“Howl” (2010)

February 21, 2013 at 7:35 am (Allen Ginsberg, Cinema, Poetry & Literature, Reviews & Articles, The Beats)

A Sept. 16, 2010 Newsweek review by Jennie Yabroff of the 2010 film concerning Ginsberg’s poem “Howl”…

Bohemian Rhapsody

When is a biopic not just a biopic? When, like ‘Howl,’ it’s got poetry in its soul.

The movie opens in black and white with a bespectacled poet adjusting his glasses and preparing to read. In the audience, college kids drink wine from glass jugs and blow cigarette smoke dramatically skyward. The poet begins. “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness.” It’s Allen Ginsberg (James Franco), the poem is “Howl,” and this is the point at which a traditional biopic would flash back to Ginsberg’s childhood, then proceed forward in a dutiful, linear manner, detailing all the events that led the man to create the work. Instead, filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman make the convention-defying, refreshing choice to focus on Ginsberg’s art, not his biography. We get little of his childhood, a smidgen of his personal relationships, and nothing of the 40-odd years he lived after “Howl” made him famous. By devoting their movie to Ginsberg’s poem (and the obscenity trial it engendered), the filmmakers avoid all the pitfalls of so many formulaic biopics and create a response to a work of art that is art itself.

In 1955, a gay, Jewish, self-doubting 29-year-old wrote a raw, ragged, personal ode to bohemia, homosexuality, interracial sex, drugs, and the American landscape, dedicating it to a boy he had met during a stay in a mental institution. As a piece of writing, “Howl” is arrestingly visual, but its de-tractors found the meaning behind the often rude images difficult to parse: according to the prosecutor in the obscenity trial, the poem could have literary value only if the Read the rest of this entry »

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Lawrence Ferlinghetti – “Allen Ginsberg Dying” (1997)

May 12, 2011 at 12:59 pm (Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Poetry & Literature, The Beats)

Allen Ginsburg is dying
It's all in the papers
It's on the evening news
A great poet is dying
But his voice
	   won't die
His voice is on the land
In Lower Manhattan
in his own bed
he is dying
There is nothing 
to do about it
He is dying the death that everyone dies
He is dying the death of a poet
He has a telephone in his hand
and he calls everyone
from his bed in Lower Manhattan

Read the rest of this entry »

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Allen Ginsberg – “Do the Meditation Rock” (TV – 1984)

July 16, 2010 at 11:05 am (Allen Ginsberg, The Beats)

Allen Ginsberg with Peter Orlovsky (meditating), Arthur Russell (cello) and Steven Taylor (guitar) perform on Nam June Paik’s TV special for PBS’ Good Morning Mr. Orwell from 1984.

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Allen Ginsberg – “Feb. 29, 1958)

November 3, 2009 at 8:18 pm (Allen Ginsberg, Poetry & Literature, The Beats)

Last nite I dreamed of T.S. Eliot
welcoming me to the land of dream
Sofas couches fog in England
Tea in his digs Chelsea rainbows
curtains on his windows, fog seeping in
the chimney but a nice warm house
and an incredibly sweet hooknosed
Eliot he loved me, put me up,
gave me a couch to sleep on,
conversed kindly, took me serious
asked my opinion on Mayakovsky
I read him Corso Creeley Kerouac
advised Burroughs Olson Huncke
the bearded lady in the Zoo, the
intelligent puma in Mexico City
6 chorus boys from Zanzibar
who chanted in wornout polygot
Swahili, and the rippling rythyms
of Ma Rainey and Vachel Lindsay.
On the Isle of the Queen
we had a long evening’s conversation
Then he tucked me in my long
red underwear under a silken
blanket by the fire on the sofa
gave me English Hottie
and went off sadly to his bed,
Saying ah Ginsberg I am glad
to have met a fine young man like you.
At last, I woke ashamed of myself.
Is he that good and kind? Am I that great?
What’s my motive dreaming his
manna? What English Department
would that impress? What failure
to be perfect prophet’s made up here?
I dream of my kindness to T.S. Eliot
wanting to be a historical poet
and share in his finance of Imagery-
overambitious dream of eccentric boy.
God forbid my evil dreams come true.
Last nite I dreamed of Allen Ginsberg.
T.S. Eliot would’ve been ashamed of me.

