begins with Peter Orlovsky commenting to Allen] - Peter said, "You know the words by heart" - I don't know if you can hear the words clearly without a text, actually, with that, because we were using echoes. I couldn't sing that because there were some high notes that only Orlovsky could get - "And by came an angel who had a bright key". "The Little Boy Lost" is done well on here [the record], and then I'll get back to singing myself. "The Little Boy Lost" and "The Little Boy Found".

Student: Allen, the last line of that, or the last couple of lines, what degree of irony.. what (there in) "The Chimney Sweeper"?

AG: I took it as very straight, naive, in that one. There are Marxist interpretations and others. And Gnostic interpretations that say it's totally sardonic. But actually, my ultimate feeling about it is that it's great sentimentality. I like it better that way than any other way at the moment. So that was the interpretation that was put on it. But I guess you should be forewarned that that actually might be Blake being really nasty also. [Allen then performs "The Little Boy Lost" and "The Little Boy Found" - "Father, father, where are you going?/ Oh, do not walk so fast!.."] - Then, "The Laughing Song" [Allen sings with harmonium - "When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy.."] - There's a weird version, kind of jazzed up, with laughter that we did. Are you interested in comparing the recordings? The trumpet on this (recorded version) is Don Cherry, who's a really great jazz musician, so it all jazzed itself up. And also Cherry is on the maracas [ Allen plays the studio recording of "The Laughing Song"] - I was doing that to actually punctuate the rhythm, score the rhythm, with "ha's".

Student: What year was this?

AG: This was 19...

Student: 68?

AG: '68 or '69. I forget. I don't know. This is still available actually. Even here, I think, but the album said "liner notes enclosed" - but they're not enclosed - So it's a sort of a mess.
"Cradle Song", or "A Cradle Song" [Allen proceeds to sing, with harmonium accompaniment, "A Cradle Song" ("Sweet dreams, form a shade/O'er my lovely infant's head...", including "Heaven and earth to peace beguiles", the last line, which he repeats many times, with the class joining in) - and then "The Divine Image'' ("To Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love") and "Holy Thursday" ("'Twas on a Holy Thursday...) before tape ends here]
[second side of the tape begins with] AG: "Night" - What I've done is set about 35 of the 45 songs, so I'll run through if we have time (left), is that alright? - Students: Yeah, wonderful - [Allen recites, with harmonium accompaniment, and in its entirety, "Night" ("The sun descending in the West.."), then ("I'll try that again) repeats the last two stanzas]. (Next), "Spring", which has a refrain at the end - I have a recording of some of these that I'll put out. This one I've done with (Bob) Dylan and Happy Traum doing the chorus work, which you can do ma'am..

Student: Me?

