Saturday, October 31, 2015


Vintage Paul McCartney mask, vintage Allen Ginsberg stoned, Halloween face-painting, followed by a serious (and still timely) song by Messeurs Ginsberg and McCartney - with lyrics sub-titled in Spanish!

Happy Halloween!

Here are a few previous  Allen Ginsberg Project Halloween posts - 20142013
and  2012 (once, just that once - too easy! - we went there!) 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Ezra Pound's Birthday

                                                        [Ezra Pound (1885-1972)]

We featured a couple of days ago, the early English lyric, "Summer is Icumen in" (commonly known as "The Cuckoo Song")

Ezra Pound made a playful parody of it

AG:    ...And I forgot there's this little paraphrase by Ezra Pound of "The Cuckoo Song". Has anybody heard that or seen that?..How many know of Pound? (It's) called "Ancient Music" - So let's go back to that. where is that? " The Cuckoo Song"? - " Sumer is Icumen in,/Loudly sing, cuckoo!/Grows the seed and blows the mead,/And springs the wood anew." 

(and Pound):

"Winter is icummen in,/Lhude sing Goddamm./ Raineth drop and staineth slop,/ And how the wind doth ramm!/ Sing: Goddamm./ Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,/ An ague hath my ham./ Freezeth river, turneth liver,/ Damn you, sing: Goddamm./ Goddamm, Goddamm, 'tis why I am, Goddamm,/ So 'gainst the winter's balm./ Sing goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm./ Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM."

 And then, (a) note, "This is not folk music, but Dr. Ker writes that the tune is found under the Latin words of a very ancient canon." (here he's being mock-pedantic/campy) 

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately twenty minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-one minutes in]

Ezra Pound's birthday today. We draw your attention to previous birthday postings - here, here, here and here

Harvard's Woodberry Poetry Room has recently preserved a rare acetate from 1939 of Pound reading - see here

The publication of the curiously-named Posthumous Cantos is noted here 

Here's Pasolini and Pound together (Pier Paolo Pasolini reading to Pound (in Italian) from his Cantos  (Canto LXXXI) ("Pull down thy vanity")  

Quello che veramente ami rimane,
il resto è scorie
Quello che veramente ami non ti sarà strappato
Quello che veramente ami è la tua vera eredità
Il mondo a chi appartiene, a me, a loro
o a nessuno?
Prima venne il visibile, quindi il palpabile
Elisio, sebbene fosse nelle dimore dinferno,
Quello che veramente ami è la tua vera eredità

La formica è un centauro nel suo mondo di draghi.
Strappa da te la vanità, non fu luomo
A creare il coraggio, o lordine, o la grazia,
Strappa da te la vanità, ti dico strappala
Impara dal mondo verde quale sia il tuo luogo
Nella misura dellinvenzione, o nella vera abilità dellartefice,

Strappa da te la vanità,
Paquin strappala!
Il casco verde ha vinto la tua eleganza.

Dominati, e gli altri ti sopporteranno
Strappa da te la vanità
Sei un cane bastonato sotto la grandine,
Una pica rigonfia in uno spasimo di sole,
Metà nero metà bianco
Né distingui unala da una coda
Strappa da te la vanità
Come son meschini i tuoi rancori
Nutriti di falsità.
Strappa da te la vanità,
Avido di distruggere, avaro di carità,
Strappa da te la vanità,
Ti dico strappala.

Ma avere fatto in luogo di non avere fatto
questa non è vanità 
Avere, con discrezione, bussato
Perché un Blunt aprisse
Aver raccolto dal vento una tradizione viva
o da un bellocchio antico la fiamma inviolata
Questa non è vanità.
Qui lerrore è in ciò che non si è fatto, nella diffidenza che fece esitare

What thou lovest well remains,
the rest is dross
What thou lovst well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lovst well is thy true heritage
Whose world, or mine or theirs
or is it of none?
First came the seen, then thus the palpable
Elysium, though it were in the halls of hell,
What thou lovest well is thy true heritage
What thou lovst well shall not be reft from thee
The ants a centaur in his dragon world.
Pull down thy vanity, it is not man
Made courage, or made order, or made grace,
Pull down thy vanity, I say pull down.
Learn of the green world what can be thy place
In scaled invention or true artistry,
Pull down thy vanity,
Paquin pull down!
The green casque has out done your elegance.
Master thy self, then others shall thee beare
Pull down thy vanity
Thou art a beaten dog beneath the hail,
A swollen mag pie in a fitful sun,
Half black half white
Nor knowstou wing from tail
Pull down thy vanity
How mean thy hates
Fostered in falsity,
Pull down thy vanity,
Rathe to destroy, niggard in charity,
Pull down thy vanity, I say pull down.
But to have done instead of not doing
This is not vanity
To have, with decency, knocked
That a Blunt should open
To have gath ered from the air a live tradition
or from a fine old eye the uncon quered flame
this is not vanity.
Here error is all in the not done,
all in the diffidence that faltered

