While doing some
research for a Beat Scene article I discovered a little more about the SS
Dorchester, the ship that Jack Kerouac sailed on to Greenland and Iceland in
1942. Then in a simple twist of fate, Kerouac was intending to sail on again
as a Merchant seaman early in 1943. However, Jack got a telegram from his
football coach at Columbia, Lou Little, asking that he return to college to
resume his studies and play American football again. Jack opted for Columbia
and so escaped a watery grave in 1943. On February 3, 1943 - in the
small hours the Dorchester was attacked by a German U-boat. The ship suffered
fatal damage. It lost power and so was unable to send a distress signal and
also no abandon ship message was issued. The ships Escanaba and Comanche came
to assist and did rescue some seamen from the icy waters. Sadly only 230 of
the men on board, of a total crew of over 900, survived. Hypothermia was the
main cause of death for men in the water, even with life jackets. It was
recorded as the biggest loss from any one attack suffered by American forces
shipping during the war. Kerouac continued later on with the Merchant Marine,
sailing on the SS George Weems later in 1943.
European Beat Studies Network holds its next get together here in England
late in June. It is being held at The Wonder Inn in Manchester. It continues
over a few days and seems to be an ideal chance for Beat fans to soak up some
Beat words in the company of like minded people. While there are panels on
Burroughs and Kerouac I'm heartened to see that Kenneth Patchen gets a look
in, as does film maker Stan Brakhage. Words, music, films, all sorts of
things going on. Here's a link to what's on offer.
Beat Scene 81 has gone off to be printed. It
includes material on Kirby Doyle, Wallace Berman, Dan Fante, Jack Spicer,
William Burroughs, Charles Olson, Tony Fruscella and more. If you would like
to pre-order a copy please do get in touch. A button here for those outside
Europe to order a copy.
It won't be long before the new Beat Scene
chapbook is issued. It will be by Ann Charters and the subject will be one
Ann is well acquainted with, Jack Kerouac. Kerouac's Literary Method and
Experiments: The Evidence of the Manuscript Notebooks in the Berg Collection
of the New York Public Library. It will be in the usual series format.
125 numbered copies. In the UK it is £7.95 including postage. In Europe it is
15 Euros. Everywhere else it is $18 US dollars. A button below for those
outside Europe. UK and Europe please get in touch by email. kev (at)
We've had a
little focus on Charles Olson in recent issues
of the magazine and there's more to come in the forthcoming Beat Scene 81.
Thought a few would like to actually watch the man reading THE LIBRARIAN at
his home in Gloucester, Massachusetts in March 1966.
new collection of Beat and other essays, Jim Burns has a little chapbook just
out from The Black Light Engine Room Press. These are recent observational
poems as he travels the country. contact
firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
progressing well on Beat Scene 81. It includes William Burroughs, David
Meltzer, Wallace Berman, Kirby Doyle, Jack Spicer, Charles Olson,
Kerouac and much more. Looking to publish that later this month. Five issues to come
this year, plus a string of chapbooks and publications, all centred around
the Beats, one in a few weeks.
BEAT SCENE 80,
out now. A button here for those OUTSIDE the UK.
BEAT SCENE 80 is out now. It includes Ed
Dorn, Jenny Dorn, (seen on the cover above) Jack Kerouac, Michael McClure, Wallace Berman, John Clellon
Homes, John Wieners, Harold Norse, Richard Brautigan and more. If you would
like to order a copy please get in touch. A button here for those in the UK.
Thanks to Mr.
James Campbell of The Times Literary Supplement, who penned a little
feature on Beat Scene in their current issue. It is a little weird to be
referred to as Mr. Ring in the article, (Took me back to my school teacher
days) but I thought the phrase 'the Academy of Incomprehensibility' used by
James Campbell was spot on. I must remember that. Beat Scene is eternally
doomed to operate on the outer limits of things I think, so it is nice to be
ushered into the parlour once in a blue moon. Thank you James.
Beat Scene chapbook No 50. It is Iain
Sinclair's On the Back of the Elephant: Riding with Charles Olson. 125 copies
only. If you would like to order a copy please email.
Beat Scene 79 - Above see the cover. A
mature Jack Kerouac. It is an eclectic issue with a range of topics in there.
Joyce Johnson, Rexroth, Kaye McDonough, Big Table, Laura Ulewicz and more. Hope you Beat fans are keen. A button here above for you to pick up a copy in
the UK ONLY.
GREGORY CORSO: BEAT MAVERICK by Jim Burns.
Presented in the usual oatmeal coloured covers & measuring 8" x 5" format.
All pre-ordered copies have been posted. It is
Number 49 in the Beat Scene chapbook series. 125 numbered copies. It is £7.95
including postage in the UK. 15 Euros in Europe and $16 outside Europe. Let
me know if you would like a copy. A button below is for UK people only.
asked about back issues of Beat Scene lately. Now and then there is a
flurry of interest. I have no issues up to and including No 20. All gone. No
issues of No 22, 23, 26, 29. Again, all gone. Number 34 gone also. Number 38
there are just a handful. Stocks of other issues are still here, but
dwindling daily. If you see Beat Scene for sale on the net for outrageous
prices, it isn't me. Just bookdealers chancing their arm. Once they leave
here I have no control over what happens.