Allen Ginsberg

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Allen Ginsberg – “Kerouac Dreams” (1995)

June 29, 2009 at 6:30 pm (Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Poetry & Literature, The Beats)

dreamt  and written by Allen Ginsberg

1/11/95 Wednesday

Woke 8:45 embracing Kerouac in dream — We had travelled together thru various countries and war landscapes, Chechnya, Russia, Prague, London, Lower East Side with miraculous encounters with cops & presidents, musicians & aroused youth gangs, radio broadcasts, airplane rides together, & we’re now home in his house — I said “Jesus Christ how will I remember all that happened?” He sat in his kitchen chair stolid and healthy as I prepared to leave.

“Well take it easy” I bid farewell — “you’ve already done so much you don’t have to strain to live, you should stay around on earth till old age maybe 80 or 90 years you’ve got you can go to — You don’t have to work so hard, you’re already immortal in your work, but you’re valuable to the world, just the example of persistence & patience — you don’t have to write a book every six months, every year a production, you can take your time, rest, maybe one small volume every decade from now on, just a record of a few flowers of thought over the ten year cycles — that should be easy, it would write itself. That way you can survive without strain.”

Jack sat in kitchen, calm & patient in clean white & blue horizontally striped shirt, collar unbuttoned, resting — I held him round, said I was going –”When will we see each other again?” I worried, happy he was on earth another few decades.


1/14/95 7 A.M.

A visionary dream, barely remembered, returned in full landscape as I lay in bed with churchbells pounding out metallic clang of 7am balmy winter morn–

I’d been travelling with Kerouac for decades, now I was tired & wanted to go home, & Kerouac headed alone down the valley deeper into the farm belt to continue thru America till he got home along his road — which led down into the valley floor along the fields, while I trudged upland toward my house in the city too tired to continue the public hejira.

Kerouac meanwhile was still expostulating his American Vision and his apologia for the 1990’s transformation of U.S. into a narrow minded province of Multinational Powers–

“Look we still own this vast landscape, we still dwell in the Valley of the World, the Valley of the Lord, now it’s only a Shadow of the Lord still visible but it’s our Lord Forgotten, our physical fields & space, our stars our winter sun our moons our own bodies our imperishable heaven & earth I still traverse make ye no mistake deny me no Denys–

“Poetry America was born before us & will live after us — and would’ve been visible for every eye to see but for the scientists of poetry & sociologists of Academy measuring the vast mind with monkey calipers & teaspoons of ink –

“They took the Romance of the Road & built tunnels & superhighways & set robot cars in motion & airplanes so distant in the cloud you wouldn’t know if you were crashing in Bardo Ecstasy of just flying to Chicago on a boring business trip with a roomful of yuppies with laptops measuring the hunger of the crowds below in negro cities watching detectives crash cars on television to sell you a puptent full of glass armor eyeglasses, snooze suits, hermetic closets & after dinner mints.

“Meanwhile the vast fields beckon the open skies look down & yawn full of Angels & God sits watching us traverse the crossroads by Jimmie’s little vast farm wherein Grecia & Asia sit in the backyard while the kitten plays with the fishbowl on the kitchen window –

“So these Academy Daddies did their job on my literature & now if anyone can read it’s only box tops on the videoscreen or laptop cardgames to sell you insurance while you sit home with your head in the fireplace & your feet in the basement laundry machine, washmachine & dryer to you Mr. Fuddy, I’m home in our Deathless Valley I’ll tell you top that!”

So Kerouac raved & prophesied & continued down his path thru the farm fields cursing the Academics who distorted his vision of America in the world — I trudged uphill marveling at his energy & enthusiasm and devotional madness as I resolved to get back to my home for a little more sleep before saying another word.

