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Oxford, 1985

Mark Ford, 4 October 2017

... Oh to recapture the golden summer I met Allen Ginsberg! That tireless man! – he had within minutes, produced a whole box of photographs of himself, all shaggy and naked, in bed with a blond admirer. Had he taken these pictures himself? I inquired, marvelling at their composition … he had! ...

I am Prince Mishkin

Mark Ford, 23 April 1987

‘Howl’: Original Draft Facsimile 
by Allen Ginsberg, edited by Barry Miles.
Viking, 194 pp., £16.95, February 1987, 0 670 81599 3
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White Shroud: Poems 1980-1985 
by Allen Ginsberg.
Viking, 89 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 670 81598 5
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... Lamantia, describes the poem’s impact in Scratching the Beat Surface (1982): I hadn’t seen Allen in a few weeks and I had not heard Howl – it was new to me. Allen began in a small and intensely lucid voice. At some point Jack Kerouac began shouting ‘GO’ in cadence as ...

Boy Gang

Peter Prince, 19 January 1984

Minor Characters 
by Joyce Johnson.
Collins, 262 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 00 272511 8
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Neurotica: The Authentic Voice of the Beat Generation 1948-1951 
edited by Jay Landesman and G. Legman.
Jay Landesman, 535 pp., £19.95, July 1981, 0 905150 26 0
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Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac 
by Gerald Nicosia.
Grove, 767 pp., £14.95, October 1983, 0 394 52270 2
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... lover during a brief but crucial period in his career. She met him on a blind date fixed up by Allen Ginsberg in January 1957, nine months before the publication of his second novel. Outside a small circle of avant-garde writers and artists and drinking buddies, Kerouac then had few admirers. In 1950, under the name John Kerouac, he had published The ...
Shelf Life: Essays, Memoirs and an Interview 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, July 1994, 0 571 17196 6
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... Fame is difficult for a writer to deal with,’ Thom Gunn writes in his essay on Allen Ginsberg’s poetry. ‘It dries you up, or it makes you think you are infallible, or your writing becomes puffed out with self-esteem. (Victor Hugo thought himself superior to both Jesus and Shakespeare.) It is a complication that the imagination can well do without ...

Oms and Hums

Julian Symons, 22 March 1990

GinsbergA Biography 
by Barry Miles.
Viking, 588 pp., £20, January 1990, 0 670 82683 9
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... glances in the direction of social orthodoxy made by the younger English novelists. The heroes of Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’, ‘destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked/dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix’ positively bounced with energy when put beside Donald Davie sitting wrapped in his overcoat ...

Junk Mail

Jeremy Harding, 23 September 1993

The Letters of William Burroughs, 1949-1959 
edited by Oliver Harris.
Picador, 472 pp., £17.50, August 1993, 0 330 33074 8
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... Altogether there are more than 180, most of them fascinating. The majority by far are addressed to Allen Ginsberg, who encouraged Burroughs to persist with his writing and brought order to the mass of notes and written ‘routines’ that finished up as Naked Lunch – or The Naked Lunch, as the British edition used to be called. Many of these routines ...

If Only Analogues...

Ange Mlinko: Ginsberg Goes to India, 20 November 2008

A Blue Hand: The Beats in India 
by Deborah Baker.
Penguin US, 256 pp., £25.95, April 2008, 978 1 59420 158 5
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... of the Infinite God.’ Reading that same chapter of the Bhagavad Gita in Darjeeling in 1962, Allen Ginsberg thought of something else: the coloured wheels of psilocybin-induced visions. That two of the 20th century’s most consciousness-altering inventions, the atom bomb and the LSD pill, could be conjoined under the sign of the mushroom cloud is ...