AG: Yep [Allen proceeds to give a rendition of "Spring", with numerous repetitions of the chorus line - "Merrily, merrily, to welcome in the year"] - The next also has a chorus. "The Nurse's Song" (from "Songs of Innocence") . I want to skip, for one second, to do "The Nurse's Song" (from "Songs of Experience") first, on recording [Allen plays recording of "The Nurse's Song" ("When the voices of children, are heard on the green/And whisperings are in the dale..")] - When I was 20, I had an auditory hallucination of Blake's voice, which was just about like that. But it took me about 20 years to perfect it. So it was probably a hallucination of my own latent diaphragm vocalization. I was hearing my own voice, probably, as in a dream. (Next), "Nurse's Song" (from "Songs of Innocence") - "When the voices of children, are heard on the green/ And laughing is heard on the hill" [Allen performs this song and, as was his manner, repeats the final line several times, midway - "And all the hills echo-ed" - turning it into a "round" - this is followed by "Infant Joy" ("I have no name/ I am but two days old..") - and "A Dream" - "A Dream - this also has a chorus, a Buddhist chorus at the end of this, making use of "Om" and "Hum"" - "Once a dream did weave a shade".."Little wanderer hie thee home".."Hum hum hum hum..home home home home")] - (and) "On Another's Sorrow" - Can you hear me when I'm singing low? What time is it?...
[tape begins again] - Allen recites (with harmonium) "On Another's Sorrow" ("Can I see another's woe/ And not be in sorrow too?", repeating the last line, "He doth sit by us and moan" several times)] - "Songs of Experience" - I don't have all of them done [but Allen recites the first part, the Introduction - ("Hear the voice of the bard,/ Who present, past, and future sees..")] - I don't have "Earth's Answer" prepared. I have a "Holy Thursday" done country & western (style), but I don't know how to play the chords correctly, so I'll experiment with it actually. You'll get the general idea, if I can't get it straight, anyways [ Allen sings "Holy Thursday" ("Is this a holy thing to see..")] - Now let see how that goes..Okay..yeah..
"The Little Girl Lost" (which is, more or less, an improvisation). I have the chords for it, but I don't have it worked out. I think it's actually one of the most powerful of the songs. The sentence and prophecy in it. He says himself, "Grave the sentence deep/ Shall arise and seek/ For her maker meek". So it's the same as the "voice of the bard", saying "Hear the voice of the bard".."O Earth return!.." "Why dost thou turn away?" "Why will thou turn away?" ("O Earth, O Earth, return../ Turn away no more/ Why wilt thou turn away?") - So its actually consciousness turning away from his ground that he's talking about. And "Lyca" [Allen pronounces it like "Lisa"] is the lost consciousness. So Lyca is the consciousness of mankind, which has become lost, and is wandering in the void. As I interpret it. Well how would you pronounce it? [to class] - L-Y-C-A - How would you pronounce it? I've puzzled over that for years. LIE-ka?

Student: Yeah, LIE-ka, like "light-house".

AG: I think, "Lisa", "Lysa", "Allysa". What do you figure? - LIE-ka or LEE-suh? Take a vote. Who wants LIE-ka? What were the various ones? LEE-ka. Who wants LEE-ka? Raise your hands for LEE-ka. Raise your hands for LEE-suh? - Oh shit, who's got the book? There's a picture of her in the book. Who's got the Blake book? "The Little Girl Lost" - Is there a picture of her in "The Little Girl Lost"? Who wanted to know what she looked like? There's one there who wanted to know what she looked like. Pass it back.

Student: She's a big girl

AG: You want to pass it back?

Student: Someone else.. It's over there..

AG: It's alright. You just keep passing it on.

Student: If its LIE-ka he's playing with a simile

AG: True enough. You mean "like" ?

Student: LIE-ka

AG: Maybe. Lovely likeness lay ("Lovely Lyca lay")

Student: I looked up "Lyca" in the dictionary and I can't remember what it was

Student: An old OED

AG: By the way, if anybody's interested in figuring out Blake.. because, I'm not explaining very much here, because I figure the singing is sufficient - interpretation of the phrasing , and with the right phrasing it's pretty clear, more or less, isn't it? Has it been very much complicated about... a few (like this) are really obviously symbolic so I stop and take time, but..

Student: What do you think happened in between the times that these two sets of things were written? Do you think that his consciousness was actually, as that experience would.. indecipherable ? Do you think he knew all the stuff that he was singing about after he wrote...

AG: I think, latently, sure, but I guess he was still holding out for innocence, or still sentimentalizing a bit. But he thought he had made it so innocent that it would be a great stroke of genius to turn the other, dark, side on, maybe. I don't know. I don't know the times of composition. It may be that some of the "Songs of Experience" were composed during the time of "Songs of Innocence", but he didn't feel they fit, and then, all of a sudden, he had the idea to put them in. Yeah?

AG: No, actually Ed Sanders and The Fugs set that. (Sanders will be teaching here, you know. I think the last week of the first session, I think). Sanders turned me on to this, actually. It was through Sanders' experiments with music with The Fugs that I decided, well, if he can do it, I can be a..

Student: Do you know...

AG: [begins singing] - "How sweet I roam'd from field to field,/ And tasted all the summer's pride,/ Till I, the prince of love beheld,/ Who in the sunny beams did glide!" - "He gave me lilies for my hair..." ("He shew'd me lilies for my hair..") - Do you know the rest?