Friday's Weekly Round-Up - 242

Just out this month, from Blackberry Books, Franco Beltrametti's posthumous collection, From Almost Everywhere 

Gary Snyder on Franco Beltrametti: "Franco Beltrametti's smooth-barked Muse leads him across the grids of latitude and longitude to the source of good medicine poems. A suavity masks these elemental songs - or rather, gives these elder faces a modern "human" mask. Civilized in the best sense".

and Joanne Kyger: "From "a crowded place called "future" Franco Beltrametti arrives, once again, with subtle eloquence to surprise us with his unexpected nuances and turns. These poems give us his presence….calling up poets and ancestors of every sort and show us the transparency and modesty of his world." 

Franco Beltrametti can be seen, talking in eternity, on video - here

A full run of mini , "the smallest review in the world",  that he edited, can be found here 

The Franco Beltrametti Archive (plenty to look at) may be accessed here.

Franco would be amazed by this - "More than two hundred previously-unknown poems by leading Edo period (1603-1867) haikuist and artist Yosa Buson have been found in an anthology at the Tenri Central Library"

Blackberry Books, incidentally, are also the publishers of the wonderful Collected Poems of Nanao Sakaki - How To Live On The Planet Earth

                                                            [Nanao Sakaki (1923-2008)]

John Wieners remembered and recollected last week in Harvard  can be seen here

and here's John Wieners reviewed by Dan Chiasson in (of all the unlikely places) the current New Yorker
                                                            [John Wieners (1934-2002)]

Harry Smith was reviewed in The New Yorker a couple of weeks back.  Can this be the start of a trend? 

The Allen Ginsberg "Still Howling" event (also a couple of weeks back)  reviewed in The Mancunion

Allen Ginsberg in Halifax, Nova Scotia, here's a memoir by Martin Wallace - "I was a young poet in 1986 when I heard that Allen Ginsberg was coming to Halifax…"

More Randy Roark Ginsberg discoveries

Randy notes:
"Another manuscript poem with Allen's corrections. This one points out one of his mannerisms - to turn a phrase like "the root of his cock" into the more condensed "his cock root", which I often, as in this case, find an affectation. I'd have a lot more to work with as an orator in the cadence of "the root of his cock" than the awkward "his cock root"."

Cock root?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

"The Bishop, Lawless" and "All Night By The Rose" (Early English Lyric - 2)

AG: I read this about a year ago and understood it for the first time and really dug it. "The Bishop, Lawless"? - without law?, without any learning?.. You got it? - Page six. 

Bishop lawless,/ King guideless,/ Young man reckless,/Old man witless,/A woman shameless - I swear by heaven's king,/These be five bitter things."
evil things - bitter/evil - it'll be five evil things -  "I swear by heaven's king,/ These be five evil things."

It's a pretty interesting set-up as like now. The bishops, without learning; kings, without any common sense counsel,"young man reckless, old man witless"  (old man witless, it's just a funny idea - "young man reckless , old man witless" - I say that's a great rhyme - "young man reckless , old man witless" - Perfect - The reason I like these is .. ,"young man reckless , old man witless"  buck starts..who is it? ""Bullock starts, buck farts" ("Bulluc sterteth/bucke verteth") The rhythms, if they get in your bones actually, will issue forth from your hand when you're writing, will affect your rhythms in writing, or will sensitize your ear, or sensitize your musical bones. So it's interesting if you take these like pills, like, "drop these poems like acid", or something like that, and let them enter your nervous system. It's actually exposure of your nervous system to these particular rhythms that sensitizes you to.. sensitizes one (you, me) to rhythm, and these are sort of real basic, classic, fantastic.."old man witless, young man reckless", that's pretty.. you know, that's

"All night by the rose, rose /All night by the rose I lay/ Dared I not the rose steal/And yet I bore the flower away" - 

