Someone posted this image of the Jack Kerouac magazine Moody Street Irregulars from over 40 years ago on the net just recently. It was Joy Walsh who put it all together from her home in Buffalo. I surprised her once, about 11pm one rainy night calling in on her. She did such a good job in uniting us Kerouac readers. Loads of us here in England and Europe too. Met her again in Lowell, Mass. Joy worked in a pre broadband age. Typewriters were state of the art. She had a budget of nothing, but a lot of love for what she did. She played a very big role in helping restore the reputation of Jack Kerouac, whose name was so in the doldrums. Yesterday's man. But I digress. My lovely wife took the picture on the cover of this Moody Street, on a camera she'd had as a gift as a kid from her brilliant parents. Joy did the negative effect and it works. Dick and Jean owned the house, they had two daughters. Such kind people. Visited a few times. There's a story there, but not the time for it here. Gorgeous piano inside, stained glass front door. Dick and Jean had no idea of 'The Martin House' and how Jack Kerouac had imagined his 'Martin' family living there.
And there’s me. Moaning about precious little feedback on new issues of Beat Scene. And Alan Robertson of Falkirk sends me a lovely photo postcard of a young Gary Snyder in 1963 in Japan, training in the disciplines of Zen Buddhism. With a kind affirmative note. Thanks so much Alan. I’d first seen this picture of Gary in the Ann Charters compiled and edited book SCENES ALONG THE ROAD in the early 1970s, when buying it at the much cherished Compendium bookstore in Camden Town, Mike Hart, Chris Render & co, nice chaps. They are missed. London is not the same without them. Initially, in the store then, the photo of Gary puzzled me. It didn’t match the ‘Japhy Ryder’ pictures in my head after reading Kerouac’s THE DHARMA BUMS. Remember, this is 50 years ago, the Beats were not nearly so well documented back then. Thinking about it now, it was likely the very first photo of Gary I’d ever seen. No Google in those days of course. That was decades into the future. Looking at the book now. The original brown or sepia card covers, it still has the original Compendium price on in pencil inside – the princely sum of £1.25. Wow. And another Ann Charters project. She was and still is indefatigable. And I can tell you, she remains a fan, as well as a scholar to this day. Her enthusiasm is undimmed. Alan, thanks for the card. So kind. Now off to leaf through SCENES along the road once more. Rolling back the decades.
Back in 1962 Maurice Girodias, a loveable rogue if ever there was one, was looking to copy Barney Rossett’s Evergreen Review and publish his very own in house journal. He called it Olympia. It was to be a monthly review from Paris. The very first issue, a larger format paperback style, included TEN EPISODES FROM THE SOFT MACHINE by a chap called William Burroughs, then strictly a mostly unheard of cult writer, often tagged, when he was tagged, as a science fiction writer or worse, confused with Edgar Rice Burroughs. There was a Harriet Crowder photo of Burroughs alongside the episodes. Burroughs, for all that Maurice Girodias short changed him over his early works, liked Girodias. Given the cult status Burroughs then enjoyed it would be likely that many readers might have been forgiven for overlooking one short, two page, contribution from someone called Richard McBride. Girodias had contacted Lawrence Ferlinghetti over at the City Lights offices in North Beach, San Francisco, asking if he knew anyone that had recorded their dreams? Lawrence knew someone very close at hand, Richard ‘Dick’ McBride, a manager who worked for him at City Lights. Alongside working at City Lights Dick McBride was an aspiring poet and writer. His dream was, well it might be termed madcap. It involved Dostoyevsky, crucifixions, Jesus, windblasted hills in Russia, biographies, Fagin (I assume the Charles Dickens character). McBride’s wife, or partner then, plus an alluring model of those times called Rita Queen, that Dick was attracted to in the dream. Dostoyevsky was advising him to be wary. Dick full of young man lust was trying to ignore his advice. As I said, it was bonkers, madcap. Maybe Dick had read Jack Kerouac’s 1961 collection BOOK OF DREAMS? He almost certainly had as City Lights had published it in an edition of 5,000 copies months earlier. So, possibly Dick was inspired by Jack Kerouac’s book and determined to record his own nightly dream escapades. It bears the hallmarks. Dick McBride’s account may also have been lost in amongst Terry Southern and his THE SPY’S CORNER or/and Maxwell Kenton’s CANDY AND THE HUNCHBACK, plus writing from Lawrence Durrell, J.P. Donleavy, photographs by Robert Doisneau, a story by Harriet Daimler – real name Iris Owens – who penned ‘erotic’ novels for Olympia. McBride had worked at City Lights since 1954 and right through to 1969. The latter years at their publishing arm at 1562 Grant Avenue in San Francisco. Kenneth Patchen had introduced him to Lawrence Ferlinghetti and he immediately offered him a job. McBride had books published over the years. A short story of his – Haircut Dream was published in the City Lights Journal in 1963. A positive review in Kulchur magazine said: “Two of the young writers involved with visionary experiences are to be taken more seriously. Richard McBride describes a series of wild dream sequences revolving around the appearance and disappearance of Suzy Wong. Going from alley to alley, through many doors, Haircut Dream is reminiscent of the magic circus in Steppenwolf.” It had followed ORANGES in 1961, followed by BALLADS OF BLOOD, then LONELY THE AUTUMN BIRD in 1963 (essentially two short novels). During 1964 he relocated to London for six months on an exchange trip set up by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The exchange was an effort to introduce Beat writers to UK readers and create links between the avant-garde writers of both countries. He based himself at the famed Better Books in Charing Cross Road, run by Tony Godwin, it sowed the seeds for Allen Ginsberg’s visit the following year. MEMOIRS OF A NATURAL BORN EXPATRIATE arrived in 1966. There was a gap until a memoir of Allen Ginsberg COMETH WITH CLOUDS was issued by Charles Plymell’s Cherry Valley Editions in 1982. By then McBride had moved himself to England, Buckinghamshire to be exact, and set up a book distribution business – McBride & Broadley. COMETH WITH CLOUDS is unique in being a memoir of Allen Ginsberg in England, largely away from the noise that can be London, in the shire backwaters that were then McBride’s environs. It is a special little book. Sojourns in Australia followed. His last years were spent in the Malvern area in England. A long way from North Beach.
OLYMPIA, as a journal, was short lived. Only four editions were published. Maurice Girodias was always beset by financial woes. He always ‘sailed close to the wind’ as they say in some parts. His attempts to be a European Evergreen Review were not to be. I met Dick a number of times over the years. And there are a little bundle of his letters here. His book distribution business was based, often, in leafy, sleepy, Buckinghamshire villages, old church chapels, delightful locations. He made sure a lot of ‘Beat’ books were seen in this country in the 1970s onwards. One thing I always remember, apart from one little mishap involving my four year old son Nathan, a glass of orange juice and a newly arrived copy of Dick’s very own copy of the newly published COMETH WITH CLOUDS: ALLEN GINSBERG MEMOIR by Dick himself. It had come through the letterbox as we sat talking. You can guess the rest. Mopping up, Dick, probably through gritted teeth, said don’t worry, accidents happen – But he did write a nice little story of an extended phone call from a distracted Jack Kerouac to the City Lights office way back. It appeared in a little journal I published years ago called Transit. Wish Dick had written more. He died in 2012 aged 84.
Gary Snyder, because of the current issue of Beat Scene, is in my mind a little. To remind me and you of what he’s about here is a trailer for a film by Colin Still in London. His Optic Nerve site is an Aladdin’s cave of Beat poets. Colin has filmed many American poets over the years. Gary is one of them. Here he is in fire lookout mode. The photo has Michael McClure on the left and Jack Shoemaker, I believe, on the right. Don’t know who the young guy is at the back. Perhaps somebody can tell me? Gary and Philip Whalen encouraged Jack Kerouac to do the lookout thing. They were all – Alone on a Mountain top. https://www.opticnerve.co.uk/poetry/american-poets/gary-snyder/things-to-do-around-a-lookout
Now and then, in amongst the positives, I get the odd barbed comment, directed at Beat Scene. It is like water off a duck’s back. I imagine it is from people who have no understanding of what it takes to create and publish and do all the nuts and bolts aspects of it and maintain that for 36 years, on my own (and M.Ring). My local post office loves us, we’re in there most days, sending off issues. By the way, post costs have risen dramatically, but what’s new. I’ve seen publications come and go, some really good, imaginative things, they fold mostly because of finances. So, I gladly embrace whatever positives come my way. There isn’t that much feedback for Beat Scene to be honest, but when it does turn up on my doormat or in my email IN Box it really lifts my sometimes flagging spirits. A very recent note, last night to be exact, came from a friendly subscriber, the writer Peter Hollywood (I look forward to everything he writes), who lives in Northern Ireland – let me quote something of what Peter said in his email …”Good Lord, who is Hillary Louise Johnson? I’ve been reading and re-reading the brilliant article on Gary Snyder in the new issue. You know how much I love Snyder and this was such a joy to read. Real up-to-date (ish) info about the great man. But also, so wonderfully written. For example: ‘…he is just another woodland creature…’ or (and this is magnificent) ‘it’s a little like trying to convey the graceful lope of a bear from a paw print…’ (The alliterating of the p in lope with paw and print – words are paw prints too.)
Alongside Beat Scene in earlier years there were twenty five issues of a pocket poetry (mostly) magazine called TRANSIT. It has been in hibernation for a good number of years now. I’ve been mulling over whether or not to issue it again. There’s bags of material that could go in. It is simply a matter of finding the time. Here’s a sample copy – featuring Gary Snyder, he’s a writer who never fails to interest. He’s never going to get better than things like AXE HANDLES and THE BACK COUNTRY and that period, yet he endures, he seems as much an essayist as a poet too nowadays. This TRANSIT, number 15, from 2005 is, I think, not a bad lineup. Poems from David Meltzer, Anne Waldman, Diane di Prima, Barry Gifford, Charles Plymell, Tom Clark, Neeli Cherkovski, Dan Fante, Robert Creeley. There’s an essay on Gary Snyder by Trevor Carolan, another on Jack Kerouac by Patrick Fenton, Jim Burns, Arthur Winfield Knight. Not so shabby at all. Another earlier number, issue 10, from Spring 2002 (heck is it really almost 20 years) – Richard Brautigan and Michael McClure cover – Charles Plymell and a little essay about sharing a house with Neal Cassady. Poetry from Anne Waldman, A.D. Winans, Michael McClure, Charles Bukowski (two from him), Billy Childish. Jack Kerouac and Jazz – an essay by Ashley Shelby. Two essays from John Thomas on Bukowski and Brautigan – he knew them both. Plus Aram Saroyan writing about his friend the poet Fielding Dawson. And there are photos in this issue. It seemed right to keep poetry to a little magazine and leave Beat Scene to do other things. Perhaps the Beat Scene chapbook series took over in my mind? Still it was fun while it lasted. Yet who knows what tomorrow brings.
