Category Archives: Lawrence Ferlinghetti

>Lew Welch Speaks From Beyond The Grave

>Allen Ginsberg and Lew Welch 1963
[Lew Welch and Allen Ginsberg outside City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco, October 30, 1963, (the day of the Madame Nhu protest) – photo c. John Doss]


The recordings of the San Francisco State University Poetry Archives are, as we have dubbed them, “More Beat Treasures“. We’ve been featuring them this week. Here’s another – from that seemingly-inexhaustible trove – their 1959 recording of the legendary Lew Welch, reading and commenting on his work.
He reads “Chicago Poem” (speaks about his time spent in Chicago), and reads his famous “Wobbly Rock”, and his virtuoso musical engagement, “A Round of English for Philip Whalen”.

(Philip Whalen‘s own Poetry Center reading, which took place a few years before, (alongside Lawrence Ferlinghetti), can, incidentally, be easily accessed here).

More recordings of Lew Welch are available – both on this site (via City Lights) – “He Remains: Lew Welch Reads From His Work, 1968” – audio of a “raucous evening at San Francisco’s Glide Memorial Church, June 1968”
– and here, (courtesy Robert Creeley), on the incomparable PennSound – two tapes, the first, the most substantial, an extensive reading at the Magic Lantern, Santa Barbara, April 1967, (“luxuriously long..the poet reads practically all of his major works”, notes the curator for PennSound), the second, a brief recording from Spring 1969 at San Francisco’s Renaissance Corner (Welch reads, in its entirety, the poem “Courses”).
Here’s an iconic poem of Welch’s, here’s another one.. but, quit messing around, you should all just go out and treat yourself to this essential book.
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Filed under Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Lew Welch, Philip Whalen

>Beat Treasure – UND Writers Conference 1974

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North Dakota
[The City Lights in North Dakota Conference, in Grand Forks, North Dakota, sponsored by the UND English Department, was the first of many beat related conferences recognizing the cultural importance of the beats. Clockwise from top left: Gregory Corso, Miriam Patchen, Kenneth Rexroth, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Peter Orlovsky (cut in half!), Gary Snyder, Janie McClure, Shig Murao, Curator (name unknown), Joanne McClure. March 18, 1974. Allen Ginsberg Collection. Photographer unknown]

A veritable trove of archival material has just been put on line by the University of North Dakota’s Chester Fritz Library – six (now digitalized) tapes pertaining to the March 1974 5th Annual UND Writer’s Conference, featuring Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Gregory Corso, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Kenneth Rexroth (and Miriam Patchen reading the poetry of her late husband, Kenneth Patchen). The technology back then was, it has to be said, pretty crude (now giving it, maybe, a kind of kitschy charm?). Minimal production values notwithstanding, the rebelliousness of the occasion (the Beats in North Dakota!) and the sheer verve and intelligence of the participants, comes barralling through.


The first tape is of Ginsberg-Orlovsky’s reading/performance and a remarkable one it is,
consisting, to a large degree of him chanting “the Tibetan mantra for purification of speech and for appreciation of limitless spacelessness” – AH! – a moving meditation in three chords – He does read poems, “Returning to the Country for a Brief Visit”, “Mind Breaths”, “Flying Elegy” (a significantly longer version here on this tape), “Truth Wheel Bone Rap” (an improvised piece, one of several improvisations). Following an initial mantra chant, Allen sings Blake’s
Spring (“merrily, merrily, we welcome in the year”) and improvises. “We welcome the apocalypse/We welcome the end of the earth/We welcome (a) new birth..”