Kooked

Mark Ford, 10 March 1994

Selected Poems 
by Charles Olson, edited by Robert Creeley.
California, 225 pp., $25, December 1993, 0 520 07528 5
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Selected Poems 
by Robert Duncan, edited by Robert Bertholf.
Carcanet, 147 pp., £9.95, October 1993, 1 85754 038 7
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... variety of claimants. A list of poets who have profited from his achievement would include Allen Ginsberg and Louis Zukofsky (both Jewish), the Lowell of Notebook, the Orientally-minded Kenneth Rexroth and Gary Snyder on whom Cathay made such an impact, British poets as different from each other as Donald Davie and Jeremy Prynne, Objectivists like ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: ‘The Trip to Echo Spring’, 12 September 2013

... the essence of writing, that writing is a form of running naked through the streets. (Put it away, Allen Ginsberg.) My view would be that writing fiction is a form of inhibition made dense and technical. Other people might be freed by it, for a while, but the author is unlikely to be, and God help him if he isn’t sober for the time it takes to get the ...

At the Barbican

Liz Jobey: Strange and Familiar , 1 June 2016

... as well as homeless people and a few stray hippies, putting it all together with a poem by Allen Ginsberg in a self-published book. Rineke Dijkstra’s large-format full-length portraits of girls in Liverpool in 1995 announce a sudden shift in scale. Dressed for a night out at the Buzz Club they stand fidgety and self-conscious, not sure what they ...

You’ve got three minutes

J. Hoberman: Sitting for Warhol, 20 July 2006

Andy Warhol Screen Tests: The Films of Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné: Vol. I 
by Callie Angell.
Abrams, 319 pp., £35, April 2006, 0 8109 5539 3
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... there are footnotes to the footnotes). Ann Buchanan is cited, Angell scrupulously notes, in two Allen Ginsberg poems. Other Screen Test subjects toured with the Living Theatre, acted in the Playhouse of the Ridiculous, published underground comix, joined communes, created light shows, made movies with Antonioni, or simply disappeared into the ...

Diary

Adam Shatz: Ornette Coleman, 15 July 2015

... gave a stately reading on soprano saxophone of Coleman’s 1959 composition ‘Peace’, with Geri Allen on piano. The tenor saxophonists Joe Lovano and David Murray howled their way through Coleman’s most famous tune, ‘Lonely Woman’. There was a haunting duet between Henry Threadgill, on alto flute, and Jason Moran, on piano, and an electric dialogue ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: ‘Inside the Dream Palace’, 6 February 2014

... guru to the hippies. In 1967, during an anti-war march in Washington, he advised Ed Sanders and Allen Ginsberg on their ambitious scheme to exorcise the Pentagon. If they really hoped to levitate the building – and they did – Smith suggested they would need a live cow, painted with magical symbols. It was a long shot; even al-Qaida failed to budge ...

Retro-Selfies

Iain Sinclair: Ferlinghetti, 17 December 2015

I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career: The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, 1955–97 
edited by Bill Morgan.
City Lights, 284 pp., £11.83, July 2015, 978 0 87286 678 2
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Writing across the Landscape: Travel Journals 1960-2010 
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, edited by Giada Diano and Matthew Gleeson.
Liveright, 464 pp., £22.99, October 2015, 978 1 63149 001 9
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... Faust Foutu, in order to demonstrate the meaning of nakedness, anticipated by a decade or so the Ginsberg party trick that shocked John Lennon and George Harrison at the dawn of Swinging London. When I interviewed one of the Six Gallery poets, Michael McClure, in 2011, he recalled earlier episodes of Dionysian frenzy with Gerd Stern and a thrash of ‘belly ...

Spender’s Purges

Frank Kermode, 5 December 1985

Collected Poems 1928-1985 
by Stephen Spender.
Faber, 204 pp., £4.95, November 1985, 0 571 13666 4
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A Version of the Oedipus Trilogy of Sophocles 
by Stephen Spender.
Faber, 199 pp., £12.50, November 1985, 0 571 13834 9
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Journals 1939-1983 
by Stephen Spender, edited by John Goldsmith.
Faber, 510 pp., £15, November 1985, 0 571 13617 6
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... is not for him to decide what will happen to him.’ Equally characteristic is his response when Allen Ginsberg began to sing him his musical settings of Blake: ‘Won’t you please stop? Hearing people sing songs they’ve composed embarrasses me terribly. I can’t bear it.’ Spender of course listened to the songs, which were not painful and ...

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