A very early Beat Scene Press chapbook. JACK KEROUAC in SAN FRANCISCO by the late poet and biographer Tom Clark who died when hit by a vehicle a couple of years back, near his home in Berkeley. Tom was very supportive of Beat Scene and helped a lot, especially with issue No 51 which gave a lot of space over to the Bolinas poetry scene way back. Tom and his wife Angelica were a key part of that poetry community. Tom also wrote biographies of Ed Dorn, Charles Olson and Jack Kerouac – besides a string of poetry collections. Another Beat Scene chapbook from Tom was his LETTERS FROM CAMBRIDGE – relating to his time as a young student at university in England. His book WHO IS SYLVIA? is a window into that time. Through our correspondence over the years it became clear that not only was Tom highly informed on American baseball but also English (and world) football. He’d mention watching games in the wee small hours on TV. So we had much common ground there. Larry Bensky was a friend and colleague of Tom for many years. This little recalling sums up a lot and is not a million miles from my own long distance memories of him. https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2018/08/20/tom-clark-1941-2018/ Tom was an important American poet. Here’s a link to the New York Times – an obituary where they fill in some of the gaps in his full life. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/24/obituaries/tom-clark-77-is-dead-poet-biographer-baseball-bard.html
Quite taken aback at how the years have flown by since Elias Schneitter at Edition Baes in Austria published my paperback book of essays and interviews – ALL DAY LOOKING FOR HIS HAT: ESSAYS ON JACK KEROUAC and Other Stories – Joyce Johnson is one interviewee. Published in Austria in English, Elias did a neat job of putting it together. Edition Baes have published books by Jack Hirschman and Ruth Weiss amongst others. Their site is at https://www.edition-baes.com/
There are plans afoot on the Neal Cassady scene. Apparently a new edition of AS EVER, the long out of print volume of letters initially published by Creative Arts decades ago, which include the correspondence between Cassady and Allen Ginsberg. Plus a brand new and expanded edition of GRACE BEATS KARMA, the Neal Cassady letters from jail. Plus more. Earlier this year, March to be precise, there was a feature in the Santa Cruz weekly newspaper GOOD TIMES – go here to read more on Cassady. https://goodtimes.sc/cover-stories/understanding-complex-beat-figure-neal-cassady/
Above is a picture of Allen Ginsberg with the musician Bruce Springsteen. Often Allen was photographed with Bob Dylan, but Bruce Springsteen is rare. I don’t know anything about the circumstances of this picture. Or who the other person in the photo is. It is said that Allen enjoyed being in the company of musicians and was a wannabe musician himself. There’s likely to be a connection here with words, language of course. And aren’t they both from New Jersey. He got on well with Paul McCartney apparently. Just think back to that striking image of him in London in the mid 1960s on Hampstead Hill in London wearing a bright red shirt hand painted and given to him by McCartney – that photo by Iain Sinclair which featured in his film Ah, Sunflower! I’m guessing this picture is early 1980s. My knowledge of Bruce Springsteen is almost nil – so it’s not even an educated guess. Any well informed Springsteen followers throw any light on this?
Allen Ginsberg in the shirt given to him by Paul McCartney.
Larry Romano in the USA tells me that it is a picture taken on the Bob Dylan Rolling Thunder tour in 1975. Thank you Larry. Karen Darvin is possibly the figure in the background, suggests Larry.
Poet JACK HIRSCHMAN died suddenly today in San Francisco, Sunday August 22. Jack was born in New York in 1933. He was 87 years old. You’ll surely read most about his life in various places over the coming days, so I’ll keep it personal here for now. I had a lovely afternoon with Jack and Kerouac biographer Gerald Nicosia in Vesuvio’s in San Francisco’s North Beach in 1981. Without looking at my diary I recall I’d arranged to meet Gerald there and he brought Jack along. Jack lived in North Beach I recall. He seemed to enjoy living in the area. It was fascinating listening to the other two that afternoon. It was easy to just listen to their tales. In my innocent mind back then Jack was a ‘Socialist’ poet. I liked him because of that. To him poetry was wonderful but it had to make a difference. He was committed to his causes. A better world for all. I knew nothing of his translation work, his overseas connections. That he had spent time in Yorkshire. For me that emerged whilst interviewing him for Beat Scene later on. I’ll have to dig out the diary and rediscover what I wrote. There was intermittent correspondence with Jack over the years. He handwrote his letters, no typewriter or computer for him. He graciously allowed me to publish a decent sized chapbook of his poems. In 2002 I met Jack again one rainy afternoon in December – just before Christmas – in Black Oak Books in North Beach, a used bookstore sadly no longer there. We were both silently browsing. Spotting this familiar figure with that magnificent moustache I did what I normally shy away from and approached and asked if he were Jack Hirschman. And to my surprise he remembered me. Or maybe he was just being nice. We talked for a while and then braving the rain – as they say in Newcastle – it was ‘stotting it down’ – we walked across the road to City Lights bookstore. Jack picked one of his books off the shelves and asked the person behind the desk to put it on his bill. Jack signed it for me. We walked along to Puccini’s cafe where we met up with my wife and Jack phoned his partner Aggie (Agnetha Falk – that’s Aggie with Jack above) and suggested we go over to the Cafe Trieste. Think he felt more at home there. While walking we passed the big Catholic church and we were talking about fellow San Francisco poet Philip Lamantia. Jack said that Philip would probably be in the church as it was Sunday. It was a very wet but lovely afternoon in North Beach. A kindly man. He seemed to me larger than life. He was certainly a pivotal North Beach poet. I got to learn more about his long life in poetry, his travels, his translation work. He wasn’t interested in fame or wealth, I understand he lived in a tiny flat in North Beach. My memory tells me there is a documentary about him on Youtube and Jack is seen at home. I’ve still got the paper napkin he doodled on in a cafe – tucked away inside the book he signed for me. Naturally the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE had some words about Jack. Go here – https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Jack-Hirschman-Marxist-poet-and-North-Beach-16404434.php?fbclid=IwAR2HgL0P5iT-fSAdez44yOGwLyU1-PZB_PiwC3G6j3O6zFfY1XpHM81eq78
RON WHITEHEAD is a latterday Beat poet. You get the feeling about him that he wished he was around in the 1940s and 1950s to be at the Cedar Tavern or the White Horse in New York alongside Kerouac and co. Or in San Francisco, being part of the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance. But he’s here in 2021, a passionate live reader. Look for him reading Searching for Hunter S. Thompson: The 2021 State of Gonzo Address – it’s on that thing called Youtube. A 27 minute exquisitely filmed monochrome reading. In it he recalls Hunter S. Thompson, alongside the Beats, Kerouac, Ferlinghetti and a host of other significant figures. In it he exposes the bigotry, the sometimes sinister politics of America, the often rabid racism he’s encountered, the character assassination of writers like Thompson – a wild and devil may care man we know, with his heart on his sleeve however.
BEAT SCENE number 101 is now available. The mailout was completed a few weeks ago. Eased along with Classic FM radio. It is an eclectic mix as usual, Jack Kerouac of course, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Joan Haverty, Helen Weaver, Diane di Prima, Beat Women (like Elise Cowen – pictured above) and more. And how encouraging it is to see a little mention of this forthcoming issue on The Allen Ginsberg Project site. Thank you Peter Hale and co. There are only a few copies left. If you would like to order a copy contact me at email@example.com
Back in the days when it was a carefree environment, relatively speaking of course, there was this INTERZONE event at ‘a secret location.’ 2014. Not on The Lower East Side in New York – but in London. Someone went to a lot of trouble to produce this promotional poster. Was it a real poster or merely digital? It appears quite impressive, note the lemurs, the almost unobtrusive slightly younger William Burroughs peering in on the later stage WSB. It looks like it is based on a well known London photo of the man. Did anyone ever attend? Let me know. Or was it so ‘secret’ that it never happened? Just a tease.
On March 18, 2003 the first entry in a huge red ledger book given to me by a friend was made. That first entry was for Beat Scene magazine number 42. (copies still available), The book records every single issue of Beat Scene sold since that date. All entries by handwriting. A Mr. John Aris was the recipient. As well as being very much a physical entity, as opposed to a virtual bit of vapour, all Beat Scene records are decidedly Dickensian. Index cards, books, letters. John Aris used to visit here to sometimes collect his subscription copies. Not seen John in years. That issue’s ledger entry tells me that copies were sent to Kerouac and Cassady’s good On the Road friend Al Hinkle, to Jon Edgar Webb Jr, to Albert Saijo, Carl Weissner, Tom Clark, Dan Fante amongst other writers and contributors. This ledger tells me many stories. At a glance I can see which issues do better than others. This particular first entry – Charles Bukowski at the racetrack on the cover – did very well in sales terms, as did number 43, a Richard Brautigan cover. That issue long ago sold out and gone to that great ‘rare book dealer heaven in the ether.’ The list of names is like a roll call. Some of those names are constant throughout, indeed, they’ve been constant since day one back in March 1988. I salute them. The red ledger book, battered and worn, is coming to the end of its life now, the pages almost full, it’s beginning to fall apart. It will record the sales and ups and downs of Beat Scene 101. Over 60 issues, including Specials, are documented in these pages, over 18 years of entries. Then it will be consigned to a plastic tub with other ephemera in the Beat Scene office. Where can I find another huge ledger type book to record the next 18 years I wonder?
Number 102 is well progressed and will be the second volume of The Beats in Britain. You might recall the first volume two or three years ago, which was well received. Richard Brautigan will feature. It’s a while since he was included in an issue.