That's kind of mysterious. I like the rhythm - "All night by the rose, rose" - "All night by the rose, rose" - that's a good one  - "All night by the rose I lay/ Dared I not the rose steal.." - "All night by the rose, rose", /"Dared I not the rose steal" - bomp-bomp,/ bomp-bomp -  (rose-rose,/ rose-steal) - So that the two solid words at the end of those two lines (will) parallel each other, first and third line.  If you tune your ear in to that, it's not just like a sing-song rhyme rhythm, it's a very interesting song power you can get - "rose, steal, rose, rose." - You know what I'm talking about? Everybody noticing that? how pretty that is, yes? - I guess, probably affected by Latin prosody, which counted the duration of syllables, the duration of vowels, rather than the accent on syllables (old Latin and Greek prosody was a count of long vowels and short vowels, not so much preoccupied with accent). And, it sounds like the guy who wrote that in English was… had his ear affected by hearing "rose, rose, rose, steal" -  "All night by the rose, rose/all night by the rose I lay/Dared I not the rose steal/And yet I bore the flower away."

It's probably good as song (for those who are interested in song),  you know (Allen breaks into a sung version)- "All night by the rose, rose /All night by the rose I lay/ Dared I not the rose steal/And yet I bore the flower away" ) -  "Da,da, dum, da-da, da, da-da-da, da, da-da, da, Da,da, dum, da-da, da, da-da-da, da-da-da" - So it's out of music, and out of Latin.. probably out of Latin-Greek quantitative prosody. It's hearing the length of vowels, sensitivity to the length of vowels, and probably the music

What we got next?  - Yeah, there's a poem by H Phelps Putnam of the twentieth century that takes off from this,  "All night by the rose",  I'll bring it in next time…..

"In Springfield Massachsetts..", (under the single bulb that hung from the hotel ceiling, I lay all night and) "devoured/ The mystic, the improbable, the Rose.." - "In Springfield Massachusetts.." -  H. Phelps Putnam, 1927.  - I'll bring in the poem, it's real beautiful, but it's a take-off on that.

[from "Hasbrouck and the Rose"]
"In Springfield, Massachusetts, I devoured 
The mystic, the improbable, the Rose,
For two nights and a day, rose and rosette, 
And petal after petal and the heart, 
I had my banquet by the beams 
Of four electric stars which shone 
Weakly into my room, for there,
Drowning their light and gleaming at my side. 
Was the incarnate star 
Whose body bore the stigma of the Rose. 
And that is all I know about the flower; 
I have eaten it - it has disappeared. 
There is no Rose."

[Audio for the above can be heard here, starting at approximately  fourteen-and-three-quarter minutes and concluding at approximately twenty-one-and-a-half minutes in]

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Cuckoo Song (Early English Lyric - 1)

["Sumer is icumen in" (also called "The Cuckoo Song" or "Sumer Canon" or "thr Reading Rota") - Anonymous (speculated to be W. de Wycombe) - early English ms  (copied c.1262) - British Library, London, MS Harley 978]

AG: So, let's get on to the 13th Century. Now let's get back to some pretty poetry, after all that. Do you know The Cuckoo's Song ? - that's page three [of the Norton Anthology], the very beginning. Does anybody know this stuff? Has anybody read these before? - Cuckoo? - Yeah - Where?

Student: At school.
AG: Which school?
Student : University of Western Ontario
AG: Pardon me?
Student : University of Western Ontario
AG: What town is that?
Student: It's the other side of London, London, Ontario
AG: Yeah. Who were your teachers?
Student:  Er… I don't remember..
AG: Did they teach you how to pronounce it?
Student: They did, but I was never very good at it.

AG: Anybody want to try that?  The first two lines? Has anybody got any idea how you do it? The first two lines of that Cuckoo Song - to get it rythmical. It's a song, remember, so how would you do if you were rhymicizing it..?  Anybody want to make a.. just beginning, at the beginning with our own senses.

Student (1): "Sing cuccu, nu. Sing cuccu,/Sing cuccu. Sing cuccu, nu"

AG: Well, anybody else got an idea? - In a way.. That was one way

Student (2): "Sing cuccu, nu. Sing cuccu./Sing cuccu. Sing cuccu, nu"

AG: Yeah, that's pretty good..  I..  The way I heard it (I don't think I ever heard it but I may have heard it once) - "Sing cuccu, nu/ Sing cuccu/Sing cuccu nu.." - no, "Sing cuccu, nu/ Sing cuccu./Sing cuccu./ 'Sing cuccu, nu" -   "Sing cucco, nu/Sing cuccu/Sing cuccu. /'Sing cuccu, nu"  - Something like. It's possible. It's just symmetrical like that. 

Student: (It's) like a football cheer!

AG: Yeah, well, where do you think those football cheers come from?

