Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday's Weekly Round-Up - 183

"Jahweh and Allah Battle". We thank our good friend Steve Silberman for his reminder about Allen's "eternally prescient" 1974 poem

Jaweh with Atom Bomb
Allah cuts throat of Infidels
Jaweh’s armies beat down neighbouring tribes
Will Red Sea waters close & drown th’armies of Allah?

Israel’s tribes worshipping the Golden Calf
Moses broke the Tablets of Law.

Zalmon Schacter Lubovitcher Rebbe what you say
Stone Commandments broken on the ground
Sufi Sam whaddya say
Shall Prophet’s companions dance circled
round Synagogue while Jews doven bearded electric?

Both Gods Terrible! Awful Jaweh Allah!
Both hook-nosed-gods, circumcised.
Jaweh Allah which unreal?
Which stronger Illusion?
Which stronger Army?
Which gives most frightening command?
What God maintain egohood in Eden? Which be Nameless?
Which enter Abyss of Light?
Worlds of Gods, jealous Warriors, Humans, Animals & Flowers,
Hungry Ghosts, even Hell Beings all die,
Snake cock and pig eat each other’s tails and perish
All Jews all Moslems’ll die All Israelis all Arabs
Cairo’s angry millions Jerusalem’s multitudes
suffer Death’s dream Armies in battle!
Yea let Tribes wander to tin camps at cold Europe’s walls?
Yea let the Million sit in the desert shantytowns with tin cups?
I’m a Jew cries Allah! Buddha circumcised!
Snake sneaking an apple to Eden -
Alien, Wanderer, Caller of the Great Call!
What Prophet born on this ground
bound me Eternal to Palestine
circled by Armies tanks, droning bomber motors,
radar electronic computers?
What Mind directed Stern Gang Irgun Al Fatah
Black September?
Meyer Lanksy? Nixon Shah? Gangster? Premier? King?
one-eyed General Dayan?
Golda Meir and Kissinger bound me with Arms?
Buchenwald sent me here! Vietnam sent me here!
Mylai sent me here!
Lidice sent me here!
My mother sent me here!
circumcised, my father had a coffee shop in Jerusalem
One day the soldiers came and told me to walk down road
my hands up
walk away leave my house business forever!
The Israelis sent me here!
Solomon’s Temple the Pyramids & Sphinx sent me here!
Abraham will take me to his bosom!
Mohammed will guide me to Paradise!
Christ sent me here to be crucified!
Buddha will wipe out and destroy the world.
The New York Times and Cairo Editorialist Heykal sent me here!
Commentary and Palestine Review sent me here!
The International Zionist Conspiracy sent me here!
Syrian Politicians sent me here! Heroic Pan-Arab
Nationalists sent me here!
They’re sending Armies to my side -
The Americans & Russians are sending bombing planes tanks
Chinese Egyptians Syrians help me battle for my righteous
house my Soul’s dirt Spirit’s Nation body’s
boundaries & Self’s territory my
Zionist homeland my Palestine inheritance
The Capitalist Communist & Third World Peoples’
Republics Dictatorships Police States Socialisms and Democracies
are all sending Deadly Weapons to our aid!
We shall triumph over the Enemy!
Maintain our Separate Identity! Proud
History evermore!
Defend our own bodies here this Holy Land! This hill
Golgotha never forget, never relinquish
inhabit thru Eternity
under Allah Christ Yaweh forever one God
Shema Yisroel Adonoi Eluhenu Adonoi Echad!
La ilah illa’ Allah hu!


Listen to a recording here - and here's another version (approximately twenty-two-a-half minutes in on the second tape). The poem was included in the City Lights collection, Mind Breaths, Poems 1972-1977, and, of course in the Collected Poems. 

William Brother Antoninus Everson
[William Everson/Brother Antoninus (1912-1994)]

"I Have A Conversation with Allen Ginsberg" -  We've solicited them before - memorable conversations with Allen Ginsberg. Robert Haskell remembers a conversation with Allen regarding his (Haskell's) close friend and mentor, the sorely-neglected West Coast poet William Everson (Brother Antoninus-"..I was looking into gentle eyes look(ing) inquiringly and compassionately into mine, as the poet (Ginsberg) very sincerely asked me to, "Say a prayer for me too when you're at his grave.."