Because of the recent GOLD MACHINE BEATS chapbook by Iain Sinclair there have been requests for other Sinclair things that have been issued from here. One thing which was done 15 years ago – hard for me to comprehend that – was THE KODAK MANTRA DIARIES by Iain. It was a revamping of one of his very early Albion Press publications, from a time when he was still relatively unknown outside his own circle I’m guessing. But the original THE KODAK MANTRA DIARIES (see image below) had taken on – mythical is too strong a word – special aura maybe – that it was a little daunting at first for me to take on. The book was a unique take on significant times in London, when values were shifting, pressure was growing for cultural, social change. To me it’s a true picture of how things were for many in mid to late 1960s in London, a capturing of a spirit. The sooty Post War streets of the capital. Filming Allen Ginsberg, trailing him, with William Burroughs, Charles Olson in those shadows too, Stokeley Carmichael at the Dialectics of Liberation conference at Camden Town’s Roundhouse. Intense debate for days in those summer days of the mid 1960s. The film that was produced alongside the book by Iain and his pals, Ah, Sunflower. Never has a name so aptly conjured up the times. Allen Ginsberg in colour, in London. A time where he became so much more than a poet. Adding ‘political commentator’ – maybe a spokesman for his generation. And the film was so close to failing, there’s a story there. It was a very satisfying project for me. A learning curve. Good to see extra photos added, additions to the text. California poet and biographer Tom Clark contributing. More words from Iain. And the cover of it. Ginsberg, resplendent in a bright red shirt Paul McCartney had given him.
This is Ken Kesey reading Beat Scene number 18 in a car park in West Virginia. It would be 1992. Ken was being interviewed by Alan Balliett, especially for Beat Scene. It was a lengthy and full interview. There were lots of pictures taken. Ken was into coloured marker pens at the time. He was quite talented with them, anyone who has seen his JAIL JOURNAL book (a splendid thing) will nod their heads at this. Raw, untutored maybe but with an innocent craft. He’s holding up the issue of the magazine that I dislike the most. To save money I’d taken it to a different printer and they really fouled it up. Never again. You can see Jack and Neal on the cover and Richard Brautigan on the rear cover. Alan’s interview was so good I did a Beat Scene chapbook edition of it, including material cut from the Beat Scene version. Ken featured on the Beat Scene 16 cover and, if my memory serves me well, there was a broadside from him slipped inside the magazine for subscribers. Alan told me he was lovely to interview and everything I’ve read about him bears that out. He was in awe of Jack Kerouac and it’s such a shame that when they got to meet in NYC towards the end of Kerouac’s life it was amidst all the lights, cables, cameras and mayhem of the Pranksters, Kerouac was put off by all that. If only Ken and Jack (and maybe Neal and Ken Babbs) had been able to talk in quiet surroundings. Kerouac would have heard Ken tell him how he really rated him as a writer. Which, as we all know, was all Jack wanted to hear. Not the King of the Beats hoopla. And it reminded me of putting some petrol in the car in Oregon one time, a remote town, it seemed to me, and I swear Ken Kesey pulled up close by and filled his tank up too. I tried not to stare. I’m 99% certain it was him. I didn’t speak, too frozen and unsure, it wasn’t that far from Eugene. I just kept thinking ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’ His espousal of drugs always troubled me. Sure he wanted people to see the world from a heightened perspective but drugs, to me at least, are never the answer. To paraphrase Allen Ginsberg ‘I’ve seen some of the best friends I’ve had destroyed and nearly destroyed – not by madness, but by drugs and drink -it’s a madness all of its own.’ Thankfully, I think, Ken drew back from it in later years – as an ex wrestler athlete he knew it made sense.
From time to time an individual crosses your path like no other. Robert Briggs was one such figure. Roughly 20 years ago he came to visit. He travelled alone. A tall, lean man, who often thought for a while before speaking. This is so rare. I was reminded of him being here when looking at a site about bygone years in San Francisco, The Place, Vesuvios, The Co-Existence Bagel Shop and other sites of literary and jazz significance, in the course of research. And there he was, Mr. Briggs at The Cellar, backed by a band. Reading his poetry. It is 1958. – [That’s Robert above] – He released records. He had a handful of books published. One of those was RUINED TIME: HOMAGE TO THE BEAT GENERATION. It appeared in the early years of this new century. Don’t be fooled by the homage subtitle. Robert was not one for gushing hero worship, instead you’ll find a curious and big book ruminating on the Beats and America. Philosophical, psycho-analytical, sociological and literary. Robert knew what he was talking about. He’d been a literary agent way back. I never knew while he was here how he’d been friends with people like Richard Brautigan and acted on his behalf, securing book deals. He’d been a soldier who, along with his platoon, was asked to be in a trench to witness an atomic explosion, he says they were instructed to ‘cover their holes’ eyes, nose, mouth, ears, as best they could. It was the late 1940s. He told me about those soldiers who died young because of this. Pawns in their game, indeed. Robert was modest. You may never have heard of him. Here’s a few lines from the opening of his book — “I drifted back into the Fifties when I was in New York one sunny Sunday in 1990. It was a mild afternoon. Wandering down into Greenwich Village, I turned off 8th Street and walked south along MacDougal. As I neared Minetta’s Tavern, I happened to peer into the window of Cafe Reggio. In there, pensive people were sitting, reading, and talking over empty expresso cups at the same ornate marble-topped tables where forty years earlier, I’d begun to measure out my life with coffee spoons.”
He’s pictured in The Cellar, a jazz place where Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Kenneth Rexroth, ruth weiss and others read with jazz, they make it into the history books but Robert Briggs gets airbrushed away. Perhaps because he was both part of it and yet had that ability to step outside. Never part of a literary gang, resolutely individual, a man for all seasons possibly. If you want to discover America close up, at least that part that Robert occupied, read his book if you can find it.
I want to jot down a few lines here and will add to this – but wanted to type it in before his memory slips away.
One of the things it is nice to do from time to time is put in a little poetry broadside or postcard inside issues of Beat Scene. I don’t do it enough. Here’s one from 17 years ago (count those days) – Beat Scene 63 in 2004. Beat Scene friend Giuseppe Moretti supplied the photo taken by Silvia Leprai. You’ll see Giuseppe on the left with Gary Snyder in the middle, flanked by the late James Koller, he of COYOTE’S JOURNAL fame and of course many other things. Jim did so much in the name of poetry. The picture was taken in Gubbio, Italy. Gary Snyder had strong connections with Italy through Giuseppe Moretti, who penned the neat chapbook HANGING AROUND KITKITDIZZE WITH GARY SNYDER in 2009. Giuseppe and his friends try to live out that ‘bio-regional’ approach to life in their area of Italy. There have been any number of postcards, broadsides, even a record, given away to subscribers to Beat Scene. Charles Bukowski, Charles Plymell, Lew Welch, Jack Kerouac, amongst others. The photograph of Gary Snyder on the cover of Beat Scene 64 shortly afterwards, in the Dolomites I understand, glorious colours, taken by Giuseppe, is really a terrific photograph, arguably one of the best you’ll see of Gary, in nature. Proud to have been able to use it. Thank you Giuseppe.
The English poet Michael Horovitz has just died. He was 86. He was the publisher of New Departures and the editor of the collection of British poets CHILDREN OF ALBION in 1969. Many have likened this volume to THE NEW AMERICAN POETRY edited by Don Allen in 1960. Michael was also part of the British contingent of poets at the 1965 gathering at the Albert Hall in London in 1965, (see photo on left above) – when they were joined by Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg and where Michael could be seen in Peter Whitehead’s film of the event, WHOLLY COMMUNION. Allen Ginsberg (see him above with Michael) described him as “Popular, experienced, experimental, New Jerusalem, Jazz Generation, Sensitive Bard”. At home equally with musicians, he read alongside Graham Coxon and Damon Albarn from Blur. My own personal recollections of him range from sitting next to him in a basement cafe near The London Review bookshop where Michael McClure had just read and Michael, noticing that my wife was not a fan of noodles, saw her plate and politely asked if he could finish them off. And he did. He did look as though he needed feeding. He was lovely and warm to talk to. We had spoken a few times on the phone and exchanged letters on and off over the years. Another memory is of talking with him after a press screening for the Walter Salles film of On the Road in a cinema in Leicester Square. Again he was charming and friendly and happy to talk at length. His publications were often wide ranging, where Beat poets would find themselves along European poets, non poets, up and coming kids. He was open to everything it seems. A lively and enduring figure on the British poetry scene for 65 years.
OUT NOW – THE GOLD MACHINE BEATS: A JUNGLE DEATH PHOTO ALBUM by Iain Sinclair. Number 73 in the Beat Scene chapbook series. An edition of 125 numbered copies. In the regular series format. Iain evokes Burroughs, Joseph Conrad, Allen Ginsberg, Charles Olson in his quest into the Peruvian jungle in the footsteps of his great grandfather Arthur Sinclair. All but a handful of copies have been posted out. The final few will go out today Monday 12th. If interested in ordering get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen and Arthur at THIRD MIND BOOKS in Ann Arbor, USA. They’ve been around for some years selling Beat Generation books and associated things. They stock my Beat Scene magazine every issue and anything else that gets published via the Beat Scene Press. They are a treasure trove for Beat fans and their dedication to describing the stuff they put up for sale is phenomenal. I’m not sure they are open to the public, though I have seen pictures in their catalogues (paper ones) that suggest they might – but their online site is…well, you could vanish for days in there. Here’s what they wrote about Beat Scene Number 100 just recently.
