Archives for posts with tag: Allen Ginsberg

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In this 1969 photo — taken at L.A.’s Chateau Marmont by Art Kane – Doors frontman/poet Jim Morrison sits in a closet reading a book. The cover looks as if it belongs in the City Lights Pocket Poets series that publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti started in 1955. If Morrison is reading a book from the series, my guess is PLANET NEWS by Allen Ginsberg, a 144-page collection published in 1968. (Morrison admired Ginsberg’s poetry and was influenced by his work.) A selection from the book is featured below.

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I am a Victim of Telephone (Excerpt)
by Allen Ginsberg

…Always the telephone linked to all the hearts of the
world beating at once
crying my husband’s gone my boyfriend’s busted
forever my poetry was rejected
won’t you come over for money and please won’t you
write me a piece of bullshit
How are you dear can you come out to Easthampton we’re
all here bathing in the ocean we’re all so lonely
and I lay back on my pallet contemplating $50 phone 
bill, broke, drowsy, anxious, my heart fearful of
the fingers dialing, the deaths, the singing of
telephone bells
ringing at dawn ringing all afternoon ringing up
midnight ringing now forever.

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HOWL (Excerpt)
by Allen Ginsberg

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night

who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz…

……Read more of HOWL at poets.org.

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Photo: “Cadets read Howl, February 19, 1991, Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, Virginia” by Gordon Ball, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Note: Gordon Ball was a professor of English at the Virginia Military Institute during the 1990s and invited Allen Ginsberg to speak with the students as a guest lecturer to “overwhelmingly positive response,” according to allenginsberg.org. According to the Virginia Military Institute website, Gordon Ball,  PhD, is still a professor of English and Fine Arts at the school.

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In 1957, Allen Ginsberg was in Paris awaiting the results of the U.S. obscenity trial related to HOWL, the book-length poem Lawrence Ferlinghetti had published in San Francisco through his City Lights Press.

The 2010 film HOWL, starring James Franco as Allen Ginsberg, covers a range of subjects — including the 1957 obscenity trial — in some cases using experimental techniques (such as animation of the poem).

I particularly enjoyed Jon Hamm (MAD MEN‘s Don Draper) as defense counsel Jake Ehrlich and Bob Balaban as Judge Clayton HornJames Franco also turns in an admirable performance as Ginsberg.

I had very low expectations when I borrowed this film (HOWL) from the library — I didn’t think there was any way to do justice to the subject matter. Basically, I expected a Hollywood botch job. Count me wrong!  I was enraptured and enthralled throughout the movie, which features the entire text of Howl in animation such as I’ve never seen before.

HOWL, the movie, directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, is original, respectful, and a fine testament to Allen Ginsberg, one of America’s most important poets. Highly recommended.

Find the DVD on Amazon.com.

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LEAVING THE MOTEL

Poem by W.D. Snodgrass

Outside, the last kids holler
Near the pool: they’ll stay the night.
Pick up the towels; fold your collar
Out of sight.

Check: is the second bed
Unrumpled, as agreed?
Landlords have to think ahead
In case of need,

Too. Keep things straight: don’t take
The matches, the wrong keyrings–
We’ve nowhere we could keep a keepsake–
Ashtrays, combs, things

That sooner or later others
Would accidentally find.
Check: take nothing of one another’s
And leave behind

Your license number only,
Which they won’t care to trace;
We’ve paid. Still, should such things get lonely,
Leave in their vase

An aspirin to preserve
Our lilacs, the wayside flowers
We’ve gathered and must leave to serve
A few more hours;

That’s all. We can’t tell when
We’ll come back, can’t press claims,
We would no doubt have other rooms then,
Or other names.

NOTE: William DeWitt Snodgrass (1926-2009) won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1960. He is considered a leading figure — along with Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Lowell, and Anne Sexton — in the confessional school of poetry.

Photo: Built in 1946, the Olive Motel is an old-school motor court motel located at 2751 Sunset Blvd. in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles.

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PORTLAND COLISEUM
by Allen Ginsberg

A brown piano in diamond
white spotlight
Leviathan auditorium
iron run wired
hanging organs, vox
black battery
A single whistling sound of ten thousand children’s
larynxes asinging
pierce the ears
and following up the belly
bliss the moment arrived
 
Apparition, four brown English
jacket christhair boys
Goofed Ringo battling bright
white drums
Silent George hair patient
Soul horse
Short black-skulled Paul
with the guitar
Lennon the Captain, his mouth
a triangular smile,
all jump together to End
some tearful memory song
ancient-two years,
The million children
the thousand words
bounce in their seats, bash
each other’s sides, press
legs together nervous
Scream again & claphand
become one Animal
in the New World Auditorium
—hands waving myriad
snakes of thought
screetch beyond hearing
 
while a line of police with
folded arms stands
Sentry to contain the red
sweatered ecstasy
that rises upward to the
wired roof.

— August 27, 1965

“Portland Coliseum” by Allen Ginsberg commemorates the Beatles’ appearance in Portland, Oregon, on August 22, 1965. The poem is found in READ THE BEATLES: Classic and New Writing on the Beatles, Their Legacy, and Why They Still Matter (Penguin, 2006), available at Amazon.com.

Photo: The Beatles performing “I’m Down” in Portand, Oregon, on August 22, 1965 (Bob Boris, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

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In this 1969 photo — taken at L.A.’s Chateau Marmont by Art Kane — Doors frontman/poet Jim Morrison sits in a closet reading a book. I’ve tried to make out the title, but can’t. The cover looks as if it belongs in the City Lights Pocket Poets series that publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti started in 1955. If Morrison is reading a book from the series, my guess is PLANET NEWS by Allen Ginsberg, a 144-page collection published in 1968. (Morrison adored Ginsberg’s poetry.) A selection from the book is featured below.

