Friday, July 1, 2016

Friday's Weekly Round-Up - 274

We've featured Seth Brigham's photos before (for example, here). The images above are taken from his epic (and, by his own account, literally, manic) documentation of the Beats and Rebel Angels Conference at Boulder, Colorado, in July of 1994, with, not only Allen, but also, a host of Beat luminaries and Beat-related souls and pioneers, gathered in attendance - Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder, Robert Creeley, Ed Sanders, Michael McClure, Amiri Baraka, Joanne Kyger, Anne Waldman, Ken Kesey, David Amram… The list, like they say, (like the beat, in that unavoidable, and certainly fitting, cliche), goes on.   

Cafe Dissensus Everyday (the blog of Cafe Dissensus Magazine - featured here last week) features a digest of the photos and a photo-essay by Seth.  In it, he observes:
"Perhaps it was all (just) a myth driven by the celebrity of a few. There were many from that time in space that were never recognized nor tried to be.. I met many participants during the "Tribute to Allen Ginsberg", and I found them no more than human, sometimes, it seemed, less than, no better than you or me. The point of my efforts [the point of these photos] is to encourage people, especially young people, to use their gifts, to help keep alive, continue, and bring about a spirit and an attitude that one person can make a difference..These photographs are a small chapter, like an ending to a long novel, a gathering to celebrate a group of artists. who, together, seemed to have made a difference in the lives of others.."  

"A group of artists. who, together, seemed to have made a difference in the lives of others"
- that would seem to be a quiet (and perhaps overly-modest) definition of "the Beat Generation", the range of artists being currently celebrated at the Pompidou Center in Paris (see also our spotlight in last Friday's "Round-Up). Further press response - from Time Out Paris - here, from Evous - here, from Liberation - here - and from Telerama - here. We noted last week the appearance of the famous On The Road scroll. What we neglected to mention was on show also is an extremely rare early original typescript of Howl (see below):

                     ["Howl" typescript at the "Beat Generation" show at Centre Pompidou in Paris, June 2016]

ActuaLitté  provides a provocative "Dix Choses qui vous ignorez sur la Beat Generation"("Ten things you didn't know about the Beat Generation") by Joséphine Leroy
(and don't forget to take the quiz - here) 

Speaking of ActuaLitté , their (her) review of the concurrent show at the Galerie Semiose of William Burroughs art is available - here  

                [Pleased To Meet You #1  William Burroughs (2016) (booklet from Galerie Semiose, Paris)] 
     [Beat Generation exhibition installation - "Beat Generation" show at Centre Pompidou in Paris, June 2016] 

[One wall at the "Beat Generation" show at Centre Pompidou, Paris - Sociological context -  June 2016] 

Last weekend's New York Times story on Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Sterling Lord is delightful and if you haven't read it you should - see here 
"The poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti was sitting at his kitchen table in his North Beach apartment on a drizzly morning, telling a story about Allen Ginsberg, when he hopped up suddenly and bounded out of the room to retrieve his hearing aid. "At my age. if it's not one thing, it's another", he said cheerfully. Tall and agile at 97, with a neatly-trimmed gray beard and oval tortoise-shell glasses that magnified his glassy blue eyes, Mr Ferlinghetti could pass for a man in his 70s. He still writes almost every day - "When an idea springs airborne into my head"... 
The article focuses on Ferlinghetti's latest writing project, "unlike anything he's ever written,  "a novel he's been working on, in fits and starts, for the last 20 years" - "The book, titled "To The Light House" blends autobiography, fiction, and surrealist riffs on mortality, nature, and consciousness. It's the closest thing to a memoir he'll ever write.." 

[Lawrence Ferlinghetti - Photograph by Allen Ginsberg - San Francisco, May 1988 - © The Estate of Allen Ginsberg]

The Last Word on First Blues, Allen's recently-released 3-cd music set. We're not in a habit of reprinting verbatim, in their entirety, reviews, but - four stars from Mojo - "Ginsberg howls in tune" - the piece is by Michael Simmons - we couldn't resist reprinting this one:
"From Sappho to Dylan, poets have long sung their work. Already established in the quality lit racket, Allen Ginsberg was not some dilettante (Dylantante?) when he put music to words. A fan of pre-war blueswomen like Ma Rainey, he heard his own influence on Dylan; "A torch had been passed". John Hammond Sr. signed Allen to Columbia Records. but the suits found his lyrics "disrespectful", so Hammond self-released First Blues. Reissue producer, Pat Thomas collected those sessions and others spanning a decade on three discs and - helped by Dylan, David Amram, Happy Traum, and long-time accompanist Steven Taylor - it's a hoot 'n howl! Working in blues. folk amd rock forms. and with sexual, political and comedic themes, Ginsberg is vocally endearing and delightfully filthy. Nurse's Song, co-written with William Blake, is the catchiest collab twixt scribes spanning two centuries."