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Allen Ginsberg – “Kraj Majales”

May 22, 2009 at 8:00 pm (Allen Ginsberg, Poetry & Literature, The Beats)

And the Communists have nothing to offer but fat cheeks and eyeglasses and
lying policemen
and the Capitalists proffer Napalm and money in green suitcases to the
Naked,
and the Communists create heavy industry but the heart is also heavy
and the beautiful engineers are all dead, the secret technicians conspire for
their own glamour
in the Future, in the Future, but now drink vodka and lament the Security
Forces,
and the Capitalists drink gin and whiskey on airplanes but let Indian brown
millions starve
and when Communist and Capitalist assholes tangle the Just man is arrested
or robbed or has his head cut off,
but not like Kabir, and the cigarette cough of the Just man above the clouds
in the bright sunshine is a salute to the health of the blue sky.
For I was arrested thrice in Prague, once for singing drunk on Narodni
street,
once knocked down on the midnight pavement by a mustached agent who
screamed out BOUZERANT,
once for losing my notebooks of unusual sex politics dream opinions,
and I was sent from Havana by planes by detectives in green uniform,
and I was sent from Prague by plane by detectives in Czechoslovakian
business suits,
Cardplayers out of Cezanne, the two strange dolls that entered Joseph K’s
room at morn
also entered mine and ate at my table, and examined my scribbles,
and followed me night and morn from the houses of the lovers to the cafes of
Centrum -
And I am the King of May, which is the power of sexual youth,
and I am the King of May, which is long hair of Adam and Beard of my
own body
and I am the King of May, which is Kraj Majales in the Czechoslovakian
tongue,
and I am the King of May, which is old Human poesy, and 100,000 people
chose my name,
and I am the King of May, and in a few minutes I will land at London
Airport,
and I am the King of May, naturally, for I am of Slavic parentage and a
Buddhist Jew
who whorships the Sacred Heart of Christ the blue body of Krishna the
straight back of Ram
the beads of Chango the Nigerian singing Shiva Shiva in a manner which
I have invented,
and the King of May is a middleeuropean honor, mine in the XX century
despite space ships and the Time Machine, because I have heard the voice of Blake
in a vision
and repeat that voice. And I am the King of May that sleeps with teenagers
laughing.
And I am the King of May, that I may be expelled from my Kingdom with
Honor, as of old,
To show the difference between Caesar’s Kingdom and the Kingdom of the
May of Man -
and I am the King of May because I touched my finger to my forehead
saluting
a luminous heavy girl trembling hands who said “one moment Mr. Ginsberg”
before a fat young Plainclothesman stepped between our bodies – I was
going to England -
and I am the King of May, in a giant jetplane touching Albion’s airfield
trembling in fear
as the plane roars to a landing on the gray concrete, shakes & expels air,
and rolls slowly to a stop under the clouds with part of blue heaven still
visible.
And tho’ I am the King of May, the Marxists have beat me upon the street,
kept me up all night in Police Station, followed me thru Springtime
Prague, detained me in secret and deported me from our kingdom by
airplane.
This I have written this poem on a jet seat in mid Heaven.

Allen Ginsberg

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Gregory Corso & Allen Ginsberg – “Interview with William S. Burroughs” (1961)

February 27, 2009 at 3:38 am (Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Reviews & Articles, The Beats, William S. Burroughs)

Corso & Ginsberg interview WSB in 1961 for Journal for the Protection of All Beings, a periodical edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and published by City Lights Bookstore. This is supposedly the first published interview with WSB… 

 

Gregory Corso: What is your department?

William Burroughs: Kunst und Wissenschaft.

Gregory Corso: What do you say about political conflicts?

William Burroughs: Political conflicts are merely surface manifestations. If conflicts arise you may be sure that certain powers intend to keep this conflict under operation since they hope to profit from the situation. To concern yourself with surface political conflicts is to make the mistake of the bull in the ring, you are charging the cloth. That is what politics is for, to teach you the cloth. Just as the bullfighter teaches the bull, teaches him to follow, obey the cloth.

Gregory Corso: Who manipulates the cloth?

William Burroughs: Death

Allen Ginsberg: What is death?