Coventry, England: The Beat Scene Press, 2021. First Printing. Wrappers. This latest (as of this writing) & most historic ONE HUNDREDTH issue of the magazine-format literary journal edited & published by Kevin Ring in the UK features an essay about & mid-1990s interview with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, written & conducted by Kurt Hemmer, our good friend & esteemed colleague at the European Beat Studies Network (ebsn.eu), illustrated with photographs. There is also a vintage 1960 image of Ferlinghetti gracing front cover, in tribute to the iconic figure of the Beat Generation, San Francisco Renaissance & beyond who recently (only temporally) passed away at the age of 101. Also in this spectacular issue: A fascinating article by the great Ann Charters on the pulp mystery The Dead Beat (1960), written by Robert Bloch on the heels of his novel Psycho (1959, the basis of the ultra-classic Hitchcock film), & exemplary of the hostility toward the Beats expressed by conventional “square” society when they were freshly famous; a review by Sophia Nitrate (we just love that name) of a new book by Chris Kelso that focuses & brings important new details & insight on William S. Burroughs’ visit to Scotland in 1962 to participate in the famous & much-parsed International Literary Conference at Edinburgh; an essay on the legendary actor-polymath Dennis Hopper’s never-published early 1960s poems & his connections to contemporary poets & artists by Anthony Linick; two pieces concerning a key early conference on Jack Kerouac that took place in Salem, Massachusetts during 1973 only four years after his death which jump-started his critical rehabilitation, including transcript of opening remarks by Steve Salvo, commentary by Brian Dalton, & transcript of a portion of the conference featuring Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg & others; a poignant tribute to the beloved & prolific writer & “All-Round Entertainer” Gerald Locklin (1941-2021), who died of the Covid virus early this year, by Jules Smith; another heartfelt tribute to Lou Webb, who with her husband Jon published the utmostly collectible Outsider series & who died near the end of 2020 at age 104, by Colin Cooper; an interview with Michael Seth Stewart, editor of a new volume of letters by Beat-&-Beyond poet John Wieners to a host of literary luminaries (uncredited but probably conducted by Ring) & yet much more. With more reviews in their dedicated section including John Shapcott’s of a new study of WSB by Gerald Alva Miller, Jr.; many vintage images throughout. A monumental anniversary issue that more than ever fulfills its front cover motto: “This is the Beat Generation.” Bravo, Kevin & Co.! In very fine condition with only a few tiny bumps & light, faint creases at edges & corners of front, back covers & spine (the latter not stapled as usual but glued); tiny bumps at corners of a few page leaves; otherwise as-new inside & out. Very Fine. [Item #4443]
To be honest nobody could ask for more. They are always very honest in their descriptions and go into fine detail. They are model booksellers. And they use the word ‘utmostly.’ Rarely see that. Thank you Karen and Arthur. Go and visit their site at https://www.thirdmindbooks.com/
Reaching 100 issues of Beat Scene (though there have been unnumbered special issues over the years) has brought in some nice comments and even a handful of letters and cards remarking on this little milestone recently. Some cheering on for the next 100 issues – which would be some feat as I’ve been around the block a few times – as they say in these parts. But the enthusiasm is still very much there as the Beat Generation landscape continually throws up fresh revelations, books, letters, archives etc, etc. There’s a new Gregory Corso biography in the works it has been revealed of late. Up until now Gregory’s book of letters, a vast and impressive collection, has been the closest we’ve had to biographical. I’m putting aside EXILED ANGEL and one or two academic/analytical books on him. And, as a daft Irish comedian used to say, there’s more. One of the pleasant, encouraging cards arrived just today from Walter in the Netherlands. A longtime subscriber. Here’s a picture of it. A simple Jack Kerouac quote which, I guess, we should all heed. The back of the card says it is printed in ‘rural England.’ A company called J.Falkner. www.archivistgallery.com — thanks very much Walter. Will keep working at it.
Having a look for something, for me at least, often turns up something completely different, unexpected and a find. A few Beat Scene readers of a certain age will have had some form of contact from me/with me years prior to Beat Scene in 1988. Largely through my bookselling from the mid 1970s onwards. There weren’t many people around specialising in Beat type books then. Of course Compendium Books in Camden Town in London, the Poetry bookshop in Hay on Wye did a lot on the Beats and Barry Miles at a number of London bookstores was a pioneer. As was Iain Sinclair, though Iain’s catalogues were eclectic to say the least. They were all good sources in the days before ABE, the internet and Amazon existed. When paper catalogues were the order of the day. My aim with Satori Books was to focus very narrowly on the Beats and associated figures. New books and old. Regular trips to Compendium, the Airlift Book Company, Hay on Wye and a few vital used bookstores filled my days inbetween teaching. Looking back I wonder where my energy came from. Two people in the USA helped me enormously, firstly Rick (Richard) Peabody in Washington DC. Some of you poetry readers may know Rick from the excellent GARGOYLE magazine he published for years. It was quality. Big thick paperbacks. He had interviews with Allen Ginsberg and Charles Bukowski over the years. Rick became my main source in America for used (and new sometimes) Beat type books. Boxes of titles by Kerouac, Burroughs, Bukowski, Brautigan, di Prima, you name them, Rick sent them. The books he sent helped fill the pages of the paper catalogues I sent out for years. It was my pleasure to meet Rick in Washington for a brief stay more than once back then. There’s a story I recall about my lost bag at the airport and the politician Avril Harriman. But maybe another time. When Rick moved on to other things he suggested a ready made replacement, his friend Derrick Hsu. Derrick ran a bookstore in Washington DC and he continued on with weekly shipments of Beat type books. It was always exciting to discover what was in those boxes. Derrick had a free rein to send anything he thought would be of interest. Happily this connection ran for years. And then the internet and all those book gremlins which so destroyed that personal contact between people. I miss that contact that I had with people like Derrick and Rick. But, to return to finding unexpected things. Amongst letters from Ken Kesey, Charles Bukowski, Diane di Prima, Tom Clark, Ruth Weiss, Carolyn Cassady, Robert Wilson, owner of the Phoenix bookstore in NYC (Robert published the Ann Charters bibliography on Jack Kerouac – and other Beat bibliographies – Gary Snyder was another) etc etc – there was the slightly frayed dummy page for a Satori Books catalogue. A neat baseball image which seemed to me back then, 1982 I think, quite appropriate which fills the front cover. You can see I’ve cut the image from somewhere and pasted it in. High tech. And the usual suspects are listed there as well. It’s obviously nearly forty years old and to be true it brought a lump to my throat casting my mind back. Those days are gone. My bookselling is sporadic nowadays and 99% digital sadly. But of all the things I found buried in dusty boxes this one scrappy piece of paper perhaps touched me the most.
Out NOW — KEROUAC’S MILES: JACK KEROUAC and the MUSIC OF MILES DAVIS by Mike Andrews. No 72 in the Beat Scene chapbook series. The usual little brown book with cover flaps format. A ton of detail in it from Mike Andrews who is in England. Orders being taken. Contact email@example.com for information. Thanks to those who ordered a copy. Copies should be with you all about now or shortly after for those outside UK.
Alongside here is a poster, it measures about 12″x6″ promoting the play THE HAUNTED LIFE, based on the book by Jack Kerouac, writings from his earlier life that were deemed not quite complete back then. The play begins in Lowell in 1942. Beat Scene had a reviewer at the play at the Merrimack Theatre in Lowell a few years back (note the English spelling) – Peter Anastas, a keen reader of Kerouac who lived in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Peter’s prime interest was Charles Olson – who lived in the town also of course and Peter would meet with Olson as a younger man. Peter gave the play the thumbs up. I did wonder whether he would, he was objective about things. He filed the review and it featured in Beat Scene. I was dismayed to find out late in the day that Peter had died more than a year ago. He was of mature years, but even so seemed fit and robust. He really cared about Gloucester and wrote extensively about it over the years. To me he lived out a variation on the notion of bioregionalism, much talked about by Gary Snyder and others of course. It also struck me that the big wide world hasn’t seen the play THE HAUNTED LIFE and whether it would ever be staged elsewhere, Europe, England even? (It was performed in Philadelphia I’ve since discovered.) That would be something wouldn’t it. It further struck me that somewhere languishing in a drawer probably, is the script of the play and wouldn’t it be something to see that script properly published in book form so we can all see what they did with it. I recall the Martin Duberman play about Kerouac from the early 1970s. I have the book of it. And Arthur Knight’s play which I understand actually was performed in England, though I missed that. Though I have his little book of it. VISIONS OF KEROUAC. There is Richard Deakin’s ANGELS STILL FALLING, which has been excerpted in Beat Scene years ago and the full text in a paperback by us years ago (they’ve all gone). That sparked controversy. And more recently Tough Poets Press have published Gregory Corso plays. That’s without speaking of Michael McClure playwright. So there’s a history of plays being published. I wonder if the playwright of THE HAUNTED LIFE, Sean Daniels, is open to it being published? I’ll try and find out and have got in touch with Sean. Hope he gets back to me.