The Transnational Beat Generation

"While the Beats were deeply indebted to the American culture they both celebrated and castigated, from the very beginning Beat writers and their works were a global phenomenon..", writes  Erik Mortensen, in his cogent review, for EBSN, of Nancy Grace and Jennie Skerl's 2012 anthology,  The Transnational Beat Generation   
- That's something we're ever mindful of here at the Ginsberg Project. We, at least, try not to be too US-centric (NYC-San Francisco-centric?). Well, we try..

Here's David Amram (from a few years back)  en francais, talking about Jack Kerouac


(Et aussi)  

Jack Kerouac

Meanwhile in Lowell, the debate continues about proper Kerouac civic recognition - notwithstanding this and this (the next LCK (Lowell Celebrates Kerouac) is October 9 -12, by the way) 

Six Cities to Live A Bit of Jack Kerouac's On The Road Adventure

Beatdom #15 is now on sale

David S Wills' Beatdom. The new issue of the magazine (issue#15) is now on sale, with a focus (coincidentally or otherwise) on war - "People think of the Beats as post-war, entirely separate and disinterested", Wills writes, "But we disagree. In this issue we explore the relationship between the Beats and war, from (Jack) Kerouac and (Allen) Ginsberg in the navy, to (William) Burroughs' intergalactic battles, to the influence of postmemory, to the British Beat movement as growing out of WWII, and we also talk to (Colonel) Gordon Ball about Allen Ginsberg teaching in the U.S.Army"

Cadets read Howl, February 19, 1991, Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, Vir
[Cadets Read Howl, February 19, 1991, Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, Virginia - Photograph by Gordon Ball]

Alessandro Manca and Andrea Labate, along with saxophonist Massimiliano Milesi and bassist Roberto Frassini Moneta  will be performing their Beat Generation show in Bergamo on Saturday (and Pavia on Sunday)   

Today (July 25) marks the anniversary of a tragedy. Forty-eight years since the senseless death of the great American poet, Frank O'Hara

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Alex Katz

[Alex Katz -  Allen Ginsberg 1 [study], 1985. Oil on board. 20 x 16 inches.]

The American artist, Alex Katz turns 87 today - 87 years young - Happy Birthday, Alex.
From an interview with Alex Katz by Richard Prince - for Journal of Contemporary Art Richard Prince: What are some of the things in your life that you saw or heard or came on and you thought, "Yeah, now that’s new"? Alex Katz : Lester Young. Billie Holliday. Be Bop. Stan Kenton. Dizzy Gillespie, Machito, Charlie Parker. Stan Getz. Miles Davis. Sonny Rollins’s "Wagon Wheels". Man Ray. Charles Lamb. Georges Braque’s 1913 black and white collages. Pablo Picasso’s sculptures. Malevich’s Suprematist paintings. Henri Matisse’s collages. Jackson Pollock. Barnett Newman. Clifford Still. Roy Lichtenstein, early 1960s. James Rosenquist, early 1960s. Eva Hesse. Jeff Koons. Mike Kelley’s rugs. Richard Avedon’s fashion photos, 1960s. Red Grooms' early happenings. Paul Taylor, late 1950s. William Dunas, early 1970s. Samuel Beckett’s "Happy Days" with Ruth White. John Jesuran’s "Red House". Meredith Monk’s theater and music pieces. Godard’s Breathless. Andy Warhol’s Chelsea Girls. Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. Antonioni’s L’Avventura. Rudy Burckhardt’s city and country films without acting. 1960s vinyl coats, white or black. Guillaume Apollinaire. John Ashbery’s "Skaters." Color TV. Ads. Football. Wide-angle technicolor movies.and here's an  article from the Boston Globe a couple of years back on Alex’s reading habits
Alex's interview/conversation with Francesco Clemente (from 1989) may be accessed here
with David Salle, here

Selected other interviews - an oral history interview from 1969 for the Archives of American Art - here 
A video-taped interview with Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, from 1979 - here.
More recently, Adrian Searle interviews Alex for The Guardian here (2012), and, this past August, Kim Heirston visits his studio and "shares inspirations, methodologies, and stories". 

The "New York School" and poetry connection - Andrew Epstein's exemplary Locus Solus blog has two useful posts on that (the latter connecting to Matthew Sperling's illuminating interview in Apollo magazine)  - here and here  

 Here's a miscellany of Alex Katz paintings and images 

and four more of Allen

     [Alex Katz. Allen Ginsberg, 1986. Oil on linen. 48 x 144 inches.]