AG: "Svmer is i-cumin in/Lhude sing, cuccu!/Groweth sed and bloweth med/And springeth the wude nu./Sing cuccu!/  Awe bleteth after lomb/ Lhouh after calve cu /Bulluc sterteth/bucke verteth - /Murie sing, cuccu!/ Cuccu, cuccu,/ Wel singes thu, cuccu/ Ne swik thu naver nu/  Sing, cuccu, nu. / Sing, cuccu./ Sing cuccu. Sing cuccu, nu."

 I can't... I dunno.. the.. you've got a translation there - "Groweth seed and bloweth meadow/ Springeth the woods new green again (the woods green new)/ the ewe bleats after the lamb/ lowing after calf cu (lowing after the calf,  the cow - lowing after calf cow - lowing after calf cu) - "Bulluc sterteth/bucke verteth" - ("the bullock starts, the buck farts" - "verteth" - "breaking wind" - that's what it is - "bullock starts, buck farts") - Merry, merry sing cuckoo/ merry sing cuckoo cuckoo cuckoo/ Well sing thou cuckoo  - "Ne swik thu naver nu" - and then I haven't been able to pronounce it.. I haven't been able to pronounce it organically  (probably did about five times (in my life) -  (it's) probably impossible!

What else is there that's interesting?  "Bishop, Lawless" on (page) six I like  

to be continued

[Audio for the above can be heard herestarting at approximately xx minutes in and concluding at approximately fourteen-and-a-half minutes in]

Four pretty different versions. And if you want more try

 here  here  here and  here, here and here

Sumer is Icumen in,
Loudly sing, cuckoo!
Grows the seed and blows the mead,
And springs the wood anew;
Sing, cuckoo!
Ewe bleats harshly after lamb,
Cows after calves make moo;
Bullock stamps and deer champs,
Now shrilly sing, cuckoo!
Cuckoo, cuckoo
Wild bird are you;
Be never still, cuckoo!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Detour (Exuberant Shakespearean Parody)

Student:  I have two questions, one is this - that the first time at a poetry reading, (which you've referred to here), when you get into writing poetry, do you think that first type of flowery, primary thing... I think, that anyone can, if they want to write poetry, can follow up and get naturally into that, you know. And if you're crummy at it, it sounds like greetings cards...

AG: Yes

Student:  …and if you're good at it, it sounds like (Ken) Kesey gets into on grass here, when he's doing all those Shakespearean rants and stuff. 

And the second thing is.. the second thing you're referring to is your own your own.. "cut-up" (experiment) like (William) Burroughs (is) talking about. 

AG: I don't... I  haven't practiced the cut-up.

Student: I don't quite understand the whole cut-up organization..

AG: Well, it's a little afield from what we're talking about. We were just talking about..
I 'm, just right now, I think, trying to make the distinction between flowery, rhetorical, hand-me-down, imitative,  traditional-style poetry versus beginning where it's close to the nose, beginning with your own mind, your own perceptions, with the building  blocks of your own body and your own speech and your own mind. If you're good at that then you can get flowery like you would (be) Shakespeare or Kerouac

Student; He does it as a put on, He seems like he only can do it best as a put-on, you know, it kind of comes out funny there,

AG: Well, Kerouac does it in Mexico City Blues  imitations of Shakespeare out of sheer exuberance, out of real command of vernacular, so that, after a while, he makes vernacular seem like Shakespeare And for an example of that, take a look at the last chorus of Mexico City Blues (which I don't have here - I don't suppose anybody has that around by accident?) - the last verse of Mexico City Blues by Kerouac, where he paraphrases a soliloquy by  by Hamlet, actually very flowery and pretty  - and senseless - senseless , sounding..  sounds exactly like Shakespeare. It has a lot of unconscious in it, to put it.. mainly..Shakespearean funny exuberant Shakespearean gibberish. Just for fun. 

So, lets get on to the 13th Century..   