Image
I am a Victim of Telephone (Excerpt)
by Allen Ginsberg

…Always the telephone linked to all the hearts of the
world beating at once
crying my husband’s gone my boyfriend’s busted
forever my poetry was rejected
won’t you come over for money and please won’t you
write me a piece of bullshit
How are you dear can you come out to Easthampton we’re
all here bathing in the ocean we’re all so lonely
and I lay back on my pallet contemplating $50 phone 
bill, broke, drowsy, anxious, my heart fearful of
the fingers dialing, the deaths, the singing of
telephone bells
ringing at dawn ringing all afternoon ringing up
midnight ringing now forever.

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HOWL (Excerpt)
by Allen Ginsberg

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night

who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz…

……Read more of HOWL at poets.org.

###

Photo: “Cadets read Howl, February 19, 1991, Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, Virginia” by Gordon Ball, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Editor’s Note: I don’t know if HOWL (1955), the ultimate Beat poem, was part of the curriculum at the Virginia Military Institute in 1991 or if photographer Gordon Ball — who from the mid-1960s took photos of Allen Ginsberg and his friends — set up the shot for its humorous possibilities. Perhaps he thought, considering HOWL‘s history — including the 1957 obscenity trial involving its publisher, Lawrence Ferlinghetti — it would be funny to show straight-laced military types reading it.

UPDATE: I’ve learned that photographer Gordon Ball was a professor of English at the Virginia Military Institute during the 1990s and invited Allen Ginsberg to speak with the students as a guest lecturer to “overwhelmingly positive response,” according to allenginsberg.org. And I learned at the Virginia Military Institute website that Gordon Ball,  PhD, is still a professor of English and Fine Arts at the school.

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April 28, 2013 marks the 90th birthday of Carolyn Cassady — the accomplished and gifted woman associated with Beat writers Neal Cassady (one-time husband), Jack Kerouac (friend and lover), and Allen Ginsberg (friend and confidante). She wrote about these iconic figures and much more in her 1990 memoir OFF THE ROAD (available at Amazon.com).

Carolyn showed artistic gifts from her early years — at age 12, joining a theater troupe in Nashville, where she won awards for her set designs. She received a scholarship to Bennington College (Vermont) — studying with choreographer Martha Graham, philosopher Erich Fromm, and poet Theodore Roethke — and earned a B.A. in drama in 1944. After graduation, she served as an occupational therapist for the U.S. Army, then moved to Denver in 1946 to study for her master’s degree at the University of Denver while working as a teaching assistant at the Denver Art Museum.

Fate intervened in 1947, when she met future husband Neal Cassady and his friends Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. While dating Cassady, Carolyn learned he was still married to his first wife, so she moved to California to pursue work as a costume designer in the movie business. Before starting the job, it became clear she was expecting a little Cassady — and decided to reconcile with Neal. They had three children together — and, in all, spent 16  tumultuous off-again-on-again years with each other, divorcing in 1963.

In 1983, Carolyn moved to England and has continued to work as an artist and writer. So, wherever you are today, Carolyn, your friends in America — especially Joan Jobe Smith and Fred Voss — wish you a very happy birthday. (Thanks, Joan, for suggesting this post.)

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In a previous post about the 2012 documentary THE BEAT HOTEL, I mentioned that the film dealt with, among other topics, poet Allen Ginsberg‘s sojourn in Paris during 1957. Ginsberg was in Paris awaiting the results of the U.S. obscenity trial related to HOWL, the book-length poem Lawrence Ferlinghetti had published in San Francisco through his City Lights Press.

The 2010 film HOWL, starring James Franco as Allen Ginsberg, covers a range of subjects — including the 1957 obscenity trial — in some cases using experimental techniques (such as breathtaking animation of the poem).

I particularly enjoyed Jon Hamm (MAD MEN‘s Don Draper) as defense counsel Jake Ehrlich and Bob Balaban as Judge Clayton Horn. James Franco also turns in an admirable performance as Ginsberg.

I had very low expectations when I borrowed this film (HOWL) from the library — I didn’t think there was any way to do justice to the subject matter. Basically, I expected a Hollywood botch job. Count me wrong!  I was enraptured and enthralled throughout the movie, which features the entire text of Howl in animation such as I’ve never seen before.

HOWL, the movie, directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, is original, respectful, and a fine testament to Allen Ginsberg, one of America’s most important poets. Highly recommended.

Find the DVD on Amazon.com.

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Released in July 2012, The Beat Hotel (directed by Alan Govenar) is an 82-minute documentary that tells the story of a remarkable group of artists — including many of the prominent Beats — who in 1957 converged in a cheap Paris hotel, where some of their greatest works were born.

Hotel residents included Beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso along with novelist William Burroughs. Ginsberg began his magnum opus, Kaddish, in the hotel, which was located in Paris’s Latin Quarter, while Burroughs completed his most renowned work, the experimental novel Naked Lunch. Joining these Americans were artists from a variety of persuasions (photographers, painters, musicians, performance artists) who hailed from France, Britain, and other parts of the world.

I borrowed this DVD from my local library and found the film fascinating, riveting, and inspiring. It’s a story about the power of art and the power of artists to influence one another in positive ways. The most amazing part of the story was Madame Rachou, the hotel owner who only allowed artists to reside in her establishment — and charged them next to nothing to live there. She felt that artists needed time and space to create — and this was her way of acting as a patron of the arts.

A good time was had by all in The Beat Hotel — and this documentary makes you feel as if you were part of it all. Highly recommended. 

Find the movie at Amazon.com.