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Expansive Poetics - 89 - Guillaume Apollinaire's Zone

[translated in 1950, this is the cover to the 1972 Dolmen Press, Dublin edition of Guillaume Apollinaire's Zone translated by Samuel Beckett, the first seperate appearance of the text to appear in print]

[Illustrations pour


[Pierre de Gasztold - illustration from   "Les poètes voyagent de Baudelaire à Henri Michaux" -  Henri Parisot,  Delamain et Boutelleau, Paris, 1946]

AG: (So) then we have (finally) "Zone" - "You are tired at last of this old world/ O shepherd Eiffel Tower the flock of bridges bleats at the morning/ You have had enough of life in this Greek and Roman antiquity/ Even the automobiles here seem to be ancient/Religion alone has remained entirely fresh religion/Has remained simple like the hangars at the airfield" - [Now, you'll notice that there are no commas (or) punctuation, so that the thoughts are enjammed, or come together, or are sutured together, so that actually (I'm) reading it as a stream-of-consciousness, or as if one thought (is) following another without a gap, and then a break, and then another thought. But it's a thought juxtaposed wih no stop] - "Even the automobiles here seem to be ancient/Religion alone has remained entirely fresh religion/Has remained simple like the hangars at the airfield" - [Well, for one thing, "Religion alone has remained entirely fresh religion" is one line, no punctuation ("La religion seule est restée toute neuve la religion") - but this is nineteen-when? - I don't know what year this is. This is 1912, I guess, the poem, I'm not sure.  Maybe before World War I - "(R)eligion/Has remained simple like the hangars at the airfield" is a completely srtange thought to have in the turn of the century. I mean, it's a completely modernized thought, like the whole archetypal mass of imagery and consciousness completely retooled for the twentieth-century. For the airfields and the railways and the pharmacies. So you can see the lineage between (Jules) Laforgue and Apollinaire and (T.S.) Eliot.] - [Allen continues with the poem - "You alone in all Europe are not antique O Christian faith…"…"It is Christ who soars in the sky better than any aviator…"…"The eagle rushes out of the horizon giving a great cry/From America comes the tiny humming-bird/From China have come long supple pihis/Which only have one wing and fly tandem.." - [that's supposed to be funny] - "Then the dove immaculate spirit/Escorted by the lyre bird and the ocellated peacock.." 

Common Hoopoe

AG: Do you know what the pihi is by looking at it?   
Student (CC): Yes
AG: Is there such a thing? - "From China have come long supple pihis/Which only have one wing and fly tandem.."   - Is that mythical, or is that…
Student (CC): No, it's a natural bird, but it's just a strange..
AG: Oh really, it's  real.
Student (CC): Yes
AG: Ah
Student (CC): And then… very strange birds that are.. that are in mating, they're just always flying together and just constant whirring their wings (somewhat like a humming-bird) so it might give the effect of having one wing.
AG: Ah, They actually have two
Student (CC): They actually have two wings
AG: And it's called a Pihi?
Student (CC): No, it's… it's..well, the bird that I think that he's describing is the hoopoe
AG: Hupu?
Student: That's what I think he's describing
AG: It might be pihi in French

(That was (Roger) Shattuck).  (Here's) the other translation, by Samuel Beckett - "From China, the long and supple one-winged pihis that fly in couples" - I always thought that that was an esoteric Cubist joke - or just playfulness - just having fun - "just having a little bit of fun, mother" - [Allen continues] - "Then the dove immaculate spirit/Escorted by the lyre bird and the ocellated peacock/The phoenix that pyre which recreates itself/Veils everything for an instant with its glowing coals/Sirens leaving their perilous straits/Arrive all three of them singing beautifully. And everything eagle phoenix and Chinese pihis/Fraternize with the flying machine…"…"Now you are on the shore of the Mediterranean/Under the lemon trees which blossom all year"…"Astonished you see yourself outlined in the agates of St Vitus/You were sad enough to die the day you saw yourself in them/You looked like Lazarus bewildered by the light/The hands of the clock in the Jewish quarter turn backwards/And you go slowly backwards in your life/Climbing up the Hradchin and listening at night.." - ["Hradchin" - Hradchin is a hill in cenral Prague, in old Prague, the old castle hill] - Climbing up the Hradchin and listening at night/In taverns to the singing of Czech songs"… [Allen continues, reading through to the end of the poem] - "Adieu, adieu/Soleil cou coupéSun's neck cut" - [ or, "Sun the severed neck" - "The neck of the sun cut" - that's a famous line - "Sun corseless head", says Samuel Beckett - corseless? - corpseless - head]

Student: (Are there other translations?)