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately nine minutes in and concluding at approximately eleven minutes in] 

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Tradition of Reznikoff & Williams

                             [William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)  - Photograph via University of Pennsylvania Archives]

[Allen continues with his 1981 Naropa class, drawing distinctions between the poetry of  David Cope and that of  William Carlos Williams, placing him closer to Charles Reznikoff's work]

AG:… that Williams was still preoccupied by some kind of modernism, some kind of Cubist abstraction, whereas Cope was really direct, (writing) just simply directly, writing out of his… ( - Allen is distracted - is that gone around all the way, this paper?)….whereas Cope was directly writing out of his eyesight and his… I think he's more close too the nose. I think Cope is more close to the nose than Williams in some respects. At any rate, but he's more in the humanistic heartfelt situation sketching that Reznikoff is as an Objectivist and I do recommend Reznikoff, Williams, and Cope, if you get a chance to check out that style. It's simply.. unless you can get that close to the nose and that clear about real life, I don't see how you can go on and write anything more complicated or more Shakespearean or more Romantic or more visionary, without first having touched ground. So, someone, who was somewhat of a Buddhist scholar, noticed that that was the first thing that I presented and thus, like in Buddhist studies, presenting  vipassana first - samatha vipassana - that is just focusing attention in one spot  and bringing the mind's attention to one focus and one spot, and it's something real. Yeah?

Student; In your earlier books, did you feel that you were in the tradition of Reznikoff and Williams?

AG: I didn't come on to Resznikoff in extenso, with a lot of work, until much later, but, yes, Williams. I wrote two early books between the age of eighteen and twenty-three. One is called The Gates of Wrath, and it's rhymed poems imitative of what we'll be studying today and in the next couple of classes - (Andrew) Marvell, (Sir Thomas) WyattHenry King, James Shirley, Seventeenth-Century poetry, Sixteenth-Century lyric forms. And I sent them to Williams who said, "In this mode, perfection is basic, and these aren't perfect."

But I didn't understand his style, because I was writing, "Come live with me and be my love /And we will some new pleasures prove..", things like that, or, "How vainly men themselves amaze/ To win the palm, the oak or bays/Who winning won one white night of grace/ Will weep and rage a year of days/ Are all these lovers yet undone by she and me to love alone?"

So I was just imitating or paraphrasing, or taking off from, the rhythms, of Sixteenth-Seventeenth-Century poetry, and I didn't understand Williams' writing, except, one day, I was.. I was reading it, and... it just didn't rhyme, it didn't seem like poetry, it didn't seem poetic, in the sense that it was simple abstract, and I didn't get what his point was. (occasionally, there was some picture that I could see). Then I heard him read at the Museum of Modern Art, and he read a poem called "The Clouds" (which I think I mentioned, did I mention that here last time?   "lunging upon a moth, a pismire.." .

Student: No

AG:  It's a poem that ends.. - "The Clouds", (in) which he's describing Imagination taking flight beyond the Earth and losing touch with reality - "lunging upon a moth, a pismire, a butterfly, a……." - and that's how he ended the poem - "a", dot-dot-dot-dot-dot-dot-dot  - "Imagination lunging on a moth, a pismire, a butterfly, a……." - [Editorial note - the exact last stanza reads - "The clouds remain/- the disordered heavens, ragged, ripped by winds/or dormant, a calligraphy of scaly dragons and bright moths,/of straining thought, bulbous or smooth,/ornate, the flesh itself (in which/ the poet fortells his own death); convoluted. lunging upon/a pismire, a conflagration, a ……."] 

He was on the stage of the Museum of Modern Art going.. [ Allen gesticulates, mimicking Williams here, displaying how he would have appeared] and I realized that he was just talking, that there was no difference between his poetry, the diction and the rhythms of , his style of poetry, and his actual speeches as a doctor. You know, "You've got the clap", "You've been running around, you've got..", So, same thing. And I realized that it was possibe to write poetry that was identical to ones own speech (selected moments of our own speech), (of) our own perception). So then I looked into my notebook scribbles, and found a number of hot little items.. little interesting things, like looking out of a window, describing a bricklayer, and I arranged them in lines. I faked it. I faked a bunch of modern poems and Williams' style, arranging them in lines like he did - broken lines , some short, some long, and then sent it to him, and he said, "This is it!" Have you got any more of these?…I shall see that you get a book" - And I was amazed - that was it, all it was, it was that easy. And all this time I'd been trying to write poetry. So then I quite writing poetry, trying to write poetry, just wrote writing. You see, I just wrote, you know, clearly, and stopped trying to write poetry. And from then.. that's the secret of my success story - just stopping trying to write poetry, stopping trying to sound poetic just to sound poetic. Because the whole point is that most bad poetry is just people who are recycling things they've read in books already and not doing it as well generally, although occasionally, like Ezra Pound, they might recycle it and bring it to a higher order by being so smart about it, you know, that they get the essence of it (and we'll see an example of that in  (Ezra) Pound, today). So, yes, then, the answer then is yes, what I've tried to do is t reduce my style to absolute, realistic, straightforward, journalistic, repertorial, mind-flash talk-talk. And then figure ot how to arrange it on the page interestingly, by various means (which we can go into later, when we get to more modern poetry). 

