>Gary Snyder

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Gary Snyder, the original Dharma bum and eco-warrior, turns 81 today.

Dana Goodyear‘s October 2008 profile in The New Yorker affords some insights. As does this 1999 interview/conversation with Peter Coyote for Poetry Flash. As does this video interview here and here, and this radio interview here, and this earlier (1991) audio interview, to cite just a few of the available sources.
1991, that would be just one year before the publication of “No Nature:New and Selected Poems”, Snyder’s first gathering of “Selected Poems”. His reading from that book at the wonderful D.G.Wills bookstore in San Diego has been, fortunately, captured for posterity and can be viewed here.
Another, more recent, celebration was the UC Berkeley 2009 50th anniversary of “Riprap” (Robert Hass generously introduces him – the tape also includes memorable appearances by Cecil Giscombe and Lyn Hejinian – Gary speaks, reads, and comes back later, at the end of the evening, to read a little of his translations of Han Shan)
A solo reading at that same venue earlier that year (as part of the estimable Lunch Poems: Noontime Poetry Reading Series) is also on-line/available and can be viewed here.
This 2007 Czech tv profile is also illuminating.

March 11 1956, that would make him 25, coming up to 26, on this remarkable recording.
November 24 1958, all of 28!. More audio from Gary can be heard on this French site, La Voix de Gary Snyder, and, then, not forgetting (and let’s not forget) the extraordinary resources of the NAROPA Archives (among their highlights, this August 12 1983 reading (Gary’s an old man at this point, he’s 53! – and this, from 1990, Joanne Kyger(‘s) class on Gary Snyder’s work. To quote the NAROPA catalog note: “She discusses his life, his interest in Zen and the journals included in “Earth House Hold“. Part way through the class, Snyder appears in person. He and Kyger discuss mythology and literature. Snyder then reads and discusses his work (and) Kyger reads some of her own poetry”

Gary Snyder’s “Writers And The War Against Nature“, a powerful autobiographical essay has been published by Shambhala Sun.
Click here for the Smokey the Bear Sutra.

Then there’s the phenomenon of the recent film, “The Practice of the Wild: A Conversation with Gary Snyder and Jim Harrison”. Here’s three recent reviews of it – here, here, and here.

and Jim Lenfestey’s memoir/preview for Gary’s April 18 (2011) Minneapolis performance (not to mention Chris Welsch’s interview in the Star Tribune)

and not forgetting the Ginsberg/Snyder letters

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Filed under Cecil Giscombe, Dana Goodyear, Gary Snyder, Jim Harrison, Jim Lenfestey, Joanne Kyger, Lyn Hejinian, Peter Coyote, Robert Hass

>Allen Ginsberg, King of May, Prague 1965 (ASV3)

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We know we’ve focused on this a few times before but, in the context of our “Annotated Streaming Video” series (and in celebration of the Springtime), wanted to focus on it again – “Allen Ginsberg, King of May, Prague 1965” – Kral Majales – “And I am the King of May, which is the power of sexual youth,/and I am the King of May, which is industry in eloquence and action in amour,/and I am the King of May, which is long hair of Adam and the Beard of my own body/and I am the King of May which is Kral Majales in the Czechoslovakian tongue..” Czech tv shows archival footage from the day itself (May Day, May the first) – the processions, the crowds, jubilant (at least for that moment), thronging the streets and the city squares – and of Allen himself (clashing his finger cymbals, bedecked in his crown).


The “back-story”, the other side of the story, another side of the story, may be read here“Final Report on the Activities of Allen Ginsberg, American poet-beatnik in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic” – memo addressed to “Comrade Colonel Jan Zaruba, 1st Deputy Minister of the Interior” from “Chief of Division II. Of the Ministry of Interior, Lieutenant Colonel Miloslav Kosnar”, Prague, May 13 1965 (following Allen’s expulsion from the country) – translated with footnotes by Andrew Lass (“the report”, Lass writes,”is accurate in most details pertaining to Allen..I know because I was either present at some of the situations described in the report or because Allen told me about them later”). Lass’s interview with Allen (published 1998 in the Massachusetts Review) is also highly revealing (“AG: According to accurate scientific method..it (the actual vote) was a fake! Was it a fake?…I am totally disillusioned after (learning) this. I thought I won it fair and square.”)

