Sunday, January 31, 2016

Philip Glass - 2

More Glass - Philip Glass's birthday today - continuing from yesterdaya Philip Glass weekend.

PG: "I had met Allen Ginsberg many times after I returned from Paris and India in 1967. He, of course was close to William Burroughs, whom I knew from the Chappaqua film work when I was assisting Ravi Shankar. We had shared the stage quite a few times at music-poetry events and at the Nova Convention in 1979 in New York City, a celebration of Burroughs' work. But we didn't do any work together until 1988. It then happened that a theater group that emerged from the Vietnam Veterans Against the War was organizing a fund-raising event that had, as its major event, an evening at the Shubert Theater on Broadway. Tom Bird from the theater company called me and asked if I would participate. I agreed but really had no idea what I would do.
A few days later I was in the St. Mark's Bookshop and Allen happened to be there, in the poetry section. I was inspired to ask him if he would perform at the event. He immediately accepted. I then asked if we could perform together, using a poem of his and new music which I would compose. In a flash, he picked up a copy of his Collected Poems off the shelf, deftly opened to the section, "The Fall of America", and in a few seconds his fingers pointed to the lines, "I'm an old man now", from "Wichita Vortex Sutra". I went home and, starting with that line, in a few days had composed the music, stopping after the line, "..stop for tea and gas". We only had a few weeks before the Shubert performance and we rehearsed at my house, where I had the piano. This, our first collaboration, came together quickly.After that we began to see each other often, and since we lived not far from each other in the East Village, our regular visits were no problem."    


See further selections from Hydrogen Jukebox on the Allen Ginsberg Project - here

See other Ginsberg Project Glass postings - here and here 

Here's Philip and Patti Smith celebrating Allen together

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Philip Glass - 1


We celebrate tomorrow the actual birthday of Philip Glassbut here on the Ginsberg Project, a Philip Glass weekend

Here's how Philip brought in the New Year in New York earlier this month

& from the memoirs:

"Some years later when my sister Sheppie's husband, Morton Abramowitz was the Ambassador to Turkey, Allen Ginsberg came with me and some other friends on a tour of Greek theaters on the Ionian coast. I was interested in the acoustics and how they worked, so Allen would go on the stage and recite the famous W.B.Yeats poem "Sailing to Byzantium". The tourists who were around would sit down in the seats in the amphitheater and listen, because here's someone with a big head of hair who looks like a professor - I don't think anyone knew it was Allen Ginsberg - and the guards didn't stop him. He would walk to the center of the stage and recite, and it is amazing how beautiful and clear the poem would sound in that open environment."

       [Allen Ginsberg, Philip Glass & company at Ephesus, Turkey, 1990 - Photograph by Allen Ginsberg, courtesy the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto]

"When Allen met Gelek Rimpoche soon after they immediately became close friends. From then on, he was at all the teaching sessions that would happen in New York and traveled frequently to Ann Arbor. During those years, Gelek Rimpoche's Jewel Heart organized two retreats a year - one in the winter and one in the summer - and Allen and I went to both every year. There were usually three of us sharing a room, the third person being either Stokes Howell, another writer friend of mine, or Kathy Laritz, Gelek Rimpoche's assistant at that time. During thr retreats, I often saw Allen wake up at night, turn on a flashlight, and begin writing poetry."

"One summer, Allen and his lifelong friend Peter Orlovsky came to visit me in Cape Breton. I remember many evenings after dinner when Allen would recite poetry. There was no TV near us and the radio offered very little of interest, but Allen knew volumes of poetry by heart. He could recite hours of poetry by Shakespeare, Blake and Tennyson, to list just a few."

                                                            [Philip Glass -Photograph by Allen Ginsberg]

"He told me that his father, Louis Ginsberg, himself a poet of some recognition had gotten him and his brother Eugene as children to memorize poetry. At times there were readings when both Allen and his brother read poems, a performance I found both moving and beautiful."

