New at PennSound. In a 1978 appearance on the "Stonewall Nation" radio program (WBFO-FM), Allen Ginsberg talks about coming out to his family: http://bit.ly/1wEQMen. Here is a link to the entire recording of the program.
One the real perks of living in Austin is the live music, and in April, I was fortunate enough to see Patti Smith in concert— and even though she is 66 years old now, she was spectacular. After a two hour set (including an encore), I was floored that the original punk-poet-goddess could still embody so much of the artistic anti-establishment energy almost forty years after she first came on the scene. But it also made me reflect on the long relationship between poetry and punk music, and what their intertwined history in the 1970's could mean.
From the mid-sixties on through, photographer Gordon Ball took thousands of photos of Allen Ginsberg and his many friends and colleagues: Robert Creeley, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky, Herbert Huncke, Philip Whalen, William S. Burroughs, and many others.
“We often think of photography as an individualistic, solitary art — a single man or woman working the alchemy of a dark room, or one with a frequently small sometimes large mostly metal object that has a magical, transforming effect on others before that little ‘click’ is ever heard. We don’t usually speak of Annie Leibowitz and collaborators, of Alfred Eisenstadt and partners, of Robert Frank and co-workers in the writing of light. But much of whatever I may have managed to do in photography involves, in a variety of ways, a debt to others — and wouldn’t have been possible without them.”
Last night at St. Mark's Bookshop on 9th Street and Third Avenue in New York, Bill Morgan and Hettie Jones talked about Morgan's The Beat Atlas, about Ginsberg (a great deal), and about Kerouac and Ferlinghetti. My favorite literary photographer, Lawrence Schwartzwald, was there and took the photograph above.
Your Frankenstein What is the word from Deberoux Babtiste the Funambule I Desnuelu (who's he?) to choke you Duhamel and you De brouille Graciously Deberaux Take me by the throat Decraux Barrault Deberaux Delicate French logic Black daisy chain of nuns Nous sommes tous assasins Keith's jumping old man in the waves methadrine morning dance of delicacy "I want you to pick me up when I fall down"
That's part of a poem by Elise Cowan. Cowen, though dead more than a quarter century, is in many ways more present than many of the other so-called "Beat women." She is alive in the pages of Joyce Johnson's Minor Characters and in the memories of many of Beat survivors whom she deeply impressd with her generous friendship. Janine Pommy Vega, with whom Elise lived for a time, says, "I still think about her every day. She was the smartest person I knew." More...
Here is Herbert Mitgang's summary of Allen Ginsberg's FBI file:
Ginsberg engaged the attention of the FBI recordkeepers. "I have a stack of documents three feet high," the . . . poet said, and showed me a sampling of them. He has devoted much of his time to challenging the government on issues of privacy and personal freedom - including sexual preference - and arousing his fellow writers to campaign for freedom of expression.
Ginsberg recently told me that Pacifica Radio, the group of radio stations that airs public events, contemporary verse, drama and other literature, may no longer broadcast much of his poetry, including the well known Howl and Kaddish. Under the Reagan administration's policy of destroying the power to regulate of the regulatory agencies, the weakened Federal Communications Commission has carried out Attorney General Meese's diktat against "obscenity" and "indecency." The final report of the Meese Commission on Pornography is a legacy for book censors and book burners that could affect authors, editors and elements of the publishing community for a long time to come.
Ginsberg said that some of the papers in his file come from related customs and Treasury Department investigative bureaus. His file crisscrosses those of other writers. "They include Leroi Jones, who was the victim of much more attack than people understand and, in that context, his anger is understandable," Ginsberg said. "Most people don't realize what he and other black literati have been through, assuming that all past injustices have been redressed or somehow disappeared out of mind. The waste remains, the waste remains and kills. The section on Tom Hayden in Newark intersects with Jones, since Jones was influenced by an FBI misinformation campaign to denounce Hayden as an [FBI] agent and drive him out of Newark. The section on Black United Front and Ann Arbor intersects with John Sinclair, poet director of Detroit Artists Workshop, a multiracial press that is one of my publishers."
Tony Trigilio has been working this past year on an edited collection of poems and fragments from Elise Cowen's only surviving notebook. This edition will reproduce the notebook poems themselves, as they were written in Cowen's hand. Cowen's surviving family generously granted the rights to Tony to edit the book. The project, which is still looking for a publisher, will include many never-before-seen Cowen poems and will correct those that had been mis-transcribed in the past. The book is taking shape as an intriguing Sappho-Dickinson hybrid with a Beat sensibility -- an odd mixture, perhaps, but an accurate description of Cowen's varied influences.
For years I've taught Elise Cowen in my modern/contemporary American poetry course (English 88) and once created a modest Cowen web page here. Here's more about Tony.
Yesterday Lawrence Schwartzwald photographed Dustin Hoffman on Madison Avenue reading Allen Ginsberg's selected interviews. Lawrence reminds me that Hoffman played Lenny Bruce and that in the famous Ginsberg-William Buckley Firing Line debate of September 1968 Lenny Bruce was discussed. The transcript of that encounter is on pp.