Student: [takes up the singing] - "...And blushing roses for my brow;/ He led me through his gardens fair,/ Where all his golden pleasures grow.."

AG: Louder!

Student: Oh, I can't sing

AG: Oh..

Student: Do you want me to try...?

AG: Yeah, yeah..

Student [sings, in its entirety, the poem]

AG: [singing] "And mocks my loss of liberty". Actually, it was (Ed Sanders') idea, the country & western, originally. Yeah, I took it off from his.. does anybody know that Fugs record? It's actually a classic. It was recorded, I think, by Harry Smith...

Student: Allen, you started to say, if anybody's interested in figuring out Blake...

AG: Oh, if anybody's interested in figuring out Blake, look up "Lyca", LEE-suh, LIE-ka.. Likeness. Looking up the likeness of any of the images. There's S. Foster Damon's "A Blake Dictionary". (The book's) in the library now. Damon was a great Blake scholar, a friend of Virgil Thomson, who, at an early age, began to study Blake in a sort of scientific way, by going back and getting a hold of the Gnostic and Hebrew cabalistic texts that Blake used and knew, and has written a number of books on Blake which are considered to be the most esoteric, ground-breaking, interesting, mystical books. S. Foster Damon - D-A-M-O-N. He used to set one song of Blake's to music every Christmas, because he was also a folklore archivist, and I once went to visit him a couple of times to sing to him what I had done, to see if it sounded right. He said what I was doing was more or less probably close, because what Blake was doing was working in the tradition of the Wesleyan hymn songs of the time: John Wesley's hymns and hymn tunes. Blake sung these songs, I forgot to say. "Songs of Innocence and Experience" are, literally, songs. They were intended as songs, and Blake sang them. It's not well-known in grammar school but in the Gilchrist biography of Blake, which is the earliest biography by a family friend, it's recorded that Mr Blake used to go to his friends' parlors and sing the songs unaccompanied, or with instruments of the time, and scholar-professors who heard him sing unfortunately did not notate the tunes. So he was out there singing, which is why I try to restore some of the vocalization to them by singing them, because they're a lot easier to understand sung. And the music of them, that is the rhythm of them, gets a lot more subtle when you sing it. I goofed on the verse in "Night" which is actually the most interesting , rhythmically - "And there the lion's ruddy eyes/ Shall flow with tears of gold,/ And pitying the tender cries,/ And walking round the fold,/ Saying: 'Wrath, by his meekness,/ And by his health sickness/ Is driven away/ From our immortal day/" - is like a really fast, sudden, syncopation of it. Here was where I began discovering that if you follow the punctuation you would begin to be able to figure out the breathing, and the swiftness of pronunciation, because, if you'll notice here - "Wrath", comma, "by his meekness", comma/ And by his health (comma) sickness/ Is driven away/ From our immortal day". Now, in the illustrated edition, you'd have to actually check it out (not from any copybooks, books copied) but you have to go back to Blake's own edition (which is illustrated with his own pictures) to find the original punctuation as he engraved them on the plates. Because he engraved plates and then colored them. He and his wife colored them. And, if you get a chance, one of the best ways to read Blake is to get to a library in a major city like New York or Los Angeles, the Huntington Library, the New York Public Library, the Morgan Library in New York, and I think some in Washington, I don't know, some in Washington..

Student: Probably the..

AG: Mellon?

