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F I R S T  WORDS

November 2, 2014...


Above is the latest chapbook in the Beat Scene chapbook series. Jack Foley's A CALIFORNIA BEAT LITERARY TIMELINE - THE 1950s - number 47 in the run. An edition of 125 numbered copies at £7.95 in the UK. £8.95 in Europe and $17 anywhere else. Thanks as always to the little band of discerning enthusiasts who have pre-ordered this one. Jack Foley has a deep and intimate knowledge of literary history, especially in California. That's artist George Herms on the front cover. If you would like a copy please email me at kev(at)beatscene.freeserve.co.uk and I'll organise the best way to order. All very simple.
 

Doing a Beats in England issue, I had my reservations. Wondering if there were enough connections to warrant devoting a whole magazine to that subject. I needn't have worried. William Burroughs in England alone could have filled all 64 pages. As it was there were important aspects of the Burroughs stay in this country (and Scotland) that had to be shelved for another time. Believe me, No 74 is the tip of the iceberg in regards to the Beats in England. Some people I contacted in the preparation of the magazine were extremely forthcoming, others were strangely muted. But with persistence things came together. Tom Raworth - despite what I believe to be life threatening health problems - was most helpful. It is clearer in my mind what an important figure he was in that England/USA link that brought so many of the 'Beat' writers from America, sometimes in person - always in print. And Iain Sinclair, whom I'm sure many feel is a very 'English' writer (even though he's Welsh) - has such strong and vital connections with the Beat Generation, his affinities with writers such as Ed Dorn and Charles Olson being cornerstones of his writing ways. His essay THE DECEASED ARE THE TRAVELLERS AMONG US - included in this issue - illustrate his very personal and some might say unique take on the Beats. He breaks down the artificial barriers, be it Hackney or Kansas. That the issue was able to include the mid 1960s KODAK MANTRA DIARIES, THE DIALECTICS OF LIBERATION era and his latterday Beat explorations - goes to show his enduring obsessions with these Americans. There was more than the episode about Kenneth Rexroth that might have been included, but it provided a burst of American technicolour in 1961 London, in amongst the Larkins and Waughs. The outspoken 'granddaddy' of the Beats really shook them up. My thanks to Terry Wilford for assistance there. And Jim Burns. An astute observer of it all since the 1950s. He was there. Taking in the jazz, going to see the visiting American jazzmen, securing the fresh Bebop albums as they appeared. And relaying to anyone who would listen the news of these Beats. He was an early promoter, if that is the right word, of Gary Snyder, writing about him in 1963. The issue includes that essay. A standout of the issue for me is the Heathcote Williams poem THE PRINCE OF AMSTERDAM. It concerns itself with the 1965 Albert Hall poetry extravaganza that included Ginsberg, Corso and Ferlinghetti (I discovered that Philip Lamantia was supposed to make the trip also). Heathcote captures the mood of the event so well. Could it have been the touchpaper for 1967's 'Summer of Love?' And on and on. To me it appears a diverse issue, Kerouac, Burroughs, Ginsberg, but also Brautigan, Bukowski, Tom Clark, Rexroth, Snyder, John Clellon Holmes (in a rare European foray), the UK publishers busy establishing links with the Beats, names possibly obscure and unknown to many, but vital nevertheless. The Ginsberg and Bob Dylan period in London should have been investigated deeper, wider. That's for another time. John Calder isn't really covered, mentioned in passing. Ed Dorn's spells here. Essex. Jack Hirschman in Yorkshire, the UK publishing history with Burroughs, with Kerouac (though Kerouac's UK publishers do get a humorous mention). Kesey in England. Where's Merlin? Whatever, thank you for some of the positive comments about the issue, very encouraging I can tell you. When the energy is flagging a good word goes a long way. It was a lot of fun putting the issue together. The next one is December. Tell your friends.

Jack Kerouac - as John Clellon Holmes said in his lovely little book GONE IN OCTOBER: LAST REFLECTIONS ON JACK KEROUAC - published by Limberlost Press in 1985..."Then a blonde kid got up, somewhat shy, be-spectacled, grave and confused, and stumbled out that he thought they'd like to know what Allen thought about Kerouac's death, and where did Jack fit into the scene today, and why he seemed to have drifted off into curious cranky ideas in recent years, and should they care about him. Was he - well, important? They couldn't say, would Allen?
Allen sighed and leaned on the lectern towards the microphone on his elbows, and didn't say anything for fifty seconds. I knew what he was thinking. How could you sum it up in a few glib words? How could you bring back the eager Jack, Jack of the tender eyes, the raucous Jack of midnights, Jack's earnest sweat, maddening Jack of the end of the nights, maudlin Jack of all the songs, the Jack who knew for sure, canny Jack who trusted in his whims, Jack simple as a corn-flower, fist-proud Jack, the bongo-Jack of saucepans, Jack of the Chinese restaurants, Jack mooning under streetlamps about guilt, the Jack of Jacks?"
Holmes continues wonderfully, emotionally, lyrically about his old friend who had just died. As he says, 'Gone in October.'

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Above, Beat Scene subscriber Horst Spandler with his copy of Beat Scene on the island of Kos quite recently.

Beat Scene 74, is out NOW. I've been posting them out as quickly as I can over the past couple of weeks. The last subscriber copy went out on October 30. Whew! The Beats in England. A special issue devoted to that aspect. Most copies are gone - so if you want one be quick. Outside UK - please email. Once they are gone, they are gone. (kev(at)beatscene.freeserve.co.uk

 

Tom Pickard appears in the - by now - long running Beat Scene Press chapbook series. His WORK CONCHY being squeezed into the 8x5 format a few years ago. It tells the story of how Tom, as a teenager, strived to be a poet in a tight knit, restrictive working class community in Newcastle upon Tyne in the early 1960s. Not only that, how he managed, against seemingly impossible odds, to bring the Beat Generation poets to Morden Tower. an ancient place on the old Newcastle city walls. Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg, Corso, Creeley, Dorn and others, all read at Tom's tower at various times. The events were in partnership with his then wife Connie. So it was Pickard's fifteen page essay on Basil Bunting that grabbed the attention when first getting into CROSS WORLDS: TRANSCULTURAL POETICS - AN ANTHOLGY edited by Anne Waldman and Laura Wright - published by Coffee House Press - just recently. Now Tom Pickard is a very English poet, at least to me, putting aside his affiliations with the Americans and the topic of his essay, Basil Bunting, again seems very English. A North Easterner (a Geordie?) Bunting seems to have caught the ear of Ginsberg nonetheless, years ago. Bunting had a curious stop start poetic life, spending time in what was then called Persia and working for The Times. And also, he was never part of any English poetry establishment, if we are to heed Pickard's essay, T.S. Eliot saw to that. Being at the northern end of the country also seemed to place Bunting in exile, he never courted the limelight. But his BRIGGFLATS, both in printed and recorded formats, brought him in from the cold a little. Pickard tells the story of going to see Bunting as a teenager, catching the train from sooty Newcastle upon Tyne to Wylam village in the Northumberland countryside. Poets Roy Fisher and the late Ed Dorn provide contributions to Pickard's essay, which has a young Tom pushing a pram on a beach, trying to keep up with Bunting, who is in conversation with his wife Connie - they are discussing how comic Wordsworth could be, that is according to Bunting. Connie Pickard is a little sceptical  of that idea. Pickard should get more of these essays into print, he has an easy style and the approach seems varied. Part diary, part interview, part hazy recollection. Also included in this hefty anthology are Allen Ginsberg and Judith Malina, she of The Living Theatre in colloboration with Julian Beck. & of course Anne Waldman, Joanne Kyger, Jerome Rothenberg, Eileen Myles, Anselm Hollo and more besides. This is the second collection from Waldman & Wright in recent years. Stemming, as I understand it, from the lecture note archives of the Jack Kerouac school of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa in Colorado. For more details go to www.coffeehousepress.org

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    Beat Scene 74 is out NOW. As is the chapbook by Jeff Johnson on his Iain Sinclair bibliographical journey, CITE SCOUT. They will be out soon. If you would like to pre-order CITE SCOUT FOR THE TERRITORY and you live in the UK, click the button here. Elsewhere, email me.


His vision takes in Kerouac, Burroughs, Ginsberg, Snyder, Dorn, Olson, McClure, Sanders and others. He's recently published a book AMERICAN SMOKE: JOURNEYS TO THE END OF THE LIGHT, it has a focus on his own Beat journey, or his journey with the Beats. It isn't a straight ahead book about the Beats, even if Charles Olson and Kerouac loom large in it. Don't expect that and be pleased he's not written just another history of the Beats. It is wholly his own journey. And yet, and yet and yet....there's far more to him than any American fascination. Read this paperback book - one long interview he did with Kevin Jackson about twelve years ago. It'll give you big insights into who he is and how he became who he is. From the mappings of a London that the tourist board won't go to, the history, the life of the ages that remains in the streets, to his obsessions with walking, bookdealing, how he writes. All there. He is probably one of the most fascinating men and writers you might ever encounter. This book remains in print. Published by The Worple Press.

 

In September I'll be issuing BEAT SCENE 74 (there have actually been 77 issues, a few specials along the way). This number will be a 'The Beats in England' (or Britain, I'm undecided) issue. That's Kerouac in London and Liverpool, Burroughs in London and Brighton, Ginsberg in London, Liverpool and Wales, Brautigan in London, Rexroth in England, McClure in the 1960s here. We examine the close knit small press communities here who bonded and shared with the Beats, heck, even Bukowski's in here. And more again. I'm nearly there with it. Thanks to people like Tom Raworth, Jim Burns, Iain Sinclair, Heathcote Williams, Ian Brinton & co. If you would like to pre-order a copy I'd be delighted to hear from you. And I'm offering subscribers an extra copy at a discount - to be posted to them alongside their sub copy - perhaps for a friend. Copies in the UK will be £7.95. Copies to Europe will be £8.95 and to anywhere else $20. This includes the airmail postage. To preserve my sanity I don't print as many copies as I once did, it's so much more manageable nowadays, so copies will disappear quickly. Numbers 71a and 72 recently sold out and 73 is going that way. BEAT SCENE, the only magazine on the planet to focus entirely on the Beat Generation & associated people. The picture above shows Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg across the road from the Albert Hall at the Albert Memorial in the days before the 1965 Wholly Communion event in 1965. ........I thank you.

A package from Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Press is always welcome. Yesterday Diane di Prima's THE POETRY DEAL arrived. Diane is now 80 years old. There she is on the front cover of this advance proof copy. Her long hair cropped back, defiant even after a pretty bad spell with ill health. The actor Russ Tamblyn's daughter, Amblyn, writes a blurb on the back cover, part of which reads 'Every woman of every age should carry it in a purse with their pepper spray.' Di Prima doesn't publish so much poetry these days. I'm pleased as heck to see Sunday Morning Sauna and Wisteria Light here, they were published in my little Transit magazine a few years ago. This is a very San Francisco centred collection. Poems about Kirby Doyle, Philip Whalen, The Grateful Dead, Sheppard Powell, Thelonius Monk, Amy Evans and Michael McClure, City Lights, Pigpen, a street corner in SF. As an ex 'Poet Laureate' of San Francisco, (Lawrence Ferlinghetti had that duty at one time also), her focus on her adopted city is only natural. These poems  are almost cartographic. I hope this gets around. To be published in November. www.citylights.com

Late in August/early September I'll be publishing a brand new number in the Beat Scene Press chapbook series. It will be Jeff Johnson's CITE SCOUT FOR THE TERRITORY. As some of you may know, Jeff is busy on compiling a bibliography of Iain Sinclair's works and in this chapbook he discusses his investigations into the Sinclair archives. Jeff lives in America but visits England in his quest to find everything he needs. Camping out at the British Library etc. The chapbook will be in the usual format of 8" x 5", 125 numbered copies. Given the Iain Sinclair connections - the clue is in the title - I'd expect demand to be big. I'm taking orders now. Copies in the UK are £6.95. Copies in Europe are £7.95 and copies anywhere else are £8.95.

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Thanks for the positive comments about Beat Scene 73 that have come in from a few readers in the past week. Even the not so positive comment. And thanks to the subscriber who sent in a photo of himself reading Beat Scene 72. Is that a 'Beat Scene Selfie?' Is that what they call them these days. Whatever, it was lovely to see. All suggestions and comments are taken on board. Dialogue is good. Now that I'm finally, after all these years, publishing the magazine in more manageable numbers I'm able to move on far more quickly to future issues. I'm pushing it a little but I hope to issue No 74 early in September. It will be a special issue, THE BEATS IN ENGLAND. So if you are interested drop me a line and let me know. BEAT SCENE 73 has almost sold out - so, if you want to secure a copy be quick. All on a first come first served basis. As Ian Hunter once said, 'I've wanted to do this for years.' As he chuckles on the slow fade out.

Here is a button for BEAT SCENE 73 - IT IS FOR PURCHASE IN THE UK ONLY

A bit of updating. Beat Scene 73 is available now. The third issue in 2014. I'm taking orders for that. Copies outside Europe are $20 including post. In the UK copies are £7.95. In Europe they are £8.95 including post. And there are subscriptions, which guarantees you a copy at a lower price and any subscriber only extras that come along.

BELOW, a button for BEAT SCENE 73 -  for ANYWHERE OUTSIDE EUROPE

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CHARLES BUKOWSKI FIVE by Neeli Cherkovski was the latest in the Beat Scene press chapbook series. No 46. An edition of 125 numbered copies. Neel's essay captures a much younger Bukowski. Just a few of those next. Next one is an Iain Sinclair leaning one. Something just a little different. AND, work on Beat Scene 74 is well progressed. That is another special issue. This time there is a theme, rather than a focus on one writer. I'm hopeful of that being out end of August or thereabouts. I'm enjoying putting it together. Some fascinating stuff being discovered in the research. And that's the key for me, enjoyment. Fun. Beat Scene will never go down the academic road. Sure I'll try and be thorough and get the facts right, but stuffy jargon, profspeak as I call it, has no place in it. Discovery with a smile instead. There are countless stories in the Beat city, my mission, and I have chosen it, is to try and bring you some of those stories. And, did I tell you I have an essay/interview in ISIS magazine. The long running Bob Dylan journal run by Derek and Tracy Barker. The essay concerns Dylan and the Beats (naturally). But not only that, ISIS have followed up my article with some research of their own to add on. For anyone interested ISIS are at www.bobdylanisis.com

I'm working on putting out issues 75 and 76 also this year. A tall order but I'll have a go. The little piece on Elise Cowen sparked some interest. And thanks to subscriber Lars Movin for some painstaking research in an effort to track down the publisher of the small chapbook of her poems, the Lille Press. The trail led to a Danish travel agency. But has gone cold. However, Tony Trigilio, like the cavalry riding up over the hill, has brought us a far more substantial Elise Cowen collection, ELISE COWEN: POEMS AND FRAGMENTS. Published by Ahsahta  Press www.ahsahtapress.org it is the definitive (for now) word on Elise Cowen, who killed herself in 1962 aged just 29.