So I went through that. So the reason ..the reason that I'm laying this trip on you, is because I went through that, and the only thing that I can teach you is what I went through , the only thing I can really instruct, or communicate is my own experience (and that was a really salutary influence for me - to have to cut down all my divine rapture (and I really had had visions, I really had visions, you know, and was after heaven, and I knew I was..after something, but, what I had to do was to cut down my means to the most realistic possible building-block).  I started at the beginning abandoning poetry, abandoning any idea.. any preconceived idea of what poery is, and just begin with my basic naked perceptions and my own mouth-talk, and then build a poetry out of that . Out of the building-blocks of your actual speech and actual perceptions, rather than daydream-y, you know, like, when a gypsy plays his violin or "my pheasant, peacocks in celestial colored heaven". I mean, something that doesn't look like Celestial Seasonings..  [Editorial note - Boulder-based New Age company]So..a little more earthy -  to begin with an earthy… to begin grounded with an earthy form. Maybe I was too harsh in attacking Romantic longings last time, because the ultimate object of Romantic longing, which is to be one with eternal space and time, is a noble, worthy, and realizable objective, and it's the task of the poet, or one of the glories of poetry that can show that glory. But, to do it for real, and not just be a daydream-y, pimply adolescent, at the age of fifty, you actually have to have real meaning, it has to be referring to something that's real and common to everybody, so that everybody can pick up on

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at the beginning of the tape  and concluding at approximately nine minutes in]

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Jack Kerouac's Funeral

                         [Allen Ginsberg at Jack Kerouac's Funeral - Photograph by Jeff Albertson]

October 24, 1969. It was a Friday. Forty-six years ago. Lowell, Mass, Jack Kerouac's funeral -  Archambault Funeral Home to the service at St. Jean Baptiste Church (presided over by Father Morissette) then off to the leafy graves at Edson Cemetery. 

Bill Tremblay's perceptive poem about the occasion can be read here

Here's Allen with John Clellon Holmes at the grave-site  (and, on the right, in shadow, Gregory Corso)

and another of Jeff Albertson's evocative shots (Gregory, with Allen in the background)

Allen helps him with the bouquet

Allen and Gregory bring flowers

John Clellon Holmes (from his notebooks): "I didn't want to look at him, at whatever some mortician had thought to fashion of what was left of him, but knew I would. . . Anyway, up I went, not wanting to, scared I'd be revolted, scared it would all crash in on me if I had to see that face, and through the dark, moving shoulders, I saw him. Laid out in the flowers, in the proscribed attitude of peaceful sleep, hands folded with rosary entwined, in a yellow shirt, a natty bow-tie, and a sport-jacket! (No need to say no one ever saw him that way since he was Harcourt-Brace's soulful young Thomas Wolfe damn near twenty-years ago.) And the face? Made to look as peaceful as a babe, the brows slightly knotted but with perplex rather than pain, the mouth not his mouth at all, the color pale pink (Jack's sweaty, creased, florid, fleshy face), thin and boyish, choir-boyish (and Jack was once choir-boyish alright, but this was a prissy, I'm-alright-Jack Jack, no Jack I ever knew, waxen, calm, mannikin-like

Then there was a rush to grab flowers and put them on the casket... I went up and took a white rose that lay about, and put it over the part where perhaps his head was, I didn't know, I wanted white rather than red (he'd become pure at last, after all; that is, all the compassionate dense involvement was over for him, the knotted forehead of meanings no longer necessary, the strange odyssey of conscious life had found its end, he was purely himself now, he was gone, all the contention & sorrow & questions remained with us), and I wanted a white flower to rest on his head…"

Eric Ehrmann & Stephen Davis  (from their contemporaneous account for 
Rolling Stone):

"Jack Kerouac's people were all there in their Sunday best, sharp-featured French-Canadian people. Old ladies gushed and moaned in French patois, their heads bobbing up and down as they gossiped about what Father Morissette had told the young Kerouac many years before. They were cordial enough….

They had laid out his body in a grey hounds-tooth sports jacket (at least one size too small), a yellow shirt and red bowtie with white pin dots. His face, heavily madeup, waxy and dull, had been molded into a cheery, vacant smile. The silver rosary clutched between his hands was faintly discolored by the heavy makeup caked upon his fingers.