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Filed under Allen Ginsberg, Andrew Lass, Kral Majales

>Friday’s Weekly Round-Up 24

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[Allen Ginsberg on the Yangtze River, China, November 10 1984. Allen had traveled to China with Gary and Masa Snyder, Maxine Hong Kingston, Francine & Cleve Grey and others as part of an American delegation of noted writers in exchange for hosting notable Chinese writers in the States a few years before. photo. c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

Angela Sorby’s piece in the current Chronicle of Higher Education, “Snapshots of a Semester in China” is an interesting read – “I decide to teach my students Allen Ginsberg’s famous countercultural poem, “Howl”, Sorby writes. “Before I came to China, I thought there might be restrictions on what I could teach or say, but I’ve learned that the authorities are more sophisticated than that. As a Fulbrighter, as long as I don’t try to actually organize anything I can say whatever I want”.”I worry, though, that the poem’s explicit homosexual images might alienate my students. In China, homosexuality is still barely discussed and only very recently decriminalized. So I craftily tell students: “back when “Howl” was published, many people in the United States were ignorant about homosexuality. They even thought it was a choice or a psychiatric condition! Isn’t that outrageous! My students shake their heads, assuming an air of cosmopolitan outrage, and I feel a twinge of triumph..” For more of Sorby’s article, go here.


Allen’s upcoming birthday gets ever-closer. Two on-going registers of it that we’ve mentioned before, Claire Askew’s Edinburgh bash and CA Conrad’s special Jupiter 88 Allen Ginsberg Edition (a video contribution to New York City’s “Howl Festival”), continue to develop. The latter has now followed the original Mark Nowak posting with videos by Fred Moten, Guillermo Parra, Nicole Steinberg, Michael Hennessey, Paul E Nelson, and Greg Bem (all fervently, and gratefully, singing the praises of Allen).

Would you like a one-time visit to Allen’s old 13th Street East Village loft? (the one that he bought following the sale of his papers and archives to Stanford, and the one that he was, tragically, scarce able to inhabit (he died less than a month after moving in). The Allen Ginsberg Estate and The Adaptations Project are co-hosting a special “Benefit Reception and Launch Party“, a one-time-only event, this upcoming May 20, for Donnie Mather‘s “Kaddish: The Key In The Window – Based on the poem by Allen Ginsberg” – tickets are $50 and $100. “This premiere marks the 50th Anniversary of the poem’s publication and the Inaugural Production of The Adaptations Project”. The evening will feature a special “sneak preview” of the production that will debut in Manhattan in the Fall.

Beat Encounters – if you’re not making use of our “Comments” feature (and, come to think of it, why aren’t you making use of our “Comments” feature?), you might well have missed this –Jack Miller’s memories of his encounter (encounters, actually) with Allen, including (just back from India, “new Shiva trident in hand and freshly shorn of his beard”) a visit to New Orleans in October 1971.
Thanks, once again, Jack, for sharing.

and Mike Harman, in the Charleston Daily Mail, recalls:
“Once I asked Allen Ginsberg to autograph his “Complete Works” collection that I had borrowed from the library, and he wrote, “Please don’t steal this book from the Kanawha County Library – Allen Ginsberg”
Inside of a year, the book was missing!”

then there’s the Howler Drone Self-Modulating Synth Patch (the what? – well, maybe you should go here to find out all about it!)

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Filed under Allen Ginsberg, Angela Sorby, Beat Studies, Donnie Mather, Fred Moten, Greg Bem, Guillermo Parra, Howl, Kaddish, Michael Hennessey, Nicole Steinberg, Paul E Nelson, The Adaptation Project

>Kerouac, Ginsberg and Friends in NYC 1959 (ASV2)

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Here’s the second in our series of “Annotated Streaming Video(s)” (the first, on “Pull My Daisy”, was posted Monday, and can be accessed here).“Kerouac, Ginsberg and Friends in NYC, 1959” – under such matter-of-fact description lies another rarity and treasure – a true internet treasure (over 230,000 people have viewed it since it was first put up on You Tube in June of 2007! – a particularly remarkable thing, since, all this time, it has remained something of a mystery, and is black-and-white, silent (sic) footage – Who? what? where?). The date is Spring (or early Summer), 1959, and the location? – no question at all about that – is the Harmony Bar and Restaurant, then located on Manhattan’s Third Avenue, on the corner of Third Avenue and East 9th Street. The “featured players”? – well, recognizably, Allen and Jack Kerouac – but also Lucien Carr and his wife Francesca (and their three sons, Simon, Caleb and Ethan), also, Mary Frank (wife of the filmmaker) and their two children, (Pablo and Andrea) – and behind the camera? (well, uncredited, so we’re not one-hundred percent certain, but wouldn’t that be Robert Frank himself?