A little book I did, ALL DAY LOOKING FOR HIS HAT: ESSAYS ON JACK KEROUAC was published by Edition Baes as a paperback. Only just recently. Copies are available on a well known global internet site and from the publisher Elias Schneitter at Edition Baes. www.edition-baes.com

Thanks for your interest. Do get in touch if any of our publications interest you. And I must tell you Beat Scene has a Facebook page, if any of you do that sort of thing. Facebook is curious to me. Fun to an extent, but no substitute for real life.

 

Excuse the tardiness in updating this site. As always, my main focus is on the printed Journal BEAT SCENE. Beat Scene 71a and Beat Scene 72 came and went. Both are now sold out. There are no copies left. The Bob Dylan in Jack Kerouac's Lowell, 1975 - was issued in the Beat Scene chapbook series. There are a handful of that left. Plus Neal's Ashes followed as a chapbook, again, just a handful of those left. Both editions of 125 numbered copies - in the standard Beat Scene chapbook series format. Charles Bukowski - FIVE by Neeli Cherkovski is due anytime now. Beat Scene 73 will go to the printer in roughly a week. It is a general issue that runs from John Wieners, Lew Welch, Kerouac and more. As ever the focus is firmly on the Beat Generation and associated people. There will be two more 'special' issues this year, following on from Beat Scene 71a, the William Burroughs edition.

Just in are a clutch of recordings stemming from Harry's House studios in Colorado. Part of the Naropa site there.  They feature people like Anne Waldman, Joanne Kyger, Thurston Moore, Bill Berkson, Amiri Baraka, and others. More on them soon, once I've given them a spin, with photos as well.

Jack Kerouac in Tangier. Photo by William Burroughs. This photo and others by Burroughs was on display at the Photographer Gallery in London until mid March.

Further Michael McClure news. SWIRLS IN ASPHALT has been published in a beautiful German language edition by AltaQuito Publikationen. It is No 50 in their exquisite series of translations of Beat writers. This one, ASPHALT TWIRBEL, is a handsome paperback. Simple black foldover card covers with a pasted label design . Issued in a numbered edition. I'm lucky enough to have number 53. Michael McClure has been described - along with Gary Snyder and Lawrence Ferlinghetti - as the environmental wing of the Beat Generation. It isn't a tag he tries to evade. His poems and essays often have that ecological concern. In another life he might have been a scientist. He blends the environment, the beauty of it as well as our ravaging of it, with his other preoccupations. A wonderful bonus for German speaking readers of the Beats. You can email Reinhard Harbaum at harbaum@gmx.de or even telephone at 0551-205074 (there will be codes to precede that number of course) OR even write a letter to AltaQuito Publikationen, Ulrideshuser Str. 1, 37077 Gottingen, Germany

Michael McClures GHOST TANTRAS has just been reissued by the City Lights Press of San Francisco. The press originally published the book way back in 1964. McClure's work caused controversy from day one. Misunderstood by a few, baffling others and provoking many. He was an element of the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance that had really come to the fore with the mid 1950s Six Gallery reading. At that juncture he captured the imaginations alongside friends Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Whalen, Philip Lamantia, with the venerable Kenneth Rexroth as MC. Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac shouted their support from the audience. See McClure at the zoo roaring with the lions, it sets the spine tingling, easily viewed on Youtube. He writes a new introduction for this latest edition, outlining his aims at the time and looking back. It might be a timely point to investigate him again. He's an aspect of the environmental wing of the Beat Generation, constantly stressing man's part in the great big plan of it all, but that we are just a part. www.citylights.com

 

email kev (at) beatscene.freeserve.co.uk

Beat Scene 71 UK ONLY

The latest issue of Beat Scene has been mailed out to all subscribers. This is number 71. It does take a while, so thanks for your patience. Subscribers received a film interview disc with the issue. This is proving popular. The issue includes a substantial interview with Allen Ginsberg that hasn't seen the light of day for a very long time. Very much a political interview. Plus William Burroughs and Scientology, Jack Kerouac, Janet Richards, Merlin magazine and the Paris Scene around Alexander Trocchi, Carolyn Cassady, Ann Charters on Kerouac, a 'lost' interview with Herbert Huncke and more besides. I'm down to the last box left now, so if you want a copy before I put the rest away for a rainy day, be quick. If you would like a copy - there are TWO buttons One for the UK above  and one for the rest of the world just below here.

Beat Scene 71 OVERSEAS

The gale is howling outside. It seemed like a good idea to get comfortable and read a book. People now and then ask me if all I read are 'Beat' books? The answer is, yes, for a long time I had my Beat vision glasses on. In recent years I've relented. Sometimes it was forced on me. No time for other books. Now I make time. Just ahead of the big Beat Scene 71 mailout, starting Monday 28th, I'm reading a book by a Beat Scene subscriber who lives in Northern Ireland. Peter Hollywood. I've read and enjoyed Peter's novel Luggage previously. I understand he has books of short stories too. But now he has a new collection of stories just out. Well, in the Summer. This one is a paperback called HAWKS & OTHER STORIES. Peter roots his tales in the area he lives in. Write what you know about, always a good plan. Now Belfast has a troubled past and it isn't over yet by the sounds of it. The sometime air of unease and nervousness does creep into his work, but never overpowers it. These are ordinary people with ordinary lives. His first story, Farrow and Ball, was terrific. He allowed the sectarian issue in but it was laced with dark humour. He built up the few characters quickly without fuss, a 'Rory Gallagher head of hair' is how a son of 18 is described. Minimalist, so succinct I thought. Really I wanted to know more about these people working in a hardware store, selling tins of paint. Maybe he will return to them. Belfast people on holiday abroad, taking their troubles with them. The Hawks are two rare birds reintroduced into Northern Ireland and how they interweave with political tension. You have to read it. I'm not giving the game away. I liked the way he doesn't do neat endings. Life isn't like that is it. And was moved by THE WIDOW, which rounds off the collection. Questions unanswered, left mid air. Sentences never finished. Hollywood pushes his story along skilfully, ordinary lives, no big dramas. He tells a good story. What people might still call a 'page turner.' (Published by New Island Fiction - ISBN 978-1-84840-236-2 - www.newisland.ie)

 

 

Iain Sinclair - Brian Catling - Chris Torrance                                             The Sea Cadets Building Oct 25

A chill Friday October 25. The Test Centre. 110 Stoke Newington Church Street in North London. A ‘Pop Up’ venue to play home to a venture by Will Shutes & Jess Chandler that is part of the 70x70 film festival part curated by novelist, psychogeographer, poet, publisher, film maker Iain Sinclair, amongst others. Also the launch night for a book RED EYE that Iain Sinclair had hoped to publish through his Albion Village Press back in 1973 (74 possibly?) But events overtook him.

Whilst rummaging in recent times Iain rediscovered the manuscript, felt ok still with it and handed it to budding young publishing talents Jess Chandler and Will Shutes, who had previously released an LP of Sinclair recordings and an essay ‘Austerlitz and After: Tracking Sebald,’ through his Test Centre Press. Shutes and Chandler have done a marvellous job on it. The book looks the business, essentially a beautiful small press publication with mainstream production values.

This is against the backdrop of a reunion of sorts as Iain read from the new book, sitting on the sofa with his old mate Brian Catling and long time buddy Chris Torrance, up especially for the evening from deepest, ruralest Wales. As Sinclair says, he’s miles from tarmac. Three very different writers but bound by youthful enthusiasms and ideals which go back to the 1960s.

A full house in the Sea Cadets Building – which looked like it had been given a fresh coat of paint, clean white walls – just an hour before we all arrived. I was lucky enough to meet Jeff Johnson, Sinclair’s bibliographer before things kicked off. An American, he owned up that it was a massive task tracking down the Sinclair archive. But he’s having a lot of fun in the doing of it. He was back at the British library the next morning, scouring little magazines in renewed efforts at completing his work. I suggested – why not publish an interim report? Something to keep the pot boiling. An idea he didn’t entirely dismiss. Listening to Jeff I felt the bibliography was in good hands.

And young Will Shutes and Jess Chandler? Publishers are getting younger besides policeman. I was full of admiration for the enthusiasm and work ethic of these guys. They’ve already published so much of interest, working in sound as well as print. Delicate chapbooks and magazines, often including work by American poets we know and love, alongside big books. The future is looking good for Will and Jess. Nice to talk with Stanley Schtinter also, he seems to be at the forefront of the film aspects of what’s going on locally.

In the foyer of the building, downstairs, were an array of Sinclair stuff. Old manuscripts, obscure books, recordings, things from his personal archive, all for sale or display. Pride of place must go to Iain’s old portable typewriter. He told me he’d typed The Kodak Mantra Diaries on this back in the 1960s, whilst filming Ginsberg for his Ah Sunflower film. & lots of other material too. Just a little pocket typewriter. Someone had snaffled it up at £500. A snip at that. And, I suspect, a lot of obscurer items which had been around on the shelves in the day. I was too late. I got the impression that Iain was tidying up. He's busy.

He’s been exceptionally active this year with a string of books of all hues published. Big mainstream publishers, Hamish Hamilton and the very new AMERICAN SMOKE: JOURNEYS TO THE END OF THE LIGHT, and various small press publications, even a couple from me. That’s without mentioning his punishing personal readings schedule. I asked him how he kept it up. The word ‘knackered’ quietly passed his lips. But I suspect he loves the moment. The energy of it all. It is ‘his time’ I feel. He’s paid his dues. 70 earlier in the year, he looks a serene picture of health. He’s a near compulsive walker; it must keep him fit in mind and body. He’s probably pondering in the odd quiet moment where he’s going to get some writing done? And quietly he makes comment in his work. It isn't all an entertainment. He cares about the city he has made his own. He makes a few politicians rightly uncomfortable.

Torrance, Catling and Sinclair all read. Taking their turns from the red sofa. People were sitting on the floor, cradling bottles of beer. Rapt attention. Three very contrasting writers. With Sinclair acting as MC. It’s all part of an ongoing month or so of film and literary events run by the Test Centre in the Stoke Newington, Hackney edge of London. Shop fronts, cafes, small cinemas, bookshops, old Sea Cadets Buildings. A wonderfully, inspiring explosion of life for the area. Lots of people. Iain told me Ed Dorn’s wife Jenny was there. I’m not too up on the London scene, so I wouldn’t know many faces. But they all seemed happy to be there. Teenagers, mid twenties to those of mature years. Great to see that mix and hear Sinclair and his pals. Iain is a real bridge from that mid 1960s very London literary scene to the American, Beat, Black Mountain, Projective Verse, whatever you want to call it thing that carried on over to here. That ebb and flow of ideas, publishers, poems, ideas, arguments. He has a distinct take on it all and we have enjoyed his journey so far.

The Test Centre, 77a Greenwood Road, London E8 1NT

www.testcentre.org.uk

 

Carolyn Cassady, who died aged 90 on Friday 19th September - with Neal Cassady, and son John. Los Gatos, California. I am indebted to Beat Scene San Francisco correspondent Richard Miller for news of this lengthy article on Carolyn Cassady from the San Francisco Chronicle (Datebook Section) of September 30. http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Muse-Carolyn-Cassady-beckoned-the-Beats-to-S-F-4854835.php

Spent the last couple of days reading Iain Sinclair's very new book, American Smoke: Journeys To the End of the Light. Published by Hamish Hamilton. Now having read it once I'm going to read it again. This time armed with a notepad. Required because Iain Sinclair has references right throughout the book, obscure writers, poets, films, books and to someone like me I like to follow up these leads. I suspect I'm not alone in this. American Smoke is borne out of a fascination, a love even, dare I suggest, that Sinclair has for post War American writing. Burroughs, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Olson, Snyder, McClure, Dorn and the rest of the gang. And he does indeed go in search of these guys in visits to the USA. But he doesn't do straight lines, there are twists and turns everywhere. B movie actors, Jewish orphanage girls and Italian film directors, lost in Croydon. And a whole lot more besides. His book takes us to some unexpected places. I don't want to go on at length here. There will be an extensive look at the book in Beat Scene 72. Suffice to say Sinclair has written a book about American poetics and his personal journey with them like nothing you've ever seen.

Free to Beat Scene subscribers only will be this film CD disc, which will go out with number 71 shortly. Specially filmed for Beat Scene - an interview with author Iain Sinclair about his new book AMERICAN SMOKE: JOURNEYS TO THE END OF THE LIGHT. It is a book about the Beats, but very much Iain's own journey with them. In the film he reads from the book. Anyone, other than subscribers, who wants a copy of this filmed interview can buy it by clicking the box below.

A recent Beat Scene Press chapbook. Number 42 in the series is Bob Dylan in Jack Kerouac's Lowell in 1975. 125 numbered copies. If anyone would like a copy you can click below.

You've possibly read me rattling on about a Scarborough group of musicians calling themselves Heath Common and the Thin Man. There is a little interview with Heath in the new Beat Scene, out in a few days. Their BOHEMIA record turned up some months ago and proved to be a beauty. It was idiosyncratic, full of tricky tunes, thoughtful lyrics, beguiling to me at least. They've since put out another record and I'm learning those songs too. They love America, Kerouac, the Beats, the myth, the reality, the musicians and writers, as much as they celebrate our own culture. Listen and watch GARY SNYDER'S LAMENT. Tell me you don't like it. I dare you. It is a little work of art. If they remade EASY RIDER this would have to be on the soundtrack. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EwQ389ChH8

 

An exhibit of the work of Jon and Lou Webb and their Loujon Press is now on in New Orleans. It runs until mid November. The Webbs published the almost legendary Outsider magazine on a handpress. A real work of art and of course they were very integral in the publishing history of Charles Bukowski. http://www.hnoc.org/alternative-imprints-jon-webb-gypsy-lou-and-the-hand-sewn-world-of-the-loujon-press/

Thanks to Peter Tingey for telling me about this fascinating five minute film about the Beats in 1959. Hughes is an unlikely Beat ally whilst James is less enamoured. In fact he kind of pokes fun at Kerouac. See what you think of this 195os Aussie show footage.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-7-JacN_GQ

In the post this morning came PILGRIMS TO ELSEWHERE: REFLECTIONS ON WRITINGS BY JACK KEROUAC, ALLEN GINSBERG, GREGORY CORSO, BOB KAUFMAN AND OTHERS. The collection of essays is written by Gregory Stephenson. You might recall the name from a book he wrote some years ago, THE DAYBREAK BOYS: ESSAYS ON THE LITERATURE OF THE BEAT GENERATION. That book was published by Southern Illinois University Press back in 1990. Stephenson penned another book on Neal Cassady a few years ago also. He is a thoughtful and intuitive commentator on the Beats. He's well read, knows them inside out and is capable of real fresh thought and insight. It's a neat paperback. ISBN 978-87-92633-24-8 and is published by EyeCorner Press. contact gkstephenson@mail.dk

 

Searching for something, I spend half my life looking for things, I discovered a small box of Beat Scene number 27. Very old copies of my long running magazine. Michael McClure and Bruce Conner front cover. They are a little dusty, one or two age spots, having lain undiscovered for the best part of a decade. If you would like one let me know, email me, phone me, write to me. A modest fee will secure you a copy.


