Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ginsberg - Scribble

[Kenneth Rexroth  & Edith Piaf]

Here's the very first poem that opens "The Lion For Real"  (published in Reality Sandwiches) - Kenneth Rexroth and Edith Piaf - a brief but poignant lyric,  Scribble

Steve Swallow' s on piano, Michael Blair on guitar, Ralph Carney on clarinet.

Allen's sleeve note - "Casual note, a long melancholic affectionate 1956 thought about the late irascible Bay Area anarchist Poet, Kenneth Rexroth, might be 4 A.M. in the soul that Michael Blair's music mirrors"
Rexroth’s face reflecting human
           tired bliss
White haired, wing browed
           gas mustache,
                flowers jet out of
                      his sad head,
listening to Edith Piaf street song
           as she walks the universe
                with all life gone
                and cities disappeared
                      only the God of Love
                            left smiling 
Berkeley, March 1956
Here (added bonus) a recent translation of the poem into Spanish:


A cara de Roxroth refletindo a cansada
           beatitude humana
A cabeleira branca, a sobrancelha arrebitada
           o bigode tagarela,
                as flores rebentando
                      de sua cabeça triste,
a ouvir as cantigas mundanas de Edith Piaf
           como se ela passeasse pelo universo
                com toda a vida ida
                e as cidades desaparecidas
                      somente o Deus do Amor
                            ficou a sorrir
Berkeley, março de 1956

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Shrouded Stranger (Three Renditions)

The Shrouded Stranger

Last weekend we featured two tracks from the Michael Minzer-Hal Willner-produced Lion For Real - "To Aunt Rose" and "Lion For Real", this weekend, a couple more - 

First, the very early lyric (from 1949) -  "The Shrouded Stranger"

Shadow Death From Nowhere.jpg

The Shrouded Stranger

Bare skin is my wrinkled sack
When hot Apollo humps my back
When Jack Frost grabs me in these rags
I wrap my legs with burlap bags

My flesh is cinder my face is snow
I walk the railroad to and fro
When city streets are black and dead
The railroad embankment is my bed

I sup my soup from old tin cans
And take my sweets from little hands
In Tiger Alley near the jail
I steal away from the garbage pail

In darkest night where none can see
Down in the bowels of the factory
I sneak barefoot upon stone
Come and hear the old man groan

I hide and wait like a naked child
Under the bridge my heart goes wild
I scream at a fire on the river bank
I give my body to an old gas tank

I dream that I have burning hair
Boiled arms that claw the air
The torso of an iron king
And on my back a broken wing

Who'll go out whoring into the night
On the eyeless road in the skinny moonlight
Maid or dowd or athlete proud
May wanton with me in the shroud

Who'll come lay down in the dark with me
Belly to belly and knee to knee
Who'll look into my hooded eye
Who'll lay down under my darkened thigh?

"The song of the Shrouded Stranger of the Night", Allen can be heard at the beginning of this 1970 reading at New York's 92nd Street Y, reading from it here

A 1973 recording at Salem State's remarkable Jack Kerouac Festival may be heard here

The 1989 Lion For Real version may be listened to -  here 

Sleeve notes: "A Blakean Lyric, drawn from a childhood boogeyman sex dream under Paterson, N.J. choo-choo train Broadway overpass, my best 1949 rhymed poem. (Jack) Kerouac liked the genius of "I hide and wait like a naked child/Under the bridge my heart goes wild'. Marc Ribot's setting captures the railroad shuffle bones wispy phantom rhythm - Till this version I never realized the strangers gasping graveyard groan was a Hungry Ghost's hopeless cry for sexual help"

addenda - here's the poem both in English and Hungarian - and a menacing rendition by the Hobo Blues Band

Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday's Weekly Round-Up - 202

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                                     [Allen Ginsberg, 1994, San Francisco - Photo by Jay Blakesberg]

Jay Blakesberg's wonderful photograph of a pensive Allen. It was Robert Frank's advice to Allen, the photographer (advice that he always took to heart and would tell other people) - always, in portraits, if at all possible, include the hands.

             [Allen Ginsberg and Robert Frank, 1986, New York City - Photograph by Peter Hale] 

News from the Jack Kerouac School at Naropa - the 2014-2015 Allen Ginsberg Visiting Fellow has just been announced, and it will be - Kevin Killian - Kevin's visit will begin, on Friday February 6, with a lecture titled "The Color in Darkness", the following Monday events will continue with a reading and a book-signing.

[Kevin Killian]

"Joan Anderson letter"  news - No auction (as originally planned) last week. Now the letter sits in legal limbo. David S Wills' piece, in Beatdom, "Reconsidering the Importance of the Joan Anderson Letter" is timely musing and well worth reading - "Beat fans and scholars are often guilty of perpetuating myths", Wills writes, and, "in order to take the movement seriously one needs to be critical and ask questions that are often unpleasant".. "now it is time that we ask whether the letter was as important as (Jack) Kerouac claimed. We need to acknowledge that Kerouac's obsession with (Neal) Cassady often blinded him to his friend's flaws, and that Cassady was far from a saint. Indeed, it is hard to imagine the contents of the letter - once published - living up to the hype."…"None of this means we should ignore the letter by any means, but rather that we should be skeptical and not carried away by the excitement of its discovery".  


[Jack Kerouac (1922-1969)]

Beat scholarship - last month's European Beat Studies Conference in Morocco is now just a memory.  Here's an "unofficial video record" (warning - if you can bear the highly disorientating soundtrack!)

More on the great Jim Koller, who's passing we noted last week.  A gathering of memories and notes by friends may be found here. Here's another video (this, with his son, Bertie accompanying him on banjo and guitar and with an interview with fellow Maine poet, Steve Luttrell)

Jim, poignantly, wrote (ahead of time)  his own "Last Will and Testament"  - "I want only blue sky over me/I want the clouds, so many/of them variations, passing/changing as they pass./ I want the blackest nights filled with turning stars/I want birds to find me,/want the hot breath of animals./ The wind too shall pass,/on its way to places/I have been." 

[James Koller (1936-2014)]