It’s 25 years since Jack Kerouac’s daughter Jan died. To mark this the respected English daily newspaper THE GUARDIAN have a feature on her. The Guardian is perhaps the only English daily that regularly looks at Beat Generation figures. She’s pictured here in NY in 1991 with Allen Ginsberg. She’s described as the forgotten child of Jack Kerouac. Here’s a link to the article. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/jun/07/jan-kerouac-forgotten-child-of-jack-kerouac
Barry Miles – ‘Miles’ as he is universally known, has been writing and editing books based around the Beats for decades. Biographies of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Charles Bukowski amongst others. They sit alongside other Beat related projects, not least the neglected ZAPPLE DIARIES which features accounts about him being in America visiting Michael McClure, Charles Bukowski, Olson, Brautigan, Kesey and others in his role for the The Beatles doomed Zapple enterprise. One of the many books he’s edited I felt went under the radar a little – simply titled BEAT COLLECTION – a big hardcover published by Virgin Books in 2005. In its 359 pages you’ll find essential works by Jack Kerouac, (Home at Christmas, Jazz of the Beat Generation, Belief and Technique for Modern Prose, Essentials of Spontaneous Prose, from Railroad Earth and from Old Angel Midnight). William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Herbert Huncke, Carl Solomon, Neal Cassady (letters, Leaving L.A. by Train at Night etc), John Clellon Holmes, Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Lew Welch (Wobbly Rock etc) Michael McClure, Lawrence Ferlinghetti (Loud Prayer, The World is a Beautiful Place… etc), John Wieners, Bob Kaufman, Lenore Kandel, Diane di Prima, Leroi Jones, Frank O’Hara, Alexander Trocchi, Ted Joans (an extensive selection), Ray Bremser, Jack Micheline. I wanted to list all those included. Refreshing to see Ted Joans in there and Alex Trocchi and John Wieners too. Wiener’s presence is heartening as he seems to have been the quintessential ‘poet’s poet’ one doubly respected by his poetry peers, though not always breaking through to wider recognition. And Lenore Kandel, a figure on stage at the Human Be-In in San Francisco in the 1960s, alongside McClure, Ginsberg and Snyder. She wasn’t prolific, hampered by injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident (though I’m waiting for her archives to be investigated still). It’s a fascinating ensemble, the regular big names and many who – Bremser, O’Hara, Micheline, Kaufman amongst them, don’t always make the cut. The cross-fertilisation between Leroi Jones and Frank O’Hara for instance, has got to be important in that Yugen period. The book is complete with extensive biographical notes and bibliographies. The contributions of Barry Miles to Beat Generation archiving and research is significant. Copies can be found still for under £10. ISBN 1-85227-264-3
Gary Snyder has rarely been found in the pages of what you might call ‘the mainstream press.’ He’s a poet for a start. It’s a minority thing. Sure he’ll be sometimes found in Buddhist journals and independent magazines and in any number of internet type journals. However to find him in the pages of The New Yorker – a bastion of ‘straight, conservative’ America if ever there was comes as something of a surprise. I got that surprise again when ‘tidying’ up my Gary Snyder bookshelf. He sits alongside his good friends Philip Whalen and Lew Welch and close to Kenneth Rexroth and Michael McClure. I say ‘tidying up’ – there is an element of organisation – but it’s more an excuse to rediscover my books. Had forgotten this copy of The New Yorker, October 20, 2008. Priced at $4.50. In it, amongst material from John Updike, Roddy Doyle – who was enjoying a prolonged burst of success back then (he may well still be on a roll for all I know), an article about whether Joe Biden would make a good Vice President (little did they know) – John Lahr on the theatre and so on – was ZEN MASTER – GARY SNYDER’S LIFE IN POETRY by Dana Goodyear – all ten illustrated pages of it. Goodyear doesn’t write of Snyder from a distance, but meets with him at his Northern California home, a place he built himself, at a reading close by and again in New York where he reads at the Asia Society. It is an overview of his life so far, he was 78 at the time and rarely for an article based around him it takes in his associations with the Beats. He says it was ‘untidy.’ That they were/are all so very different as writers, as people. The Six Gallery reading, where Allen Ginsberg first read HOWL of course, is recalled – as is his portrayal in Jack Kerouac’s THE DHARMA BUMS. Goodyear includes some words of a letter from Kerouac to Snyder where Jack says, “Since Dharma Bums came out I feel that you’ve been silent and disappointed about me…’ Jack had similar sentiments when Neal Cassady got to read about ‘Dean Moriarty’ in ON THE ROAD. Probably the reality was a little more mundane – Snyder was smartly off to Zen studies in Japan. He was a serious student. He appreciated Jack’s skills as a novelist, he says so here in The New Yorker. Joanne Kyger, Seamus Heaney in appreciation are introduced in the article, Kenneth Rexroth, Francis Crick, Peter Coyote, Thom Gunn too. Ultimately the extended article moves into environmental, ecological concerns, something close to Gary Snyder’s heart. For a period he was actively involved in the politics (in his own fashion) relating to the harm humanity heaps on our planet. The article concludes with a reading he gives to around three hundred gathered in Parsons Lodge, designed by Arts and Crafts architects Bernard Maybeck and Mark White back in 1915. He’s hiked there from Kitkitdizze, his home not too far away. It’s a little gem of an article, interview, profile, call it what you will. Glad to have found it again after all these years. Gary Snyder in The New Yorker. Who would have believed it.
Just this minute finished wrapping up and getting ready to post the very last of the Beat Scene 100 issue off. The mailout takes about two weeks of solid work. Running back and forth to the Post Office. Thanks for your patience. This last bunch are to USA and Canada and should be there in around 7-10 days. You subscribers keep this little journal going. Whilst getting those out – some of the latest Beat Scene Press chapbooks have been going out also and here’s a little fella who has received one or two in the mail of late. Thanks to Joe Lee up in Washington State. AND cheers to Alan Robertson in Scotland who sent a card for Beat Scene reaching 100. A nice thought. Alan quotes my often spoken ‘old school’ phrase and he’s right. Beat Scene is defiantly analogue in a digitised world. The words put me in mind of a favourite song by a band that I love, well the ‘golden seven albums’ at least – The Moody Blues and a poignant tune called ‘I Never Thought I’d Ever Be a Hundred.’ Tis true. You don’t do you. And cheers for early feedback. Number 101 is well progressed and looking at early July for that one. Anyone interested in this 100th issue get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
That very active and enduring poet and historical archivist biographer Ed Sanders is to be found on this half hour film interview/performance footage from November 2003 at Harper College. Kurt also produced another film about Michael McClure that has never really been shown to any great extent. The film is courtesy of Kurt Hemmer and Gerry Cimino’s Beat Museum in San Francisco which is reopening shortly after a long Virus hiatus. Go here https://www.kerouac.com/ed-sanders-harper-college/
Well over 30 years ago, probably pre-internet – I managed to locate a copy of this photo realist painting by the celebrated artist Ralph Goings. I do recall writing a letter to a gallery, was it in Sweden, can’t recall, asking about the print. They sent it and to my surprise and delight enclosed another Goings print. The diner painting has hung on the wall ever since. Behind non reflective glass to see it without glare. You can probably imagine its appeal for me. Any moment Jack Kerouac will turn around and smile. The question has always been in my mind – was Goings aware of Kerouac and how he would riff, literally speaking, on the countless diners he had been in on his cross country trips across America? Consuming apple pie and ice cream as he went no doubt. Obviously Jack Kerouac was in my mind, but there’s so much more going on in this painting, it’s a microcosm of America and something quite dear to me, diners being a way of life for me in the 1970s and 1980s especially, travelling around America and Canada, California to New York and points inbetween. On Trombly and Greyhound buses and after in hired cars. A couple of times in a beautiful stately Thunderbird. Still enjoy looking at photo realist art. Guess it stemmed from appreciating the art of Edward Hopper initially and seeing a big exhibit of his work way back at the Hayward Gallery on London’s South Bank. To me, the Goings painting is quintessentially Beat.
Beat Scene 100 is out NOW. The virus situation had slowed things down a little. The issue is as varied as usual, no particular theme, just more on the Beat Generation. Hopefully it’ll continue to try and see things from different perspectives, specific points in time and to investigate a little. In reaching this little milestone the hope is that Beat Scene remains enthusiastic but thorough and devoid of any hint of academia. We’ll leave that to the Professors. After all, way back the Beats wanted to take poetry, writing, novels and what have you out of the clutches of the universities. Remember the Chicago University incident and Big Table. Remember how Don Allen’s THE NEW AMERICAN POETRY 1945-1960 provided a home for all those poets who were outside of that cloistered academic tower. So Beat Scene, I hope, remains popular, yet thorough. There will also be a special issue that relates to the first twenty issues of Beat Scene – which covers the period 1988-1993. All those issues are long gone, so it seems a good point to collect some of the best parts of those issues in one edition. More on that later. If you would like a copy get in touch at email@example.com
Must say thank you to the band of people who have picked up a copy, sometimes two, of the two most recent Beat Scene Press chapbooks. The Robert Creeley one on Jack Kerouac and Doctor Sax and the latest Clark Coolidge issue on Kerouac and Old Angel Midnight. Many of you take every one. Bless you all. It is fun putting these modest (but neat) productions together, often from obscure and overlooked sources and making them ‘real’ – something to be held, pondered over, even stuck in a pocket for that bus, train, tube ride. Didn’t some poet – was it William Carlos Williams once say ‘make it real’ – Well, I’m trying Bill. It is a devotedly ‘analogue’ thing in a digital world of course, but there is so much from the ‘Beat Generation’ and associated figures to be uncovered, these chapbooks – I think – play a tiny part in bringing things to the surface. Plus the larger – black covers – chapbook series is beginning to grow – the Philip Whalen one by Steve Silberman being the latest, along with the Bill Butler one by Terry Adams (that has sold out incidentally) – there are a couple more in the works. Plus Iain Sinclair will have one fairly soon. That’ll be after JACK KEROUAC’S MILES by Mike Andrews, which is close to going to printer.
A little something from the Beat Scene archives. Michael McClure was a kind and thoughtful man and from time to time would send me a postcard on his travels. He travelled quite a lot in his later years with his wife Amy, to Africa once. But this postcard – sent in 2002 – is closer to home. He writes on the reverse – ‘Kevin, just bought this at Walden Pond Books in Oakland. Greetings from 1968 XXGrahhhr – MM’ as you can see from the image he’s with Allen Ginsberg in San Francisco and the year is indeed 1968. Michael with his autoharp – given to him by Bob Dylan, Allen has his harmonium, possibly also given to him by Bob Dylan. It’s a Beat moment in time.
More on Gary Snyder. He’s 91 years old on May 8. To mark this The Pulitzer Prize site have returned to one of his earlier poems I Went into the Maverick Bar, a poem that shed light on America and its attitudes way back. And probably still today. Sean Murphy pens a perceptive essay about it all. The Beat Museum, that brilliant place in North Beach, San Francisco, run by Gerry Cimino, has also highlighted this Snyder birthday. Just below is the poem under discussion….
I Went into the Maverick Bar
Helen Weaver died earlier in April. You might recall her book THE AWAKENER from a few years back, in it she recalled her times with Jack Kerouac in the 1950s. It sounded lively, hectic even. It was brief but full on. Joe Lee has sent in this black and white photograph of her apartment in New York City where Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and sometimes Lucien Carr would visit, often in those wee small hours after a night out. Joe also sent a link to this obituary notice from Hudson Valley Times – for Helen, it speaks of her talents as a translator and astrologer. https://hudsonvalleyone.com/obituaries/helen-weaver/
An article from over 25 years ago that just goes to illustrate how respected William Burroughs editor, scholar Oliver Harris is no flash in the pan Johnny Come Lately, here’s a link to something he wrote for online critical magazine Connotations many years ago.