 

Just in from a few hours in the genial company of Iain Sinclair as he presses on with his new work, American Smoke, due out in November from Hamish Hamilton. The origins of this book go back so long. Time spent in America talking to Burroughs, Snyder, McClure, checking out the Jack Kerouac archives, spot welding it around his own life that has been so influenced by figures such as Charles Olson. Hearing Iain talking about being handed Maggie Cassidy by a rugby playing school teacher as a kid and being enthralled - and hearing him read tiny extracts from American Smoke as he talked without a stumble, gliding effortlessly it seemed to me - into a camera in the kitchen of his East London home. I'm in awe of his dexterity, his rush of words and ideas. Bethnal Green, Hackney, Dalston, the Thames, Greenwich Village, Lawrence in Kansas, San Francisco, Texas, Mexico and on, all one wonderful map. Listening to Iain I was so lost in his words I could barely remember the list of questions I had on a typed sheet in front of me. Beat fans will love Iain's book, it'll have his very personal twists and turns for sure. Thanks to Sam Johnson and Erin Ring for camera duties. It was Sam's first assignment straight out of film school. More on this soon.

A few minutes of the late Ken Kesey talking about the hammer flipping guy who drove him and his Merry Pranksters a little furthur on his magic bus. Neal Cassady. There are some commentators who see this period of Cassady's life as a serious decline, drug abuse on a level that drove him almost mad, where he didn't recognise his own children. Blasting to The Grateful Dead rather than Lester Young. Click here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8s3DHa3QfCU

Recently here at the depot NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND: AN INTERVIEW WITH HERBERT HUNCKE by John Tytell. This is number 41 in the Beat Scene Press chapbook series. One hundred and twenty five numbered copies. I'm pleased with how it has turned out. For anyone wanting to order a copy, there is a button below to click on. I'm happy to be paid the old fashioned way by cheque if you are in the UK (payable M.Ring). Or I have an address you can write to in USA with a US cheque. Just get in touch, I'm quite nice really.


Recently published was Beat Scene 70. Also there was a new Beat Scene Press chapbok, an interview with William Burroughs by Bill Weiss.  This 70th issue (72 with the two special issues) marks 25 years of publishing my little magazine. In an age where I regularly get asked 'where can I read it online?' And watch as people go off in a huff when I say it is a paper magazine. ...I think it is either proof I must be mad, deluded or just that I like the Beats and all the links that go with them. Probably all three. How dare I be so anachronistic! So if you don't want to stare at a computer screen all day and like to actually hold what you're reading and you are interested in Jack Kerouac and the Beats, then Beat Scene might be for you.  Here's a picture of the current front cover below. I try and include first hand accounts, encounters, as much as anything and provide information throughout. Beat Scene is a meeting point I think. There are no adverts, Beat Scene survives through sales alone. If you would like a copy in the UK there is a link here to do it electronically. Overseas please get in touch.


Back in late November 2012 I was lucky enough to attend a launch party/reading for Ed Dorn's Collected Poems, published by Carcanet, at the London Review Bookstore. There were a number of people reading Ed's poems, including friends like Tom Raworth and Tom Pickard & John Hall. His wife Jenny was also there. The room was overflowing. A great pity Ed couldn't be there, he would have enjoyed the attention I'm sure. Here is a few minutes of film of Iain Sinclair introducing the evening, setting the scene, connecting all the links, as he does so impeccably and seamlessly. Colin Still filmed the event, as he often does at the London Review Bookstore in Bury Place, near the British Museum. Colin's record label, Optic Nerve (www.opticnerve.co.uk), released a CD of Ed Dorn reading 'IDAHO OUT: POEMS 1964-1967' in recent years.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJFlqaT6r8I

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If you would like a copy of Beat Scene 69, click below.


You may recall I mentioned and raved about the Lost & Found series edited by Ammiel Alcalay and others a few months ago. An ongoing series of high quality chapbooks showcasing the letters and journals and the like of poets such as Philip Whalen, John Wieners, Joanne Kyger, Diane di Prima (it was Diane who told me about the series in the first instance) and others. Well, A Little History is a new paperback from editor Ammiel Alcalay. Centred around the poet Charles Olson, who died in 1970, the book explores how America, Europe, contrives to control what we see and read and how a poet such as Olson gets sidelined. There's a whole lot more to it than that. I've just spent a week reading the book and it is a real journey. Published by re:public/Upset Press. See www.upsetpress.org

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The skills of Beat Scene subscribers never ceases to surprise me. Writers, artists, film makers, musicians. Heathcote Williams has his play SACRED ELEPHANT performed at La Mama theatre in New York City in September. Heathcote, famous of course for things like WHALE NATION amongst much much more. Here is a nine minute film about his play with extracts from performances and the director discussing the work. As a vegan since the age of 17 this play - what I've seen of it here - it says it all for me. We're along for the ride with our fellow creatures. We shouldn't kill them and eat them. There is no need at all. Go here to view the film. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bYXz7_B608

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A recent addition in the Beat Scene Press chapbooks series was. MILWAUKEE: A MEMOIR about the making of the film BEAT by Gary Walkow. One hundred numbered copies only. Number 39 in the series. If you would like a copy click on the box below.

 

The Test Centre recently published a new Iain Sinclair chapbook.  Austerlitz & After: Tracking Sebald, I understand the book is sold out. Good news in many respects. Delighted that the Test Centre has a popular book on its hands and for Iain Sinclair. They've done a nice job on it.

An unused, adapted section from Iain’s forthcoming book American Smoke (due to publishing in November 2013), it recounts an East London walk in the late German author’s footsteps. In the company of Sebald’s friend, the poet Stephen Watts, the narrative moves from Liverpool Street through Spitalfields to the Jewish burial grounds at Brady Street and Alderney Road, considering along the way Sebald in life – his experience of London, his writing methods, and his residence in Norwich – and in death. Simultaneously it tells of Iain’s history in the same terrain, whilst through its use of images (a nod to Sebald) it provides an insight into his approach to composition. His American adventure flanked by the tale of the actress Gemma McCluskie, finally discovered in the Regent’s Canal, he attempts to write himself out of his locale.
Austerlitz & After is available in an edition of 300 copies, of which 26 have buckram covers, are lettered and contain additional holographic material from Iain.

For information and maybe see if they still have a spare copy! http://www.testcentre.org.uk/publications.html

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The dangers of being sucked into hero worship of William Seward Burroughs blindly are thought through by James Reich  in an essay on the net. Think it dates from 2012. But just in case you missed it, go here. http://www.boldtypemag.com/burroughs-addict/

 

I'm indebted to my friend Richard Miller for letting me know about this article on an American site. The essay places the Beats in a tradition of dissent and especially in view of the recent 'Occupy' tactic of dissidents -  in New York City that stretches back to Emma Goldman and Herman Melville. See for yourself by clicking the link here. http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/163731-occupy-literature-new-york-from-melville-to-the-beats/

Thank you to Wilfried Houjebek for mentioning Beat Scene on his site. Go here to have a read about what he says. Interesting site too, especially for those interested in environmental concerns. http://cryptoforest.blogspot.nl/search/label/magazine

Gary Walkow, the director of the film BEAT, has a new site at www.garywalkow.com - Walkow's MILWAUKEE is the new chapbook in the Beat Scene chapbook series. He gives insights into the background of the film and some of the things experienced to try and get the film over the line.

Have a read of this take on the film ON THE ROAD. It is from Gerald Nicosia. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gerald-nicosia/on-the-road-the-movie_b_2622080.html

Watching the French DVD of the Walter Salles film adaptation of ON THE ROAD this week. For some reason I can't explain it wouldn't play on my fairly modern television but played fine on my laptop. Being a French DVD it had subtitles and I don't know whether it was my computer or what but there were some very strange translation going on. You know, when they have subtitles on a TV and it is kind of voice recognition thing happening. I'm pretty certain the word 'website' wasn't doing the rounds in 1949 America, but that was just one example. The film? Well it does have some extra footage. Scenes at Kerouac's father's funeral which didn't appear in the English version. The scenes at the end of the English edition, of Neal walking the railroad tracks, has been cut and there are some scenes of Jack in a 'black section' of town that in my memory didn't show up in the English version. Not had time to look at the 'extras' that come with the DVD, but they are there. Guess for many people watching the film on their sofa will be their only way of viewing the film. What I will say is - see it and make your own mind up. Don't be swayed by 'critics.' In reading lots and lots of reviews of the film I get the distinct impression that many are written by people of a certain younger age and mindset. They have little understanding of the bigger picture and evolution of the times and how the film was finally pushed over the line by Walter Salles. It has many aspects that can be pulled apart, no arguments about that, but there are positives. As I said, see it and then form your views. In this age, DVD sales of any film will be a crucial element in the success or otherwise. I'll be looking at it again in the coming weeks. And also looking forward to BIG SUR and KILL YOUR DARLINGS.

   Still have a handful of Iain Sinclair's chapbook KITKIT: SEEING GARY SNYDER. This is number 38 in the chapbook series. An edition of 150 signed and numbered copies.  I'm pleased with the edition and thank the little band who seem to like them as they appear. If you would like to order a copy there is a button below.

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  A link to one of my favourite American poets. A man very much alive, reasonably well and kicking in a poetic sense. David Meltzer. (pictured here with wife Julie). He's featured in the pages of Beat Scene and in my little Transit magazine. He goes back a few years, from a time when he had dreams of a music career with his late wife Tina and the band Serpent Power. Here he is in conversation with editor Garrett Caples. It features on the City Lights Bookstore site. http://www.blogcitylights.com/2013/01/21/two-way-mirror-the-mysteries-of-meltzer/

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A more favourable look at KILL YOUR DARLINGS from the BBC of all people. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-21119400

What with On the Road, Kill Your Darlings, Big Sur hogging the headlines, a new documentary - Neal Cassady - the Denver Years - reaches the last few hurdles and reaches some cinemas. A documentary made by a young woman, Heather Dalton, who actually grew up on the same Denver streets as Neal. It surely deserves as much, if not more, attention than the bigger budget movies. Go here to find out a little more about it. And maybe even badger your local art cinema to screen it. http://trap.it/n3P94P

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Thinking yesterday of Flash Gordon, The Shadow, Wallace Berman and Jack Kerouac and radio and early film screen heroes and then reading about Wallace Berman yet again in the very new biography of West Coast poet Robert Duncan by Lisa Jarnot, things just welded together in my mind. Robert Duncan: The Ambassador From Venus is keeping me off street corners these past few days. Duncan is a complex poet and a highly influential one too. Compile any family tree of Post War American poetics and branches will link with him in so many directions. Here are a few lines I've been reading today which connect him with Wallace Berman....."....Wallace and Shirley Berman in Topanga Canyon. He wrote Jess that the Bermans' bohemian lifestyle reminded him of his Woodstock days: "The last night I was there, Tosh, Shirley and Wally were in the one double bed; Minnie (the di Prima infant) and I in one single (Tosh's bed) and the floor littered with the corpses of (Alan) Marlowe, Diane (di Prima), and Dean Stockwell." Amid the clamor of old and new friends, Duncan also found common ground with the Bermans' eight-year-old son, Tosh: "He is wild WILD about Oz and Oz books and changed from a shy little disappearer into a chatterbox when he found out I could tell him what happens in the Oz books he hasn't got yet...I found him (for $1) The Lost Princess. He went about in a daze, clutching the book and scornd (sic) television, trying to make out words and sentences in the book." (From a letter to Jess Collins in December, 1962) - The biography is published by The University of California Press - it is a gem. The photo above is of Wallace and Shirley Berman with their son Tosh in 1951. The photo was taken (I think) by their friend Charles Brittin, who died in 2012.

 

Taking copies of Beat Scene magazine into the local Post Office yesterday (Monday January 7) I noticed the little calendar they had at the front of the counter, one of those that tells you of important events in history. Apparently yesterday in 1934 was the very first time that the Flash Gordon comic strip first appeared. It made me smile as during the late 1950s and probably early 1960s I was entranced by the Flash Gordon films shown on tv and at the Saturday morning 'tanner rush' kids cinema shows which were very popular at the time. Buster Crabbe played Flash and it was derring-do stuff as he fought with Ming the Merciless, survived countless 'Death Rays' and encountered the 'Clay Men' with 'Dale' alongside him, not to mention Prince Baron. I loved it all and still think warmly of all that. I wondered if Kerouac ever saw it, after all he was heavily into The Shadow? Not a million miles from Flash. I have a number of LPs of Shadow shows, some featuring Orson Welles as 'Lamont Cranston,' who was, of course, 'The Shadow.' I know there was a Shadow film, with one of the Baldwin brothers in the role. Was there ever a TV series I wonder? These things resonate don't they. Flash Gordon made it into the art of the late West Coast artist and artistic mover Wallace Berman. (pictured above with wife Shirley and Allen Ginsberg). I have a 'Flash Gordon' image of his framed on the wall. Some of the Shadow LP art is pretty striking too and I'm sure there are other albums I haven't seen. The Flash Gordon movie, made about twenty years ago was very colourful, though I'm struggling to recall who played Flash, was it Dolph Lungren? I think they kept faith with the comic strip spirit of it all, though doubtless it didn't meet with universal approval, but I thought it was ok. Though the 'soundtrack' by Queen was naff. Anybody doing a Phd on Flash Gordon & Kerouac?!.

  Pinetop Perkins, what a name. A blues legend. He crept into my dreams last night. My father was trying to get back to California, he lived there for many years. He was trying to sneak onto a train in Wales, he lives there now. Attempting to get his old Mustang car on the train. I was trying to help him, crawling along dusty tunnels in an old station, waiting rooms with people looking curiously at us and wondering what we were doing. We were kind of oblivious to them. And then, as only in dreams, we were in a blues and jazz club and Pinetop Perkins was seated in a corner and fans and club members were trooping up to him and showing their respects. Pinetop just wanted to have a quiet drink and rehearse for the evening show. But still the fans came in. In the gloom in another corner of the room Paul Bowles and Jack Kerouac were discussing my father's problem and how to help him get his Mustang car back from California. Kerouac suggested somehow putting it craftily on a freight train, the Boogie Woogie Flyer. Now I've heard of the Midnight Flyer and I've heard of the Midnight Rambler, but the Boogie Woogie Flyer? It put Paul Bowles in mind of The Andrews Sisters and The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy From Company B and he started singing it. (I couldn't imagine Bowles doing that in a million years). Jack started laughing uncontrollably and Pinetop heard it all and came over. It was a little club. He joined the conversation and Bowles started asking Pinetop how he got his name. Kerouac was so interested in this and leaned forward to hear more closely. His face was the face on the current issue of Beat Scene. I'd been putting copies of it in envelopes all day, his image was obviously fixed in my mind. He mentioned having had an email from the English writer Iain Sinclair that day, they'd been discussing the possibilities of 'Pinetop Perkins.' But Kerouac was beginning to speak in an English North Eastern accent - probably because I'd been talking with a subscriber earlier in the day and he was telling me in his lovely soft spoken accent what the photo on the magazine cover said to him. Iain was taking notes. Everything disintegrated as my father crashed into the room in his Mustang car. The one he had in reality driven across America and brought home with him a few years ago. Pinetop Perkins, Paul Bowles, Jack Kerouac, Iain Sinclair and various fans brushed the dust off and admired the little car. I haven't a clue what it all means, but it was a lot of confusing fun.