William Burroughs: A gimmick. It’s the time-birth-death gimmick. Can’t go on much longer, too many people are wising up.

Gregory Corso: Do you feel there has been a definite change in man’s makeup? A new consciousness?

William Burroughs: Yes, I can give you a precise answer to that. I feel that the change, the mutation in consciousness, will occur spontaneously once certain pressures now in operation are removed. I feel that the principal instrument of monopoly and control that prevents expansion of consciousness is the word lines controlling thought, feeling and apparent sensory impressions of the human host.

Allen Ginsberg: And if they are removed, what step?

William Burroughs: The forward step must be made in silence. We detach ourselves from word forms — this can be accomplished by substituting for words, letters, concepts, verbal concepts, other modes of expressions: for example, color. We can translate word and letter into color — Rimbaud stated that in his color vowels, words quote “words” can be read in silent color. In other words, man must get away from verbal forms to attain the consciousness, that which is there to be perceived at hand.

Gregory Corso: How does one take that “forward step,” can you say?

William Burroughs: Well, this is my subject and is what I am concerned with. Forward steps are made by giving up old armor because words are built into you — in the soft typewriter of the womb you do not realize the word-armor you carry; for example, when you read this page your eyes move irresistibly from left to right following the words that you have been accustomed to. Now try breaking up part of the page like this:

  Are there      or just we can translate many solutions       for example color word color in the soft typewriter                               into political conflicts             to attain consciousness monopoly and control

Gregory Corso: Reading that it seems you end up where you began, with politics and it’s nomenclature: conflict, attain, solution, monopoly, control — so what kind of help is that?

William Burroughs: Precisely what I was saying — if you talk you always end up with politics, it gets nowhere. I mean man it’s strictly from the soft typewriter.

Gregory Corso: What kind of advice you got for politicians?

William Burroughs: Tell the truth once and for all and shut up forever.

Gregory Corso: What if people don’t want to change, don’t want no new consciousness?

William Burroughs: For any species to change, if they are unable and are unwilling to do so — I might, for example, have suggested to the dinosaurs that heavy armor and great size was a sinking ship, and that they do well to convert to mammal facilities — it would not lie in my power or desire to reconvert a reluctant dinosaur. I can make my feeling very clear, Gregory, I fell like I’m on a sinking ship and I want off.

Gregory Corso: Do you think Hemingway got off?

William Burroughs: Probably not.

(Next day)

Allen Ginsberg: What about control?

William Burroughs: Now all politicians assume a necessity of control, the more efficient the control the better. All political organizations tend to function like a machine, to eliminate the unpredictable factor of affect — emotion. Any machine tends to absorb, eliminate, Affect. Yet the only person who can make a machine move is someone who has a motive, who has Affect. If all individuals were conditioned to machine efficiency in the performance of their duties there would have to be at least one person outside the machine to give the necessary orders; if the machine absorbed or eliminated all those outside the machine, the machine will slow down and stop forever. Any unchecked impulse does, within the human body and psyche, lead to the destruction of the organism.

Allen Ginsberg: What kind of organization could technological society have without control?

William Burroughs: The whole point is, I feel the machine should be eliminated. Now that it has served its purpose of alerting us to the dangers of machine control. Elimination of all natural sciences — If anybody ought to go to the extermination chambers, definitely scientists. Yes, I’m definitely antiscientist because I feel that science represents a conspiracy to impose as the real and only universe, the universe of scientists themselves — they’re reality-addicts, they’ve got to have things so real so they can get their hands on it. We have a great elaborate machine which I feel has to be completely dismantled — in order to do that we need people who understand how the machine works — the mass media — unparalleled opportunity.

Allen Ginsberg: Who do you think is responsible for the dope situation in America?

William Burroughs: Old Army game, “I act under orders.” As Captain Ahab said, “You are not other men but my arms and legs –” Mr. Anslinger has a lot of arms and legs, or whoever is controlling him. Same thing as the Eichman case: he’s the front man who has got to take the rap. Poor bastard, I got sympathy for him.

