Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday's Weekly Round-Up - 199 (William Blake's Birthday)

William Blake’s Lambeth Studio To Be Rebuilt For New Ashmolean Exhibition - ArtLyst Article image

Today is William Blake's birthday. Next Thursday, William Blake - Apprentice and Master, a major exhibition opens at Oxford's Ashmolean Museum (through March 1, 2015). More on that exhibit here and here 

Meanwhile, crunch-time for the Blake Society's plans to try to buy Blake's Felpham cottage. If the goal of  £520,000 is not reached by today, the real-estate agency, Jackson-Stops & Staff, which is handling the sale, will put it back on the open market.

Money and the market-place (but also, and more importantly, creativity exonerated and re-discovered) - the hot news this week was obviously, (as we reported on on Sunday,) the remarkable re-emergence of the legendary "Joan Anderson letter" (that Neal Cassady sent to Jack Kerouac) - quite a discovery! ,  nothing less than the ur-text/inspiration for On The Road ! 

Here's Lynn Neary's basic run-down of the story in her report on NPR

Here's Jean Spinosa - the woman-who-found-the-letter

Global press interest, obviously. Here, for example (and it's just a smattering), are a few Spanish,  Italian  Dutch, French, and Greek reports.

John Rogers followed up his initial AP filing with a second story on Gerd Stern, "the eighty-six-year-old poet and playwright from New Jersey" wrongly considered to have been the one to have mislaid (even destroyed) the valuable correspondence. "Why did Ginsberg say Stern tossed the letter?", Rogers asks him - "At the best he forgot that I gave it to him. At the worst he just said it to stick it to me" Stern replies. "But it doesn't matter", he adds, ("with a chuckle"), "Allen's dead, Jack's dead, Neal's dead. But I'm still alive."  

[Gerd Stern]

The auction of the letter (part of the Golden Goose Press Archives, to be sold as a single lot) will take place in Calabasas, California on the 17th of December.

The catalog can now be perused here.  

The European Beat Studies Conference concluded last week in Tangier (and from all accounts was a great success), here's a photo by Michael Kellner of four of the ne'er-do-wells /participants - Oliver Harris, Eric Anderson, Regina Weinreich, and Greg Bevan.

[Oliver Harris, Eric Anderson, Regina Weinrich, Greg Bevan, at Hotel Chella, Tangier, Morocco, November 2014 - photograph by Michael Kellner]

The focus this year was Morocco - the Beats in Morocco. See Sana Guessous here (en francais) for a brief basic primer.

The Burroughs Centennial -  Opening at the October Gallery in London on Thursday - William S Burroughs Can You All Hear Me?, "an exhibition of his art including rarely-displayed pieces". "The show will (also) highlight artists who have been profoundly influenced by Burroughs' life, including Brion Gysin, Genesis P-Orridge (Genesis Breyer P-Orridge), Liliane Lijn, Shezad Dawood, Cerith Wyn Evans and Thomas Ashcraft."  

et aussi à Aix-en-Provence 

News of a new (vinyl)  edition of Nothing Here But The Recordings

Sad to have to note the passing of Coffee House Press impresario, Allan Kornblum (from complications from leukemia) this past Sunday, at his home in St.Paul, Minnesota. Friend of the poets, friend of poetry, poet, editor, publisher (of several of our friends here), dedicated and devoted spirit.
Among his numerous books, as Mary Ann Grossman's obituary notice points out, was a small pamphlet by Allen - Honorable Courtship (from the Author's Journals, January 1-15, 1955, Wood Engravings by Dean Bornstein, Edited by Gordon Ball), from 1993, as part of his " Coffee House Expresso Editions").  

An obituary notice in the LA Times may be read here

[Allan Kornblum (1949-2014)]

[Toothpaste Press - Coffee House Press]


Thursday, November 27, 2014


Well, it's become something of a tradition itself (an alternative dyspepsic tradition), and in the year of the Burroughs Centennial, we sure as heck weren't going to miss out on this one - 
William S Burroughs lays down a wry litany of reasons-to-be-grateful, the United States of America celebrates its own shameful history of exploitation and consumption.  Happy Thanksgiving!

For John Dillinger

In hope he is still alive
Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1986

Thanks for the wild turkey and the Passenger Pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts 

thanks for a Continent to despoil and poison – 

thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger – 

thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin, leaving the carcass to rot – 

thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes – 

thanks for the AMERICAN DREAM to vulgarize and falsify until the bare lies shine through 

thanks for the KKK, for nigger-killing lawmen feeling their notches, for decent church-going women with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces – 

thanks for "Kill a Queer for Christ" stickers – 

thanks for laboratory AIDS – 

thanks for Prohibition and the War Against Drugs – 

thanks for a country where nobody is allowed to mind his own business – 

thanks for a nation of finks – yes, thanks for all the memories... all right, let's see your arms... you always were a headache and you always were a bore – 
thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Meditation and Poetics - 11

[Jean-Marc Barr as Jack Kerouac in Michael Polish's 2013 film adaptation of Kerouac's 1962 novel, "Big Sur"]

AG:  What?  Did you…? 

