Category Archives: Tom Clark



[Allen Ginsberg – photo by Benedict Fernandez, December 1963]

Allen’s November 1966 Atlantic Monthly piece on marijuana –The Great Marijuana Hoax: First Manifesto to End The Bringdown was recently re-published as Time Travel: Allen Ginsberg on Marijuana Tourism, 1966, with a brief introduction by Daniel Fromson. “Ginsberg offers a portrait”, Fromson writes, “of America’s pre-Summer of Love fear of marijuana, dismisses images of crazed “dope fiends” as “palpable poppycock,” and explains why smoking weed in the U.S. often induces paranoia (“The anxiety was directly traceable to fear of being apprehended and treated as a deviant criminal; put thru the hassle of social disapproval, ignominious Kafkian tremblings in vast court buildings coming to be judged, the helplessness of being overwhelmed by force or threat of deadly force and put in brick & iron cell”)”. Lester Grinspoon’s article on this and further observations on Allen’s marijuana use (and ultimate transcendence?) can be found here.

The legalization of marijuana? – or, at the very least, some hysteria-free understanding about the drug? Well, over forty years have passed and the debate still continues. We direct you to the Marijuana Policy Project for the latest in that struggle and for a laudable source of clear-headed information.

Clearly, it’s not just about pot, it’s about drugs (and individual freedoms). There’s an interesting sound-clip from NPR in 1971 where Allen and his father debate drug law and drug policy. And here’s another succinct statement.

1971 was just one year before the publication of Alfred McCoy’s The Politics of Heroin In South East Asia, a hugely important book to which Allen significantly contributed. His poem, “CIA Dope Calypso“, written right around this time, masterfully tracks the players. Several years later, New York Times correspondent C.L.Sulzberger offered him a formal apology (“I remember when you first suggested I look into this I thought you were full of beans (but) Indeed you were right..”)

Engagement with Burroughs and Huncke and others gave Allen a significant drug education. Turning to the psychedelics, one immediately thinks of The Yage Letters, and Howl (written, at least partially, on peyote), not to mention “Mescaline“, “Magic Psalm”, “Lysergic Acid”,etc. By the time that the ‘sixties rolled around, well, the key figure was, of course, Timothy Leary (see Peter Conners recent study). Another classic document of the times has recently been exhumed, Allen’s 1968 review of Leary’s Politics of Ecstasy in the Village Voice (it is also, as is Allen’s marijuana essay, included in Deliberate Prose). “For he took on himself the noble task of announcing the evidence of his senses despite the scary contumely of fellow academicians, the dispraising timorous irony of scientific “professionals”, the stupidity, meanness self-serving cowardice and hollow vanity of bureaucratic personnel…” A moving musical (sic) defense of Leary can also be found on “Tale of The Tribe”, Allen’s contribution to Jim Wilson‘s 1997’s Beyond Life With Timothy Leary.

Finally, here’s Allen, talking to Tom Clark, in 1966, looking back, in The Paris Review interview: “So – summing up then – drugs were useful for exploring perception, sense perception, and exploring different possibilities and modes of consciousness, and exploring the different versions of petites sensations and useful for composing, sometimes, while under the influence”. The full context of the comments can be found here (tho’ note also Allen’s follow-up letter of explanation).

Oh and lets not forget one of the most pernicious drugs of them all!


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Filed under Alfred McCoy, Allen Ginsberg, Daniel Fromson, Drugs, Herbert Huncke, Jim Wilson, Lester Ginspoon, Louis Ginsberg, New York Times, Timothy Leary, Tom Clark

>Friday’s Weekly Round-Up 19


So, more On The Road movie updates. It seems now almost certain that the movie will have a Fall 2011/early 2012 debut, not a Cannes May 2011 unveiling, as had first been thought. Similarly, director Walter Salles’ original vision of a film solely in black-and-white, something, according to indieWIRE, he had “valiantly campaigned for”, seems to have been jettisoned for a full-color movie. Jose Rivera, the screenwriter, let slip on Canadian television, shortly after the wrap-up in shooting, at the end of last year, that, “there’s a lot of the original book still in the screenplay, still in the film”, “but also I brought in lots of other things, like there’s a lot of poems of Ginsberg (sic), there’s material from Bill Burroughs, there’s stuff from Neal Cassady..” Rivera’s is far from the only hand: “Before I got involved there were at least eight different screenwriters involved in On The Road including Francis Ford Coppola.. and Francis’ son Roman Coppola also wrote drafts.. ”Rivera tells City tv. The full interview can be seen again here.

Meanwhile, over at NYU – “James Franco To Teach Class At NYU” – “This year’s Academy Awards co-host will offer a third-year graduate class on adapting poetry into short films at the Tisch School of the Arts”, the Hollywood Reporter reports.

So there’s the movies and there’s the real world. Poet Tom Clark has always been firmly located in the latter. Beyond the Pale (sic), his unique and extraordinary blog, juxtaposes carefully selected and always stunning visual imagery with equally carefully chosen and always provocative poetry texts (refreshed and renewed every night). Of late, he’s been following the on-going horrors in Japan with a typically unflinching eye. In this post here, he “illustrates” Allen’s “Plutonian Ode”.

Remember the Allen tattoo ? – Well, here’s another one.

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Filed under James Franco, Jose Rivera, On The Road, Tattoo, Tom Clark, Walter Salles

>Peter Orlovsky Remembered

>The many tributes & elegies to Peter starting to pop up, including pretty thorough obits in the New York Times & Washington Post, are so moving that we want to post them all. Not quite sure where to start, so we’ll jump right in with Steve Silberman’s “Impossible Happiness” that he wrote for Shambhala’s blog Shambhala SunSpace, and “Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Remembering Peter Orlovsky” for The Advocate. And when you’re done with those, hop on over to Tom Clark’s blog for a few more

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Filed under Jeffrey Friedman, New York Times, Peter Orlovsky, Rob Epstein, Shambhala Sun, Steve Silberman, Tom Clark, Washington Post

>Jim Carroll 1950-2009

[Jim Carroll, a the Bottom Line, NYC September 1984, c. Allen Ginsberg/Corbis]

Jim Carroll passed away on Friday at his home in NYC, he was 60 years old. So far, Tom Clark’s got a moving tribute going on his blog really worth checking >>

Los Angeles poet, Lewis MacAdams, remembering Jim Carroll in the LA Times >>

Jeffrey Brown interviews Patti Smith on the life of Jim Carroll on >>

New York Times obit >>

New York Times “Jim Carroll’s Long Way Home” >>

And Jim Carroll talking about Basketball in a 1991 interview in Cleveland. (via New Yorker “The Book Bench.“)

Jim Carroll interview 1/18/91 Cleveland Ohio,t=1,mt=video

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Filed under Jim Carroll, Lewis Macadams, New York Times, New Yorker, Patti Smith, Tom Clark