Gregory Corso: Could you or do you think it wise to say who it will be or just what force it will be that will destroy the world?

William Burroughs: You want to create a panic? That’s top secret — want to swamp the lifeboats?

Gregory Corso: O.K. How did them there lifeboats get there in the first place?

William Burroughs: Take for instance some Indians in South America I’ve seen. There comes along this sloppy cop with his shirt buttons all in the wrong hole. Well then, Parkinson’s law goes into operation — there’s need not for one cop but seven or eight, need for sanitation inspectors, rent collectors, etc.; so after a period of years problems arise, crime, dope taking and traffic, juvenile delinquency. So the question is asked, “What should we do about these problems?” The answer as Gertrude Stein on her deathbed said, comes before the question — in short before the bastards got there in the first place! That’s all —

Allen Ginsberg: What do you think Cuba and the FLN think about poets? And what do you think their marijuana policy is?

William Burroughs: All political movements are basically anti-creative — since a political movement is a form of war. “There’s no place for impractical dreamers around here,” that’s what they always say. “Your writing activities will be directed, kindly stop horsing around.” “As for the smoking of marijuana, it is the exploitation for the workers.” Both favor alcohol and are against pot.

Gregory Corso: I feel capitol punishment is dooming U.S.A.

William Burroughs: I’m against Capitol Punishment in all forms, and I have written many pamphlets on this subject in the manner of Swift’s “Modest Proposal” pamphlet incorporated into “Naked Lunch”; these pamphlets have marked “Naked Lunch” as an obscene book. Most all methods of capitol punishment are designed to inflict the maximum of humiliation — not attempts to prevent suicide.

Allen Ginsberg: What advice do you have for American youth who are drawn to political action out of sympathy for the American revolution?

William Burroughs: “I wouldn’t be in your position” — old saw. If there is any political move that I would advocate it would be an alliance between America and Red China, if they’d have us.

Gregory Corso: What about the Arab peoples — how are they faring?

William Burroughs: They’re stuck back thousands of years and they think they’re going to get out with a TV set.

Gregory Corso: What about the Negros, will they make it — not only the ones in the South, but everywhere?

William Burroughs: Biologically speaking the Afro-Asiatic block is in the ascendancy — always remember that both Negro and White are minority groups — the largest race is the Mongoloid group. In the event of atomic war there is a tremendous biological advantage in the so-called undeveloped areas that have a high birth rate and high death rate because, man, they can plow under those mutations. The country with a low birth rate and low death rate will be hardest hit — and so the poor may indeed inherit the earth, because they’re healthier.

Allen Ginsberg: What do you think of White Supremacy?

William Burroughs: The essence of White Supremacy is this: they are people who want to keep things as they are. That their children’s children’s children might be a different color is something very alarming to them — in short they are committed to the maintenance of the static image. The attempt to maintain a static image, even if it’s a good image, just won’t work.

Gregory Corso: Do you think Americans want and could fight the next war with the same fire and fervency as they did in World War II?

William Burroughs: Undoubtedly, yes — because they remember what a soft time they had in the last one — they sat on their ass.

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Allen Ginsberg – “Homework”

February 15, 2009 at 8:08 am (Allen Ginsberg, Poetry & Literature, The Beats)

Homage to Kenneth Koch

If I were doing my Laundry I’d wash my dirty Iran
I’d throw in my United States, and pour on the Ivory Soap,
scrub up Africa, put all the birds and elephants back in
the jungle,
I’d wash the Amazon river and clean the oily Carib & Gulf of Mexico,
Rub that smog off the North Pole, wipe up all the pipelines in Alaska,
Rub a dub dub for Rocky Flats and Los Alamos, Flush that sparkly
Cesium out of Love Canal
Rinse down the Acid Rain over the Parthenon & Sphinx, Drain the Sludge
out of the Mediterranean basin & make it azure again,
Put some blueing back into the sky over the Rhine, bleach the little
Clouds so snow return white as snow,
Cleanse the Hudson Thames & Neckar, Drain the Suds out of Lake Erie
Then I’d throw big Asia in one giant Load & wash out the blood &
Agent Orange,
Dump the whole mess of Russia and China in the wringer, squeeze out
the tattletail Gray of U.S. Central American police state,
& put the planet in the drier & let it sit 20 minutes or an
Aeon till it came out clean

