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4 October 2017
... Oh to recapture the golden summer I met AllenGinsberg! 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 ...
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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... October 1955. Michael McClure who also read that night along with Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen and Philip 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 Allen read it. In ...

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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... Joyce Johnson was Jack Kerouac’s lover during a brief but crucial period in his career. She met him on a blind date fixed up by AllenGinsberg 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 ...
20 April 1995
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 AllenGinsberg’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 ...

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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... of the Beats were an exhilarating contrast to the careful sobriety of Movement poets and the wistful glances in the direction of social orthodoxy made by the younger English novelists. The heroes of AllenGinsberg’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 ...

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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... later with the manuscript of Naked Lunch in presentable form. The remaining letters are from Paris. Altogether there are more than 180, most of them fascinating. The majority by far are addressed to AllenGinsberg, 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 ...

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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... The poetic legacy of Ezra Pound has been divided up, sifted, plundered by an extraordinary variety of claimants. A list of poets who have profited from his achievement would include AllenGinsberg 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 ...

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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... focus keeps opening windows on a wider world of countercultural ferment. Everything is a footnote (and there are footnotes to the footnotes). Ann Buchanan is cited, Angell scrupulously notes, in two AllenGinsberg 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 ...

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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... in 1945: ‘Suppose a thousand suns should rise together into the sky: such is the glory of the Shape of the Infinite God.’ Reading that same chapter of the Bhagavad Gita in Darjeeling in 1962, AllenGinsberg 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 ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: ‘The Trip to Echo Spring’

12 September 2013
... be done cold, as Hemingway put it. There are writers who feel quite strongly that disinhibition is the essence of writing, that writing is a form of running naked through the streets. (Put it away, AllenGinsberg.) 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 ...

At the Barbican

Liz Jobey: Strange and Familiar

1 June 2016
... end of the 1960s in a series of high-contrast, grainy black and white shots of anti-Vietnam demonstrators, as well as homeless people and a few stray hippies, putting it all together with a poem by AllenGinsberg 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 ...

Diary

Adam Shatz: Ornette Coleman

15 July 2015
... delicacy,1 punctuated by hints of an impending storm. Ravi Coltrane, John Coltrane’s son, 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 ...

He K-norcked Her One

August Kleinzahler: Burroughs and Kerouac’s Novel

28 May 2009
And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks 
by Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.
Penguin, 214 pp., £20, November 2008, 978 1 84614 164 5
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... he had met in the spring of 1944, on his return from a stint in the Merchant Marine, describing them as ‘the most evil and intelligent buncha bastards and shits in America’. The group included AllenGinsberg, William Burroughs, Lucien Carr and David Kammerer. In August 1944, Carr stabbed and killed Kammerer. Near the end of And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, a lightly fictionalised and ...
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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... such as Grecian goldsmiths make, for ‘no one has ever wanted or could want such a thing. Besides, it is not for him to decide what will happen to him.’ Equally characteristic is his response when AllenGinsberg 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 ...

Bebop

Andrew O’Hagan

5 October 1995
Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1940-56 
edited by Ann Charters.
Viking, 629 pp., £25, August 1995, 0 670 84952 9
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... Each viewer wore headphones; all you could hear was the giggles and gasps. On my little TV, where the picture was jumpy at first, was Jack Kerouac. He was sitting up at a white piano, and Steve Allen tinkled away at the keys. Kerouac is very clean, very neat, but he looks nervous. Allen is smug. He’s a polyester-clad uncle sitting at the piano. ‘You nervous?’ says Allen. ‘Naaah,’ blows ...

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