The other tapes are no less revelationary – four consecutive evenings of “Open Microphone” sessions. On the Tuesday, the entire company, sans Rexroth and Patchen, “discuss various topics”, “including censorship, the military-industrial complex, Limits to Growth by Donella H Meadows, environmental issues, farming, the history of City Lights Bookstore, Robert Bly, Robert Graves, among many other (thing)s” (to quote from the description in the archives).
Wednesday, Miriam Patchen reads her husband’s work. “In addition Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Gary Snyder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Kenneth Rexroth and Michael McClure discuss energy conservation”. Thursday’s is a particularly good one, kick-started by an ever-irascible Gregory Corso,”Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Gregory Corso, Kenneth Rexroth and Lawrence Ferlinghetti discuss various topics including drug use for mind expansion, women poets, jazz and writing habits..”. Friday, they discuss “various topics”, “including subsistence farming, agri-business, environmental issues, the drug trade and its political impact, as well as strip-mining, particularly in reference to western North Dakota.
In addition, Lawrence Ferlinghetti reads Pablo (Neruda?) in Spanish”.

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Filed under Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Gregory Corso, Kenneth Patchen, Kenneth Rexroth, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, Peter Orlovsky, UND

>Friday’s Weekly Round-Up 21

> Richard Prince, Untitled (hippie drawing, Allen Ginsberg), 2000–05.   Crayon and marker on paper.

[Richard Prince – Untitled (hippie drawing, Allen Ginsberg), 2000-05 crayon and marker on paper]

Richard Prince’s show, American Prayer, which recently opened at, what shouldn’t appear so unlikely a location, the National Library (Bibliotheque Nationale) in Paris, includes, among other works, this work – and a self-professed Beat bibliophile fetish theme. Go here for videos of the show and of the artist. (Richard, incidentally, was, at one time, during the ’80’s, a downstairs neighbor (in Allen’s building on East 12th Street), (which, just conceivably, might be memorialized here, and is certainly – “My landlord informed me that I was moving in next to Allen Ginsberg” – recollected here). Poets Simon Pettet, John Godfrey, Larry Fagin, Richard Hell, Greg Masters, Lorna Smedman, amongst others, still reside in this (NYC, East Village) building.

The latest issue (Volume 5, issue 1 – April 2011) of The Beat Review, “a review of new Beat scholarship and other Beat works”, put out by the Beat Studies Association, is now up. We would draw your attention to Marc Olmstead’s review of the Peter Conners Ginsberg-Leary book, but there’s plenty there, besides, to get your teeth into. And check-out the back issues too. We’d recommend from the previous issue (December 2010) Kurt Hemmer’s review of the Howl movie and Jonah Raskin‘s reviews of the Letters ( June 2010 – Kerouac/Ginsberg; January 2009 – Ginsberg/Snyder).

September 201o features a review, (by Tom Pynn), of The Typewriter is Holy. Another review of Bill Morgan’s simultaneous chronological history of the Beat Generation can be read here. “I’ve been having entirely too much fun lately with The Typewriter is Holy: The Complete Uncensored History of the Beat Generation by Bill Morgan”, writes the author, Ben Steelman. Not a bad opening!

Big movie news! – Yes, more Beat movies! – Barry Miles’ book on The Beat Hotel has just been optioned by producer Pamela Dickerson as a narrative feature film. Here is the press release. Rex Weiner has come on board as co-producer. The press-release speaks of a “stylistic bi-lingual cultural reve (rave?)”. We shall see.

David Cope, who we mentioned last week, is profiled here.

Lawrence Ferlighetti may be 92 but he’s still happy to speak to the Scottish Big Issue.

Speaking of Scotland, Ginsberg-enthusiast Claire Askew, is already eye-ing June 3rd, Allen’s upcoming birthday. What are your plans for June 3rd?

& speaking of birthdays, thought you all might like to know (or be reminded) today is Bessie Smith‘s birthday.