Just for fun.
David Amram sent me this photo very recently. I have seen it before, but
I don't think it is very widely circulated or included in many books about
the Beat Generation. It dates from the 1970s and you can see from left to
right, Amram, Bob Dylan, Art Traum, Gregory Corso, Denise Mercedes, Allen
Kazi, John Sholle, Arthur Russell and on right Ed Sanders. Front kneeling is Peter Orlovsky.
A button here for Beat Scene 78 in the UK ONLY
All subscriber copies of Beat Scene magazine
number 78 have been sent out. You
should have your copy now. You can see clearly the general contents of the
issue on the image above. Ed Sanders on the cover. I hope lots of people will show an interest.
I'm pleased with it. Copies
are £7.95 in the UK, 15 Euros to Europe and $20 outside Europe, Japan,
Australia and USA and similar. A button below for those outside Europe.
Lee Harwood (right) with John Ashbery
Very sad to hear
of the death of English poet Lee Harwood recently. He lived a
full poetic life. And was very helpful to me personally over recent issues of
Beat Scene, remembrances of times with John Wieners and others. His carefully
typed (on a typewriter) letters were informative and modest. I think he was
slightly puzzled that a magazine about America's Beat Generation even
existed and especially in England. More associated with the NY school of poetry, Ashbery and
others, he nevertheless crossed boundaries and was both poet and publisher,
in the 1960s issuing one shot magazines. His poetry, in my take on it, always
looked to America. It seemed to me, from a distance and the evidence of his
letters, that he was looking to the future. I'll take my copy of PENGUIN
MODERN POETS 13, where he appears with John Ashbery and Tom Raworth, and
enjoy his writing once more.
OUT NOW from the Beat Scene Press....H.R.H.
Lord Buckley the Most Immaculately Hip Aristocratic and Hipster of the Heart
by Heathcote Williams. In an edition of just one hundred numbered copies.
In the UK copies are £7.95 each. In Europe they are 15
Euros and outside Europe copies are $20 (USA).
just here, a button for those in the UK to purchase a
copy of Beat Scene 77. UK ONLY.
Beat Scene 77
was very well received. Thanks for all the positive reaction to it. William Burroughs on the cover. Thanks Paul Hillery for
help with that one. Again a varied issue, here and there returning to some
themes of the Beats in England issue. That just keeps on throwing up fresh
information. Michael Horovitz raised some issues about it, but hasn't
followed up yet. But if he does I'll let you know. Coming soon...another chapbook in the Beat Scene
series, can't give you any details just yet, but soon. Here's a button
those in America, Japan, Australia etc who want to order a copy of Beat Scene
IN FUGITIVE LITERATURE by Jan Herman, has recently been published by Granary
Press of NY. Herman has a fascinating history, City Lights, San Francisco
Earthquake magazine, Something Else Press, Burroughs connections, etc, etc.
Granary Books Inc, 168 Mercer Street #2, New York, NY 10012. As with most
things Granary, this is published in limited numbers. Be quick.
and Nick Jordan have a film, OFF THE TRAIL, that might interest
Beat fans. It apparently goes to locations of Gary Snyder and Alan Watts
interest and includes Snyder, Watts and Michael McClure reading. You'll find
a short film extract if you go to this link.
Scene 76 has been and gone, with just a few copies left. It is another
eclectic issue, as you can read on the image of the cover above.
Beat Scene deputy editor Jim Burns has a new
paperback collection of essaysjust out.
REBELS, BEATS AND POETS is a sizeable book which includes essays
on Philip Whalen, William Burroughs, Ed Dorn, Leroi Jones, Jack Kerouac,
Kenneth Rexroth, Henry Miller, Seymour Krim, Charlie Parker, Lester Young,
David Gascoyne, Fred McDarrah, John Clellon Holmes, George Mandel, Alan
Harrington, Jazz on the Road, Eddie Finckel, John Calder and more and more
and more. Burns goes to the obscurities, the nooks and corners that nobody
seem to write about these days. His style is effortless, knowledgeable,
informed. This is the 6th in a continuing series of paperbacks from him.
All copies of Beat Scene 75 have been mailed
to subscribers around the world. Please order an extra copy
for a friend. I'd be really grateful for the order. Copies are £7.95 in the UK. £9 in Europe. $20 USA anywhere else. I
can give you a USA address to send a US cheque to. No problem. Cheques in
UK payable to M.Ring. OR I can send you a Paypal Request. You don't need
an account with them. All very simple. You can see from the image what's in
the issue. A good variety of material I think. There is a button below for
people outside Europe. Anywhere else please email me at
indebted to David Caddy and his long running journal TEARS IN THE
FENCE for these kind words below about Beat Scene 74 very recently.
Based in the southwest of England TEARS IN THE FENCE has been a serious place
for poetry for a very long time. A twice yearly printed journal backed by a
lively internet site that gives a platform for lovers of poetry. The issue
they looked at was a 'Beats in England' number and I guess there are a number
of common themes in the issue, Tom Raworth, amongst others. Ian Brinton in a
recent issue of TEARS IN THE FENCE touched on the American influence in
England in the 1950s and 1960s.