  [Philip Glass & his sister in Istanbul's Hagia Sophia, Turkey, 1990 - Photograph by Allen Ginsberg, courtesy the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto]

"Allen was outspoken and honest to a fault up to the very end of his life. From time to time I witnessed his encounters with people who knew him only by name, but had no idea what a warm and  spontaneous person he truly was. I remember a dinner in the 1990s at the house of Hank Luce, the publisher of Time and Fortune magazines. Hank was a big loud guy and part of the Luces - a powerhouse family in New York and throughout the country. Hank didn't really know Allen, but at dinner began poking around conversationally, clearly looking for trouble. But Allen, at that moment, was not interested in getting riled up. He answered Hank amiably enough. Finally Hank said, "I hear you write pornographic poetry?" - "I do" - "Let me hear some" - At that point Allen let loose with some real hair-curling pornographic poetry. Not only was it pornographic, it was really vulgar too. I could see that Hank was deeply impressed. Finally, when it looked as if Allen might be slowing down, he said, "Well, well, well…that certainly is pornographic. After that they fell into a friendly and very lively conversation . In fact Hank and Allen had a very good time together." 

to be continued

Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday's Weekly Round-Up - 253

Wait Till I'm Dead, the eagerly-awaited new Ginsberg book, is officially out next Tuesday (the UK edition, cover seen here, has a pub date of the 25th of February)  

Here's Rachel Zucker from the introduction:

"When I first read Allen Ginsberg's poems as a teenager, they worked on me like a gateway drug. Leading me deeper and deeper into a life of poetry, Ginsberg's poetry woke me up and whet a poetic appetite I've spent years trying to satisfy. I saw the world differently after reading "Howl""Kaddish""Sunflower Sutra" and "America". Language became clamorous and mystical in my brain, words delicious and unwieldy on my tongue.

Reading Ginsberg gave me the chutzpah to complain to the chair of my high-school English department  that there wasn't enough poetry on the syllabus. The chair shrewdly offered to give me poetry on the side - as much poetry as I could manage. The poets he proffered - Elizabeth BishopMarianne MooreWallace Stevens - sounded tame or impregnable to my adolescent ears. The chair gave me Sylvia Plath, but even Plath failed to turn me on (then), failed to bother me the way Ginsberg did, the way I wanted poetry to bother me. No, no, no! I wanted POETRY!: disruption, danger, mind-blowing, dirty-talking, proselytizing prophecy! I wanted the kind of Talmudic Beat-babble queer broken-guitar-Bob-Dylan American song that only ALLEN GINSBERG had the nerve to sing!…"

And, confronted by the UnCollected:

"What a delight it is to read these old-new poems! It's a bit like watching a memorial slideshow of someone I loved dearly. How beautiful he was in younger years!  How innocent-looking! How wise! One marvels at what has come back into fashion or never went out of fashion, at the images that feel familiar but are, actually, seen for the first time. "Of course!" one thinks. Or, "I never knew!" I'm so grateful for these unearthed poems, for the moreness of them, which is not just memory but new connection, new discovery. I love Ginsberg's fearsome prolificity, but the massiveness of his published oeuvre makes it difficult to get a sense of Ginsberg's development across time…"

Zucker concludes:

"In an age so full of fear, so obsessed with quarantine, isolation and self-protection, an age in which educators are instructed to provide trigger warnings to students about potentially disturbing material in the classroom and our government issues color-coded advisories about our current threat-level, Ginsberg's poems remind us that art must infect, contaminate, upset, disturb, question, invade, threaten and excite. Ginsberg's poems have always done that and continue to do so. They are dangerous. They are fearless. We need them."

Uncle Howard, Aaron Brookner's documentary, opened this week at Sundance (two more showings, tonight and tomorrow). Here's the official trailer

Variety's review of the movie is here
Hollywood Reporter's review of the movie, here

Neal Cassady's birthday's coming up. The annual (seventh!) Neal Cassady Birthday Bash will take place on Saturday in Denver at the Mercury Cafe - "At the event, local poets, family members and other devoted artists like Jami Cassady, Molina Speaks and Jennifer Dunbar Dorn will pay tribute to the man with live performances. David Amram, a longtime friend of Cassady's and an acclaimed composer and avant-garde musician who connected with the Beats back in Cassady's heyday - will perform with his quartet".  
More on Amram here   (and, for that matter, here)


Ed Sanders new book, a follow-up on his legendary 1971 book on the Charles Manson murders, The Family, is a biography of the victim, Sharon Tate

