Category Archives: Peter Orlovsky

>Weekend Mantras

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Sit back and enjoy ten minutes of Allen and Peter’s haunting chants – from the legendary ESP record, “The East Village Other’s Electric Newspaper“. It was released in the summer of 1966, “an electric newspaper collage”

(this record also featured contributions by various members of The Fugs (Ed Sanders, Tuli Kupferberg, Steve Weber), alongside contributions by various “Factory” denizens (Andy Warhol, Gerard Malanga, Ingrid Superstar), not to mention, poet and novelist Ishmael Reed (reading from his novel), jazz saxophonist/instrumentalist, Marion Brown, and – the very first “noise” recordings of The Velvet Underground (featuring Angus MacLise)).

It was recorded August 6 – to commemorate the twenty-first anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing and (same day!) the wedding of Miss Luci Baines (President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s daughter)

More chanting from Allen and Peter can be heard here

and from Allen here and here.

and from here (Pacific High Studio Mantras (2010 Remaster with Arthur Russell – recordings from 1971, engineered for the digital world – don’t miss out on that one)
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Filed under Allen Ginsberg, Andy Warhol, Arthur Russell, Marion Brown, Peter Orlovsky, The Fugs, The Velvet Underground

>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

>New York, 1967, What Was Happening?

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[What’s Happening? (1967) from Django’s Ghost on Vimeo].

“The prophecies of Marinetti are coming true some of them, the wilder, more poetic ones”, so, gleefully, declares Allen in this quintessentially 1967 documentary film by Antonello Branca, What’s Happening? What, indeed, is happening? Poets and painters and a brash New York City just for that moment in time and space come together. Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg candidly speak (Andy speaks!). Allen appears first (around six and a half minutes in) being interviewed as he walks along the street and then (circa 3o minutes in) is seen holding forth at a street cafe. Gregory Corso makes a cameo appearance right at the very end (with a baby!). He gets the punch line. “War makes people crazy”.

“We have all come here together. Andy Warhol and The Velvet Underground, poet Gerard Malanga, over here, if you move your camera, poet Ed Sanders of a rock n roll group called The Fugs [unfortunately mis-translated on the screen by the Italian translator as The Fags!]..over (t)here, Tuli Kuperfberg, a poet and singer in The Fugs, over there, writing at the table. Peter Orlovsky with the long hair, who is a poet and also a singer, behind him, his brother, who was in a madhouse for 14 years. He’s a superstar of the Underground. Oh, and Jonas Mekas, Jonas Mekas, head of the Filmmakers Cooperative. He’s the one who puts together films like Flaming Creatures and The Brig and sends them around Europe and in America, the impresario. He also makes films, which he’s doing now.”

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Filed under Allen Ginsberg, Andy Warhol, Antonello Branca, Ed Sanders, Gerard Malanga, Gregory Corso, Jonas Mekas, Peter Orlovsky, The Fugs, The Velvet Underground, Tuli Kupferberg

>Friday’s Weekly Round-Up 18

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[Allen Ginsberg 25th Anniversary Reading of Howl, 1981 – photo by Marvin Moore]

Marvin Moore’s extraordinary picture of an ecstatic Allen reading from Howl at Columbia University in 1981, on the occasion of the poem’s 25th anniversary, heads up our weekly round-up. Further images (a studio portrait (from 1985), two portraits of Allen in the street (from the same day) and Allen and Peter in Halifax, Nova Scotia (1992) can be accessed here. Check out his website for more indepth look at his work.

Two new Allen biographies that we’re looking forward to – Well, Steve Finbow is just putting finishing touches on his (a critical biography, for Reaktion Books’ “Critical Lives” series). His thoughts on that can be found here. Meanwhile, Bob Rosenthal (Allen’s long-time secretary)’s first-hand account of life at the center of the Ginsberg vortex, Straight Around Allen, is, also. well on its way towards completion, so we hear.

Anne Waldman and her son Ambrose (Bye) recall the generosity of Allen on two shaky but charming You Tube video clips (from a December 2010 date in Cookesville, Tennessee), here and here. More of Anne on that occasion can be seen here. Damion Rogers interviews her for Lemon Hound. The Iovis Trilogy, the complete edition of her epic (720-page!) poem. “a visionary call to poetic arms”, will be published by Coffee House Press early this summer

Bob Holman, recently on tour with her in Montreal, proposes what he calls “a Ginsberg turn-on”. It can, he explains,” take any form, so long as Allen is evoked (probably by reading his poetry), his energy acknowledged,(and) the continuance of his work engaged”. His own Bowery Poetry Club plans to inaugerate a “Ginsberg Turn On”, coming up soon, twenty minutes, each night, every Tuesday evening.

Here’s a sad story about Harry Smith “turning in his grave” (from this week’s New York Post). And The Chelsea Hotel is similarly not what it was in days of yore.

More on The Whole Shot, Rick Shober’s project on The Collected Interviews with Gregory Corso, that we mentioned last week, can be found here.

And.. 54 years ago today Chester MacPhee of United States Customs Office in San Francisco seized 520 copies of the second printing of Howl and Other Poems on the grounds its contents were obscene.