Allen Ginsberg

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Allen Ginsberg – “Feb. 29, 1958″

December 6, 2008 at 4:49 pm (Allen Ginsberg, Poetry & Literature, The Beats)

Last nite I dreamed of T.S. Eliot
welcoming me to the land of dream
Sofas couches fog in England
Tea in his digs Chelsea rainbows
curtains on his windows, fog seeping in
the chimney but a nice warm house
and an incredibly sweet hooknosed
Eliot he loved me, put me up,
gave me a couch to sleep on,
conversed kindly, took me serious
asked my opinion on Mayakovsky
I read him Corso Creeley Kerouac
advised Burroughs Olson Huncke
the bearded lady in the Zoo, the
intelligent puma in Mexico City
6 chorus boys from Zanzibar
who chanted in wornout polygot
Swahili, and the rippling rythyms
of Ma Rainey and Vachel Lindsay
On the Isle of the Queen
we had a long evening’s conversation
Then he tucked me in my long
red underwear under a silken
blanket by the fire on the sofa
gave me English Hottie
and went off sadly to his bed,
Saying ah Ginsberg I am glad
to have met a fine young man like you
At last, I woke ashamed of myself
Is he that good and kind? Am I that great?
What’s my motive dreaming his
manna? What English Department
would that impress? What failure
to be perfect prophet’s made up here?
I dream of my kindness to T.S. Eliot
wanting to be a historical poet
and share in his finance of Imagery-
overambitious dream of eccentric boy
God forbid my evil dreams come true
Last nite I dreamed of Allen Ginsberg
T.S. Eliot would’ve been ashamed of me.

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Allen Ginsberg – “Hospital Window”

October 23, 2008 at 9:58 pm (Allen Ginsberg, Poetry & Literature, The Beats)

At gauzy dusk, thin haze like cigarette smoke
ribbons past Chrysler Building’s silver fins
tapering delicately needletopped, Empire State’s
taller antenna filmed milky lit amid blocks
black and white apartmenting veil’d sky over Manhattan,
offices new built dark glassed in blueish heaven–The East
50′s & 60′s covered with castles & watertowers, seven storied
tar-topped house-banks over York Avenue, late may-green trees
surrounding Rockefellers’ blue domed medical arbor–
Geodesic science at the waters edge–Cars running up
East River Drive, & parked at N.Y. Hospital’s oval door
where perfect tulips flower the health of a thousand sick souls
trembling inside hospital rooms. Triboro bridge steel-spiked
penthouse orange roofs, sunset tinges the river and in a few
Bronx windows, some magnesium vapor brilliances’re
spotted five floors above E 59th St under grey painted bridge
trestles. Way downstream along the river, as Monet saw Thames
100 years ago, Con Edison smokestacks 14th street,
& Brooklyn Bridge’s skeined dim in modern mists–
Pipes sticking up to sky nine smokestacks huge visible–
U.N. Building hangs under an orange crane, & red lights on
vertical avenues below the trees turn green at the nod
of a skull with a mild nerve ache. Dim dharma, I return
to this spectacle after weeks of poisoned lassitude, my thighs
belly chest & arms covered with poxied welts,
head pains fading back of the neck, right eyebrow cheek
mouth paralyzed–from taking the wrong medicine, sweated
too much in the forehead helpless, covered my rage from
gorge to prostate with grinding jaw and tightening anus
not released the weeping scream of horror at robot Mayaguez
World self ton billions metal grief unloaded
Pnom Penh to Nakon Thanom, Santiago & Tehran.
Fresh warm breeze in the window, day’s release
>from pain, cars float downside the bridge trestle
and uncounted building-wall windows multiplied a mile
deep into ash-delicate sky beguile
my empty mind. A seagull passes alone wings
spread silent over roofs.

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