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    Beat Scene 69 is now available. Sporting articles on Michael McClure, William Burroughs Jr., an interview with Joyce Johnson, Joanne Kyger, 'The Mexican Girl', Amiri Baraka, the Bopland Boys, Gregory Corso, Black Mountain, Jack Kerouac in Hollywood and in Lowell & more. Copies are £7.95 including postage. I'm busy posting out subscriber copies right now, it is a slow process so hang on. I'll be putting up the cover image later today. If you would like a copy click the button below.

For those of you, and there are a good number judging by your comments, that have enjoyed the Walter Salles film adaptation of On the Road, here is a little clip of him talking about the film as a trailer for it runs. I think the film has some merit. It is a historical thing. I've read that people think it is 'tame' in today's world, that it has no power to shock, that the things the characters do are so commonplace today. That's missing a point. The film is an attempted recreation of a book that is over 50 years old, it will be a product of the times it was written in. And all the better for it. I'm sure it will reward with repeated viewings. It has faults, it isn't 'Your' movie, the one you wanted to make, the one running in your head as you read and envisage it, it can't be, can it? Impossible. Yet it is one man's vision. Regardless, listen to Walter Salles and see segments of the film here. Thanks to Nic Saunders for sending the link. http://www.ifc.com/fix/2012/12/on-the-road-trailer-walter-salles-call-in-commentary

 

KITKITDIZZE: MEETING GARY SNYDER by Iain Sinclair will be the new Beat Scene Press chapbook. Out in January 2013. An edition of 125 signed and numbered copies. Iain is the author of many, many books, Downriver, Lights Out For the Territory, London Orbital, Dining on Stones etc, etc. He has a particular interest in American post war writers. If you would like to order a copy, click below.

 

    A MOVING TARGET: ENCOUNTERS WITH WILLIAM BURROUGHS by Matthew Levi Stevens, a recent chapbook in the Beat Scene series. No 37.  125 numbered copies only. It is illustrated. If you would like a copy click on the button below.

  A packed London Review bookstore last night for the launch of Ed Dorn's COLLECTED POEMS published by Carcanet Press. A very big and impressive book, there should be an image of the cover here. Many of his friends and poets were there and some read in honour of him, including his wife Jennifer. Iain Sinclair, someone who knew Ed well, and man about London Town, did his always excellent and entertaining opening and set the scene. And tireless organiser Colin Still (and his lovely wife Fearn) provided links. Poet Tom Pickard was there from Cumbria, also John Hall, Tom Raworth, Elaine Feinstein and others I didn't quite hear the names of, I was near the back. It was understandable that Ed Dorn has so many English friends as he spent a few years of his life in England and is especially associated with Essex and the university there in the 1960s, along with other American poets like Tom Clark. It was certainly a more radical place then, as most universities were. Dorn was associated with Charles Olson and the Black Mountain group of poets and with the Beat Generation, hence my presence there. Someone made the telling remark that it was ironic that England and not America should publish this collected poems. It was a lovely evening and you could feel the warmth for Ed Dorn all around. Carcanet have done a nice job in presenting him. It was a cheering evening - and going back home on the train through the ghostlike little stations of middle England in the frosty small hours I was able to reflect on Dorn getting some more overdue recognition. http://www.carcanet.co.uk/cgi-bin/indexer?product=9781847771261

William Burroughs features in the new issue of my little Transit magazine and it got me thinking about him. So many years now since he died. I found this newly posted home movie footage of him at home in Lawrence, Kansas. With his friends, just shooting the breeze and comparing weaponry, as you do. Allen Ginsberg, Patti Smith, James Grauerholz and others crop up. This is from the Allen Ginsberg Project site - masterminded by Peter Hale, who does such a good job of keeping Allen's legacy alive. Have a look, nothing remarkable happens but it is a cheering few minutes of film. http://ginsbergblog.blogspot.ca/2012/10/william-burroughs-home-movies.html

                                                                                  A week or so, October 20th, Michael McClure was 80 years old. One of the poets who read at the famous Six Gallery event in the mid 1950s, along with Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Philip Lamantia, with Kenneth Rexroth as MC. A key figure in the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance, his work was often experimental and controversial. His 'Beast Language' poetry polarised opinion. Go to YOUTUBE for fascinating film footage of him at San Francisco zoo with the lions way back. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djtmpdlXKEA He is also a playwright, THE BEARD being performed in recent years in London, it is an art form he comes back to again and again. It is said by some that he and others like Gary Snyder -  formed an early wing of the environmental side of the Beat Generation, his poetry always rooted in nature. His string of books over the decades bear testament to his preoccupation with man as a creature alongside all the other creatures, existing in nature, the universe. PLUM STONES, REBEL LIONS, HUGE DREAMS, MYSTERIOSOS, OF INDIGO AND SAFFRON, SIMPLE EYES, RAINMIRROR, FRAGMENTS OF PERSEUS, RARE ANGEL, MEAT SCIENCE ESSAYS, JAGUAR SKIES, THE MAD CUB, GHOST TANTRAS, ANTECHAMBER, LIGHTING THE CORNERS, SEPTEMBER BLACBERRIES, STAR and more besides, it is a very long list. He's a poet that crosses boundaries, you are as likely to find references to alchemists, film makers (Bruce Conner), mathematicians, as you are rock stars, Alfred North, Francis Crick, Jim Morrison. His background with rock music is well documented, The Doors connection longstanding and continuing to this day. His collaborations with Ray Manzarek and his unique keyboard sounds resulting in a number of album releases - see www.michael-mcclure.com and his new album with Manzarek THE PIANO POEMS, it is a live album. At 80 he is still willing to push himself. Long may he continue. Happy birthday Michael McClure, we salute you.

A link to Transit 25. It includes Lew Welch, Diane di Prima, Neeli Cherkovski, Aram Saroyan, Joanna McClure, Janine Pommy Vega, John Montgomery - the forgotten Dharma Bum, William Burroughs, Ed Dorn. Cost is £5 in the UK.

 

  Just back from the preview evening to open the Jack Kerouac ON THE ROAD scroll exhibit at the lovely British Library in London last night. Of course the scroll was shown in Birmingham a few years ago but it was impossible to turn down the opportunity to get a close look again. And I did get close, pressing my nose right up against the glass. What a remarkable bit of paper. A little exhibit around the scroll too. How good to see the photos we all know, blown up to wall size, to better appreciate them. How young Allen looked, that Times Square cafe photo of Jack, David Amram, Allen, Gregory, Larry Rivers. And David Amram. There last night. A handsome, tall man, eighty something I guess. Resplendent in dark suit and his beads and stuff. A real presence and a versatile and passionate musician. His back catalogue is something to behold. PULL MY DAISY, jazz standards, some Monk tunes, an American Indian song that I couldn't quite catch the title of because people insisted on talking throughout. That was stunning. David Amram is a real positive ambassador for Kerouac's legacy. He steers us towards the reality that Kerouac was a writer, that was it. Not Beat Generation stuff, cars and girls, kicks, that nonsense. But beauty, love, awe. Go and see the exhibit. There are talks, films etc to go along with it all. See the scroll and get a better understanding of how Jack Kerouac lived for writing. And thanks David for inviting me, M.Ring and Loz as your guests, very kind of you. And in October too, Kerouac's month. Gone in October indeed. http://www.bl.uk/whatson/exhibitions/kerouac/index.html

 

A link to Simon Warner's write up in The Independent on the California photographer Larry Keenan who died on August 12. Larry made his name in the mid 1960s with iconic photos of Allen Ginsberg with Michael McClure and Bob Dylan, amongst many others. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/larry-keenan-photographer-who-captured-dylan-ginsberg-and-the-sixties-counterculture-8082405.html

After collapsing in a heap after the Beat Scene 68 mailout, it is relentless, I was able to catch up on a few things inbetween sleeping a lot. (and thanks to M.Ring for sterling early morning work in getting things done). Things like responding to book orders from my long established Satori Books operation. Begun in 1982 when the selling of Beat type books was largely Compendium Books in London, Iain Sinclair, Alan Halsey in Hereford and me. It was a different landscape. Amazon was a jungle and you certainly didn't get your books there. Of course the global book operators have made existence almost impossible for people like me, warehouse monsters who undercut everyone. Slash and burn. But I'm dogged and persistent and operate in areas they have no fondness for. A recent book order, they happen now and then, was for Greg Keeler's lovely book Waltzing With the Captain: Remembering Richard Brautigan. By pure fluke I happened upon a review of the book by Kevin Killian, a respected author from San Francisco, a chap who has written on Robert Duncan and Jack Spicer to much acclaim. Imagine my surprise when halfway through the review Killian says he has discovered Keeler's book by reading about it in my brilliant Beat Scene magazine. His words. How kind is that. Of course the thought was to contact Kevin to say thanks for those helpful comments and then I looked at the date of his review, from the middle of 2004. The internet is almost a time free zone. Things linger. So I'm a little late in thanking Kevin Killian, almost eight years. How strange. Better late than never. And although Kevin Killian is most kind, Beat Scene isn't really brilliant, just a work in progress, but I hope it is getting there. Isn't life strange sometimes.

Amidst small rumours that the Walter Salles film adaptation of On The Road won't now be screened in England until December here is a link to 'Big Ed Dunkel.' Of course you all know that was Jack Kerouac's name for Al Hinkle in his book. Al is well and involved in things and he made a few comments about his time with Jack of late. Beautiful memories of a Kerouac who was quiet, shy, modest, not drunk all the time, meditative, wanting just to write. It wasn't all about cars and girls. Read Al here. http://www.ontheroad4kerouac.org/2012/08/tribute-of-al-hinkle-san-jose-ca-usa.html

 

Out now is the very new issue of my Beat Scene magazine, number 68. Sporting a very nice Richard Brautigan cover (thanks Counterpoint & Gatz Hjortsberg). A real Beat mixture of articles as ever, Philip Whalen, Brautigan, Kerouac, Harry Crews, Allen Ginsberg, Paul Bowles and much more.  If you would like a copy you can click on the button below. There is no advertising in Beat Scene (that is apart from promoting ourselves), no literary grants, no funds from universities. It relies upon you to keep it going. And it has been going for 24 years.

  Out now, is the very new chapbook in the Beat Scene Press series. Number 36 is The Lost Artwork of Ah Pook Is Here reveals the collaboration of William Burroughs and English artist Malcolm McNeill whilst Burroughs was living a prolonged spell in London. It is at once a story of startling creativity, of censorship, of frustration at not getting something off the ground that might have taken the writing of Burroughs into a new direction and alerting a whole lot more people to his singular talent. Malcolm McNeill really connected with Burroughs and brings his word creations into being - his massive 'Vigilante' painting is something to behold. So far ahead of the times it is almost unbelievable. In the scary world we live in today McNeill's art fits in - he created it forty years ago and more. The issue is in the usual 5" x 8" chapbook format, in an edition of 125 numbered copies and features reproductions of some of McNeill's art, along with conversations with him. He is indeed a very talented artist. Copies are £8.95 worldwide. If you would like to order a copy you can simply click the box here.....

and it will be shipped to you immediately. Price includes post. It will be packaged with care.

 

Being a collapsed Catholic I've always steered clear of top shelves in newsagents. Those well endowed, if somewhat airbrushed, ladies are something of a taboo with me. Fine figures of womanhood that they are I've never seen the appeal. This week I was ordering the latest issue of Playboy magazine off the internet, it would be too much to buy it in person. It arrived this morning and there is 'America's sweetheart' Jenny McCarthy on the front cover. A bleached blond in black stockings who is, I suspect, no more a 'sweetheart' than any nice looking girl you might see walking down the street. But turn to the middle of the magazine and there is the real reason I've risked eternal damnation, The Lost Photos of Jack Kerouac as taken by his film making pal Robert Frank. There are four pages of black and white pictures, one of which has appeared in every biography of Kerouac in the past twenty years - so not so lost then. They are terrific to see for any Kerouac reader, yet they seem almost like outtakes, the same picture is also re-cropped to create the illusion of an extra picture too. Kerouac is thirty seven, as writer Greil Marcus rightly points out, he is beginning his ten year descent into early death. It is 1959. Robert Frank appears in a couple of the pictures, he and Kerouac were genuine good friends with collaborations on Pull My Daisy and Frank's book of photos, The Americans. They were both outsiders, immigrants in America. The essay that accompanies the photo spread is as much about Frank, mentioning his film about the Rolling Stones that they don't allow him to show unless he is present at the screening. Marcus is a deft wordsmith, he writes well and it would have been nice to read more of his thoughts. He seems to have a feeling for what Frank was getting at, he says of The Americans, 'They are pictures of people coming to terms with fate.'  So, if I don't get struck by a thunderbolt for my sins in ordering a copy of Playboy (in essence the Mother Theresa of soft porn magazines I'd hazard a guess) -  I can enjoy these Kerouac pictures, where he is at ease with a friend at home. Would it be Northport? I'm not sure without checking the dates. One thing's for sure, Jack certainly loved that shirt he's wearing. I'll swear he was wearing the same one ten years later in Florida.  For those of you who like Jenny McCarthy and Jack Kerouac, it is the July/August issue.

Jack Kerouac as a twenty year old naval reserve recruit in 1942.

Leafing through the sleeve notes to the recent film soundtrack to the On the Road movie, whilst listening to the sounds, there were the usual credits given against each song. Now the last clip is Jack Kerouac reads from On the Road and it states in small print 'courtesy of John Sampas, Executor the estates of Jack and Stella Sampas.' Now this has me puzzled. About a year ago wasn't the will of Kerouac's mother Gabrielle declared a forgery by a Florida court? And that was it, no more appeals, no more legal backwards and forwards, where the only winners are the bank accounts of the legal teams. I thought the estate would pass to Jack's nephew Paul Blake, the young kid that Kerouac wrote his very last letter to, he said, "I've turned my entire estate, real, personal, and mixed, to Memere, and if she dies before me, it is then turned to you, and if I die thereafter, it all goes to you." Jack Kerouac continues and is less than complimentary to the Sampas family and says he doesn't want them to benefit from his will. So, what happened? Well we know that Stella had control of the Kerouac estate. Don't ask me how. Paul Blake and  Jan Kerouac, seem to have been pushed aside. Then, of course, the long drawn out saga of Memere's will. After years it was finally stated that her signature on her will was forged. This was not surprising as Gabrielle had suffered a massive stroke and was incapable of such an act, according to all reports. So how come the Sampas family still get the credits on a very recent CD based around Jack Kerouac? Why isn't it courtesy of Paul Blake? What's going on? - Well, thanks to friend of Beat Scene Dan P, I've inserted this from a site called THE BEATNIK, which seems to bring things kind of up to date. See below. And thanks Dan.