Student: (Library of) Congress too has everything

AG: Maybe. Well, no. They don't have everything of Blake's, because there aren't that many. There are only 24 copies or so of "Songs of Innocence". There's only one copy engraved and colored of his major last work extant, "Jerusalem". Now, a lot of these are reprinted by Trianon Press, Nonesuch?, I don't know.. what is it? ..what is the... There are a number of Blake books which are illustrated now. Colored illustrations meticulously done. $100 and $200 and $500 and $1000 each, to get copies, $1000 to get a colored illustrated copy of Blake's "Jerusalem", but it's the best way to read them [this discussion, of course, taking place, long before the invention of the internet and the Blake Archives] - Read the texts and then go back and read those. Turn on, get high, and then look at the pictures and read the words, because a lot of his intention is given there in the illustrations, and if you can get a chance to go library to library, like (to the) Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, you can see one or more copies at the same time of "Songs of Innocence". For instance, in "Night", you can see how from copy to copy he changed the face of the tiger, the "tyger, tyger". Sometimes it's a little cuddly, friendly, human-faced, tiger, sometimes it's a really wrathful Tibetan tiger. Sometimes it's a smudgy-faced tiger. Because each illustration he touched up with pen and painted slightly differently, and his wife painted and colored in some of them and touched them up. So to really get Blake, if you get into Blake, it's a total delight if you can go get something done by his own hand and look at what he did physically. And if you don't understand what he did, Damon's researches are among the best that I've ever read. Damon has boiled down all of his intelligence into "A Blake Dictionary", where all the names, all the concepts, are spelled out and defined and compared from poem to poem. It's in the library here. You don't read it, you just .. If you run across a problem in Blake like, who is "Los"? or who is "Urizen"? [pronounced in succession by Allen as "Yur-reason" and "Yur-eye-zen"], you look them up. You can look it up in the book if the right words are important.

The audio for some of this (beginning with Allen's performances of "Night","Spring", "Nurse's Song", "A Dream", :Holy Thursday") is available courtesy the Internet Archive at:
Thanks once again to Randy Roark for his pioneering transcription work

addenda: (still from Allen's 1975 "History of Poetry" class, but the following week (July 4 - sic) -
AG: What I want to begin with is the last song of Blake that I'll sing (in this particular class) - called "The Schoolboy". This is a farewell to Blake and a salute to Independence Day and a tribute to those who came. So "The Schoolboy" (Allen sings Blake's "The Schoolboy" (from "Songs of Experience") in its entirety - "I love to rise on a summer morn...") Okay, (that's) a last Blake for this session.

Monday, November 28, 2011

William Blake's Birthday

William Blake was born in London on November 28 1757. For all things Blake, we refer you to the phenomenal William Blake Archives, an extraordinary resource, overseen by the University of North Carolina's Joseph Viscomi, the University of Rochester's Morris Eaves, and the University of California's Robert Essick. A complete hypertext version of "The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake, edited by David V Erdman" is available there. Even more impressive, perhaps, the high-resolution scans, electronic versions, of numerous editions of Blake's illuminated books (not to mention drawings, paintings, engravings, and more), faithfully reproducing his extraordinary, integral, visionary art work, indeed bringing it through into a new technological era.
Allen, of course, had his seminal, break-through Blakean vision (recounted, for example, here -

and remembered by his friend, William Burroughs here). The most tangible result was this - his famous settings of/tunings for the "Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of Experience" (he believed the melodies he heard in his head were Blake's own melodies). A photograph of him, in 1969, recording them (for subsequent release on MGM-Verve), can be seen here. John Simon's sympathetic review in The Harvard Crimson is here. A brief clip of him performing them (at the St Marks Poetry Project), many years later, is available here.
This July 1975 class from NAROPA is well worth listening to ("So what I've done is set about 35 of the 45 songs, so, I'll run through, if we have time (left), is that alright?") . Allen begins with "Night" (from "Songs of Innocence"), following it with "Spring" (with its oceanic refrain, "Merrily, merrily to welcome in the year"), following that with "The Nurse's Song" (he plays the recorded version first, speaks (briefly) of his Blake vision, and then sings - "And all the hills echo-ed, And all the hills echo-ed"). Next comes "Infant Joy" (delightfully sweet, with Allen affecting, at one point, a London (Cockney?) accent!). "A Dream" (with its refrain, spiraling off the last word, "Home home home") concludes the first (approximately) half-hour (then follows a few minutes of unrelated contemporaneous NAROPA comment). The performances start up again (about 33 minutes in) with "On Another's Sorrow", the "Introduction" (to "Songs of Experience"), "Holy Thursday" and "The Little Girl Lost". Allen discourses briefly on Blake, before getting distracted, finishing the class on other matters.
Topher Thomas has an entire thesis on line - "William Blake and Allen Ginsberg: Poets of A Fallen World, Prophets of the New World".
We'll  conclude with this - one more version of "The Nurses Song" (with Peter Orlovsky, at the NOVA Convention in 1978)  - "And all the hills echo-ed".