Thursday, June 30, 2016

More Ballads - (Willy O' Winsbury)

[from Sam Hester's cartoon illustration of the ballad, Willy O' Winsbury]

AG: "Willie o' Winsbury"..has some interest ..
Oh, I like that, because there was some little flash.. In all these ballads, there's no gay ballads at all, but there's some occasional flashes of manly homoerotic appreciation of other men, just once in a while, very rarely, but when you get that flash, it's interesting (or was to me, anyway) - The King has been a prisoner and the King was in Spain, and his daughter lay with Willie of Winsbury all these years. Then the King comes home and sees his daughter and notices that she's big-bellied, and so asks, "have you been laying with anybody?", and she says, "No, no, no - the reason I look kind of wan and sick is that I've been pining for you, daddy, you've been in Spain". So he says "Cast ye off your berry-brown gown/Stand straight upon the stone/That I may ken ye by yere shape/whether ye be a maiden or none" - So she gets up on the stone naked. And he makes her confess - "It is not to a man of might", she said,/'Nor is it to a man of fame/But it is to William of Winsbury/ I could lye nae longer my laine - (I could lie no longer alone)

So - "The King called on his merry men all/ By thirty and by three/"Go fetch me William of Winsbury/For hanged he shall be."/ But when he cam the king before/He was clad o the  red silk/His hair was like to threads o gold./ And his skin was as white as milk./"It is nae wonder", said the King,/"That my daughters love ye did win/Had I been a woman, as I am a man/My bedfellow ye should hae been" - So then he says,"Will you marry my daughter, Janet, by the truth of thy right hand?/I'll gie ye gold, I'll gie ye money/And I'll gie thee an earldom o land" - "Yes, I"ll marry your daughter, Janet,/By the truth of my right hand/ But I'll hae nanae o yer gold, I'll hae nane o yer money/ Nor I winna hae an earldom o the land/ For I hae eighteen corn-mills/Runs all in water clear,/And there's as much corn in each o them/As they can grind in a year"." 
Interesting end. A straight, true, man. He's got his own corn-mill, he's got his own independence, he's beautiful. He'll sleep with the King's daughter but he won't have the Kingdom - That's pretty good - Willie of Winsbury that was.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately forty-four-and-a-half minutes in and continuing until approximately forty-seven-and-a-quarter minutes in] 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

More Ballads (Thomas the Rhymer & Tam Lin)

["Under the Eildon tree Thomas met the Lady" - "illustration by Katherine Cameron from Thomas the Rhymer (retold by Mary MacGregor, 1908)]

AG:  "Thomas the Rhymer" is a very famous one. The first line is… (It) sort of echoes - "True Thomas lay o'er yon grassy bank" - you know that phrase? -  "True Thomas.."? - That's come through some kind of cultural unconscious, from this ballad, "Thomas the Rhymer". "O.." - and, in that, there's several great lines. He's going.. He's going to Elfland. He's being conjured, and tells what.., or seduced into Elfland - "“O see not ye yon narrow road,/So thick beset wi' thorns and briers?/That is the path of righteousness,/Tho after it but few enquires./“And see not ye that braid braid road,/That lies across yon lillie leven/That is the path of wickedness,/Tho some call it the road to heaven./“And see not ye that bonnie road,/Which winds about the fernie brae?/That is the road to fair Elfland/ Whe'r you and I this night maun gae" - "But Thomas, ye maun hold your tongue,/ Whatever you may hear or see,/For gin ae word you should chance to speak/ You will neer get back to your ain country" - "He has gotten a coat of the even cloth,/And a pair of shoes of velvet green,/And till seven years were gane and past/True Thomas on earth was never seen."
So he went to Elfland for seven years. But, to get to Elfland, you had to wade for forty days and forty nights, with red blood up to the knee! - That's a great sort of.. little great movie, that little piece of it. -  "For forty days and forty nights/ He waded through blood above the knee/And he was neither sun nor moon,/But heard the roaring of the sea."

"Tam Lin" - I won't go through, but you might check that out, if you ever get the chance to read more ballads - "The Ballad of Tam Lin" was Helen Adam's favorite (I refer to her because she's maybe the greatest living ballad-maker among the poet-poets - aside from singers).