"On August 10, 2011, the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Second District, ruled against the Sampas family and affirmed Judge Greer’s ruling that Kerouac’s mother’s will was a forgery.  The way the decision was written, it is a final decision and cannot be appealed further.  That means it is now in the history books that the Kerouac Estate, arguably the most valuable literary estate in recent history, was stolen.
                        
Bill Wagner, Blake’s attorney, stated, “In effect, the war is over.  Gabrielle’s will has been determined to be a forgery and now our chore is to see what assets we can trace and still recover or recover rights to.”  When Jack Kerouac died, Stella was entitled to only one-third of the estate by a Florida dower’s rights law.  The rest should have gone to Jan Kerouac and Paul Blake, Jr.  States Wagner: “The Estate of Gabrielle Kerouac is being administered at this time and the Personal Representative [appointed by the Florida court] is collecting information to allow the Estate to benefit as Jack Kerouac intended, subject only to the Widow’s Share awarded at his death to Stella [by Florida state law] ….”
           
Continues Wagner: “By reason of the above events, the 1/3rd of the assets of Jack Kerouac which passed by law to Stella became the property of Stella’s siblings.  The remaining 2/3rd of the assets of Jack Kerouac that passed under Jack’s will to Gabrielle belong to her recently re-opened Estate.  The beneficiaries of that Estate are Paul Blake, Jr., and the heirs of Jan Kerouac, sharing equally once the Estate is fully administered.  The discovery of tangible personal property and the accounting for intangible personal property, including intellectual property and money assets, both past and future, will be the focus of the Personal Representative under the supervision of the Probate Court.”

 

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Click here for a fairly recent film of Diane di Prima reading in New York. It is on the LOST & FOUND site - The Center for the Humanities at the City University of New York. Diane's letters, works form part of the absolutely essential 'Lost & Found' series of chapbooks issued there & edited by Ammiel Alcalay. Works & letters by di Prima, Charles Olson, John Wieners, Joanne Kyger, Ed Dorn, Robert Duncan and many others feature in this wonderfully researched series. go to http://centerforthehumanities.org/lost-and-found

Diane di Prima reading - http://fora.tv/2010/10/15/Diane_di_Prima_An_Evening_of_Reading_and_Conversation

 

William Burroughs & Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page in 1975. Burroughs interviewed Page for Crawdaddy magazine around that time.

It's taken me nearly a month to read the massive new biography of Richard Brautigan by William Hjortsberg. JUBILEE HITCH HIKER: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF RICHARD BRAUTIGAN has kept me absorbed and turning the pages to find out what happened next. I own up, I'm a slow reader and I was trying to really take in all the fine detail that William 'Gatz' Hjortsberg had researched. I didn't want to reach the end. Can't tell you how much he has uncovered. In the beginning I tried making notes, but such was the avalanche of reference that I abandoned that. I found myself writing more than reading. What the book did for me was a few things, it turned my concept of Richard Brautigan upside down, it also drove home to me, if it was ever needed, just how pivotal Japan (Tokyo) was to Brautigan. It also traced the beginnings of the end for Richard Brautigan, that beginning comes quite early in the book. In many respects it seemed all downhill from there. But I'm not going to divulge too much of what I think. That isn't important. I want you to read this monument of a volume. It was decades in the making. The book was started over twenty years ago and Hjortsberg wasn't the one who instigated the original research and interviews. But he took up the baton and stuck diligently to his task while all us Brautigan devotees waited impatiently. We knew he was writing it and sighed when we heard every year that it might appear in a year or so. One big aspect in Hjortsberg's favour was that he was a friend of Brautigan's largely through them being Montana neighbours, it gave him special insight into Brautigan's complex character. RB was capable of extremes. He isn't the man you think he is if you know his books and nothing else, like me. I've read the few books about him and they reveal nothing like the unfurling that Hjortsberg comes up with here. This proper biography is so long overdue. Love him or be indifferent to him, Richard Brautigan was a major literary figure of the 1960s and 1970s. He is often paired with the 'Love Generation.' He is seen hand in hand with the hippies. Read this vast biography and have your notions thrown out of the window. A very candid biography. This is no love in. Despite being Brautigan's long time friend, Hjortsberg has given us it all. I'll be expanding on the book and featuring an interview with 'Gatz' Hjortsberg in the next Beat Scene. The biography is magnificent.

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Speaking to the English daily newspaper The Guardian in recent times the actor Nick Nolte - who played the role of Neal Cassady in the late 1970s film Heart Beat, said - "There was a whole generation in America that didn't even know its own subculture: the Beats. That couldn't happen today. A subculture wouldn't last more than 10 days before advertising agents would be on to it."

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In the current issue of Beat Scene there is a page on Serendipity Bookstore in Berkeley, California. Run by Peter Howard for decades, it was a monumental book place and we reflected on that and the owner. Sadly Peter Howard died and the premises and his massive stock were sold by a major international auction house. I may have been a little hard on Peter Howard and his manner in the article. He could be abrasive. But there was obviously a softer aspect to him, as his many friends and associates have noted. Looking in my diary for 1981 recently, a bit of research for something, I came across an entry for September of that year where I had a little correspondence with Howard. I'd completely forgotten how he had given me a lovely 'Captain Beefheart' concert poster as a gift after I'd bought a few books there a few weeks earlier. I knew a friend who was really keen on Beefheart, I've never been enamoured of him, apart from 'Diddy Wah Diddy,' and passed the poster onto him. He was delighted. Back home I got a letter from Peter Howard a few weeks later and he asked if I could obtain a poster from an exhibition that was running at the Natural History Museum in London just then. I managed to get the poster, it was a beauty, and airmailed it off to Peter Howard in a tube. Things were slower then and it wasn't until a few weeks later that a little package came from California. In it was a lovely copy of an early Kerouac novel, not a first but a lovely edition and not something you'd find easily outside America back then. I'd completely forgotten his kindness. The book and the letter remain on my shelves still. So, a little like Bukowski, Peter Howard had a Bluebird in his heart, and now and then he let it sing.

  The Beat Scene Press has recently published JACK KEROUAC'S LAST NIGHT IN NORTHPORT by Patrick Fenton. It is number 36 in the chapbook series. An edition of 125 numbered copies. I've mailed out pre-ordered copies in recent days and you should be receiving your copy soon. It is £6.95 in the UK and £7.95 everywhere else. If you live in the UK and would like to order a copy, click the button below. Overseas please email me and I'll send you a link or sort something out with you.

 

In the chaos that is the Beat Scene subscriber mailout, something I both look forward to and dread because whilst I've got the fillip of a new issue there is the slog of mailing them - I overlooked to mention the new Beat Scene Press chapbook is out. WHATNOT: A CONVERSATION WITH PHILIP WHALEN by David Meltzer is number 35 in the series. 125 numbered copies. Whalen has always been a favourite of mine. A quicksilver mind. And I must thank David Meltzer for giving me permission to publish it. If you would like a copy, it is in the usual 8" x 5" little brown cover format, click the link below.

  Beat Scene 67 has been out for a few weeks and is almost sold out. It includes Jack Kerouac (see front cover above), William Burroughs, Black Mountaineer Basil King, Ed Sanders, Charles Bukowski, George Whitman, Doctor Sax, Maggie Cassidy, On the Road & more. If you would like to purchase a copy it is £7.95 in the UK. There is a UK Paypal button below. Scroll further down for an OVERSEAS BUTTON.

A beautiful poem by Michael McClure is available to read at the Poetry Foundation site. "The Chamber" is dedicated to Jack Kerouac. Click here to read it. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/241728

The Poetry Project have made available a whole series of poetry readings made for cable television in America in the 1970s. These were very low budget programmes made in black and white, yet the series recorded many fine poets. Ed Sanders and Ted Berrigan feature, as does Joanne Kyger. Here's a link to the Joanne Kyger recording, made in March 1978. The reading lasts about 28 minutes. Good stuff. Just scroll down til you reach Joanne's show. http://poetryproject.org/history/public-access-poetry

   Click here if you live outside the UK and would like to obtain a copy of Beat Scene 67 by Airmail post.

Reading through the exchange of letters between Jack Kerouac and his Lowell friend Sebasatian Sampas during the very early 1940s, in THE SEA IS MY BROTHER -  it was difficult not to be touched by their youthful idealism and agonies as they made their way in life. Sampas was as artistically inclined as Kerouac and my mind sometimes forgot that he wasn't a young Allen Ginsberg. The letters were so reminiscent of the ones that he and Kerouac shared just a short while later. Jack obviously felt a deep need to put his views onto paper and test them out with others. When Sebastian died in 1943 it seems Ginsberg and others replaced him in the letter writing stakes. The Sampas/Kerouac flurry of letters, the Sampas letters predominate, some of Kerouac's are lost, presumably because Sampas was in the army and things were often chaotic for him, reveal an individual in thrall to William Saroyan and Thomas Wolfe. And so was Kerouac. Sebastian even writes to Saroyan, calling him 'Bill,' and extolling the virtues of his friend Jack Kerouac and his budding writing skills. And, of course, telling Saroyan how great they both think he is and expressing his dismay that one of his plays has been poorly received when shown in New York theatres. The letters chart the ups and downs of their long distance friendship, Jack and Sebastian, once boyhood pals in Lowell, are now rarely in the same place, it is a litany of proposed meetings, get togethers, hopes, dreams, shared friends, gossip, their respective writing developments, aspirations to see the world together. Sampas seems highly strung, very sensitive, at odds with his times, his life and surroundings, sees beauty everywhere and awfulness as well. Lives for the arts, poetry, plays, classical music, girls, jazz. Does that sound like Kerouac too? Yes it does, doesn't it. They could be brothers and indeed they are in everything but name. The war takes its toll on them both, Sampas sees things no one should ever see, especially when he is hardly out of his teens. The ruin that war brings. And it goes on forever doesn't it. Maimed lives, while politicians talk of 'economic growth.' Inevitably the war moves them apart, creates shifts in their thinking, their loosely knit group of 'Prometheans' is sorely tested. Sampas clings to the ideals til he dies, Kerouac less so. For Sampas the letters must have helped him enormously as he endured the brutality of army life. And he too shows startling stylistic changes in his poetry as he edges towards his end. His Wolfian and Saroyanesque stylings giving way to a leaner approach. Sampas was a massive figure in Kerouac's life. He features heavily in THE TOWN AND THE CITY of course and again right at the conclusion of Kerouac's  life with VANITY OF DULUOZ. And, as the footnotes alongside these letters point out, he crops up in unlikely settings in things such as MEXICO CITY BLUES. It is hard to shake off the impression that had he lived we might have been talking about him in the way we do about Kerouac and all his gang.

Years ago Beat Scene did a few pages on the American cartoonist Robert Crumb. And since then we've done nothing. Crumb has always got me confused. I like his draughtmanship, he can really draw stuff. He's what I'd call a proper artist. No unmade beds or sharks in vinegar. But his style seemed preoccupied with females and their anatomy and sex. He's wasting his talents I often thought. I recall the Arena film documentary screened by the BBC many years ago and that too intrigued me. Whatever you thought about him he has had an interesting and full life. Reading his book of letters, Your Vigor For Life Appalls Me, was equally thought provoking. A month or two back the English daily newspaper THE GUARDIAN, ran an article on him and one critics take on what he does. Crumb is prolific, of course he's illustrated a couple of Charles Bukowski books into the bargain and they were just right. Here's a link to that Guardian piece. Crikey, the English newspaper scene would be a much sadder place without The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2011/jan/12/robert-crumb

 

                                                                              

A little reminder this morning on the national radio news, Classic FM to be precise, how peripheral the Beat Generation can be. It was announced that Jack Nicholson's leading role in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST had been voted the best ever performance in a movie....ever. The news reader said his performance as Randle P. McMurphy in 'Ken Kaycee's' novel was brilliant. I nearly choked on my toast. A classic book of the Twentieth Century, adapted for the silver screen in the 1970s and seen by countless millions over the years, a pivotal point in just how we perceive the way things really are, just how the lunatics really are running the asylum and still, still, still, they get Ken Kesey's name all wrong. I ask you, do they get Tony Blair's name wrong, Ronald Reagan, Martin Amis? Does J.K. Rowling suffer this indignity? It drives it home to me that the Beat Generation, and to me 'Ken Kaycee' is very much part of all that, a loose knit generation we know, yet all held together by a common bond, they wrote for change - they remain outsiders, some kind of rabble for having the audacity, the nerve, to question the accepted notions of reality, truth, how things are. They say don't believe everything you hear in the media, this is especially true when they can't even get the names right. Here's Jack Nicholson below, his name was read out correctly.

 

See a trailer for ON THE ROAD, the new film by Walter Salles here. http://www.totalfilm.com/news/watch-the-on-the-road-trailer-online-now

 

As a few of you will know Jim Burns is deputy editor of my magazine Beat Scene and a regular contributor to it. Jim has written passionately and with great insight about the Beats, American writers, jazz, poetry of an often alternative kind of poetry and much more over the years. He has published a string of poetry collections and had a few collections of his erudite essays published. Here's a link to his very new collection, BRITS, BEATS & OUTSIDERS, published by The Penniless Press in the UK. http://www.pennilesspress.co.uk/books/PPP.htm#BRITS,_BEATS_AND_OUTSIDERS_

Here is a link to an article he wrote about the publishing and bookselling world a few years ago. It stands the test of time.

http://www.pennilesspress.co.uk/prose/in_praise_of_booksellers.htm

 


   Out Now from the Beat Scene Press, Jack Kerouac's Visions of Cody...the Long Road by yours truly. It is a chapbook in the regular style of all Beat Scene Press chapbooks, measuring 8" x 5" but it isn't a little brown book, not in that series. It is an edition of just one hundred copies, all numbered. I've started mailing out pre-ordered copies and you should be receiving yours soon. If you want to order a copy there is a box below.

A link to Beat Scene 66. To all you subscribers, THANK YOU for sticking with me. The aim is to continue far into the future and I hope you come along for the ride.