This special issue features essays on
a range of Beat writers and others visiting England, a significant January
1961 letter from Robert Creeley to Tom Raworth providing him with contact
details for many Black Mountain and Beat poets as well as Gary Snyder in
Japan and Louis Zukofsky in New York, an article by Iain Sinclair on
meeting Olson at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Allen Ginsberg and Panna
Grady at Regent’s Park in July 1967. There is also an article on Tom
Raworth and Allen Ginsberg, a series of articles on the English and
Scottish publishers of the Beats and Black Mountain poets in the late
Fifties and early Sixties, plus a long poem, ‘The Prince of Amsterdam’ by
Heathcote Williams concerning the Albert Hall International Poetry
Incarnation, which included Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, Corso, Spike Hawkins,
et al, of June 1965.
It was 1965 and a foretaste of the
Summer of Love
When it was believed that love could stop war,
And at this wholly communion
Where a Bardic tap was unscrewed
And turned into a spiritual fire hydrant
Pauline Reeves contributes an
extensive essay on Ginsberg in London in 1965, the background to the Albert
Hall event, filmed by Peter Whitehead as Wholly
Communion, and its
immediate aftermath drawing upon contemporary documentation. Brian Dalton
writes about The Dialectics of Liberation conference at the Roundhouse in
July 1967, which similarly brought together American and English poets and
thinkers. There is a notable reprint of a 1963 article by Jim Burns on Gary
Snyder, entitled ‘His Own Man’, identifying Snyder’s commitment to
‘disaffiliation’ and ‘resisting the lies and violence of the governments
and their irresponsible employees’ through ‘civil disobedience, pacifism,
poetry, poverty – and violence, if it comes to a matter of clobbering some
rampaging redneck or shoving a scab off the pier. Defending the right to
smoke pot, eat peyote, be polygamous, or queer – and learning from the hip
fellaheen peoples of Asia and Africa, attitudes and techniques banned by
the Judaeo-Christian West.’ Burns clearly saw in 1963 that Snyder whilst
being part of the San Francisco, Black Mountain and Beat scene, featured in
Kerouac’s The Dharma
Bums as Japhy Ryder, was quite distinct and
Eric Jacobs writes about the
background to Fulcrum, Goliard, Trigram and Ferry Press and their
commitment to publishing the likes of Snyder, McClure, Olson, Creeley,
Duncan, Dorn, Hirschman and Ginsberg. There is good use of a Creeley 15th
November 1963 letter to Andrew Crozier showing the English poets that he
was in contact with. The essay also draws upon Ian Brinton’s essay ‘Nearly
Brassed Off: Andrew Crozier and the Ferry Press’ from Tears in the Fence 55 as well
as Jim Burns’ Bohemians, Beats and Blues People
(Penniless Press, 2013). Jim Burns has an essay on Gael Turnbull’s Migrant
Press begun in Worcester in 1957 to introduce certain American writers that
had interested him through Origin, Black
Mountain Review and the Jargon books of
Jonathan Williams. He also uncovers the work of Alex Neish, as editor of
from Edinburgh in 1959 and 1960 publishing Burroughs, Creeley, Olson and
Michael Rumaker alongside Edwin Morgan, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Ian
Crichton Smith, alongside translations of Marguerite Duras, Michel Butor
and Alain Robbe-Grillet. Sidewalk
was advertised as a review with a policy of anti-parochialism, which would
focus upon the social and literary problems of today and tomorrow, and was
attacked by the popular press of Glasgow.
There is much more to this
excellent issue. Subscriptions are £26 for 4 issues.
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
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
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.'
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
email@example.com 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
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.
email kev (at)
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.
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 -
Iain Sinclair - Brian Catling - Chris Torrance
The Sea Cadets Building Oct 25
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 &
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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 MantraDiaries 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.
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.
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.
Centre, 77a Greenwood Road, London E8 1NT
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.
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
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.
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.
If you would
like a copy of Beat Scene 69, click below.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 &
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 thegloom in another corner of the room Paul Bowles
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.....
will be shipped to you immediately. Price includes post. It will be packaged
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
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
"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.”
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
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
Click here if you live outside the UK and would like to obtain a copy of
Beat Scene 67 by Airmail post.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
REALLY TRULY Absolutely dedicated
to the Beat Generation and nothing else besides THEM. At all Ever..........
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
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.
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.
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
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.
NEW COURT RULING IN JACK KEROUAC ESTATE CASE - AS OF AUGUST 2011. FINAL
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.
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
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.
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.
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
A link to
Transit No 24. UK ONLY
button right below. At £5 a copy.
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.
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.
minute snippet from a recent documentary film on William Burroughs. Click the
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 Scene62 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.
SCENE 62 IN USA, JAPAN, AUSTRALIA & similar regions. Please click on
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
recent issue of Transit magazine, number 20,
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.
Issue 56 is out NOW.
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 -
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
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
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
"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.
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
above, Neal Cassady & the ill fated Natalie Jackson in
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
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
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.