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Remembering Harry Smith

"It was twenty years ago today, Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play". No, wait a minute, it wasn't, it was twenty years ago today that Harry Smith died. We already made a pretty comprehensive posting, which we would draw your attention to - here,
but wanted to mark the occasion with more Smith mischief and miscellany.

Allen on Harry: "So he died at the Chelsea (Hotel). Rani Singh, the secretary, was with him all day trying to get him to go to a hospital and he kept saying , "No, I'm dying, I'll die". And then Sandro Chia.. his ex-wife Paolo Igliori.. came to see him, who was very upset. So she went out to get her car. (Or) Rani went to get her car. Paolo went to stay with him, and suddenly he said, "I'm dying", and then he threw up blood, and then fell over. I went that night to the St Vincent's (Hospital) morgue as soon as I'd heard about it. They'd already put him in the morgue. I got permission to go downstairs in the morgue and pulled him out of the wall on this giant drawer. His face was somewhat twisted up, there was a little blood on his whitish beard. So I sat and did the traditional Tibetan liturgy, refuge litany, and then spent an hour meditating . And there were several memorial services for him at St Mark's Church, and the effort to get his stuff together.." (for the rest of this extended memorial note, in conversation with record-producer Hal Willner, see here). Allen also speaks at length with Paolo Igliori. And here's a transcription of impromptu remarks from a 1975 NAROPA class: "Harry Smith (Harry Smith) who is a classical sort of archivist, anthropologist in music, who published a great anthology of American folk and blues, early folk and blues music, on Folkways Records (Smithsonian-Folkways) which I would recommend to anyone who's interested in music or poetry to get a hold of, or look up, or listen to.. Harry Smith.. The exact title, I don't know. Let's see. Do you know? - Anthology - four records, two boxes, I think.."Anthology of American Folk Music - Folk and Blues Music", I guess it is. It's a Folkways record. He's done two sets of Folkways albums, records. One, the blues and folk music, which, incidentally, was issued in the '50's, the early '50's, and was a major influence on (Bob) Dylan and all American pop music. It was the recorded anthology of all the important things that people like (Woody) Guthrie and Pete Seeger had been interested (in) but hadn't actually explored, totally. Harry Smith presented and Dylan picked up, or Dylan told me that that was one of his major arcanum, or major educational sources. It turned out to be, for me, a great introduction to American blues poetry and I started writing my own songs out of a couple of blues in the.. Richard "Rabbit" Brown's "James Alley Blues", which I've not seen recorded anywhere else. "I'll give you sugar for sugar and you'll get salt for salt. Which is great, a great line of poetry. Do you know the rest?
Student: "Sugar for sugar and salt for salt", (Bob) Dylan went, "If you go down in the flood, it's gonna be your fault" - AG: Yeah. Well he was paraphrasing that. Richard "Rabbit" Brown, New Orleans, 1928. "But, baby, if you don't love me, it's your own damn fault" "Sometimes I think that you're too sweet to die,/ Other times I think you oughta be buried alive!". That's the end of it. Which is as good as "The Twa Corbies". It's as good as any of the old English ballads."

We'll come back with more from this 1975 class in the days ahead.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ginsberg Sings "The Rune" Conegliano 1995 (ASV #23)

The shakey hand-held camera, the amateur nature of the document, almost doesn't diminish this - Allen's beautiful (haunting) presentation of "The Rune", from "Contest of Bards", (accompanied by guitar, no, mandolin - and a Celtic harp, no less! - that's Vincenzo Zitello, incidentally, on the harp). The occasion, Conegliano, in 1995, the Teatro Accademia - "America America" - an evening in hommage to the great Italian translator (and Beat scholar), Fernanda Pivano. Others on the bill that night were Francesco Guccini, Claudio Lolli, the late great Fabrizio De Andre, Andrea Zanzotto (who passed away just last month), and, from America, Allen, and the American novelist, Jay McInerney (his brief note on the event filed for The New Yorker can be read here - a more detailed note on 'Nanda by Blossom Kirschenbaum may be read here ). We've already featured the Zanzotto footage, but there's more from that evening, for those interested, (including more footage of Allen) on "niclicciaful" (Nicola Licciardello)'s You Tube channel here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday's Weekly Round-Up 51