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Filed under 437 East 12th, Allen Ginsberg, Barry Miles, Beat Hotel, Beat Studies, Bill Morgan, David Cope, Jonah Raskin, Kurt Hemmer, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Marc Olmstead, Peter Conners, Richard Prince

>Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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[Lawrence Ferlinghetti at City Lights Bookstore editorial office, North Beach, San Francisco, May 22, 1988. Photo. c. Allen Ginsberg]
Lawrence Ferlinghetti is 92 today. Can it really be the same Lawrence Ferling(hetti) who is featured here ?
Ferlinghetti’s page at City Lights and the center for all Ferlinghetti information is here.
Here‘s him reading and speaking on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of City Lights Bookstore in 2003
His most recent poem, “Song of the Third World Birds” was published just a few weeks ago, March 2nd, in his local rag, the San Francisco Chronicle,
and, we’ve linked to it before, but if you missed it the last time, here’s his feisty and unrepentant interview with Guernica magazine from last December.

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Filed under City Lights, Lawrence Ferlinghetti

>Friday’s Weekly Round-Up 2

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Thai Allen Ginsberg

Beat inspired Thai poet Zakariya Amataya, the first ever Muslim recipient of the prestigious South East Asian Writers Award gets a good profiling this week. Interesting character, we look forward to hearing more about him. “Maybe we call Walt Whitman the father of new American poets, but I think the second [father] is Allen Ginsberg”, he proudly declares.

Kerouac in Persian

Elsewhere from around the globe (from IBNA – the Iran Book News Agency), Jack Kerouac’s ‘Book of Haikus’, we’ve just heard, has just been translated into Persian by the Iranian-born,
English-based poet, writer, broadcaster, Alireza Hassani (pen-name Alireza Abiz), and is to be published in that country, so they say, “in the next two months”.


[Lawrence Ferlinghetti in his office with pooch, Whitman photo, files, coatracks, bookbags, posters at City Lights, up on balcony, B’way and Columbus Ave, San Francisco 1984. Allen Ginsberg (c. Allen Ginsberg Estate)]

Speaking of cultural ambassadors, “Allen Ginsberg was a great cultural ambassador. He spoke taxi-cab Spanish. He stayed up all night in Chile translating “Howl” into Spanish with other poets.” Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s illuminating memories of the Latin American poets, and of the Russian poets, and of much else besides, appears in Jesse Tangen-Mills interview in the current issue of Guernica – A Magazine of Art and Politics. Well worth a read. The 91-year-old Ferlinghetti remains, as Tangen-Mills points out , “revolutionary” and “unrepentant.”

Patti Smith – Congratulations

Our friend Patti Smith was just awarded the National Book Award for her book, Just Kids, an autobiographical memoir of her long-time friendship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Here’s a great clip of her reading from the section where she recounts her first (confusing? amusing?) meeting with Allen >>
and, finally..

John Fluevog and the Beats?

Allen’s cousin caught this one and brought it to our attention. Not quite sure how we feel about this!

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Filed under Alireza Hassani, Allen Ginsberg, Jesse Tangen-Mills, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Patti Smith, Persian, Robert Mapplethorpe, Zakariya Amataya

>Ferlinghetti’s “Fortune” set to music by Tom Waits

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Ya only really get to see the top of Waits’ head here, but the sound quality is definitely decent enough to warrant a post. Check it out on Americansongwriter.com >>

Waits was performing as were Patti Smith, Marcus Shelby, Steve Earle, Michael McClure and others in honor of Ferlinghetti at San Francisco’s 11th annual Litquake literary festival last Saturday >>

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Filed under Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Tom Waits

>Happy Birthday Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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[Lawrence Ferlinghetti in his office with pooch, Whitman photo, files, coat racks, book bags, posters, at City Lights up on balcony, B’way at Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, October 1984. Allen Ginsberg (c. Allen Ginsberg Estate)]

…and we just happened to be sifting through the Bureau of Public Secrets website’s enormous catalog, where they’ve posted Kenneth Rexroth’s complete columns from the San Francisco Examiner, and came across this timely tidbit. It’s from from exactly 50 years ago about Ferlinghetti, freshly returned from a trip to South America with Ginsberg . (It begins just below the Beckett and Ionesco paragraphs >>)

And last, but not least! Thanks to Steve Silberman for spotting this. A new poem by Ferlinghetti, “At Sea,” on the occasion of his 91st birthday, published/posted by Lapham’s Quarterly >>

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