A new Beat Scene Press chapbook is OUT NOW. JACK KEROUAC AND THE SOUNDS OF OLD ANGEL MIDNIGHT a talk by Clark Coolidge. You will know Clark as the author of NOW IT’S JAZZ: KEROUAC AND THE SOUNDS. Of course Clark is a respected poet (and drummer I hear) and has seen over forty books of his published. Anyway, this is a talk from 1982. In the usual chapbook format. If you are interested in a copy contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Above is the original cover for the 1960 edition of THE NEW AMERICAN POETRY 1945-1960. Edited by Don Allen and published by Barney Rossett’s Grove Press. Just look at the poets included in it. What a fabulous effort by Don Allen to compile such a roster of poets. The book is very much still in print, deservedly so. If you read the letters back and forth between Allen and Jack Kerouac and others you’ll see the process of who went in at work. Of course there are absentees that you wonder – why aren’t they in? The male/female balance is all wrong and there’s no denying that. The times and the context are all important in reflecting on that. No Diane di Prima, though she was very young. A debate for another day. Don Allen is a fascinating individual, at least he is here. Think of all the poets published through his Grey Fox Press and Four Seasons Foundations imprints — Gary Snyder, Robert Duncan, Jack Kerouac, Michael McClure, Joanne Kyger, Philip Whalen, Richard Brautigan – to name just a handful. The hope is we’ll delve into that history in Beat Scene in the near future. This is Don below.
They say that behind every good man there is a good woman. Of course that can easily be reversed, lest the charge is raised of inequality etc. Behind is the wrong word here. Alongside is more appropriate. One of a number of figures that made City Lights bookstore and publishing tick along and navigate some tricky times was Nancy Peters, that’s Nancy on the right in this photo below, taken by Larry Keenan Jr. a few years back. Nancy was a crucial force at City Lights – not even sure she has actually retired. Here’s a print interview with Nancy, who was the partner of Philip Lamantia, conducted in recent weeks. https://citylightsbooks.tumblr.com/post/646500446014439425/nancypetersinterview?mc_cid=0504eecde7&mc_eid=fcdbf1a2e6
A link to Jack Foley’s long running COVER TO COVER show on radio KPFA, this week it’s all about Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Go here https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VPW2923ebVmRw7Die_vTo8CmqeYcg7hY/view
A carbon copy of Allen Ginsberg’s HOWL has been discovered, which includes previously unseen material and has gone on sale at a reserve price of $425,000. This article from today’s UK newspaper The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/mar/26/howl-illuminating-draft-of-allen-ginsberg-poem-found
The Six Gallery reading introduced Michael McClure to the world and was a pivotal moment in his life, a turning point. He was in his early twenties. Here he is in a short clip of a film discussing that event and his participation in it and also his take on what America, in the 1950s, was really like. https://www.facebook.com/dave.moore.984349/videos/10159905616813488
And here’s Michael talking about Jack Kerouac. It’s a brief three minute clip but salient words. https://www.facebook.com/dave.moore.984349/videos/10159907255268488
The mailout on the latest Beat Scene Press chapbook is done and dusted. UK and European orders should be there in a day or two. American orders should be there in a week, maybe ten days. Thank you all for your interest.
ROBERT CREELEY on JACK KEROUAC and DOCTOR SAX is the 70th chapbook in the Beat Scene Series. It is an edition of 200 numbered copies in the usual series format. Robert Creeley speaks at length about his take on one of Kerouac’s ‘Lowell books.’ Kerouac recalls his childhood and his dreams of an era growing up in the 1920s and early 1930s. If you would like to order a copy please get in touch by email at email@example.com
CHARLES BUKOWSKI, had he lived, would have been 100 years old last year. Given the stresses that he put his body under reaching that age would have been highly unlikely. But he lives on, like ‘Bird Lives’ in the minds of his many readers. Matthias Kruger and Rebecca McLeish are two of those readers and together they are Newington Blue Press. Just recently they have issued the second of two volumes celebrating the life and work of Bukowski. BUK 100: NOTES FOR A DIRTY OLD BIRTHDAY (no prizes for guessing what inspired that) is that second volume. The editors and publishers have opted to spend a little on these two editions. Both volumes are nice quality and presentation, with a mix of poetry and prose. There is also a neat balance of recalling personal encounters with Bukowski and stories of connecting with him through letters. Remember letters? It was Bukowski’s favoured means of contact. He didn’t enjoy people turning up on his doorstep, especially in his later years. A bonus is ‘The Bukowski – Hughes Letters,’ a pull out chapbook in itself, where Henry Hughes has his original letters included. The hope is that Newington Blue Press can sustain their progress and come up with innovative ways to keep this series, I hope it is a series, going. Something splendid for you Bukowski fans. Contact them at http://newington.blue/keep-in-touch/
Fascinating and quite recent interview podcast with James Grauerholz, dating from August 2020. Running at well over an hour in duration. James Grauerholz is reflective, measured and honest in his thoughts as he discusses his life working with William Burroughs. Go here to listen.
Gary Snyder ‘Japhy Ryder’ to many even today – was 90 a few days ago. Here’s a photo of Gary with a nice looking birthday cake. Photo taken by Tom Killion. Gary is the sole survivor from the band of poets to read at the 6 Gallery event back in 1955. Lawrence Ferlinghetti was there in the audience of course. In these times of increasing self reliance Gary is an inspiration.
Michael McClure has died aged 87 at the home in Oakland, California that he shared with his wife Amy. He had suffered serious ill health in the past year. Last year a heart attack, a stroke and then Sepsis. As far as I understood he was recuperating though frail. The hope was that he might pull through. He was one of that little band of poets who read at the 6 Gallery in San Francisco in 1955. A gathering that was to prove a landmark in American poetry and in a much wider sense as well. More later.
Poet Charles Plymell sent me this photo of Neal Cassady driving a while back. It seemed a good point to share it. Charles doesn’t recall who the feet belong to, maybe Ken Kesey he ponders.
Beat Scene subscriber Anthony Linick kindly sent in this link to an article about the contents of the Gotham Book Mart. A fabled bookstore in New York City that existed for decades. Only closing in 2007. I was lucky enough to go there a few times over the years. Fabulous bookstore. Anthony Linick ran NOMAD magazine in the early 1960s. You might recall how Beat Scene included reproductions of the survey replies he received from writers like Kerouac, Ginsberg, Bukowski and Corso in a recent issue. https://penntoday.upenn.edu/news/treasures-revealed?utm_source=Primary&utm_campaign=ecd09d2b11-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_02_20_12_54_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3777f2ca8f-ecd09d2b11-43425225
Busy with the Beat Scene 92 mailout. About halfway through. Some people may have their copy by now. Hang on. With the help of Tom Russell’s new album OCTOBER IN THE RAILROAD EARTH and a little Lester Young I’m humming my time through the boxes and envelopes. Bless all you subscribers. You keep this thing afloat.
Yes it was a travesty of a film adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s novel THE SUBTERRANEANS, featuring George Peppard in the lead role with the very pale Lesley Caron playing ‘Mardou Fox’ who was ‘Black American’ – is that PC these days? It’s hard to keep up. But Beat fan Jim Vines put up this photo from the era showing the film theatre in Beverley Hills when the film was showing there. A little touch of history. Did Kerouac see this movie all the way through I wonder?
Beat Scene 92 – featuring Ann Charters and Allen Ginsberg on the front cover. Out now. If interested email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Gotham Book Mart was a brilliant bookshop in New York City for decades. For any discerning book lover and especially for those who enjoyed Post War American novelists and poets it was a store you had to visit when in the city. Like City Lights it was a place where writers would often have their mail delivered. When the store closed a few years back the it donated most of its amazing stock to Penn Library and archivists have been compiling a catalogue ever since. Over ten years. The Beat writers featured heavily in the Post War history of the store. Gotham had everything they did. Real treasures. Now the catalogue is almost complete and the library have set up an exhibit of some of those treasures. As well as being a centre for what owner Frances Steloff said was the headquarters of the Avant-garde and bohemian world, it was home to the long established James Joyce Society. But Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs and all the other writers found a home there. Wonderful exhibit.
From the Burroughs and BBC vaults – 1982 outtakes from the Arena documentary all about William Burroughs and meeting up with his old friend artist Francis Bacon at Bacon’s small flat in Kensington, London. 11 minutes in duration. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HZPvg671R0&feature=share
There are a handful of copies of THE FACE ON THE FORK: A WILLIAM BURROUGHS TRIPTYCH by Iain Sinclair – published a few years ago in the Beat Scene Chapbook Series. These are overprints. Not signed by Iain or numbered but otherwise identical. It includes THE ALBATROSS TEXT by Burroughs. Anyone interested – email at kevbeatscene(at)gmail.com
The new book by longtime Beat Scene assistant editor Jim Burns is just out. Published by Penniless Press – Books Artists and Beats collect many of his essays from over the years, some appeared in little magazines long vanished. The collection goes deeper into his love of art and artists, alongside his fascination with off the beaten track writers, especially the Beats and associated figures. The book is the 10th book in the Jim Burns series.