"Touch him", said Ginsberg. "There's really nothing inside"
Not surprisingly, Kerouac's forehead was quite cold to the touch.
"This", Ginsberg continued, "Is exactly the way he wanted it. Listen." He read aloud from Kerouac's Mexico City Blues. Ginsberg's manner was entirely reverent: This was his service over the body. (Peter) Orlovsky fought back the tears.

Among the wreaths was a very special one that Ginsberg and Orlovsky had brought. A typical wreath, really, except for the senders, whose names - Bill, Terry, Allen and Peter - were spelled out in glittery sequins (William Burroughs, Terry Southern, Ginsberg and Orlovsky)…

The following morning, Friday, was the day of the funeral, in the Eglise St Jean le Baptiste. The weather was unseasonably cold for the New England October: In fact, it was the coldest day in months. The pallbearers (Kerouac's relatives, Ginsberg, and a man dressed as an Italian gangster who was uptight at the sight of so many cameras, from Gregory Corso's Bolex to about twenty Kodak Instamatics and Brownies that kept flitting about) all wore overcoats. Corso was filming the entire funeral, panning up and down the sub-Gothic facade of St.Jean and back to Ginsberg carrying the coffin…

The gunmetal black casket was trundled toward the altar on a good-sized coffin dolly with the trademark Eureka embossed on its side. A nice touch..

In his address to the congregation, Father Morissette said, in part, "Jack Kerouac embodied something of man's search for freedom. He refused always to be boxed in by the pettiness of the world. He had what Allen Ginsberg called "the exquisite honesty", the guts to express and live his ideas. Now he is on the road again, going on further, as he said, "alone by the waters of life". Our hopes and prayer is that he has found complete liberation"…

As the mourners poured out of the church into the blinding reflection of the sun on the stone steps, Corso (was) filming every move…. TV cameras caught the action at graveside: the cranes lowering the casket into the freshly dug earth. Corso filmed it too, right on top of it, two feet from the grave. He tilted the big sixteen millimeter camera right down into the hole, all the way, until Kerouac's casket settled into place.
Ginsberg lofted a handful of dirt onto the coffin as workmen shoveled away. A few other mourners followed with their handfuls, but most simply watched…"

Bill Morgan (in his Ginsberg biography):  "Allen, Gregory and Peter flew to New Haven, where Allen was scheduled to read and then they all drove up to Lowell with John Clellon Holmes for the funeral. They saw Jack laid out in his coffin in the Archambault Funeral Home on Pawtucket Street. He was holding a rosary in his wrinkled hands and looked large-headed and grim-lipped, with a tiny bald spot on the top of his skull that Allen hadn't noticed before. The furrow on his brow was familiar to Allen but his middle-aged heavy appearance reminded Allen more of Jack's father, Leo. To Allen, seeing the corpse was like beholding a Buddha in a Parinirvana pose who had been on earth only long enough to deliver a message and then leave the shell of his body behind. Allen turned to Ann and Sam Charters, Jack's bibliographer and her husband, and said, "I have the feeling now that Jack has imagined us all"

Vivian Gornick (another participant)'s brief remembrance:
"I met Ginsberg only twice, the first time at Jack Kerouac's funeral in 1969. I was there for The Village Voice. It was my first assignment as a working journalist. Here is the scene as I remember it:
At the head of the viewing room stood the casket wih Kerouac, hideously made up, lying in it. In the mourners' seats sat Kerouac's middle-class French-Canadian relaives - eyes narrowed, faces florid, arms crossed on their disapproving breasts. Around the casket - dipping, weaving, chanting OM - were Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky and Gregory Corso. Then there was Kerouac's final, caretaker wife, a woman old enough to be his mother, weeping bitterly and looking strangely isolated. I sat mesmerized, staring in all directions. Suddenly Ginsberg was sitting beside me. "And who are you?" he asked quietly. I told him who I was. He nodded and wondered if I was talking to people. Especially the wife. I must be sure to talk to her. "Oh, no," I said quickly. "I couldn't do that." Ginsberg nodded into space for a moment. "You must," he murmured. Then he looked directly into my eyes. "It's your job," he said softly. "You must do your job.""