Student:  Yeah.  This is making me nervous, but I wanted to say how it [Samatha Vipassana meditation] was different from (Jack) Kerouac's sketching.  Like when you lose yourself, like when he went down to the sea 
AG:  Um-hmm.
Student:…and then you're aware that you're listening to the sea, or that you're listening to the wind, rather than just having it come through, and not… you know?... I wanted to (know)…

AG: What's the difference between what we were (doing) and…

Student: Yeah

AG: Well, we just began with the breath

Student; Yeah, I know, I know

AG: We just began with the breath. I'm just trying to establish some common space that everybody would know what we're talking about from the very beginning..

Student: Yeah

AG: …without any difficulty, without ideas.

Student: Yeah, I didn't want to bring it up, any..

AG: Withouy ideas. Then we'll get to applications.

Student: Yeah. Just the difference of not being aware and having the wind come through or thinking about the wind and going in it.. Yeah.. that's..

AG: Well, there's some similarity, actually, between being totally concentrated on listening to the sound, or totally concentrated on paying attention to the breath. Some similarity. It's the concentration - and the absence of day-dream - or the recognition of day-dream as day-dream.
I guess you're thinking of Kerouac's poem about the ocean at the end of Big Sur?

Student: Just about sketching yeah

AG:  …and his notion of sketching, which he exemplifies best (including sketches of sounds) in  Visions of Cody. Something I might recommend as a writing exercise - to check out, in relation to this, Kerouac's Visions of Cody. I have a handbook-guidebook to those sketches called Visions of The Great Rememberer - which you an check out in the Library the Naropa Library. It's a little blue book, which is an outline of Kerouac's big thick Visions of Cody, and there's some discussions of sketching and some mention of the different sketches. His idea was just sort of bare atttention to the phenomena outside his eyeball, bare attention to the optical field, sketches, almost on that level, or bare attention to the auditory panorama.

Student: Is your outline more than just the Introduction?

AG: Yes. The outline is more than the Introduction. The Introduction is boiled down from about a third of that…So it's about three times that size. It's a whole book discussing the sketches. 
Kerouac began from this point of view of examination of universal mind, or examination of mind. In other words, what we're talking about is mind, amazingly. Stop talking about poetry and we're talking about mind. Does everybody recognize that? And how can you make poetry out of mind, or how can you take hints from actual mind, from the way you think, from the structure of mind, from the procession of thoughts in mind, from the way the mind operates? How can you take hints from actual mind as to how to make a work of art out there on paper? or vocal?. In other words, what structures do you notice in the mind that can be applied to sentences? What sequences or ways of thinking do we find inside of ourselves when we observe them that could be reproduced on a page (like with blank pages for, blank lines for no thought, with cutting off a line in the middle when a thought wakes from itself, or when you wake from a thought. Like, (William Carlos) Williams has a poem called "The Clouds" that I always thought was…"The Clouds" is that in here? 

Student:  Is it in the "(Collected) Later (Poems)"?

AG: Maybe

Student: It's from the (19)40's

AG: Yeah

Student: "The Clouds"?

AG: Yeah. It's one that ends, "…plunging on a pismire, a moth, a butterfly, a…." (dot dot dot dot).. He just sort of broke up in the middle of the sentence  - "…plunging on a pismire, a moth, a butterfly, a…." And he read it that way. So he got that from his head. It's just the way he thought, like everybody thinks, sometimes. The thought stops, or you get exasperated and say, "Oh, forget it, I don't want to finish that". But he used that as a model for how to put it on the page. In other words, he didn't have to finish the sentence. In other words, he was using mind and operation of mind as a model for how you would write, as Kerouac did. That's why I started talking about mind. Kerouac was interested in mind, in the jewel center of the mind, as he called (it) - which is a litle complicated, the attention, where the attention was, for him. You brought up the sketching, so I was trying to fill (in). Yes? 

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately  forty-two-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately forty-seven-and-a-quarter minutes in]

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Meditation and Poetics - 10

[Buddhist Practitioners (students of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche) - Shambhala Training - Land O' Lakes Seminary, 1976, Land O'Lakes, Wisconsin]

Student: I just wanted to you're a famous poet, okay?

AG: You're day-dreaming

Student: I'm day-dreaming, yes, okay..

AG: You see, I hadn't thought about that, amd maybe most of the class..

Student: I'm thinking…

AG: ..was involved in the subject, I think, at this point..

Student; I'm thinking of the stimulus. I'm thinking about you as a stimulus to come out, you know, you create, you create with your words, you create imagery. You take things that happen. I do that. I'm very similar. I get a flow (my name's Allen too), I get a flow and I hear it all around, and then you bring it to tone, and then you start from the self, and then you work out - or do you work out - to the self, is what I'm…

AG: Actually, not really. I think you misunderstand.

Student: Really?

AG: I'm starting from the no-self

Student: No self. Okay.

AG: Yeah

Student: Right

AG: Then you're bringing up self

Student: Yeah, okay

AG: So what I'm saying is we can forget self

Student: Okay, That's what I wanted to get into

AG: You forget self. That's the whole point.

Student: Yeah. Forget self.

AG: We don't have to bring it up.

Student: Yeah

AG: Except it comes up, like an object, like a microphone

Student: Okay

AG: Okay, Allen?

Student: Thank you.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately  forty-one-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately forty-tw0-and-a-quarter minutes in]