[via OWS Librarian, Stephen Boyer: "the copy of "What Work Is" by Philip Levine, that he brought into the library and signed, (the) morning before the raid. Damaged. NYPD tossed out a signed copy of poems (that) our nation's Poet Laureate donated."]

The Occupy Wall Street Library is symptomatic so we’ll lead off with that -

On Wednesday there was a press conference in New York regarding NYPD and Brookfield Properties' apparent mindless destruction of so many of the books.

What happened to the books that we showed here, we wonder? (well, some answer to that question in the photograph above)

Pleased to report that the current OWS Poetry Anthology is now available on-line - and, as Danny Schechter notes, in one if its several introductions (sic) - "... let's not forget (in this context) the Beats, like Allen Ginsberg...whose life and work was a testament to the duty of the poet to provoke and inform, to fuse poesy and politics. Allen is here in spirit.."

OccuPoetry has been established. One of its early publications is this - Richard Downing's "Howl Again" (see here for more (unrelated) Ginsberg parodies - not forgetting this one).

Robert Hass's account (in the New York Times) certainly bears rebroadcasting - "At Occupy Berkeley, Beat Poets Has New Meaning" ("Beat poets, not beat poets"!).

Meanwhile in Portland Tony Zilka mutters "America" to deserted night streets.

Elsewhere... (The Beat Museum) has a brand new refurbished new web-site - Check it out. & Dangerous Minds, this week, introduced us to the wonderful Krystal Cannon (and this rightly-lauded student-piece - she was 16 years old when she made it - (one nit-picking correction it was Huncke not Burroughs, Krystal, involved there, in the heist, but otherwise...))

Thursday, November 24, 2011


It's that time again in America and how could we not run this - again!
- "Happy Thanksgiving", everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

More Dylan and Allen -2

Vomit Express was recorded in November 1971 and was first made available, twelve years later (February 1983) on "Allen Ginsberg:First Blues", a two-record set (with gatefold cover by Robert Frank) - not to be confused with the Folkways album of the same name - on the legendary John Hammond's eponymous John Hammond Records. That record was later made available in CD format in 2006
It was also part of the Rhino four-CD set, "Holy Soul Jelly Roll - Poems and Songs 1949-1993" (appearing on the final CD - "Ashes and Blues").

Allen's note in the booklet that accompanies that Hal Willner-produced CD boxed-set is as follows:
"These 1971 sessions came about because Dylan had come to hear a poetry reading at NYU's Loeb Auditorium [since demolished and now rebuilt as the Kimmel Center], standing in the back of the crowded hall with David Amram. We were on stage with a gang of musician friends, and Peter (Orlovsky) improvised, singing, "You shouldn't write poetry down but carol it in the air, because to use paper you have to cut down trees". I picked up on that and we spent half an hour making up tuneful words on the spot. I didn't know 12-bar blues. It was just a free-form rhyming extravaganza. We packed up, said goodbye to the musicians, thanked them and gave them a little money, went home, and then the phone rang. It was Dylan asking, "Do you always improvise like that?". And I said, "Not always, but I can. I used to do that with (Jack) Kerouac under the Brooklyn Bridge all the time". He came to our apartment with Amram and a guitar, we began inventing something about "Vomit Express", jamming for quite a while, but didn't finish it. He said, "oh we ought to get together in a studio and do it", then showed me the three-chord blues pattern on my pump organ. A week later in the studio Dylan actually did the arrangement, told people when to do choruses and when to take breaks, and suggested the musicians cut a few endings on their own to be spliced in. "Vomit Express" was a phrase I got from my friend Lucien Carr, who talked about going to Puerto Rico, went often, and we were planning to take an overnight plane a couple of weeks later, my first trip there. He spoke of it as the "vomit express" - poor people flying at night for cheap fares, not use to airplanes, throwing up airsick."
"I'm going down to Puerto Rico/ I'm going down on the midnight plane / I'm going down on the Vomit Express/ I'm going down with my suitcase pain".