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday's Weekly Round-Up - 241

The European Beat Studies Network's Annual Conference next week. This year - in Brussels. Among the explicitly Ginsberg-centric presentations: the whole first (Wednesday morning) opening panel - "Cross-Fertilizations From East & West - 1 - Searching For Which Ginsberg Legacy?" (chaired by Jaap Van Der Bent) - Robert Holton on "Ginsberg's Performative "Howl", Trevor Carolan - "Asian Wisdom Traditions, Ecological Poetics and Allen Ginsberg", Paul McDonald - "Cosmopolitan Comedy - Allen Ginsberg's Humour and the Challenge to Superiority Theory", and Franca Bellarsi - "Ginsberg as Mediator Between Anglophone and Francophone Poetry" - and, that afternoon, (on the "Cross-Fertilization between the Beats and the Visual Arts" panel, chaired by Stefan Wouters) - Lisa Stein Haven - "you got that personal tickle-touch we like-love - Ginsberg's Chaplin Fetish 1947-1963" [sic!], and Bruno Fontes - "Vision and Sound - Allen Ginsberg's  Songs of Innocence and Experience and Blake's Illuminations". On the next day, Thursday, Anna Wyrwik - "Ginsberg in Poland and in Polish Minds", and the following day, Turkish scholar, Cansu Soyupak - "Strange Now to Think of You" - The Translation of Kaddish and the Recreation of Allen Ginsberg". On the final day (as part of the panel "Building Bridges to the Spiritual Text"), Geetanjali Joshi Mishra addresses the Indian connection - "From "Manhattan" to "Manikarnika" - A Study of the "Aghori" Cult and Its Influence on the Life of Allen Ginsberg", and Luke Walker discourses on the important topic of "Ginsberg and Gnosticism". The concluding panel is entitled "The Last Word to Creativity - Contemporary Re-inventions of Ginsberg's American Howl" and includes "Ever Feral and Chiral - the Howl" by Arpine Konyalian Grenier (announced by the organizers as  "poetic recitation") 
Keynote speakers for the Conference  are Anne Waldman and Daniel Kane
A full schedule of the events is available here

More Randy Roark unearthings…

Randy Roark's accompanying note:
"I rarely had occasion to photocopy Allen's journal pages. The corrections were made on the typescript as part of our weekly meetings. But one week I'd come upon two longish poems and Allen wanted to work on them on the airplane, so I typed them up and gave him photocopies of the pages so he didn't have to lug the whole book around. Speaking of "the book," Allen wrote in black legal ledgers, to accommodate his long lines (I can't imagine him writing in a Moleskin like I do, for instance). I'm not going to type up the poem tonight, but these are the final two pages [altogether three pages] of the poem that appeared in typescript with Allen's penciled changes a week or so ago in this group [Our Allen - and in The Allen Ginsberg Project, also, last week] , so you have the complete poem if you can read Allen's handwriting. What strikes me is that apparently I couldn't read the word "windowed" in the last line on the page. Now it's perfectly clear. I also want to draw attention to the haiku that followed the wild language of "O Harper How Long!": "Last Night, dogs/with singular white barking brainless mouths/walking the streets challenging every windowed ear." It sounds like it could have come from a dream."

And more, from Randy's seemingly endless trove, to come.

Black Mountain College celebrations - continuing today and tomorrow at the University of Maine (at Orono) - a symposium - "The symposium brings together", the organizers write, "artists, critics, curators, educators, scholars, students and writers from across the nation and across the disciplines…for a wide-ranging conversation about the people, ideas, artworks, social contexts and conflicts that defined Black Mountain College during its relatively brief but highly influential existence". More information about that particular gathering - here 

"The BMC Symposium coincides with the opening of  "Leap Before You Look - Black Mountain College 1933-1957", the major exhibition curated by Helen Molesworth with Ruth Erikson at the ICA Boston and the publication of the accompanying catalog by Yale University Press". 

One Black Mountain alumnae was of course John WienersCity Lights  have now put up a podcast (audio) of their entire John Wieners celebratory reading that took place in the store last month - see here -
Further celebrations took place this week in New York City and at Harvard
Read Michael Andor Brodeur in The Boston Globe on John Wieners -  here 

[John Wieners reading in the remains of the Hotel Wentley, San Francisco, 1965 - featured in Richard O Moore's USA Poetry film on Robert Duncan and John Wieners (1966)] 

Speaking of City Lights, part two of Garrett Caples' "Remembering Richard O Moore" article (that we spotlighted a couple of weeks ago) can be found here. Tomorrow on KQED there'll be a rare showing of several of Moore's documentary films (including the episode of USA-Poetry (from 1966) dedicated to Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen)

Lawrence read this week in the bookstore - "still active and full of life at 96"

Allen profiled on Dutch radio - here

Allen's longtime-accompanist, Steven Taylor (back from "Still Howling" in Manchester, England), deservedly spotlighted - here

- and, oh my goodness! - what about this? (an alternative take of "Subterranean Homesick Blues' - and an alternative glimpse of Allen).