Alexandra Molotkow's somewhat luke-warm review of the book for The New Republic can be found here

Ed's friend and fellow Woodstock resident, Raymond Foye writes: "During the writing of the book he told me he learned a valuable lesson: Never do anything for the money. But then at the end of the process he told me he was glad he did it, because he wanted to give people a portrait of a woman who he truly admired, a really talented comic actress. And also he felt the need to fulfill Sharon Tate's mother's request that he please explore the case more fully, as she never accepted many of the claims made (for example, that the murder was committed to set off a race war). Her mother felt there was a connection with Sirhan (Sirhan) and the RFK assassination. For that story you must read the book...".
                [Sharon Tate and Her Mom - illustration (from Sharon Tate- A Life by Ed Sanders) by Rick Veitch]

Our posting, earlier this week, on the sale, by Steve Clay's Granary Books, of the legendary Ed Sanders archives, incidentally, can be accessed here

"Pseudo-anthropologist"? - Huh? - We're not quite sure what the author, Margaret Rhodes, means in her Wired note on the recently-published Harry Smith Catalogue Raisonné, of paper airplanes (nice, we guess, at least, to see it noticed).  Some confusion in the chronology (the actual nature) of Harry's collecting in there too. That, and its companion volume - (on string figures - Harry Smith Catalogue Raisonné, Volume II), are, of course, essential purchases. 

Tom Pickard on Basil Bunting His 1966 note (in acknowledgment of the 50th anniversary of Bunting's epic poem, "Briggflats") was reprinted by the Poetry Foundation and can be accessed here

                                                      [Allen Ginsberg and Basil Bunting, 1965]

 Speaking of  Poetry -  "New York to San Fran", the longest poem in Allen's new book, an epic 1965 airplane meditation, first published in the City Lights Journal, will be published, in its entirety, in next month's issue of Poetry magazine 

The concluding section of Nick Sturm's excellent two-part series for Fanzine on Ted Berrigan's art writing recently appeared and can be accessed here (the first part, that appeared last July on that forum, can be accessed here

                                                              [Ted Berrigan by Alex Katz]

Three years on, we remember our dear friend Anselm Hollo 

                                                              [Anselm Hollo (1934-2013]

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Amnesiac Thirst For Fame

Amnesiac Thirst For Fame 

An “autograph hound” armed

with a golden platter and a 


kneeled before John and

   killed the Beatles.

 A stringy-haired artist

tiptoed thru St. Peter’s

and unsculpted


polished marble elbow with a


Christ defenseless lying in his

   stone Mama’s arms.

 Staring out of the canvas

   under their Feathered Hats

Rembrandt’s Night Watchers

were blind to the Slasher

that tore thru their coats with 

   a razor.

Did someone steal Mona

   Lisa’s smile forever from

   the Louvre? 


Originally published in Rolling Stone magazine, January, 1981, though written a month before, around the time of John Lennon's assassination, December 8, 1980, "Amnesiac Thirst For Fame" is one of the one-hundred-and-three poems soon to be made available in Wait Till I'm Dead - UnCollected Poems by Allen Ginsberg to be published by Grove-Atlantic.  Two further short earlier poems are available here

"..A Mayden" & Blake Accentuated

More detailed  technical analysis. Again (as with an earlier posting this week), it is strongly suggested that the reader follow along with the original audio (which is available here (beginnning at approximately nineteen-and-a-half minutes in and concluding at approximately thirty-two minutes in)

Student (JC): You could maybe talk a little bit about (William) Blake and your settings?

 AG: Well, we’ve got a case here ["I Syng of A Mayden'], applying the same method here - “I sing of a maiden that is..” –"I syng of a mayden.." [Allen begins singing] – “I syng of a mayden that is makeles…(that is make-less, makeles) - "I syng of a mayden that is makeles"  (“that is makeles”) – "king of all kings for her son she chose”  (sings – “kyng of alle kynges/ for her sone che ches” - “kyng of alle kynges/ for her sone che ches  - “He came also (as) still/ where his mother was.." (sings - "He cam also stylle where his moder was”) - "He cam also stylle where his moder was" (sings -"He cam also stylle where his moder was) – simply following in tune from the suggestions of the pitch of vernacular recitation of the lines. 