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Filed under Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, Bob Holman, Bob Rosenthal, Gregory Corso, Harry Smith, Marvin Moore, Peter Orlovsky, Rick Shober, Steve Finbow

>Guru Blues

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Videoheads, an artist’s video collective, now based in Amsterdam, made several video recordings of Allen over the years, in London, Amsterdam, and Paris. This is a snippet from his performance (with Steven Taylor and Peter Orlovsky) at the Pompidou Center in Paris in 1979. The spirited rendition of “Guru Blues” is introduced by, (unrelated) Allen, en francais, noting that the children of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg (Robert and Michael Meeropol) had written a book (We Are Your Sons: The Legacy of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg (1975)), about their experience growing up as the children of the famously executed pair. Dark Cold War secrets.


The version of “Guru Blues” is followed by a reading of the poem “On Neal’s Ashes”.

And here, by contrast, is the studio recording.

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Filed under Allen Ginsberg, Guru Blues, Neal Cassady, Peter Orlovsky, Steven Taylor

>Friday’s Weekly Round-Up 16

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[photo/ephemera collage by Althea Crawford for Holy Soul Jelly Roll box set insert]

Bibliographic Notes

The current presence of Howl the movie has summoned up a few complimentary bibliographic articles. Gilliam Orr in The Independent proposes a reading list that begins, as everybody would suggest, with the poem itself, followed by such titles as, James Campbell’s overview, This Is The Beat Generation, Ronna C Johnson & Nancy M Grace’s Girls Who Wore Black, and Harold Chapman’s photographic documentation, which, as they carefully note, is “currently out of print”

An equally maverick selection was proposed last year by Courtney Crowder in the Chicago Tribune. Taking for granted the poem itself as the starting point, she recommends Bill Morgan’s biography, I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg; the Ginsberg-Kerouac letters; Susan Edwards’ book-length memoir, The Wild West Wind: Remembering Allen Ginsberg; and Chris Felver’s photo book, The Late Great Allen Ginsberg

This, to quote our friend Michael McClure is just “scratching the.. surface”

Cinematic Notes

Another Allen on Film – Ruth Du’s short, Six’55 (featuring Roger Massih as Allen) – “a historical interpretation of the first night Allen Ginsberg recited his famous “Howl” in the Six Gallery in San Francisco in 1955” – just won the prize for “best undergraduate cinematography” at NYU’s Fusion Film Festival.

Lawrence Kramen’s

“David Amram: The First 80 Years!” gets a “sneak preview” this weekend in Lowell

and – didn’t we mention? don’t think we did – footage from last year’s Peter Orlovsky Memorial at St Mark’s Church is now up on The Poetry Project‘s web-site (actually, it’s been there now a good long while!)


Kerouac at Lowell


Yes, Lowell – don’t forget Jack Kerouac’s birthday tomorrow! (Saturday March 12th) – His home-town is once again celebrating with a birthday-bash. As acknowledgment of the 75th anniversary of the 1936 Lowell Flood, there’ll be readings from Doctor Sax, (wherein he describes the flood,

as he remembered it, still a boy, only 14 years old). There’ll be a showing of the film Whatever Happened to Kerouac?, and an evening of jazz and blues – and poetry – at The Back Pages Jazz and Blues Club,”an evening of words, music and improv”, hosted by, and featuring David Amram

Amram notes:
“Kerouac was one of the first writers to understand the relationship of Formality and Spontaneity, and how the treasures of the Old World (the classics of Europe) had a relationship to the treasures of the New World (USA jazz, blues. Native and Latin American and Immigrant American musical forms that combined tradition with improvising. Growing up in Lowell, he had a sense of community, family, the church, the beauty of everyday life and respect for every person who crossed his path; especially people that entered the gyroscope of his life, wherever he went in his endless travels. He never lost his hometown roots or relinquished his values in order to attempt to be cutting edge or trendy. Like all great artists, he followed his heart and
remained true to himself”



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Filed under Allen Ginsberg, Beat Studies, Beats, David Amram, Howl, Jack Kerouac, Peter Orlovsky, Ruth Du

>At Apollinaire’s Grave

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No, it’s not James Franco and Aaron Tveit, it’s not, clearly, Allen and Peter, it’s Peter Bulcock as The Poet (taking Allen’s place) and Aden Cardy-Brown as Guillaume Apollinaire (taking Peter’s place) in this hommage to Harold Chapman’s iconic photograph, “taken in the same place, on the same (Parisian) bench”, last year, during a gap in the filming of Nic Saunders’ upcoming short feature, At Apollinaire’s Grave (“based on the poetry of Allen Ginsberg”). Saunders’ 14167 Productions have already been responsible for an award-winning short, Curses and Sermons, based on a poem by fellow-Beat, Michael McClure. At Apollinaire’s Grave continues the series. A trailer for the for McClure one is here, the Ginsberg one, here .
And here is the poster:

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Filed under Allen Ginsberg, Guillaume Apollinaire, Harold Chapman, Michael McClure, Nic Saunders, Peter Orlovsky