REALLY TRULY Absolutely dedicated to the Beat Generation and nothing else besides THEM. At all Ever.......... ...65

To say I needed cheering up is an understatement. And news of an obscure sort of publication from English writer Iain Sinclair really did cheer me up no end. It arrived in the post yesterday, December 20. BLAKE'S LONDON: THE TOPOGRAPHICAL SUBLIME is published by The Swedenborg Society and is a handsome little hardcover book with a wraparound cover enhancing the nice detail and attention that has gone into the production. The text is a transcript of a talk that Iain Sinclair presented at the Society in November 2007. I've not read it yet, but will lift my spirits with the anticipation of doing so in very near future. Those of you who know Iain's writing will realise that he and London are inseparable and so this book fits the bill perfectly. The Swedenborg Society, 20-21 Bloomsbury way, London WC1A 2TH (ISBN 978-0-85448-170-5) http://www.swedenborg.org.uk/bookshop/new_releases/blakes_london_the_topographic_sublime

Hurrah for broadcaster Paul Morley on the very recent BBC television show The Review Show. In a panel of four, Morley stoutly defended and praised the new Jack Kerouac book THE SEA IS MY BROTHER. He saw the book for what it was, the first novel of a very young man burning to be a real writer. He found merit in Kerouac's literary questing, his ambition to do something different with the novel form, his taking on board the qualities of his influences, Whitman, Proust and so on. The other critics on the show were indifferent, in particular the prof from the University of East Anglia, a specialist in American Lit no less, who was sort of hostile to Kerouac. I think she made the comment that Kerouac only wrote one decent book - beggars belief. Paul Morley pointed to the fact that Kerouac has become iconic, almost a celebrity and is feted in that sense, sidelining his literary talents. I felt here, and it isn't rocket science I know, he understood pretty well what had happened to Kerouac.  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not making a case for THE SEA IS MY BROTHER as book of the year, far from it - though as a Kerouac avid it comes high on my list - just as AND THE HIPPOS WERE BOILED IN THEIR TANKS and ORPHEUS EMERGED were not Kerouac's finest. BUT, they do give us insight into his development, they fill our curiosity surely? If we knew about them - as we suspected they existed for decades - and they remained unpublished we'd be up in arms. So Paul Morley gets a big thumbs up from me for flying in the face of indifference to clearly see Kerouac's importance in the social history of our times and to see that it might be important to read what he was up to as a twenty year old rookie. There is a link to the show here. Kerouac is the last item, so you might want to scroll along.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b017v741/The_Review_Show_25_11_2011/

Thanks to Eddie Woods for telling me about this BBC page on the recent publication of Jack Kerouac's THE SEA IS MY BROTHER. The writer of the article damns him with very faint praise, sadly. In the little interview clip, Stuart Evers is far more positive, while seeing the book for what it is in the early days of Kerouac's writing life. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-15870925

 

Thanks to Daniel Bratton for sending this photo of Allen Ginsberg with Leslie Fiedler in Fiedler's back garden in the Buffalo, New York area after Ginsberg had done a reading at SUNY at Buffalo. Not sure of date, possibly later in the 1960s.

FINDING JOSEF ALBERS

It is Sunday, November 13, 2011. It is such a crisp and pleasant early winter day that we decide to drive into town, leave the car at the station and catch the train for a twenty mile trip to Birmingham to see a couple of things at the galleries there. Its years since I’ve been. Last time was an exhibition of some photo realist paintings by Ralph Goings and others. I liked one so much I got a large print and it remains on the wall at home to this day. A diner photo. A guy is sitting on a stool at the counter with his back to the artist, or so it seems. He is looking out through a large window. Any minute now he will turn around. We catch the train. It is so full. People are standing. The usual whirr and hiss of portable music stuff, headphones, bags, restless people. Thankfully it is a brief trip and we are out into the streets of Birmingham. For a Sunday lunchtime it is incredibly busy. Walking up the pedestrianised street uphill towards the main square, town hall and the gallery area, I reflect on how this used to be a busy road with cars dominating. Good to see it has been given back to the people. It feels so much better.                                                                                                                  

The first museum is a bit of a let down. There isn’t much art, lots of ceramics, jewelry. I remember Birmingham has a renowned ‘jewelry quarter.’ So we go around the corner to a quiet street and find another gallery. Or is it an extension of the one we’ve just been in? I’m unsure. But the art is here. Lots of Pre-Raphaelites of course, Holman Hunt, Bourne-Jones and the like. Some really big name European artists. It’s so hot in there and after a while I’m getting battle fatigue. A kind of creeping overload. The senses are struggling to cope. So many names. And just at a point where the legs plead to rest, there he is. The Black Mountain man. Josef Albers. Tucked onto a corner site. Almost invisible. Out of place amongst these European grand names. He played a significant role in struggling to keep that weird and wonderful college in Carolina thriving. And was a real mainstay over the years there. Just a little piece of his art. Almost invisible, pale – almost not there. Faint lines, impressions on a cream background. What was he doing with it? And how did he end up in this provincial English city all these years later? I sit down and wonder if anyone knows his name, his history, how he is part of a doomed experiment in alternative education in an obscure and at the time fairly remote region of the USA almost eighty years ago? He seems lost amongst the massive waves of colour around him. The medieval religious art, the biblical art. Why does religion feature so much in art? There is little information about Albers in the card below his framed creation. It saddens me. He should be reunited with others he did, in a collection. I’m glad he’s here for me to see, even though it does little for me. I like his spirit. Birmingham on a winter’s day is no place for this American innovator.

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Michael McClure was 79 on October 20. In 1989 he was on Radio KPFA in the Bay Area. You'll know that this radio station is something of a legendary establishment, the kind of radio station you'd want in your town. Going since the 1940s when Kenneth Rexroth held court there, it is free from mainstream influence. In this two hour show Michael McClure plays some of his favourite music at that time and discusses why he likes the things he's playing. From Beethoven to Howling Wolf. Good stuff. http://www.archive.org/details/MC_1989_07_06

NEW COURT RULING IN JACK KEROUAC ESTATE CASE - AS OF AUGUST 2011. FINAL DECISION

It is reported that in August it seems the Florida courts finally decided that the estate of Jack Kerouac was wrongfully appropriated after it was declared that Kerouac's mother's signature had been forged - it is claimed. Up until now Jack's nephew Paul Blake had been unable to take action to secure ownership of his uncle's estate. With this final court ruling, which I am told is unappealable, Paul can now begin what will likely prove to be a long legal journey to secure rightful ownership. You will recall that Kerouac's last letter was to Paul - in it he gave everything to him. The wrangling over the ownership of Jack Kerouac's estate has cast a dark and seedy shadow over his name in the past decades. Much of his archive has been sold to private auction and lost forever to the public during that time. At the height of the controversy some years ago Beat Scene took the line that Kerouac's estate was not being handled properly and that Jan Kerouac was being marginalised by the then owners of the estate. We still hold that view and look forward to a time when Jack Kerouac's estate is in the hands of Paul Blake, Jack Kerouac's sister Nin's son. Surely then it will be administered in a caring and thoughtful way and not just for personal gain. Just as Jack Kerouac would have wanted back in 1969 when he had $97 in his wallet. He wanted above all to be recognised as a writer. Let his estate set the tone where he is seen to be just that. We wish Paul Blake and his associates the best of luck in his legal journey. And feel sure he will act at all times to maintain his uncles good name.

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The new Hope Savage: Mystery Girl chapbook was issued a couple of weeks ago and the run is now sold out. Thank you to those who purchased a copy. This is number 32 in the Beat Scene Press Pocket Book series. It is an edition of 125 numbered copies.

Beat Scene 65 cover image below. Click on the Paypal button below image to order your copy.


A still below from the forthcoming ON THE ROAD movie.

 

A link to number 31 in the Beat Scene Press series.  Al Hinkle: Last Man Standing by Stephen Edington. 125 numbered copies. You will know Al Hinkle as Ed Dunkel in On The Road. In this chapbook Al recalls his times with Neal and Jack. If you would like a copy click on the button below.

Beat Scene 64 was issued a while ago, that's Gary Snyder on the cover, a terrific photo taken by his friend Giuseppe Morretti. Gary likes the cover and the Peter Coyote essay on him inside. There's big stuff on William Burroughs, of course, ex Digger Peter Coyote on Gary Snyder, William Everson at Waldport, big interview with Diane di Prima, Sinclair Beiles, interview with Anne Waldman, Janine Pommy Vega, Jim Burns on Hipsters and much more. If you would like a copy and you live outside the UK there is a button below.

Ken Kesey reading a copy of a very old issue of Beat Scene, number 18 in fact. Photo taken for the magazine by Alan Balliett in West Virginia (who also conducted an interview with Ken for the magazine at the time.)

A link to Transit No 24. UK ONLY button right below. At £5 a copy.

Transit 24 is available now. It includes writing on Jack Kerouac by Gregory Stephenson, an interview with William Burroughs, extracts from Gael Turnbull's 'Beat Hotel' journals relating to Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs and Corso in Paris in 1958, plus poetry from Diane di Prima, Barry Gifford, Jack Hirschman, Neeli Cherkovski, Dan Propper, Sam Charters and stuff on Beat films. Copies are £6.95 for overseas, button below.

Thank you to the 40 people who responded to the mailout for the recent TALKING WITH GINSBERG chapbook. I appreciate it. It is in an edition of 125 numbered copies. Another chapbook will follow that quite quickly. If you would like a copy click the button below.

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  Did you see the movie of HOWL yet? It has been screened at a few places outside London in recent days. I've just watched it at the Warwick Arts Centre in Coventry. True to form there were about fifteen people in the audience. I don't know how many will turn up at screenings this week. Maybe to the students (the cinema is on the Warwick University campus site) just don't connect with something that happened well over fifty years ago. These old poets might be old hat to them. Very old hat. Yet you might imagine the presence of James Franco might tempt the students away from their laptops and blackberrys? He certainly caught the speech patterns of Ginsberg pretty good. I'd say in mainstream cinema terms the movie was fairly low budget. The courtroom scenes, the kind of face to face interview with Franco as Allen, documentary footage, the very impressive Six Gallery recreation. Though I would have liked to see a little of the other poets in that reading, Snyder, Lamantia, Whalen, McClure, if only to better put it in context. Erick Drooker's animation is wonderful, as it is in other Ginsberg books, a big plus for the film in fact. Don't want to spoil your enjoyment by saying too much, well worth a visit if you can get to a screening. But the small audience confirmed to me that this Beat Generation thing is really a minority aspect of our society. The things they did resonate still in so many ways, yet they are dimming as time flies past.

As a footnote to above, see this 8 minute film from the Asia Society about Allen Ginsberg in India. http://asiasociety.org/video/arts-culture/the-beats-india

http://www.telegraph21.com/video/william-s-burroughs-a-man-within

Interesting 4 minute snippet from a recent documentary film on William Burroughs. Click the link above.

As the Monty Python team used to say, 'and now for something completely different.' In this morning's post came a book NICK DRAKE: THE PINK MOON FILES edited by Jason Creed. Now Nick Drake, who died in the mid 1970s, is a million miles from the Beat Generation and is totally out of sync with this site. So please indulge me. I'm a big fan of Nick Drake and I was back in 1969 when he put out the first of the three vinyl LPs he would release in his short life. Tracks like TIME HAS TOLD ME from the gorgeous FIVE LEAVES LEFT album just hooked me. I didn't know then that Nick came from just down the road in Tanworth in Arden, a little village in the green belt outside Coventry. He even played a rare live date at Coventry Teacher Training College, which didn't go well. After buying his first album, it was followed by BRYTER LATER and PINK MOON, all three albums on the wonderful Island label of course. In 1972 I met my wife and in her little record collection of Traffic, Tim Buckley, Leonard Cohen, King Crimson, Bell & Arc, Captain Beefheart and others, was Nick Drake. I knew instantly she was the girl for me. It is doubtful that Nick even sold a couple of thousand of any of his three albums in his lifetime. My lovely wife is a woman of very good taste. In the mid 1970s we were wondering when the next Nick Drake album was coming out and we wrote to Island Records, a few days later we got a hand written reply with a little book of Nick's lyrics telling us Nick had been found dead a week or so earlier. Remember this is the 1970s, no internet, not Ipads, we didn't even have a phone, not many people did back then. There was a tiny mention in the NME or Melody Maker and that was it. How sad to learn of this so premature passing. But we carried on loving these three albums. In the late 1980s and early 1990s I put together a music magazine called Zip Code, it was mostly a poor thing, but now and then it had moments, interviews with Nirvana and John Martyn being two things I recall. And there was an interview with producer Joe Boyd that I'm pleased to have done. Though it very nearly didn't happen. It did and we talked all about Nick Drake, whom Joe nurtured and produced. Joe was businesslike and I would have enjoyed more time to ask questions but it got done. Now that interview has resurfaced in the book mentioned above, along with a whole bunch of other Nick Drake interviews and articles. I'm pleased to be in there. For Nick Drake fans, and his name has reached so many more people in the past decade or so, this book will be a dream. It is published by Omnibus. I'm off to put FIVE LEAVES LEFT on the turntable.

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Just back from visiting the Beat photography exhibition at the National Theatre on London's South Bank complex. (We also managed to see a Peter Blake exhibit, which was a disappointment, but that is another story) - On a bitterly cold day this particular part of London is not always a good place to be. As far as I can ascertain, entrance to the building is tricky, through a series of walkways. The Siberian blasts whipping across the Thames made it uncomfortable. The 'Brutalist' concrete architecture doesn't help, some bright eyed architects vision of the future no doubt. I recall coming to the Hayward Gallery close by a couple of decades ago to see the Edward Hopper exhibit - and thinking what a dismal place. Once inside the place resembles a very large cave. The exhibit was upstairs in a big cafe sort of area. We were the only people there in an hour of looking, which is a great pity as there were in excess of 70 black and white Beat photos, all produced in a larger format and mostly from the camera of Allen Ginsberg. Though the entrance hall site of a naked Allen Ginsberg is not an image I'd want to retain, especially mid morning. He had some funny ideas. There is a trendy catchphrase in use these days, which might have been designed just for Allen, 'too much information.' Ginsberg could have reined himself in just a shade. But he was a wonderful documenter of his life and times, not a great photographer by any stretch, but without him the era and his milieu would be the less for him. Many of the photos are to be found in books you might own, though ones by others in the exhibit, by Chris Felver for example, might be less familiar. And of course, seeing them developed to such dimensions is a real bonus, it sheds new light. Neal Cassady, Burroughs, Snyder, Corso, Leary, Kerouac as a younger man and as a befuddled middle aged bloke, sadly forlorn in a chair. Burroughs, I never knew he was anything other than a sixty year old drug fiend. Here as a trim healthy looking thirty something in Cairo. Considering his alleged drug intake he should have been six foot under by thirty. Kathy Acker, Jim Morrison, Abe Hoffman and many others. The organisers are to be applauded for setting this up, the Beats are a little cult minority thing, yet they are a group with a massive impact on today. If you can, get to see it, on throughout March.