By reading..  By vernacular, I mean, if you were talking the lines aloud to your best friend  as if they made sense, (instead of just stiff poetry to be intoned as if it were hi-faultin’ but bombastic and meaningless )– “He came also still to his mother’s bower" (sings - “He cam also still to his moderes bower" - "to his muderes bower" – "He cam also stylle.." (came also still to his mother’s bower") -  (sings - "cam also stylle to his moderns bower’), "as dew in april that falleth on the flower" (“as dew in aprille that fallyt on the flour”) (sings - "as dew in aprille that fallyt on the flour” – “that fallyt on the flour” – that fallith on the flower. So for “grass’, “flower’ and ‘spray”, I lifted the pitch up (”that fallyt on..). The first.. “to here sone..” – the last line of the first stanza – “to here sone che ches” - “to here son che ches” – but then,  (in) the last line of the next three stanzas, the last syllable is lifted up (“that fallyt on the gras", "that fallyt on the  flour", "that fallyt on the spray" -  (that falleth on the spray, that falleth on the flower, that falleth on the grass) – up, you lift it up. The “fallyt” goes down (“as dew in aprille that fallyt on the gras”)  - da-da dada – da – Is that clear? Going down on the "fallyt", going up on the "gras". The pitch going down on the "fallyt" (because it’s falling) , the pitch going up on the grass, and on the flower, and on the spray. Is that clear?
The first impulse I had was just to have “falleth on the grass”,  but  it was “fallyt on the gras” (not “falleth on the grass”) – but [sings - "... fallyt on the gras”]– up...

With (William) Blake, the procedure was the same – “Piping down the valleys wild” – (sings – "Piping down the valleys wild”) – "Piping down the valleys wild", so in that line it’s…the pitch (there) of “Piping down the valleys wild”, you start high and end high, right? Piping? wild? down the valleys? – both for sense and pronunciation go down in pitch ((sings – Piping down the valleys wild” or “Piping down the valleys wild”) –da da da da da da da-da – wild – you say “wild”, you say da-da, right – wi-old – one “o” – wi-old – “piping down the valleys wild”. (That’s) simply following the indications of tone that you’d speak it . What’s the next line?

Peter Orlovsky: "On a cloud I saw a child"…?

Student: Piping songs of pleasant glee...

AG: "Piping down the valleys wild/Piping songs of pleasant glee" (sings - "Piping songs of pleasant glee") "Piping songs of pleasant glee "(sings - "Piping songs of pleasant glee") Because if you say “Piping songs of pleasant.. “ (da-da-da-da da-da), -"Piping songs of pleasant.. " - "Piping songs of pleasant glee", "Piping songs of pleasant glee" (well, you might reverse it a little) - (sings - "Piping songs of pleasant glee")  - whichever way you want to go. “On a cloud I saw a child" (sings - "On a cloud I saw a child”) – You can always say “child” like that  - “On a cloud I saw a child”) – “And he, laughing, said to me" – (sings - “And he laughing said to me" – “Piping down the valleys wild… [Allen now sings/ recites the whole stanza]  - “Pipe a song about a Lamb" - "Pipe a song about a Lamb" - I can’t sing - Pipe a song about a lamb” or “Pipe a song (about) a Lamb”, or something like that , some playful little high-toned, high note. - “Pipe a song about a Lamb/. So I piped with merry chear' (sings - So I piped with merry cheer").  "Piper, pipe that song again" (sings – "Piper pipe that song again”) .”So he piped,  I wept to hear"  - (sings - So he piped,  I wept to hear" So he piped,  I wept to hear") 

Peter Orlovsky: "Piper…"

AG: Piper. "Piper, sit thee down and write.."

Peter Orlovsky: "In a book that all may read."

AG: (No). "In a book that all may read" – So - “Piper, sit thee down and write in a book that all may read”, "Piper sit thee.." (sings -"Piper sit thee down and write in a book that all may read") - "So he vanished from my sight" (sings "So he vanished from my sight" -(naturally, (right) out of sight!) – "vanished from my sight". "And I plucked a hollow reed" ("and he’d vanished from my sight/ and I plucked a hollow reed") (sings: "And I plucked a hollow reed…")

PO: "And I stain'd the water  clear..."