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More Dylan and Allen -1

[2015 note - the original You Tube video that led off this post is no longer available. 
Two versions, however, of "See You Later, Allen Ginsberg" have emerged on the recently released - The Basement Tapes Complete - The Bootleg Series Volume 11]

" See You Later, Allen Ginsberg" is a joyful throw-away that appears on Bob Dylan's The Genuine Basement Tapes Volume 4. It was recorded at Big Pink, West Saugerties, New York, between June and October 1967. The "back-up band" is (of course) The Band. The giddy response in the call-and-response is by the much-missed Richard Manuel.
We couldn't resist spotlighting its source-material too. Bill Haley and the Comets' "See You Later, Alligator" (seen here in the 1956 movie, "Rock Around The Clock" (note the Beats and the Squares, hipster lingo - "gone, baby"):

"Last Thoughts on Allen Ginsberg & Bob Dylan", Ben Simon's note (originally published in "Beatdom", and recently re-published in "Excessive Pathos"), leads off an unapologetic Dylan-centric page today. Bob and Allen. Allen and Bob. "Expecting Rain"'s own archived discussion of the topic would obviously be one place to start, our own notes on the two of them, another - here (and here too).

Here's a thirty-second clip of Allen in 1995 extolling Bob Dylan - "It's not that Dylan invented great lyrics, it's that he actually continued great lyrics".."If you have Ma Rainey - "I'm Goin' (Gone) Where The Southern Cross The Yellow Dog", or if you get on to Robert Johnson's "Stones In My Passway", or, if you go on further to Skip James..."

"The young poet took me aside at a party in Bolinas and played me some records from a new young singer..folk singer, and it was the "Masters of War", I think ("A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall") - "I'll know my song well before I start singing, and stand on a mountain where all can reflect it" - and I was really amazed.."

"And reflect it from the mountain so all soul's can see it./ Then I'll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin'/ But I'll know my songs well before I start singin'.."
“The Dylan/Ginsberg Sessions – A List of All Known Collaborations Between Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan”, is (or will be) a useful discographic reference and may be viewed here.

They’ll be plenty more Dylan-Ginsberg posts on the Allen Ginsberg Project, rest assured.
Part two of this post coming up tomorrow.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ai Weiwei - continuing

Our initial post from this past April, we draw your attention to (but this is very much an "on-going" story, as we noted then). Other pertinent posts here on the Allen Ginsberg Project regarding Ai Weiwei include: notes on his 2011 NYC Asia Society exhibition (here - and with further remarks and commentary here) and video of Geandy Pavon's stunning urban guerilla projection (sic - that took place contemporaneous with his detention) - as well as tracking (some tracking) of the story (via reporting from the London-based Guardian, and the always-provocative, always-intelligent, Hyperallergic).

This very week (today, in fact), Ai appears on the cover of the current (international) edition of Newsweek magazine, in an exclusive interview - "Ai Weiwei - Chinese Dissident Artist Speaks About His Prison Ordeal" (with the delightfully-named Isaac Stone Fish). The full text of that interview may be read here.

The trailer for Alison Klayman's film, "Ai Weiwei - Never Sorry" has been out for some time now (it's actually scheduled now, not for 2011 (as the above image shows), but for a, 2012 - maybe Sundance - release) and is well worth viewing. It may be seen here.

Klayman talks about the subject of her film and her experience with him, on CNN, here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Supermarket in California (ASV #22)

Jim Cohn's  Museum of American Poetics remains a valuable and inspiring source, "a unique amalgam of poets, students, teachers, scholars, editors, publishers, literary centers and web designers".."Since coming online in 1997 (it) has documented major trends in Postbeat poetry through its collection of on-line exhibits, annual Napalm Health Spa journal, poetics transmissions, video presentations, links and blog".."Celebrating the diversity of experimental and outrider poetries leading up to the Beat Generation, MAP has (recently) expanded its coverage of world poetry, with special emphasis on international poets on the front lines against oppression."