1952. The home of Carolyn and Neal Cassady. Los Gatos. California. Jack stayed there many times. Here’s a brief recording of him singing MY FUNNY VALENTINE. He was 30 years old. https://picosong.com/R5BP/?fbclid=IwAR1X6L_8VUonIxQgWPAwScRHyQMJ2_5Qz7Vz6gP9dtc4f18OhGdOqIKpmT4
Tributes continue to come in for Al Hinkel who has died in the past couple of days. Neal Cassady’s best friend. Here’s a tribute from The San Francisco Chronicle which reveals a steady, loyal man who wanted no fuss. https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Al-Hinkle-railroad-man-and-character-in-13496805.php
Sad news – thanks to Brian Hassett for his words on the passing of Al Hinkle – who was ‘Ed Dunkel’ in Kerouac’s On the Road. Al also featured in other Kerouac works as well as the novel GO by John Clellon Holmes. In life he was a huge friend to Neal Cassady and his family. Here’s a link to Brian’s site and the article about Al. http://brianhassett.com/2018/12/rip-big-al-hinkle-1926-2018/?fbclid=IwAR0rWXWenDvzzUnivq5G_vtaFhvAnixp3yqREJ-rOJ_E6SB9wx6AN_NMWko
Beat Scene 90 is still available. Here’s a cover image. The issue features Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley (a transcript of a talk), Ruth Weiss, Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Anselm Hollo, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Charles Bukowski, Mary Fabilli, Mary Norbert Korte, Philomene Long, Tom Clark and John Calder & more. The issue also marks thirty years of Beat Scene. In all there have been about 95 issues, taking into account the special issues that had no number. The Beat Scene press has also published four paperbacks, twelve broadsides, twenty five issues of Transit magazine, and sixty five chapbooks, plus ten other chapbooks. Oh and one film. On we go, infinity and beyond. Issues are £8 including post in the UK. 15 Euros including post in Europe and $20 USA dollars including post outside of Europe, America, Australia, Japan and elsewhere. contact me at email@example.com
The annual Lowell Celebrates Kerouac event has been happening in his hometown recently. A much bigger event by far than the very first one I managed to get to in 1981. Then it amounted to a couple of hours in an empty storefront on Merrimack Street. The place filled up with maybe a hundred people. Recall all the seats being taken and lots of people standing at the back. Stella Sampas was there, sitting just along from me. Jack’s reading of NEAL AND THE THREE STOOGES was played and you could hear a pin drop. Remember this was pre-internet and it is likely that not everyone present had heard Kerouac before. As Jack read on you could hear Stella crying a little and we all felt for her. It was a lovely evening. And I think quite a number of people who lived in Lowell and some I’d met early in the 1970s onwards – who quietly kept Kerouac’s name alive in the town in the face of general indifference and apathy – even hostility – Jack Who? was a regular refrain – these Kerouac devotees – people like Jay McHale, Brian Dean, Martha Mayo, Charlie Garguilio, Pat Pestana, Henry Hefco, Mary King, Dean Contover, and a few others must have felt the tide was turning a little. So this celebration must be a lot of fun for all those who are curious about Jack Kerouac. Today of all days, 49 years since he died.
A gathering of some of the poets who read at the Albert Hall in London in 1965. See below. Obviously Allen Ginsberg at the front. On his right is Alex Trocchi and Harry Fainlight. Michael Horovitz and Anselm Hollo at the back.
More and more readers suggest having something on Paul Bowles in Beat Scene. There have been little essays in the past, both on Paul and Jane Bowles. I’ll be working on getting something for a future issue. For now here’s a fascinating series of letters from Bowles to potential film maker Tom Christie – dating from the 1980s. Included on the Los Angeles Review of Books site. Go to https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/no-films-are-ever-made-a-correspondence-with-paul-bowles/#!
The American poet and biographer Tom Clark died in the small hours of August 18. Apparently he was struck by a car crossing the street. He was 77. Beat Scene 90 reported on Tom’s life and tragic end.
Blair Hurley, writing in The Paris Review a couple of days ago, has a fascinating little essay on her readings of Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums. Go here to read it…….
Anne Waldman’s new book, TRICKSTER FEMINISM is out now. Co-founder with Allen Ginsberg of the Naropa School in Colorado, Anne has been a lively presence on the American poetry scene since the 1960s. She combines poetry with an active interest and participation in…well, just go to this very new interview with her in the American online journal TRICYCLE…
Beat Scene 89 is out now, all subscriber copies have been posted. Sorry for delay. Long stories. The final article included is ‘Allen Ginsberg’s Strange New Cottage in Berkeley.’ Which has a sharp focus on Allen’s time at 1624 Milvia Street. The time of HOWL being put together and finalised. Of the real Dharma Bums – including Henry Morley (or John Montgomery in real life), Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Kerouac and others. The long essay was partly sparked by Tom Dalzell’s little article for the online site Berkeleyside.
— back in March – where previously unseen photos of the long vanished cottage by Dennis Starleaf, who lived in the cottage as a student in 1958/59 can be seen. The essay in Beat Scene 89 was also written because, simply, this phase of the Beat Generation seems one of the more joyous interludes. Here’s one of Dennis Starleaf’s photos of the Milvia cottage. If you would like to order a copy of Beat Scene 89 please email me at kevbeatscene[at]gmail.com
In Beat Scene 89, an interview with Lois Sorrells Beckwith, who was ‘Louise’ in Jack Kerouac’s novel ‘Big Sur.’ Lois and Jack had a relationship and an enduring friendship. She also had a relationship with Lucien Carr during the early 1960s. This little article by Maria Papova appeared on the site Brain Pickings back in 2015. At the end Lois reads her poem about Kerouac travelling a big journey to help her in her grief after her mother had died.
I had thought all copies of the William Burroughs Special issue from Winter 2014 had all gone but a handful remain. This is a bigger 72 page number and was published to mark what would have been the centenary of his birth. It includes the very first interview he did back in 1961. Other features include Ed Dorn on Burroughs, Thom Robinson on WSB and Truman Capote, a Jack Kerouac letter to Burroughs, David Ohle on Burroughs in Kansas, Burroughs in conversation with Anne Waldman, Oliver Harris talking with Burroughs, James Grauerholz talking about him and more besides. If this interests you, get in touch. Copies are £8.50 including postage in the UK. Overseas please email firstname.lastname@example.org
For those who might be interested in the Beats and Britain – issue 74 from Summer 2014 – will be of interest. Many of the Beats visited Britain and even lived here. William Burroughs for one – he is featured on the cover of this issue. See above. The visits of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Gary Snyder, John Clellon Holmes, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and others are featured. If this is of interest – get in touch at kevbeatscene(at)gmail.com
This by Jay Jeff Jones in KEROUAC ON RECORD (Bloomsbury). In the chapter Jim Morrison: Angel of Fire…
“Kerouac couldn’t have seen what was coming to him, even after Gilbert Millstein’s review had fingered him as the Beat Generation’s ‘principal avatar.’ He had expected the licence of success to open a civilised dialogue with the world. He could then state the case for his bop solo, thought – to – page literary invention, a form he had created for portraying the lives and voices of American outsiders, who would be resolved in the magnitude of his Wolfean tapestry, work-in-progress. The last thing he expected to be was ‘King of the Beats.’
Jay says so much in this brief paragraph.
People have asked about the Beat Scene Press chapbook series. Here is a listing of all 64 so far.
The BEAT SCENE PRESS CHAPBOOK SERIES
Some chapbooks are sold out.
Prices listed are for UK only including post.
For Europe each chapbook is 15 Euros including post.
Outside Europe, USA, Japan, Australia etc each chapbook is $17 USA.
Small discounts are given for multiple orders.
I’m Bukowski, And Then..by Enrico
Published in an edition of one hundred copies in September 1997.
A second issue of one hundred copies was published in July 2005 — £8
Downstream From Trout Fishing In America:
A Memoir of Richard Brautigan – a brief extract
by Keith Abbott
published in an edition of one hundred copies in March 1998 — £8
Marble Man by Dan Fante
Published in an edition of two hundred copies in April 2002 — sold out
Jack Kerouac in San Francisco by Tom Clark published in an edition of one hundred and twenty five copies in March 2006. The first twenty five copies were signed by Tom Clark — sold out
Letters Home From Cambridge 1963-1965 by Tom Clark..Published in an edition of one hundred signed and numbered copies, September 2006 — sold out
High Peak Haikus: An Interview With Gary Snyder by James Campbell.
One hundred numbered copies were published in December 2006 — sold out
The Sad And Lonely Death of Richard Brautigan by Kevin Ring
Published in an edition of one hundred copies in January 2007 — £8
A Fierce God And A Fierce War: An Interview With Michael McClure by Rod Phillips..Published in an edition of one hundred signed and numbered copies in March 2007 — £10
Jack Kerouac At 681 Lexington Avenue by Elizabeth Von Vogt
Published in an edition of one hundred and fifty numbered and signed copies in May 2007 — sold out
Arizona Highway & Other Poems by Dan Fante
Published in an edition of one hundred and twenty five signed and numbered copies in July 2007 — sold out
Mutate Or Die: With Burroughs In Kansas by David Ohle.