AG: "Sun slit throat - Anne Hyde Greet  - And Ron Padgett - "Sun throat cut" - but, "Soleil cou coupé" - "Sun throat cut" - "Soleil" - sun - "cou" - throat - "coupé" - slit, or cut, or cutted . Cut 

Well you get some sense of the panorama and panoramic grandeur of the poem - The juxtaposition - one moment you're in " Marseilles amid the watermelons/ Here you are in Coblenz at the hotel of the Giant/Here you are in Rome sitting under a Japanese medlar tree.." - It's almost cinematic. - The consciousness of the flash-back (or the flash forward-flashback) or fade-in-fade-out is like a scenario - a shooting-script.
So the idea of jump-cut, seeing one scene and then a jump-cut to another and gaps in-between, that's completely modern and new, and Cubist-style, in poetry. You get a little bit of it in Laforgue, but here ( it's) in full-bloom, full-face, the swift movement of the mind from one place to another. Or as (William) Burroughs says, at the beginning of Naked Lunch, "I am not American Express". It is not my business to transport the reader from London to Tangier or to Morocco, the mind can do that - so Burroughs says the poet doesn't have to be American Express and provide the transportation because the transportation is natural to the mind, in any case - or the jump is natural to the mind).     
So Cubism, in the sense of, rather than a linear progression, including the ship or the train from Marseilles to Coblenz, you simply have the "jump-cut", you simply have the different angles seen almost simultaneously, or in such rapid succession (that) it's like the Cubist method. That actually came in, in that part of the century, by importation of haiku and Japanese landscape painting  (and Japanese prints, particularly). (Henri) Toulouse-Lautrec and (Vincent) Van Gogh (and) the precusors to Picasso, in fact, (were) so influential that Cezanne put down Van Gogh. He said "Ah, he's not a painter. All he does is make Chinese images (because Van Gogh was imitating Chinese and Japanese painting for a while in order to get that funny perspective in which various depths seem to be occuring on the same optical level, on the same plane)

An Oiran courtesan dressed in a colourful kimono placed against a bright yellow background framed by a border of bamboo canes, water lilies, frogs, cranes and a boat
[The Courtesan (after Eisen)  (1887) - Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890),  oil on canvas, 105.5 cm x 60.5 cm, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam]  

Student (CC): Well, the Japanese were doing wood-block printing
AG: Yeah
Student (CC): And many of their lacquered works, which were being imported, and spices which were being imported, into Europe were coming in wrapping paper, similar to our newspaper (in the way that you'd wrap up your china before moving, or such goods as ceramics). And that was where it came from. It actually came from these…
AG: From the wrapping paper?
Student (CC):.. from the wrapping paper of these…
AG: Uh-huh. So it must have been…
Student (CC): …fine articles.
AG: …been disseminated into the bourgeois class who were buying chinoiserie in the department store…
Student (CC): Yes, that's exactly the source.


[Audio for the above can be heard here, starting at approximately thirty-three-and-three-quarter minutes in, to approximately forty-nine-and-three-quarter minutes in]  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Expansive Poetics - 88 - Jules Laforgue

[Jules Laforgue (1860-1887) - (Photo - Portrait -aged 25)]

AG: So enough of this bullshit, now to "Zone", and it's his (Apollinaire's) greatest poem, and it's spoken of as the first modern poem of the (twentieth) century. But, before we get to "Zone", we'll go back a little bit to another poet who turned the Modernists on, Jules Laforgue (also an enormous influence on T.S.Eliot  - (as well as on) Apollinaire).  I'll read a brief poem (well, not so brief) called "Sentimental Blockade" ("Blocus sentimental!..) [actually, it's entitled "The Coming Winter" ("Winter Coming On") ("L'hiver qui vient")]by Laforgue, because he's very little known, but he's the first modern poet, according to (Ezra) Pound, and according to Eliot, and according to other critics - the one that leads from the nineteenth-century into Apollinaire's modern spirit.

Student: What are his dates?