We are grateful to Jim and the Museum for hosting all manner of treasures, including this (a late record - but a video record - of Allen reading his famous poem "A Supermarket in California" - ("What I'm going to do is to read chronologically poems that are familiar to those of you who are familiar with my poetry at the suggestion of the poet Lewis MacAdams..").   [2016 update, regrettably this video-recording is no longer available]   but...

Here's a "dub" version.

Here's an artfully designed version.

"What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon..."

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Celebrating Joanne Kyger

Today is the wonderful Joanne Kyger's birthday. We salute and we celebrate her. We draw your attention first to our last year's posting (which included various photographs, and links to her 2007 reading at the University of California, Berkeley). Here's another Kyger reading (from Columbia College, Chicago, the following year. Here is her page on PennSound which includes such gems as her appearance in 1965 at the Berkeley Poetry Conference, a 1971 (and 2011!) reading in Bolinas, a 1976 reading at San Francisco's Intersection, reading (rare video) in New York in 1978, a reading for SPD, San Francisco, in 2008, and various miscellaneous talk, commentary and poems. What isn't there (but perhaps should be?) is this little snippet from a November 2000 reading at the University of Maine, Joanne's 2005 reading in Willits, California, and the Joanne Kyger/NAROPA materials (from the invaluable Internet Archive).
Interviews with Trevor Carolan and with Simon Pettet are available here and here. Secondary sources would also include - essential - Jacket's Joanne Kyger Feature (edited by Linda Russo - which includes further interviews with Linda Russo and with Dale Smith).
Two Joanne E-books - Permission By The Horns (2008 - Ungovernable Press) and Loose Renditions (Poems 2006-2007) (2008 - Coyote's Journal).
More poems here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Joanne Kyger by Andrew Kenower
[Joanne Kyger, Kyoto-Japan Sea visit with Gary S. 1963 Summer. I was on my way back home from India to Vancouver Poetry Conference, she and Snyder-san were studying Zen at Daitoku-ji. Here at Shingon Temple in Western Kyoto: Arhat, Peach in hand, bib & hat for special attention, maybe help make babies. (Ginsberg caption) photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday's Weekly Round-Up 50

"Gog and Magog. Gog and Magog. Armageddon did the Job" - that's the voice of David Shapiro (and glimpses too of David Amram, Joyce Johnson, Ann Douglas, and others from this video footage of the Columbia (University's) Alumnae Association's annual Beat hommage ("A Celebration of Columbia's Beats"), held earlier this year. The line is, of course, from "Hum Bom!" (included in Cosmopolitan Greetings). Here's footage of Allen reading that poem, (flanked by Jean Jacques Lebel, in Paris, and, again, on stage, in London). Here's DJ Spooky's "Hum Bom Lebanon Mix" and here's design-student "Max MG84"'s graphic experiment of a year later.

Allen's lovely spidery scrawl. We've not much to add, but here's a four-page typically-exhaustive (exhausting?) fax sent to Claudio Willer, his Portuguese translator, in 1984, in anticipation of further editions of his poems.

Archive goodies. Included in Alan Sykes' Guardian piece this week about the legendary English venue, Mordern Tower, is a shot of Allen in Newcastle in 1965, alongside Basil Bunting, along with this direct quote - "Greeted at Newcastle Central Station by the most furious display of gnostic graffiti in the gentleman's room walls than I had ever seen on the planet. I realized for certain that the bardic rituals of Mordern Tower were not merely the property of youthful cognescenti continuing traditions of old, but the magic enacted in the Tower articulated the unconscious of the entire city, slumbering in the mechanic illusions of the century". And again, " I learned more reading at Mordern Tower than I had at a hundred universities."

That copy (first edition) of Howl that we mentioned two weeks back that went up for auction - estimate $5000-$7500 - it sold for $5768.
Allen's soup (borscht) recipe that we also mentioned here is still available (estimated price $382.50)