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Filed under Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Lucien Carr, Robert Frank

>Beat Treasures 3

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(update May 4: We’ve contacted the SSC Archives admin and are told things should be back up shortly. They’ve gone through a website revamp and obviously have some kinks to sort out. )

(Note: We’ve been unable to load any of the links from the SSC Archives site, even with the latest real audio player installed, but thought we’d post this per chance someone out there is able to, and could clue everyone else into how to. Not having any luck reaching SSC Archives either)

Following the extraordinary material announced here and here, here’s another archive of “Beat treasures”. An “online exhibit”, featuring material from the April 1973 (Jack) Kerouac Symposium at Salem State College. In short video clips, Allen “describes his feelings upon seeing Kerouac in his coffin”’; “discusses his interview in Gay Sunshine magazine in which he revealed his homosexual encounters with Kerouac”; “discusses a section from On The Road”; “discusses Kerouac’s last meeting with Neal Cassady in June of 1964 in New York City”; and, (with Andrew Latham and Gregory Corso), “discuss(es) “the legend of Kerouac’s “teletype” writing technique”. There is also audio of Allen reading “Memory Gardens”, “Dream Record, June 9, 1955” and Kerouac’s “Scripture of The Golden Eternity (number 64)”. Gregory Corso is also included, reading his poem, “The Mad Yak”.

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Filed under Allen Ginsberg, Andrew Latham, Gregory Corso, Jack Kerouac

>Pull My Daisy (ASV1)

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Today we begin a series – Annotated Streaming Video. Not sure how much, or how avidly, you’ve been making use of our “blogroll” (over there on the right), but “Streaming Video” is what leads it off, and “Streaming Video” is led off by the classic Robert Frank/Al Leslie 1959 production, Pull My Daisy.

“Milo is a railroad brakeman, his wife a painter. They have some poet friends who spend a good bit of time hanging out at their apartment. When Milo and his wife are visited by their bishop, they naturally would like their friends to be on their best behavior. But poets will be poets” (IMDB‘s plot synopsis)

“Pull my daisy/tip my cup/all my doors are open..”

Jack Kerouac’s extraordinary improvised monologue/sound-track, and the freshness and spontaneity of the acting (acting?), not to mention Frank’s/Leslie’s understated but deeply intelligent filmic “eye”, lift this film into a class of its own, the classic Beat film, and one of the acknowledged pioneering works of the so-called “New American Cinema”.

Leslie (and composer David Amram) explain the back-story in this fascinating three-part interview that features extended excerpts from the movie (the full – 30 minute – film, may be viewed, in its entirety, here).

Amram doesn’t actually perform the title-song in the film (that distinction goes to Anita Ellis) but he did compose and arrange it (Allen and Kerouac were responsible for the lyrics). He can be seen performing it here, here, and, most recently, here, (at his “80th Birthday Jam” at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City).

John Cohen’s 2008 review of the Steidl reprint of the Grove Press book of the film is also essential reading – Is Pull My Daisy Holy? – “It is wonderful that Steidl has chosen to republish the Pull My Daisy book now”..”(This) little book..was the authentic statement, document and presentation, done at the time of the film..”

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Filed under Al Leslie, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, John Cohen, Pull My Daisy, Robert Frank

>First of May

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“America when I was seven momma took me to Communist Cell meetings they
sold us garbanzos a handful per ticket a ticket costs a nickel and the 
speeches were free everybody was angelic and sentimental about the 
workers it was all so sincere you have no idea what a good thing the party 
was in 1935….” (Allen Ginsberg – from “America” (1956))

Allen sings robustly here his 1986 poem “Fifth Internationale”(“Arise ye prisoners of your mind-set/Arise Neurotics of the Earth”), a “parasong“, as his friend Tuli Kupferberg might have described it, written to the tune of the original “Fifth Internationale“, and performed, on stage, in 1995, at Megatripolis club-night, at the Heaven night-club, in London’s West End.

May 1 also reminds us that Allen was at one time “King of May”. As something of an annual ritual, we once again post this extraordinary footage – and this, a reading of “Kral Majales” at City Lights, shortly after his expulsion from Czechoslovakia.

Our friend Patrick Warner also alerted us to this additional important source – the “Allen Ginsberg issue” of the Massachusetts Review (from 1998) and Andrew Lass’s interview.

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Filed under Allen Ginsberg, Andrew Lass, Fifth Internationale, Kral Majales, Tuli Kupferberg