AG :  (What's the next one? - "And I made a rural pen" (sings – "And I made a rural pen.." "And I made a rural pen") -  "And I made a rural pen" - And I made a rural pen, and…I..stain'd the water clear? ..

PO: "Every child…"

AG: No, that's the next one.. (let me see)/"And I sat me down to write" - or something - "And I sat me down to write.." "Every child.." - Is that it, Peter

Student (turning to anthology) (page) five-four-five

AG: Pardon me?

Student: Five-four-five 

AG: (consulting anthology)  "And I made a rural pen" –wish I had this all along - "And I made a rural.." - [sings - "And I made a rural pen"]  - "And I stain'd the water clear" - [sings, "And I stain'd the water clear"] - "And I wrote my happy songs" - [sings - "And I wrote my happy songs"] - "Every child may joy to hear" - [sings - "Every child may joy to hear"] - Well, I didn't follow exactly, but close enough

So, if you’ve got it on page five four five, I’l just sing it once through, accapella – 

[Allen, along with Peter Orlovsky  reads/sings entire poem] 

The difficulty there was (not) to get into too much of a dumpty-dumpty-dumpty rhythm and miss the syncopation of  And I made a rural pen/And I stained the water clear/And I wrote my happy songs/ Every child might joy to hear".   You might get into “Every child may joy to hear", instead of  Every child may joy to hear”. You get a little syncopation into it, (without breaking the basic rhythmic progression - but you can syncopate, in and out, too - just (that) the syncopation would go according to the vernacular statement of it, the vernacular way you’d say it - ”And I made a rural pen”, you wouldn’t say” And I made a rural pen”. You would say "And I made a rural pen”, [sings – "And I made a rural pen"] – "And I stain'd the water clear" , "And I stained the clear water", "And I stain'd the water clear" - [sings, And I stain'd the water clear"]...

Peter Orlovsky; You might sing that song and.. I've sung it up in the farm [in Cherry Valley], and you've got the wind blowing and the noise of the trees, and you're working, working doing a job outside , you might sing it altogether differently…

AG: Yeah, see, I  was just trying to suggest.. whatever differences you make, I was trying to suggest here whether the direction will go up or down, if you're following the tones, and if you're translating it from the book, from the booke, into vernacular rhythm. And a good sample of  the need for vernacular rhythm (well, I have it, well, here we go..) - [Allen rifles through anthology] - We'll get onto Blake another time, we'll get onto more of this….

Well, I'll say, "The Lamb" - Dig  "The Lamb" - for vernacular. Can somebody.. Is anybody not familiar with this poem? - Okay - [to Student] Can you read it aloud? - 

[Student reads the poem out loud - "Little lamb, who made thee?"] -

AG: Thank you., that's not bad. Were you doing it vernacularly, perfectly..

Student; No, I was just…

AG: Well, that was alright. What I like is "Little lamb, god bless thee" - "Little lamb, god bless thee" - Actually, it made sense that way, because you'd say, "god bless thee", you wouldn't say " "Little lamb, god bless thee", "Litt;e lamb god bless thee. You'd say, "Litt;e Lamb, God.." you'd hesitate and say "God bless thee" - "God bless thee" . So when I set that to music it was "Little lamb, god bless thee, Little lamb, god bless thee", it wasn't "Little lamb god bless thee" (boom-boom-boom), instead was "god bless thee" (da da-da). In high school, I learned it as,  "Little lamb, I'll tell thee little lamb I'll tell thee. He is call-ed by thy name for he calls himself a lamb. He-is-meek-and-he-is-mild, he-became-a-little-child, I-a-chlld-and-thou-a-lamb We-are-call-ed-by his-name  Little lamb god bless thee  little lamb god bless thee"! - or, it confounded me for years, "Little lamb god bless thee, little lamb god bless thee (swallowing the "god") "Little lamb god bless thee, little lamb god bless thee" in order to just go on with the actual rhythm accenting "bless", so if  you turn to vernacular, as you would say it, "Little lamb god bless thee, Little lamb god bless thee", or "Little lamb, God bless thee" [sings - "Little lamb god bless thee", "Little lamb god bless thee"]. So that's a sample of making use of vernacular rhythm to interpret the poem. But where do you get the vernacular …where do you get the vernacular, or spoken, inspiration? where do you get the idea how you're supposed to put these accents? - Well, you've got to figure out, with your common sense, what the line means. And, like, what the line means - and then you put your accents where the line means it. Right? - instead of "god bless thee", instead of swallowing the "god" and emphasizing the "bless" just automatically, mechanically. 

