Thursday, September 13, 2012

Allen Ginsberg & Robert Lowell




[Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St Mark's Church, New York City, February 23, 1977. Photo:  Martin Wechselblatt]

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell - two distinctive and contrasting loci on the 20th century American poetry landscape - the raw and the cooked, the "outrider" and the academic, the Jewish "Beat" and the Harvard "Wasp", initially they might be seen as the most unlikely of "bed-fellows" (sic). However, on the night of February 23, 1977 in New York, at The St Mark's Poetry Project...

Matthew McNees discusses the occasion at length in "Suffering and Liberation: The Personal Poetics of Robert Lowell and Allen Ginsberg", his 2011 dissertation (now available in its entirety on line). Tina Crane also provides an account in "The Raw and the Cooked: Robert Lowell and the Beats", (her summary for the Academy of American Poets). The key moment (Gregory Corso's pointed heckling of Lowell - Lowell reading from his poem "Ulysses and Circe"- "Robert, you left out that great line about paranoid!") can be heard (courtesy of the ever-extraordinary UbuWeb) here

Lowell passed away later in that year (on September 12, 1977, in fact), aged 60.
Allen out-lived him almost 20 years.

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