 

Do you recall that late 1950s television show The Phil Silvers Show? Really it should have been The Bilko show as the character played by Silvers, Sgt Ernest Bilko, really was the star. That show has always been a favourite of mine since they aired it on English tv early on the 1960s. I love it even today. So much, it would seem, that  'Bilko' infiltrates my dreams. Just recently he was in The Village Vanguard in New York, the place where Jack Kerouac famously, or should that read 'infamously' read his work with jazz. He bombed and his contract was terminated. Well Bilko was in the background behind Kerouac, attempting to sell autographs, he had those of Neal Cassady, Charles Plymell and, for some obscure and possibly bizarre reason, American folk singer Tim Buckley, who died young of course. Now Cassady was in his 'moth eaten overcoat' that Kerouac describes in the final pages of On The Road and Jack is morosely saying 'Here comes Neal in his moth eaten overcoat,' but the words are appearing like speech bubbles in my dream. And then very abruptly Jack and Neal start singing 'Dave Brubeck is the swingingest,' which of course is a line/title of a track from a Kerouac album. But a surly Kerouac won't sign autographs for Bilko and Bilko is trying to conjure up a scheme to convince Jack that they can make a million bucks doing that. Bilko has his arm around Jack, while Jack keeps singing about Dave Brubeck. Jack likes him but just wants to sing with him. And meanwhile Bob Dylan has sent his autograph for Bilko to auction, but he has sent it by 'Wicked Messenger.' I'm not steeped enough in Dylan to fathom that one out. Dylan won't deliver it personally. But he tells Bilko, magically without being there, of his dreams and the rascally Bilko wants to auction those as well. There's a side thing going on in my dream about one of Bilko's platoon accidentally making a poetry with jazz record, but my recollections of that are a shade hazy. There are also flying plaster ducks hovering and Carol King's lovely pop tune from about 1962, It Might As Well Rain Until September comes in and sets off a fire alarm. All very odd. As Bob Dylan once said, 'You Can Be In My Dream if I Can Be in Your Dream.' Did he say that? Bobheads let me know.  Wish I knew what it all meant.

"The Hymns to St Geryon designer. I'd not really placed him before - a name slipping in and out of things. Thanks. An affecting piece." Heathcote Williams
 

An earlier Beat Scene Press chapbook is Wallace Berman...Verifax Man. Issued in an edition of just 100 numbered copies, it is out now. Copies are £7.95 around the world. Click on the button here to order.

Inevitably there was a little delay in producing the new Beat Scene, computers. Don't you just love them. Great when they work but a pain otherwise. The issue is now out and I've been exceptionally busy mailing them out. Recently, I posted the last batch of subscriber copies. So look for your copy very soon. A few of you may follow darts on tv? Well it isn't every day I'm standing at the Post Office with my bundles of Beat Scene and get nudged in the back by the onetime World Darts champion. A lovely man, now 80+. He lives at the end of my street. We always talk football, he Ipswich, me Coventry. What has that got to do with anything, I dunno? If you can stretch to picking up an extra copy of the magazine for a friend it would be massively helpful to me, I rely entirely upon sales. There is no advertising or funds sponsoring the magazine. Amazingly I still get queries asking when will the magazine go online? Like, why don't you give it away for free? But I'm so greedy, I like little luxuries like bread and water, a roof over my head. The answer is never. If you would like a copy and you live outside the UK and would like a copy, click this box here.

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It is now ten long years since Compendium Bookshop in London's Camden Town closed down. After starting up in the late 1960s the store shut it's doors for the last time in 2000. With a wonderful mix of books that simply couldn't be found anywhere else in Britain and a knowledgeable staff who stayed loyal to the place for decades, Chris Render, Diana, Mike & co, it was a beacon of a place and drew people from all over the country. As I feared, nobody has stepped in to fill the huge gap it left. The internet and in particular, monsters like Amazon, have decimated the book world, actual places you can physically visit and look for books, have disappeared almost on a daily basis. Now it is the soulless click of a mouse. Waterstones promised for a while, Borders promised for a while, but both have failed miserably, offering the same bland, middle of the road fare. Sad disappointments. Foyles in the Charing Cross Road have a decent - ish poetry section but it too, falls far short of what Compendium could offer. Where are the small press publications that Compendium excelled in supplying? It is all so corporate and neat. OK, so you might find a few Bukowski's and the more easily obtained Gary Snyder's and Kerouac's, but they don't go the extra yards that Compendium did to stock those harder to find titles. And outside London, forget it. Look in the literary sections of Waterstones and similar around the country, you might discover On The Road and Naked Lunch, if you're really lucky. Otherwise it is a wealth of Faber & Faber titles, the usual poetry classics suspects. It is as if Columbus never made it to America and they haven't discovered it.  Hearing of the early death of Compendium stalwart Chris Render recently reminded me of how much I miss this wonderful place, akin to and much better even than New York's late lamented Gotham Book Mart. The coin an old hackneyed phrase, Compendium was a 'destination.' The fun of being in such a place, packed floor to ceiling with books, many from America, Beats, New York School, you name it, was such fun. It is doubtful we will ever see such a bookstore again. A big shame.

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      OUT NOW - THE LAST DAYS OF JACK KEROUAC by James Birmingham. No 27 in the Beat Scene Press Pocket Book series. 125 numbered copies. If you would like to order a copy, click the button below.

The Ginsberg/Kerouac book of letters, what can be said....? Just brilliant spellbinding reading. It is a reminder, if one was ever needed, of why Ginsberg and Kerouac hold a fascination for so many people. This big collection will tell you more about them than fifty biographies. Their fears, hopes, frustrations. As they wonder when America will discover them. They have that dogged belief that they are very talented writers and that they have big things to say. They are a little support group of two, sustaining each other through difficult times. About three quarters of these letters are previously unpublished and they reveal almost everything you need to know about them both. That around the time of the John Clellon Holmes debut novel GO, he wasn't their best friend. Kerouac is openly dismissive and hostile towards him in letters. But then, that was Jack. As fickle as the wind it seems. Chart his friendship with J.C. Holmes by contrasting the letters between them at similar points. It lets you know Kerouac, for all his study and espousal of Buddhism, (and Catholicism for that matter) was as capable of envy, jealously, tetchiness as anyone, he was human after all and not really a king. Ginsberg and Kerouac fall out and reconvene, friendly as you like weeks later, mostly touchiness on Kerouac's part. But its good that we get to know more about less celebrated people like Sheila Williams from Ginsberg & Al Sublette and Stanley Gould from Kerouac, amongst a whole squadron of unsung friends and fellow artists & writers that they mixed with in New York and San Francisco. First meetings with Robert Duncan, Philip Lamantia are transmitted in letters. So funny to hear how friendships that later flowered got off to inauspicious starts. I've got to mid 1955, they are still waiting for their breaks in their lives that will hurl them headlong into notoriety as much as critical acclaim. Arguably one of the biggest 'Beat' books of the past ten years or more. So much more could be said, but it would spoil it all for you. If you haven't got a copy, what are you waiting for?

  Recently back home from going to the Michael McClure reading at the Ledbury Festival on July 2. On the face of it a 'Beat poet' at a sleepy small town literary event seems out of the ordinary. So credit must be given to the organisers and Worcester University who, I understand, sponsored the event. Ledbury is a lovely little town - traditional long high street. I half expected the ghost of Thomas Hardy to be strolling down the street - it has that air. It is impressive that they have two venues like this to put things on in. The Prince of Wales pub in that little alleyway of a street was lovely. Michael's event kicked off the whole festival and it was a very well attended gig at the Community Hall, which looked to hold about 250 people. Michael was introduced by his friend filmmaker Colin Still. (see www.opticnerve.co.uk) Despite some debilitating illness, both himself and wife Amy,  in recent times Michael read many favourites and delighted the crowd with little stories and a memory or two. Good to meet up with Chris Moughton from Lechlade. And Glen Storhaug of Five Seasons Press. See www.fiveseasonspress.com  As well as young film maker Nic Saunders. Nic is currently working on an Allen Ginsberg film. Today, Saturday,  saw four films presented by Colin Still. documentaries on Frank O'Hara, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder and Michael McClure. Colin and Michael discussed the films with the audience and answered questions. The McClure film was aired for the first time in public. I wasn't aware of how well McClure knew O'Hara. Obviously I'd associated him with Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg, so this was something new. He is not especially interested in talking about Bob Dylan, his expression when asked about that link said it all. It was a long time ago. His new book, MYSTERIOSOS (New Directions Press) emphasised that while McClure will forever be associated with the Beats he has moved on and remains a fully active, developing American poet as concerned with the modern world as he was in the heyday of Kerouac & co. Performances with Ray Manzarek, Charles Lloyd and Terry Riley, amongst others are more relevant to him these days. He also read at the London Review Bookshop in Bury Place by the British Museum in London on Thursday evening, July 8, and Collin Still also screened his documentary Michael McClure: Abstract Alchemist of Flesh. It was a lovely evening in a lovely bookstore. A full house packed into every nook and cranny. Kerouac biographer Steve Turner was there, playwright Richard Deakin (Angels Still Falling - the controversial Kerouac play) also there, a big McClure fan, a bunch of household names on the English poetry scene that I know nothing about and the event was introduced by the sheer excellent Iain Sinclair. Iain, I was looking to see if you had notes, but you didn't - how do you do that? Setting the scene with your special mix of erudition and idiosyncrasy. Good to round off the evening with a visit to the Museum pub just around the corner. By the time you read this Michael McClure will be home in California.

Oh, I forgot to mention. Beat fan Johnny Depp wrote a letter in recent times. Not every day a letter comes in the mail from a star of the silver screen I can tell you. Johnny was very nice and encouraging about Beat Scene. He really does follow the history of the Beats and reads the books. It was lovely of him to drop a line, he must be very busy. Thank you Johnny.

Many people remain fascinated by the late poet Lew Welch. An aura of mystery still envelopes him. Is he truly dead? Or did he walk off and choose another life somewhere else? His body has never been discovered. As well as being a member of the Reed College trio with Philip Whalen and Gary Snyder, he was an integral part of the West Coast Beat Generation, he must have been in the frame to read at The Six Gallery in the mid 1950s. Of course Welch was also a good friend to Jack Kerouac, along with their mutual friend Albert Saijo, he penned TRIP TRAP, with Jack, and the pair exchanged many, many letters in the 1950s and 1960s. So I'm doubly pleased to say that The Beat Scene Pocket Book No 26 is LETTERS FROM LEW WELCH and it is available NOW. Published in an edition of 125 numbered copies. If you would like to order you can do it  - UK and Europe only - on the button below. Overseas, please email me.

Beat Scene 62 is out now. Charles Bukowski and Dan Fante are amongst the contributors. There is a new interview with Carolyn Cassady, an interview with Richard Brautigan's first wife, Virginia Aste. John Cohassey writes on Kerouac in Chicago, Daniel Bratton files a terrific article on Eric Mottram, Gillian Thomson recalls Elise Cowen, Jim Burns on Migrant magazine, plus there is an extract from a new book about Charles Bukowski, Kevin Opstedal returns to the Bolinas scene, Thea Snyder Lowry, Gary Snyder's late sister, contributes, the Beat Hotel & more... Oh and you subscribers only received another broadside with your copy. All subscriber copies will include extras in the future. Single copies in the UK are £6.95 including postage in a reinforced envelope. If you would like to order a copy, click the button below. THIS IS UK ONLY - Overseas see under Gary Snyder just below.

  FOR BEAT SCENE 62 IN USA, JAPAN, AUSTRALIA & similar regions. Please click on this button.

  Out NOW is another issue of my other little Beat Generation influenced magazine. This is number 23.  In this latest issue is poetry from Anne Waldman, ruth weiss, Neeli Cherkovski, Ed Sanders, David Meltzer, Jack Micheline, Diane di Prima, Barry Gifford, Charles Plymell, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Tim Hunt on Slim Gaillard, and an excerpt from Charles Bukowski's Scarlet by Pamela 'Cupcakes' Wood. Copies in the UK are £5 including postage. (Cheques payable M.Ring) OVERSEAS please email me.

  I have a copy of Transit 22 up for grabs. William Burroughs cover, the issue includes poetry from Joanna Mcclure, Jack Micheline, Janine Pommy Vega, Tom Pickard, Barry Gifford, Ruth Weiss, Neeli Cherkovski, Charles Plymell and a James Birmingham essay on William Burroughs. Copies are £5 in the UK and £6 elsewhere. For UK only click this button below. Overseas please email me.

 

If you have about 26 minutes to spare, why not click on this link and watch PULL MY DAISY where Jack narrates the film. In his own spontaneous way, I do believe this is truly off the cuff, no editors involved.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6121002842995083319&ei=qFMLTJbiJ5mW-AaTvtwL&q=Pull+my+daisy#

That lovely man musician David Amram sent this photo taken of him in 1957 at The Five Spot in NYC. The place that he accompanied Jack Kerouac and others in - doing jazz readings way back. The photo is by Burt Glinn.

Call me a Luddite but books will never be bettered by technology. You can download & digitise forever and read stuff on your orangeberry or whatever it is, nothing beats paper. It's a little like I read about that guy out of The White Stripes, Jack somebody, talking the other day, he downloads music but he has to have the vinyl album, its a tactile thing. Same with books. And speaking of books, isn't it such a pity that all our used bookstores are disappearing with the encroachment of the internet. My home town has never been overly blessed with them. The actual town centre had one for a while, though I rarely go into Coventry. There was one on the other side of town which I went into quite a bit. It wasn't great, the owner didn't seem to add to his stock at all. There is a barn like place right out of town - it is very English in the stock it has, as though they haven't realised America has been discovered. The poetry section is filled with Larkin, Betjeman, Chaucer and the like. Disappointing mostly. The only one that saves the day in Coventry is Robert Gill's Gosford Books. Situated opposite the Art College in the remnants of a row of old Coventry housing and just by the rapidly expanding Coventry university and art gallery. He has been there for about twenty five years. It is small, it used to be gloomy, dusty - there was a clock ticking away - though it seems to have brightened up a little. An old two up two down house. There are books lined on the steep stairs, but the upper floor isn't open.  I don't know why. It has the look of a very traditional 1950s bookstore. The owner is sometimes to be found having his lunch at the desk, some classical music or Bob Dylan in the background. They've recently extended a little out the back and the place is piled high with books. The book prices are pretty fair by today's standards. Poetry, art, cinema, fiction, etc etc. It has the look of a 1950s Charing Cross Road emporium, the nice window display is from that era and there are books outside in baskets. There is even a shelf of Beat titles on his desk. Hunter Thompson, Olson, Bukowski, Burroughs, Kerouac, Miller et al.  Owner Robert Gill is friendly when you get to talk a little, though not expansive and he lets you alone. He owns the place and says he isn't going anywhere. Doesn't have anything to do with the internet, and says if you want to buy a book off him you have to visit his shop. I get the impression he likes being independent. He's mainly open in the afternoons, including Sundays til 6.30. In an age where Amazon and the like have wiped the floor with used bookstores, Robert Gill's little bookshop is a most welcome anachronism, a real throwback.  116 Gosford Street, Coventry CV1 5DL. Tel 02476-220813

-------------------------------------------------                                          Going for 15 years, my other little Beat Generation themed magazine TRANSIT has number 23 out NOW. A smaller 6" x 8" inches format, this issue is filled with poetry from Anne Waldman, ruth weiss, Neeli Cherkovski, Ed Sanders, David Meltzer, Diane di Prima, Barry Gifford, Charles Plymell, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Tim Hunt on Slim Gaillard and an excerpt from Pamela 'Cupcakes' Morgan's memoir of her time with Charles Bukowski. In the UK this is £4 including postage. Cheques to M.Ring (better for me) or by the button below. Overseas please email me.

