Thursday, October 23, 2014

Philip Lamantia's Birthday

Philip Lamantia's birthday today. He would have been 87. We take the occasion to remind you once again of Garrett Caples and Andrew Joron's exemplary edition of the Collected Poems 

Here's the two of them giving a presentation on it (from September of last year)

Here's our own extensive Lamantia posting(s) - Allen on Lamantia - here 

and here, here,  here,  here, and here

Happy Birthday in Eternity, Philip

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Harold Norse

[ Harold Norse (1916-2009) - "Poet Harold Norse in his apartment kitchen, 157 Albion Street, San Francisco, May 28, 1988 - For HN with old affection from Allen Ginsberg- AH" - Photograph by Allen Ginsberg]

[Harold Norse executing a tour jete en l'air, circa 1938]

Harold Norse's Selected Poems have just appeared lovingly presented in an essential little edition from Talisman House

Here's Harold singing the praise of William Carlos Williams and recollecting how he first met Allen

"…Earlier, as a matter of fact, in 1944, Allen Ginsberg and I met on the subway in New York. it was about four in the morning and I was going home to my room in the Village, Greenwich Village, and I saw this young boy of about eighteen with eye-glasses and a red bandana around his neck reciting poetry. There was nobody else in the whole train, And at the stops, I heard parts of what he was reciting and it was French and I realized it was (Arthur) Rimbaud. And the first thing I said to Allen Ginsberg was, "Rimbaud!". And he said, "You're a poet!". And at that ppoint we began talking about it. He ended up with me in my small room on Horatio Street, Greenwich Village, talking till seven o'clock in the morning. He showed me his unpublished poems (he hadn't published any yet - and I'd published a long poem in Poetry magazine called "Key West", which is also in my first book, The Undersea Mountain…."    

From the same session, here he is  reading  "the first poem that I wrote in San Francisco" - "At The Cafe Trieste" (a poem that, as Neeli Cherkovski points out, in his Introduction to the Talisman Selected, "begins with Norse's description of reading Virgil's Eclogues and ends in a corner cafe")  

Here's more Harold Norse recordings from the similarly-essential Harold Norse Of Course (recorded in Amsterdam and originally released on cassette tape in 1984 by Ins and Outs Press, now re-released and available on CD from Unrequited Records) - "I'm Not A Man" and his sequence "The Muhammad Poems" 

 Eddie Woods' recollections of Harold Norse in Amsterdam may be read here 

Here's the 91-year-old Harold in 2007 at the Beat Museum reading "I Am In The Hub of The Fiery Force", the title poem of his 2003 Collected   

Here's the cover of the most recent edition of his Memoirs of A Bastard Angel - A Fifty Year Literary and Erotic Odyssey  (with a preface by James Baldwin

Here's, last year, Todd Swindell discoursing on Norse, the man and the achievement.
Todd Swindell has been a devoted student and custodian of Harold's work, since 2000, when they first got together, before Norse's death. From a contemporaneous SF Weekly article - "Swindell cleans Norse's apartment, organizes his papers, proofreads his letters and runs the occasional errand. Mainly though Swindell and Norse simply talk. When they get together, Swindell, 27, recalls his experiences as a young gay man growing up in straight-laced Orange County, and talks about his work with ACT UP S.F. Norse, 84, recalls his experiences as a young bi-sexual man growing up in New York..".."Swindell first discovered Norse as a teenager when he ran across a copy of…Carnivorous the Orange Cunty Public Library. Living in that hotbed of conservatism, Swindell figured it was only a matter of time before the powers-that-be discovered the provocative book of gay liberation writing in their midst and purged it. So, with a tinge of regret, he stole it. "More than any other gay poet, he touched a nerve to me." Swindell says, "at a time  when I had no one, I had Harold's poetry. It's very erotic, and I came from an unerotic repressed environment". 

Greg Bayson's note in LGBTQ

Harold Norse at the American Museum of Beat Art

Four Harold Norse obituary notices from 2009 here, here, here and here

Todd Swindell keeps, the memorial web-site laudably up-to-date (Scroll down to see, for example, Norse's extensive CAAS (Volume 18)  (Gale Research Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series) entry.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Gerd Stern 3 (Gerd Stern Remembers Harry Smith)

[Harry Smith with his mural, "Jimbo's Bop City", San Francisco, 1950 - Photograph by Hy Hirsch]

Gerd Stern: "It was a great success. The auditorium was always full; everybody paid except Harry Smith. Harry Smith was someone who was a spectacular creative being who died recently [1991]. I first met Harry--I think the first time I came to San Francisco he was working as a photographer for the Examiner, and he was living in a black hotel--he was pale white--in the Fillmore. He had done these way-ahead-of-their-time murals at Jimbo's Bop City--which was just like it sounded--in the Fillmore in return for food. I think it was Philip Lamantia who introduced me to Harry, and we sat there eating Harry's favorite food which was casaba melons--on the house; they kept them there just for him. Then he took us to see some of his visuals at his hotel. But when we reached the lobby we had to take our shoes off, and we had to not say a word between the time we got in and the time we left. We then crept up the stairs, and he whispered that there was a whore living in the next room, and she was in the pay of the FBI or some government agency to keep an eye on him. It was a paranoid, delusional complex that he had going. He took us into his room, and it was totally dark. He turned on a flashlight which had a cardboard tube attached to it. He put these works on the floor, and he illuminated them slowly so that we could see them, and in total silence we crept out holding our shoes and went down the steps and put our shoes on. That was Harry Smith."
"Harry came to one of the "Psychedelic Theater" pieces, and he started screaming about how he was whatever he was, that he wasn't about to pay, these were all old friends of his. Timothy (Leary) and Richard (Alpert) [Ram Dass] had said there were nothing but spongers and people who didn't have any money in this world of ours, and they all wanted to get in free, and they all were friends of ours. We had set a definite policy: No one was going to get in free. Well, Harry got in free because I told Timothy that if Harry didn't get in free, there wasn't going to be a show and there'd be a riot."
"I keep talking about alcoholics, but there happened to have been a lot of them, and there are still a lot of them. Harry was one. Most of these people in this world mixed the alcohol with drugs, so there were episodes of total insanity."

["Harry Smith, painter, archivist, anthropologist, film-maker & hermetic alchemist, his last week 
at Breslin Hotel Manhattan, January 12, 1985, transforming milk into milk." - (Ginsberg caption) -Photograph by Allen Ginsberg - photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

For more Harry Smith on the Allen Ginsberg Project - see here (and also hereherehere and here )

And here's a couple more Harry postings -  here - and - here

[Harry Smith, Second Avenue and Twelfth Street (NYC), 1987 - Photograph by Brian Graham]

Monday, October 20, 2014

Happy Birthday Philip Whalen and Michael McClure

What would have been Philip Whalen's ninety-first birthday (grand old sensei, venerable master) - celebrated today.
We await with eagerness David Schneider's long-in-the-making definitive biography (from the University of California) due out next year (tho' the cover may already be glimpsed - see above - and some advance selections from the book may be read here)

Check out also our earlier posts on Philip on The Allen Ginsberg Project here, here - and also (Philip reading) here

It also happens that Phil shares a birthday with another friend of ours (and friend of his) still happily very much with us - Michael McClure.
For Michael McClure birthday celebrations on The Allen Ginsberg Project see here and here - also here and here

Michael McClure
[Michael McClure - Photograph Peg Skorpinski]

Happy Birthday, Michael!