AG: Um, let's see, I believe, 1880, 1890 when this was written, I guess. Probably 1860. Let me see.. Well, I don't know, I just grabbed this before I left the house, because I thought, well, might as well bring this up, but I didn't do the proper study..

AG begins - "The Coming Winter" -  Sentimental Blockade/Express from the rising Sun,/Oh , falling rain, oh, night fall,/ Oh, the wind…/All Saints Day, Christmas, the New Year,/ Oh, in the drizzle, all my fine chimneys!.../ Of factories…/  There's nowhere to sit down, all the benches are wet. /Believe me, it's all over once again./ All the benches are wet, the woods are so rusty/ And so many horns have sounded - ton-ton - have sounded - ton-taine!.../ Ah! storm clouds rush from the channel coasts./ You can boast of spoiling the last of our Sundays./ Drizzle,/ in the wet fields the spiderwebs/ Give way to the waterdrops, and fizzle,/ Plenipotentiary sons of blonde river gold mines,/ Of agricultural pantomimes,/ Where is your tomb?/ The evening a worn-out sun lies dead on the top of the hill,/ Lies on its side, in the broom, on his coat./ A sun, white as tavern spit,/ On a litter of golden broom." - [the plant- What is he broom plant? It's a yellow plant?.. What we're talking about when he's talking about broom, it's the plant] - [Allen continues] - "..Lies on its side in the broom, on his coat./ A sun, white as tavern spit/  On a little of golden broom./ And the horns resound!,/ Calling him.../ Calling him back to himself!/ Tiaaut!, Tiaaut!, Hallali! /, O doleful anthem, when will you die!.../, And madly they have fun.../ And he lies there like a gland torn from a neck,/ Shivering, without anyone!..." - ["When the evening sun is spread out against the sky/Like a patient etherised upon a table." - that's (T.S.) Eliot in…]

Student: Prufrock

AG:  ("The Love Song of J.Alfred) Prufrock - "Let us go then, you and I/When the sun is spread out…"

Student: The evening sky…

AG: "When the evening sky is spread/Like a  patient etherised upon a table" - "And he lies there like a gland torn from a neck,/ Shivering, without anyone" - So the Eliot turn came from a Laforgue turn. [Allen continues] - "On, on, and Hallali! ,/ In the lead is Winter, that's understood./ Oh!, the turns in the highways,/ And without the wandering Little Red Riding Hood…./ Oh, their ruts from last month's cars./ Trails in a Don Quixote climb/ Toward the routed cloud patrols,/That the wind mauls toward Transatlantic folds.../ Accelerate, accelerate, it's the well-known season, this time." [Well, you get the modernity in his language, and the modernity and raciness and nervousness of his speech] - "….It's the season, the season, rust invades the masses/, Rust gnaws the kilometric spleens/ Of telegraphic wires on highways no one passes" - [So, it already begins to sound like Eliot. And also begins to sound twentieth-century with telegraph wires and trains and horns and melancholy]  - "I can't get out of this echoing tone.../ It's the season, the season, farewell grape harvests!.../ Now with the patience of angels come the rains./ Farewell harvests, baskets, nothing remains./ Those Watteau twig-baskets under the chestnut trees./ It's the cough in dormitories coming bad,/ Nursed by only a stranger's herbal tea./ The neighborhood sadness of pulmonary phthisis".. what's "p-h-t-h-i-s-i-s? 

Student: That's TB

AG: How do you pronounce it?

Student: Tis is

AG: This is?

Student: I'm not sure

AG: Does anybody know how that's pronounced. It's a famous word in…

Student: Spelling bees

AG: Spelling bees, yeah - Plee-sis?  - "The neighborhood sadness of pulmonary tuberculosis/And all the metropolitan wretchedness./ But wool clothes, rubbers, pharmacies, dreams.." - ["wool clothes, rubbers, pharmacies, dreams"] -  "Curtains drawn back from balconies of shores,/ Facing the sea of suburban roofs,/ Prints, lamps, cakes and tea,/Won't I have only you to love!.../ (Oh!, and then do you know, apart from the pianos,/ Each week, austere twilit mystery,/ The journalistic/ Vital statistics?...)" 

So this is completely up in time, like up into twentieth-century.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, starting at approximately twenty-eight minutes in, and continuing to approximately thirty-three-and-three-quarter minutes in]