Whilst rounding off mailing out the current issue and taking a few minutes for a breather, an interesting statistic sprung up while doing the post. The percentage split between UK subscribers and overseas is uncannily virtually a 50% figure. Subscriptions from America make up a sizeable proportion and an increasing number from Scandinavian countries. The UK proportion is actually falling, which is in very direct contrast to the earlier days of the magazine. This is disappointing and something I'm puzzled and dismayed about, I feel the magazine has improved with every issue. If I wasn't so modest (ahem), I'd say nobody is ever really appreciated in their own backyard. At the moment America likes Beat Scene more than the English do. Subscriber copies are all posted now, so all you loyal subbers should have your copies now, complete with subscriber only Kerouac broadside. Certainly helping to keep me fit. Drop me a note when you receive your copy. Comments always welcome. Go on, go crazy.

Beat Scene 61 is out now. It includes Harold Norse, Burroughs, Jim Carroll, Seymour Krim, Lenore Kandel, Dan Fante, Michael McClure, Jack Kerouac & more.

 

A couple of Beat Scene Press chapbooks have been prepared. One of them is John Fante: A Conversation with Ben Pleasants. That is out NOW. There is a button below for people in the UK to click on. If you live overseas email me and I'll send you details. As always let me know if books in this ongoing series are of interest to you. Once again they are in editions of just 125 copies. Numbered as always. And, I'm working on a new departure which I hope to bring news of in the near future. Watch this space.

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  Our Jack Kerouac special came out in October2009. Sadly it wasn't delivered by Aubrey, who has brought it here for a very long time, he died after a short illness. I'll miss his sharp Yorkshire wit and  stories about the biggest fish you ever saw getting away. Marking forty years since the death of Jack. Contributors include Michael McClure, Gary Snyder, Ann Charters, Iain Sinclair, Barry Gifford, David Amram and others. Subscribers have been contacted by email about an offer on this issue. ( I thank the 35 people who have taken me up on this offer). Subscribers got a Kerouac broadside with their copy.

If you would like a copy please get in touch. There are only a few left.

If you live inside the UK here is a button above to order at £6.95 including post. REMEMBER, THIS IS A UK ONLY BUTTON. Scroll down a little for Overseas

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Incidentally Helen Weaver has a site and she has some words about her new book about her times with Jack Kerouac and others THE AWAKENER - go to http://www.helenweaver.com/?p=1121

  Later in 2009 LETTER FROM SAN FRANCISCO by Philip Lamantia was collected from the printer. It is number 23 in the Beat Scene Press Pocket Book series. It is a long essay/letter from a teenage Lamantia that was sent to an English literary magazine in 1947. In it Lamantia lays out his hopes and dreams for the future. The essay has languished in oblivion since then, possibly a victim of Lamantia's notorious tendency to throw things away or destroy them. So, I'm pleased that permission was given to republish after all these years.  If you would like a copy, they are all numbered. Click on the box below. They are £6.95 each, and that includes postage worldwide.

  You may have read one or two of his books, CHUMP CHANGE, SPITTING OFF TALL BUILDINGS, MOOCH, CORKSUCKER, KISSED BY A FAT WAITRESS, ARIZONA HIGHWAY, DON GIOVANNI and others, but have you heard Dan Fante read? In a revealing and sometimes heartrending half hour interview on NPR radio in the USA, Dan talks with great candour. His new book, the fourth in the Bruno Dante series, his alter ego, is recently published. If you think you knew Dan Fante, just wait til you hear him. At this link you will also be able to read an extract from the new novel.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113279965

THE GAME & OTHER POEMS by Jack Hirschman is a very recent Beat Scene Press Pocket Book. Number 22 in the series. Limited to 125 signed and numbered copies. It is £6.95 in the UK. Everywhere else please send me an email.

 

   Out late Summer in 2009 was a new Beat Scene Press Pocket Book. Number 21 in the series - Tom Pickard's WORK CONCHY relates the story of how a teenage poet from Newcastle upon Tyne in the North east of England brought the Beat poets to an ancient tower on the old city wall in the 1960s. Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Robert Creeley, David Meltzer, Jack Hirschman, Ed Dorn and so many others - they all made the trek there over the years. The chapbook also chronicles the fight Pickard had with the local authorities to be a poet in an age when young men were expected to do as they were told. Published in an edition of 125 signed and numbered copies. It can be got in the UK by clicking on the button below. All other regions please email me.


Beat Scene magazine No 59  came out later in 2009. It sports a Charles Bukowski cover image. In a packed issue William Burroughs, David Meltzer, Kay Johnson, Herbert Huncke, Jack Kerouac, Tom Pickard, and Harold Norse all feature. Plus an article about seminal New York Beat magazine Intrepid & more besides. Click below for a copy in the UK ONLY


Our Jack Kerouac special issue is out NOW. Marking 40 years since Kerouac's death. Subscribers will get their copy as it will be Beat Scene 60. A little landmark. If you would like a copy or an extra copy get in touch. At the above email. Copies  will be sent to subscribers as normal and any after that are strictly on a first come first served basis. Overseas it is $15. If you live OVERSEAS you can click this button to order.

  Readers of Gary Snyder might well be keen to see him being interviewed by Lew Sitzer on NCTV11. The filmed intervew is fractionally over an hour long. Don't expect a trip down memory lane. Snyder is firmly and mostly in the here and now. He is preoccupied with bio-regionalism. biodiversity, language, fire management where he lives and so on. Have a look at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7493184569903349861

 

  RecentlyTransit magazine, issue 21, was published. As the discerning among you will know, it is a little magazine devoted to all things Beat Generation. Measuring approximately 6" x 9" it includes poetry from Jack Hirschman, David Meltzer, Barry Gifford and Dan Fante. Plus there is a big essay on Leroi and Hettie Jones and their seminal 1950s magazine YUGEN. Hettie Jones was happy with it. The issue is now sold out.

 

Out from the Beat Scene Press is CARL WEISSNER, CHARLES BUKOWSKI'S SECRET AGENT. An edition of one hundred numbered copies. It is number 20 in the Beat Scene Press Pocket Book series. It is £6 including postage. Click here to buy a copy.

A recent Beat Scene Press Pocketbook is Barry Gifford's NEW POEMS. It is number 19 in the series. It is a signed and numbered edition of 125 copies. You may know Barry Gifford as the co-author with the late Lawrence Lee of the biography of Jack Kerouac JACK'S BOOK. Many years ago Gifford also penned KEROUAC'S TOWN. Since those days he has become an acclaimed writer. WILD AT HEART, THE IMAGINATION OF THE HEART, PORT TROPIQUE and many others. Get in touch if you would like a copy, these little brown books prove very popular.

Click below if you would like a copy

 

 

And continuing with the William Burroughs theme - you may recall an interview with film maker Lars Movin we conducted in a recent issue of Beat Scene - Lars sent a number of Burroughs images taken in Denmark from the film Movin made - WORDS OF ADVICE - WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS ON THE ROAD - released in 2007, that we were not able to use for one reason or another. So here are a couple of them here. Here is a link to a short trailer for the film.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDY15WZYeMQ

 

During October there was a Beat Generation Symposium held in Chicago. Joanne Kyger and Michael McClure were there. Also there was Liz Von Vogt who recently had 681 LEXINGTON AVENUE: A BEAT EDUCATION IN NEW YORK CITY 1947-1954 published. In that book she recalls her young life mixing with her brother John Clellon Holmes and his friends such as Jack Kerouac. You can hear Liz speak and read from her book if you click the link here. http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=29934

A review of THE HIPPOS WERE BOILED IN THEIR TANKS has appeared in the Washington Post, don't expect Gilbert Milstein at all. The praise is so faint it isn't really there. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/06/AR2008110603201.html?hpid=sec-artsliving

  A recent issue of Transit magazine, number 20, is out. It features an extended essay on the interview Jack Kerouac did with The Paris Review a year before his death. Plus an interview with Joanne Kyger, poetry from Michael McClure and Barry Gifford, Jim Burns on William Wantling and a little feature on Anne Waldman's new recording. Copies are £4 in the UK. If you live in the UK and would like to order, click the box below.

If you live in USA it is $10 by actual USA cash OR Paypal to the email address above. Europe is 10 Euros by cash or by Paypal to above email.

Issue 56 is out NOW. SEE BELOW. 

If you would like to order a copy of Beat Scene 56 and you live in the UK- click on the button below



A recent book in the Beat Scene Press Pocket Book series is a signed and numbered story by Dan Fante.  Not many of this one left.

If you would like a copy - Click here

 

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COOL KEROUAC, by Jim Burns - number 17 in the Pocket Books series, out now. Signed and numbered.


 

REMEMBERING JACK KEROUAC by John Clellon Holmes is number 16 in the Beat Scene Press Pocket Book series. 125 numbered copies. Click below for a copy IN THE UK ONLY (Overseas please email me).


 

BEAT SCENE 55 is still available. Copies in the UK are £6.50. Click below for A UK copy only.      Overseas please send me an email.


For something special on Allen Ginsberg  - you can go to http://www.reed.edu/reed_magazine/winter2008/features/the_beats/and hear the earliest known recording of Allen Ginsberg reading major parts of HOWL, recorded at Reed College in Oregon prior to his first public reading at the Six Gallery. The recording was co-discovered by John Suiter who is writing a biography of Gary Snyder.

"1963. On the way to Bolinas we stopped for gas and I borrowed Ginsberg's camera after taking that photo from backseat of Neal under torn headliner in his '39 Pontiac." (Charles Plymell from Neal and Anne at Gough Street.)"

The Beat Scene Press has published NEAL AND ANNE AT GOUGH STREET by Charles Plymell. Number 14 in the pocket book series, it is numbered in an edition of 125 copies and signed by Charles Plymell. Copies in the UK are £5.95 ...........OVERSEAS - please email for price.

 

Was Charles Bukowski a fan of Hitler? This unlikely scenario is being played out around the run down shell of his former home at De Longpre Avenue, see http://www.laweekly.com/la-vida/a-considerable-town/bukowskis-ruin/17756/?page=1

Longtime Beat Scene subscriber Paul Hillery sent me this Kerouac link. A brilliant few minutes in a troubled world. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IU0yHycuz0

  Beat Scene 53 . Articles include interviews with both Joyce Johnson and Hettie Jones, big stuff on Burroughs, Yugen magazine, Jack Kerouac & more besides. Copies are £5.95 in the UK. Overseas please scroll down the page just past this image of Jack Kerouac


USA copies of BEAT SCENE 53 here, click on the button below for a copy to be airmailed ...


Allen Ginsberg - Died 1997

I met Allen Ginsberg years ago outside a pub in Lowell in Massachusetts. June 1988. He had done a reading and my diary tells me he had been signing copies of his new book of photographs, something that took over more and more of his time later in his life. He was talking to a lot of people outside the bar, it was a cold and windy night and I recall him kindly saying to me that my young son shouldn't be out so late at night, it was around midnight. My son Nathan was eight. I agreed and said I didn't have much option as we were on holiday together alone. We talked about John Clellon Holmes who had died around that time. Allen spoke of one or two ailments of his own. It was late and yet he seemed keen to talk to everybody despite the hour and that it had been a long day for him, beginning at The Whistler Museum early in the day. I had just started Beat Scene by then and he encouraged me to use his photos in it. I was impressed by his generosity. He wrote me a couple of brief letters afterwards and then years later sent a postcard or two asking about the magazine. I always sent him copies but whether he always saw them I don't know, as he was always moving around. A few days earlier I had been sitting in Brighams ice cream shop in Kearney Square in Lowell, having a chocolate milk shake with Ben Woitena, the creator of the terrific Kerouac park in Lowell. Ben was from Texas and told me all about the work on the big monolith type slabs he'd created with Kerouac's words carved into each one. He loved an American band The Sir Douglas Quintet, probably because they too were from Texas. He seemed pleased when I said I had heard them. I'm certainly the right age. A lovely man. Sitting in the next booth were Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg. Not sure whether they were having a milkshake. We walked down to the Kerouac park with Ben, pouring with rain and looked and admired them. In the late afternoon I went into a council office in the centre of Lowell and got to see Kerouac's typewriter and to try on his rucksack. I almost sank to my knees. Even later that day we were at the Pawtucketville Social Club, quite a gathering there. Allen, Lawrence, Henri Cru, Edie Parker, lots of fans like me as well. There was an electrical sorm and the power was out and candles were lit. I recall going to a Greek restaurant with a few people, the friendly Henry Hefco and his wife, (my son was very impressed with Henry's gym), Dean Contover, Tony Sampas amongst them. I think Allen was there.

above, Neal Cassady & the ill fated Natalie Jackson in SF, 1955.

 

I think Beat Scene 51 (see below) issue is desirable simply because of the very special Jack Kerouac content alone. I guarantee it is something you won't have seen before. And people have commented on the big Bolinas content, I believe this is the biggest focus those times has received to date and hope it will push others into further research of the era and the poets who gathered there. I wanted to really investigate this late 1960s, early 1970s loose community of poets and so spoke to a number of them to get their recollections of the time. Writers included were David Meltzer, Joanne Kyger, Anne Waldman, Lewis Warsh, Larry Kearney, Duncan McNaughton, Tom and Angelica Clark, Alice Notley and others. I know of at least one writer who has been enthused enough to begin putting together a book about this community. On the cover are Lewis Warsh and Anne Waldman, over 35 years ago. Two poets who are still going strong. Copies of this issue are down to the last few boxes and my garage is emptying.

If you live in the UK click here for a copy of BEAT SCENE 51 for UK buyers ONLY below

USA, JAPAN & AUSTRALIA go to BACK ISSUES TO PURCHASE A COPY



TRANSIT magazine, our other little Beat Generation hued magazine continues. Number 17 is not long out. Includes poetry from Tom Clark, Alice Notley, David Meltzer, Anne Waldman, Lewis Warsh, Barry Gifford, Diane di Prima, Dharma Bum John Montgomery, Janine Pommy Vega, Joanne Kyger, Ruth Weiss, Beat archivist Arthur Winfield Knight. £4.25 including post in the UK.

BEAT SCENE 51 for EUROPEAN residents only, BUY HERE

 

If you live in Europe, USA/Australia, Japan click below for a copy of the Beat Scene Special issue THE KODAK MANTRA DIARIES. Cost is £7.50 inc post.


 


BEAT SCENE SUBSCRIPTION FOR USA, JAPAN, AUSTRALIA ---CLICK HERE

OUR CHARLES BUKOWSKI SPECIAL ISSUE

In 2004 we decided to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of Charles Bukowski (above). To mark the date Beat Scene magazine published an entire special issue devoted to the man.
We included interviews with his longtime friend and Black Sparrow Press publisher John Martin, a substantial interview with the man who photographed him over the decades, Michael Montfort. Girlfriends, he had a few, but Linda King was a significant woman in his life, we interview Linda. We look at Bukowski at the racetrack, his time with Jon and Lou Webb down in New Orleans being published by the Loujon Press. We investigate his longterm publishing history with Marvin Malone's Wormwood Review magazine and publish a photo of Marvin Malone, a rarity. There's an interview with his German translator Carl Weissner and much more. Full colour covers, including two striking portraits of Bukowski.
All this for £6.50 including post - either by cheque payable to M.Ring or by clicking below.

 

 

 


 

 

 



  

 

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