                                                                      [Helen Adam (1909-1993)] 

to be continued

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Basic Poetics - Ballads - (Alison Gross)

[Vittore Carpaccio (1455-1526) - San Giorgio e il drago (St.George and the Dragon) c.1502-08, at the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, Venice]

[Giovanni Bellini (1430-1516) - St. George and the Dragon,  the left panel of the Pesaro altarpiece (40 x 36cm) c.1471-74, at Musei Civici, Pesaro]

AG:  And then - Magic.. –  (page) fifty-one - If any of you know paintings by Carpaccio?  or other similar fellows – Bellini? – of the Saint.. killing the dragon.. what was it, St George killing the dragon?,  and the dragons are usually very strange little intimately-conceived monsters out of somebody’s psychedelic moment of fourteenth-century or thirteenth-century. There’s a sort of equivalent set of dragons here, and also some speech (this is very old but it sounds like present-day Geordie language (Northumbrian, the kind of talk you get out of Tom Pickard, who I mentioned before, who writes now in straight English as spoken in Newcastle) (It's) called "Allison Gross" – page fifty-one here – and it’s the guy talking about Alison Gros  

“O Allison Gross that lives in yon tow'r./ The ugliest witch i' the north country/ Has trysted me ae day up till her bowr,/And monny fair speech she made to me./ She stroaked my head, and she kembed my hair/An she sat me down saftly on her knee/Says. Gin ye will be my lemmon, so true/Sae monny braw things as I would you gi." - ("lemmon" - a  lover) - "She showd me a mantle o' red scarlet,/Wi gouden flowrs an fringes fine;/Says, Gin ye will be my lemmon so true/This goodly gift it sal be thine./Awa awa, ye ugly witch/Haud far awa and lat me be/I never will be your lemmon sae true,/An I wish I were out o your company".   
That “away away you ugly witch" ..awa' awa'.. "hold far away and let me be” – that’s straight talk as you can hear it now, amazingly, in Newcastle – "Awa awa, ye ugly witch/Haud far awa and lat me be"  
Well, so she bribed him with more  “saftest silk” and “good red gold" cups and jewels "fair to see" – and he repeats, "Awa awa, ye ugly witch/Haud far awa and lat me be/For I wouldna ance kiss your ugly mouth/For a' the gifts that you could gi'  (I would not once kiss your ugly mouth for all the gifts  you could gi').  
- Well,  so what happened then?
(She’s a witch, remember)  
“She's  turn'd her right and roun about/An thrice she blaw on a grass-green horn/An she sware by the meen and the stars abeen,/That she'd gar me rue the day I was born./ Then out has she taen a silver wand,/An she's turnd her three times roun an roun/She's muttered sich words till my strength it faild,/An I fell down senceless upon the groun/She's turn'd me into an ugly worm/And gard me toddle about the tree".." - ("worm", in that case would be a serpent or a dragon, an ugly dragon, that’s the Carpaccio dragon – "And gard me toddle about the tree" – made me – that’s kind of nice - "toddle" about the tree – She's turn'd me into an ugly worm/And gard me toddle about the tree./An ay, on ilka (every) Saturdays night,/My  sister Maisry came to me,/Wi  silver bason an silver kemb/To kemb my heady upon her knee/But or I had kissed her ugly mouth/I'd rather a toddled about the tree" -  But or I had kissed her ugly mouth/I'd rather a toddled about the tree" (He's real resolute about it!) 
Well, let’s see now, then, finally, the Queen of Heaven comes - " it fell out on last  Hallow-even/ When the seely court -  (the fairy court was riding by) ‘When the seely court was riding by,/The queen lighted down on a gowany bank/Nae far frae the tree where I wont to lye/She took me up in her milk-white han,/An she's stroaked me three times 'er her knee/She chang'd me again to my ain proper shape,/An I nae mair maun toddle about the tree"... I don’t know how to do it. -  "An I nae mair maun toddle about the tree".
The worm – an ugly worm, "toddling about the tree" is nice – It’s a very weird image. It’s.. also the relation, the sort of straightforward relation is interesting, Like, his take on - some women he likes and some women he don’t like, and that’s that. Simple as that. And that’s  sort of..  Actually, Tom Pickard, who writes in this sound, somehow has those same emotions – still
 – Yeah?

Student:  Steeleye Span sings that song
AG: Really?  Steeleye Span – that’s a band? they do this one? has anybody got a copy?
Student: They also do "Fause Knight on the Road"
AG: Really? -  I’ve never heard them done
Student; They change words a little bit to make it more.. melodic (with certain lines..)
AG:  Do they use their own tunes or do they have old tunes, do you think?
Student: I think they change the tunes for their own use
AG: Are people..have most people here heard those?
Student (2): No I haven’t
AG: Great..they’d be great to hear . Can we get them? Can you check out and see if we can get them?
Student: Oh yeah, I've got them here.
AG: You have them?
Student: Oh yeah
AG  Okay, make a tape. You don’t have the Joan Baez Lady (sic) Hamilton, or anything like that, do you?
Student: No
Student (2): I  might have it
AG: Who?
Student (2): I might have it, I’m not sure...
AG: Well check it out maybe we can put it on the tape and hear it some time
Student (2) I don't have the tape, I might have the record 
Randy (Roark): I can tape it.
AG: Randy does, If you can find out where he is…

Shall we go on with some more of these (ballads)? Is this of interest? Just cover a little bigger spectrum than what they have in the book?

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

      [Allison Gross - Illustration by Vernon Hill - from Richard Chope's Ballads Weird and Wonderful (1912)]