Published in an edition of one hundred and twenty five signed and numbered copies in August 2007. – sold out
Ben Pleasants….Rexroth, Bukowski and the Politics of Literature
125 numbered copies issued October 2007…£8
Gordon Ball…Scenes From East Hill Farm: Seasons with Ginsberg
125 signed and numbered copies October 2007….sold out
Charles Plymell…Neal and Anne at Gough Street
125 signed and numbered copies, February 2008…sold out
Charles Bukowski: Letters to Beat Scene
125 numbered copies April 2008…sold out
John Clellon Holmes…Remembering Jack Kerouac
125 numbered copies May 2008 …£8
Jim Burns…Cool Kerouac
100 numbered & signed copies June 2008…£8
Dan Fante…1647 Ocean Front Walk
125 signed & numbered copies issued November 2008….£8
Barry Gifford….New Poems
125 numbered copies…issued January 2009…£8
Carl Weissner: Charles Bukowski’s Secret Agent
One hundred numbered copies…sold out
Tom Pickard…Work Conchy
125 signed and numbered copies June 2009…£8
Jack Hirschman – The Game & Other Poems
125 signed and numbered copies. Issued August 2009… £8
Philip Lamantia…Letter From San Francisco
125 numbered copies issued September 2009 …£8
John Fante: A Conversation with Ben Pleasants
125 numbered copies issued January 2010 – £8
Charles Bukowski: Censorship Does Pay by Abel Debritto
125 numbered copies issued March 2010 – sold out
Letters From Lew Welch
125 numbered copies issued July 2010 – £8
The Last Days of Jack Kerouac by James Birmingham
125 numbered copies issued September 2010 – £8
Iain Sinclair – American Smoke
125 numbered and signed copies November 2010 – £8.50
Wallace Berman: Verifax Man…by Kevin Ring
125 copies February 2011 – £8
Talking with Ginsberg by Jim Burns
125 numbered copies May 2011 – £8
Al Hinkle: Last Man Standing – An Interview by Steve Edgington
125 numbered copies June 2011 – £8
Hope Savage: Mystery Girl by Kevin Ring
125 numbered copes October 2011 – £8
Iain Sinclair – The Face On the Fork: A William Burroughs Tryptych
125 numbered and signed copies December 2011 – sold out
Philip Whalen – Whatnot: An Interview
125 numbered copes April 2012 – sold out
Jack Kerouac’s Last Night In Northport by James Fenton
125 numbered copies June 2012 – sold out
Malcolm McNeill – The Lost Artwork of Ah Pook Is Here
125 numbered copies August 2012 – £8.50
A Moving Target: Encounters with William Burroughs by Matthew Levi Stevens
125 numbered copies October 2012…£8
Iain Sinclair – Kitkitdizzee: Seeing Gary Snyder
125 numbered and signed copies January 2013 – £9
Milwaukee: A Memoir About the Making of the film Beat by Gary Walkow
125 numbered copies February 2013 – sold out
William S. Burroughs: Our Spiritual Destiny Is In Space – an interview by William Weiss
125 numbered copies May 2013 – £9
Notes From the Beat Underground: An Interview with Herbert Huncke by John Tytell
125 numbered copies July 2013…£8
Bob Dylan in Jack Kerouac’s Lowell – 1975 by Kevin Ring
125 numbered copies September 2013 – £8
Charles Bukowski and John Martin: The Red Vulture Men by Kevin Ring
125 numbered copies March 2014 – £8
Neal’s Ashes by Gina Berriault
125 numbered copies May 2014 – £8…sold out
Charles Bukowski – FIVE by Neeli Cherkovski
125 numbered copies June 2014 – £8
Cite Scout For the Territory: An Interview About an in-progress bibliography of the works of Iain Sinclair with Jeff Johnson
125 numbered copies August 2014 – £8.50
Jack Foley – A California Literary Timeline-The 1950s
125 numbered copies October 2014 – sold out
Bob Dylan Thunders Into Lowell by Kevin Ring
125 numbered copies March 2015 – sold out
Gregory Corso Beat Maverick by Jim Burns
125 numbered copies September 2015 – £7.95
On the Back of the Elephant: Riding With Charles Olson by Iain Sinclair
…125 numbered and signed copies December 2015 – £8.50
Kerouac’s Literary Method and Experiments by Ann Charters
125 numbered copies March 2016 – £8.50
Ed Sanders – Still Thirsting For Peace: An Interview
125 numbered copies June 2016 – £8.50
Lawrence Ferlinghetti: London 1965: An Interview
125 numbered copies August 2016 – £8
Ken Kesey Goes Furthur: An Interview with Allan Balliett
125 numbered copies September 2016 – £8
Alan Moore and Iain Sinclair: A Funny Kind of Relationship: Alan Moore an interview
125 numbered copies November 2016 – £8
Hank and Neal: A Crazy Ride by Jean Francois Duval
125 numbered copies January 2017….£8
No Sleep till Gloucester: Searching For Charles Olson by James Birmingham
125 numbered copies March 2017…£8
Bob Dylan and the Beats: Magpie Poetics by Anne Waldman
125 numbered copies May 2017…£8.50
The Auerhahn Press: A Constant Flying By Night: An Interview with publisher Dave Haselwood
125 numbered copies June 2017…£8
William Burroughs and the South Texas Beats: A Conversation between Rob Johnson and Juan Ochon…
125 numbered copies July 2017…£8.50
On the Road with Jack Kerouac in Hyannis by Ann Charters
125 numbered copies August 2017…£8.50
Hit the Road Jack: Jack Kerouac’s Short Time in the U.S. Naval Reserve by Miriam Kleiman
125 numbered copies November 2017…£8
Charles Bukowski and Ernest Hemingway: Barfly & Bullfighter by Aubrey Malone
March 2018…125 numbered copies at £8
Playing For Keeps by Peter Coyote
125 numbered copies at £8
On Saturday March 24 Lawrence Ferlinghetti was 99. I’ve admired him ever since I first heard of him in the wake of first discovering Kerouac in the early 1970s. His ability to be a poet and have a creative life alongside running a business – City Lights bookstore and publishing house – deserves respect. He is famous for publishing many of the writers who come under that big Beat Generation umbrella of course, Burroughs, Ginsberg, Kerouac, Corso, Snyder, McClure, Bukowski, Lamantia, Welch, Cassady, Watts and so on – and he’s published many European and South American writers over the years and been a dissenter. Remember the slogan banner that was draped over the frontage of City Lights in recent years ‘Dissent is Not UnAmerican.’ It seems to carry the spirit of Henry David Thoreau into our modern age. He has been a protestor against the greed driven advances of corporate America for decades. He is far more than a poet and a very good publisher and bookseller. I could go on. I won’t. Here is Ferlinghetti’s poem I Am Waiting. For me it encapsulates much of what he has said over the years. Happy birthday Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
I AM WAITING
I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting
for someone to really discover America
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder
I am waiting for the Second Coming
and I am waiting
for a religious revival
to sweep through the state of Arizona
and I am waiting
for the Grapes of Wrath to be stored
and I am waiting
for them to prove
that God is really American
and I am waiting
to see God on television
piped’ onto church altars
if only they can find
the right channel
to tune in on
and I am waiting
for the Last Supper to be served again
with a strange new appetizer
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder
I am waiting for my number to be called
and I am waiting
for the Salvation Army to take over
and I am waiting
for the meek to be blessed
and inherit the earth
without taxes and I am waiting
for forests and animals
to reclaim the earth as theirs
and I am waiting
for a way to be devised
to destroy all nationalisms
without killing anybody
and I am waiting
for linnets and planets to fall like rain
and I am waiting for lovers and weepers
to lie down together again
in a new rebirth of wonder
I am waiting for the Great Divide to ‘be crossed
and I am anxiously waiting
for the secret of eternal life to be discovered
by an obscure general practitioner
and I am waiting
for the storms of life
to be over
and I am waiting
to set sail for happiness
and I am waiting
for a reconstructed Mayflower
to reach America
with its picture story and tv rights
sold in advance to the natives
and I am waiting
for the lost music to sound again
in the Lost Continent
in a new rebirth of wonder
I am waiting for the day
that maketh all things clear
and I am awaiting retribution
for what America did
to Tom Sawyer
and I am waiting
for the American Boy
to take off Beauty’s clothes
and get on top of her
and I am waiting
for Alice in Wonderland
to retransmit to me
her total dream of innocence
and I am waiting
for Childe Roland to come
to the final darkest tower
and I am waiting
to grow live arms
at a final disarmament conference
in a new rebirth of wonder
I am waiting
to get some intimations
by recollecting my early childhood
and I am waiting
for the green mornings to come again
youth’s dumb green fields come back again
and I am waiting
for some strains of unpremeditated art
to shake my typewriter
and I am waiting to write
the great indelible poem
and I am waiting
for the last long careless rapture
and I am perpetually waiting
for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn
to catch each other up at last
and I am waiting
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder
Beat Scene 88 – see above – has been out for a while now. If you would like a copy get in touch by email email@example.com
This photo of Kathy Acker and William Burroughs in London probably in the early 1980s? Intrigued me. Is it one by John Minehane? John took some lovely photos of Burroughs with Francis Bacon. Any clued up people out there? No clued up people out there? That does surprise me.
It’s been a while since Beat Scene had an internet site. Long story. Won’t go into it. Beginning now to build up a new one. The most obvious place to start is with news of the current issue of the magazine, number 87. This issue is wholly devoted to Jack Kerouac and his landmark novel ON THE ROAD. It features contributions and memories from his friend David Amram. From his first biographer Ann Charters and from a more recent biographer Paul Maher Jr. Into the mix goes a history of Kerouac’s efforts to see the book adapted for a film. That’s a twisted journey. There’s John Clellon Holmes, his great NY, East Coast buddy, who was with him every step of the way as Kerouac strove through various versions of his novel. There’s an interview with Luanne Henderson – you’ll know her as ‘Marylou’ in ON THE ROAD. And more besides.
If you would like to buy a copy of Beat Scene, prices are as follows — In the UK £8 – cheques payable to M.Ring or by Paypal — a Paypal link will be sent.
If you live in Europe a single copy is 15 Euros. Payment either by Paypal or by sending 15 Euros in cash.
If you live OUTSIDE Europe a single copy is $20 USA. Payment through Paypal or by USA cheque to an address in the USA that will be supplied.
Get in touch with me at kevbeatscene(at)gmail.com
Must also mention Miriam Kleiman’s new HIT THE ROAD, JACK chapbook in the ongoing Beat Scene chapbook series. In this edition of 125 numbered copies Miriam explores Jack Kerouac’s time spent in the US Naval psychiatric unit in the early 1940s, when Kerouac was just twenty years old. Fascinating account where Miriam has access to all Kerouac’s archives there. Please get in touch if this interests you. Single copies in the UK are £7.95, cheques payable to M.Ring – including post. Europe is 15 Euros & elsewhere $17 USA dollars.
A few words on the Beat Scene chapbook series. See some of the issues above. There have been 62 chapbooks in the series so far. They are a uniform series of 8″ x 5″ stapled card cover chapbooks. Numbered, usually in an edition of 125 copies. A number in the series are signed. Often original work by people such as Michael McClure, Jack Hirschman, Ed Sanders, Iain Sinclair, Dan Fante, John Fante, Philip Lamantia, Lew Welch, Philip Whalen and others is published. There are interviews with Charles Bukowski, Herbert Huncke, Allen Ginsberg, Richard Brautigan, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder, Al Hinkle, (Ed Dunkel in ON THE ROAD), William Burroughs + original writings on Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Bob Dylan, Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso and many others.
For availability – please ask – get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org
BBC Radio 3 are broadcasting a programme about Jack Kerouac’s novel ON THE ROAD this coming Friday, December 8 at 10 pm. Ian McMillan and others discuss this landmark novel and its significance sixty years after publication in 1957. If you miss the show it will be available on the BBC iPlayer, which can be easily logged into. Not sure how this works for those overseas, but give it a try. Ian McMillan is knowledgeable about Jack Kerouac. Do recall him coming to my house many years ago to talk about Kerouac for a BBC radio show. He pulled a fast one on me. Recording me. I then thought he had switched his tape recorder off after he said – that’s fine, I’ve got enough there – but he carried on recording as we casually glanced over some photos of Kerouac, Snyder & others on the stairway. & that was the bit aired on the show. Sneaky Ian. Forgotten history now. To be honest the media in general have been slow to comment on this ON THE ROAD sixty years thing. Kerouac’s novel remains so relevant – recording as it does – a vanished time. America is a vastly different country now.