Piping down the valleys wild 
Piping songs of pleasant glee 
On a cloud I saw a child. 
And he laughing said to me. 

Pipe a song about a Lamb; 
So I piped with merry chear, 
Piper pipe that song again— 
So I piped, he wept to hear. 

Drop thy pipe thy happy pipe 
Sing thy songs of happy chear, 
So I sung the same again 
While he wept with joy to hear 

Piper sit thee down and write 
In a book that all may read— 
So he vanish'd from my sight. 
And I pluck'd a hollow reed. 

And I made a rural pen, 
And I stain'd the water clear, 
And I wrote my happy songs 
Every child may joy to hear

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Little Lamb who made thee 
         Dost thou know who made thee 
Gave thee life & bid thee feed. 
By the stream & o'er the mead; 
Gave thee clothing of delight, 
Softest clothing wooly bright; 
Gave thee such a tender voice, 
Making all the vales rejoice! 
         Little Lamb who made thee 
         Dost thou know who made thee 

         Little Lamb I'll tell thee, 
         Little Lamb I'll tell thee!
He is called by thy name, 
For he calls himself a Lamb: 
He is meek & he is mild, 
He became a little child: 
I a child & thou a lamb, 
We are called by his name. 
         Little Lamb God bless thee. 
         Little Lamb God bless thee.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately nineteen-and-a-half minutes in and concluding approximately thirty-two minutes in]

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Zukofsky's Music

[Louis Zukofsky (1904-1978)]

[Celia Zukofsky]

AG: I took part in a..  Louis Zukofsky was an Objectivist Imagist friend, poet, of  (Ezra) Pound, (William Carlos) Williams (Pound and Williams), a great man from the (19)20s to the (19)70s, and, after he died, there was a memorial to him at the PEN Club in New York. So Robert Creeley and I and..Celia (Thaew), his wife, took part in a little symposium, and during this symposium, she explained the relation between his music and poetry.

Many… One book of his, called Autobiography, had been published, which had all of his early lyrics (or a sequence of crucial lyrics of his lifetime) set to music by his wife, so, put into music-staves and notated. And, at the end of his publishing career, there was one giant volume of his of Pericles, a play, Shakespeare’s Pericles, set to music syllable-by-syllable by his wife, and, certain poems he'd asked her to set to music (She was a musician – and their son, Paul Zukofsky is a famous (nowadays) [1980] famous young classical avant-garde violinist  - genius – you know, boy-genius). 
Well, she explained that actually Zukofsky was tone-deaf ! He couldn’t carry a tune hardly, but, he liked to hear music and he did speak sensibly, sensitively, with pitch, when he read his lyrics aloud to her. So he would read a little lyric to her aloud and she would note, first, the cadence, which, as a musician, she could translate into 4/4 time or 3/4 time, or whatever time she felt it was - it was some specific cadence that she could find the musical equivalent for, or the notational equivalent for - but she listened especially to his tones, (whether his voice rose or fell, syllable by syllable, whether the pitch of the vowel went up or down, up or down). So, from that, she derived her notion of the melody. So that’s the practice I had been using with setting (William) Blake’s songs, and I was amazed to find that’s precisely the practice she used. 
I don’t know what the ancient practice is but I suspect it must have something to do with that.

So a number of us here are involved with, involved in music – guitar or lyrics.. And so I was talking with Jim Cohn [sic] about it before, and, apparently, this general idea, the practice of this, the practicality of this, was a clear idea but a novelty to him, (he hadn’t heard it (really) spoken of before) – [Allen to Jim Cohn] - Is that so? - You see, that’s why I’m trying to clarify it here, or repeat it again, in class. [again, to Jim Cohn] - Is there anything I’ve left out that we were talking about? basically?

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately sixteen-and-a-half minutes in and concluding at approximately nineteen-and-a-half minutes in]