It’s later in July. The Summer eases by. It’s been hectic of late here. A lot going on and to be frank I’m having a rest. Some repair work. The recent mailout was a task and a half. Almost like a day job. But, with the help of M.Ring it was completed. Took just over two weeks. Beat Scene 105 is very well progressed, there are a couple of chapbooks in hand and a fair bit of delving into the archives and books being sold. Signed copies etc. If anyone wants a digital booklist(s) let me know at the usual email address email@example.com
Now where’s that mug of red berry tea and the sofa and a good book?
Out now – BEAT SCENE 104. This is the current issue of the magazine. Only half a box left, so, if you want a copy, don’t delay. It’s back to an eclectic mix for this one. Charles Olson features, as do Brion Gysin and William Burroughs, Charles Bukowski. Somebody called Jack Kerouac is having a runout in there, Alexander Trocchi and Michael Horovitz and more besides. If you do want to secure yourself a copy, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In preparing some notes for a possible Carl Weissner article a letter from William Burroughs to him in 1966 came to light. It was while Burroughs was staying at the Rushmore Hotel at 11 Trebovir Road in London (SW5) and the two were exchanging thoughts and ideas. A quick Google Map search told me, surprisingly, the Rushmore Hotel (no presidents heads in evidence) is still in operation. Here’s a photo of the place. It doesn’t look too shabby. The pair had fertile minds and Carl Weissner was a publisher, alongside his other skills.
How I wished I’d learnt Swedish at school, instead of being force fed Latin. Bo Ranman, a Beat Scene reader, has a whole back catalogue of books through his Fri Press, one of them really caught my eye HOW I WAS SAVED BY ALI NASSAB AND OTHER STORIES ALONG THE WAY by Bo himself. It sounds fascinating. Maybe a ‘coming of age’ book? And one or two others, Gary Snyder is mentioned in parts. Tantalisingly all in Swedish. Beat Scene has a number of Swedish subscribers and I’m wondering if any of you guys know of Bo Ranman’s press? https://fripress.se/hur-jag-raddades-av-ali-nassab-och-andra-historier-langs-vagen-del-2/
WHAT’S LEFT OF KEROUAC? BBC RADIO 4
You may have heard this very recent half hour show on BBC Radio 4? Produced to play a part in the 100th birthdate of Jack Kerouac, who was born in a modest house on a quiet street in the medium sized town of Lowell in Massachusetts in March 1922. It revived my own dormant memories of the town, but I wanted to explore here some of the themes opened up by the presenters A. M. Homes, Holly George-Warren and Englishman Geoff Dyer who has been domiciled in California for many years. Let me first say they all seemed utterly genuine and well intentioned. All of them said thoughtful things, saying it as they saw it. It was reassuring when one of Warren and Home, I’m not sure which – spoke of how they liked The Lowell Sun Building. How it lit up in the dark. I always liked that too. Lowell needed it. Some illumination. Geoff Dyer struck a chord when he said Kerouac was ‘trying to get back something he’d lost.’ Isn’t that so true of the human condition? So glad they were able to incorporate Jack’s interview with his NY friend Ben Hecht. They knew each other so Jack was relaxed in his company and Hecht drew out Jack’s fascination with the spiritual. Geoff Dyer said Jack was a romantic writer – not in a hearts and flowers way – more seeing the poetry of life, where the spirit soars. He also rightly stressed that Jack’s was ‘…a turbulent and contested reputation.’ He’s spot on. Dyer was a welcome English accent. I’ve not heard of him previously. Holly George-Warren is familiar to me through the ROLLING STONE BOOK OF THE BEATS. She’s embarking on the writing of the next biography of Kerouac. It worried me that Kerouac’s ‘Queerness’ was thrown into the mix, quite unexpectedly. I’m sure they meant in a wider, fuller sense, that he was an outsider for his times, the later 1940s and onwards. It might turn into something like appropriation I’m thinking. It would seriously diminish him. To measure him by the norms, the attitudes of now. Totally unjust. Just not right. Where his sexuality is the yardstick. Surely it’s Jack Kerouac as WRITER. That’s all he ever wanted. Read what he wrote, in his books and letters. Anything else is subjecting him to that ‘celebrity’ focus he suffered after the publication of On the Road in 1957. That killed him. Going down that same path all over again, well…..
Interspersed were comments from Lowell locals, where the show was recorded. Some of their comments echoed what I recalled of the town. ‘Jack who?’ being a regular response. Somewhere along the line A.M. Homes said something along the lines of ‘Lowell was the broken heart of the country.’ The dereliction of the textile mills that employed so many in the town, their partial restoration and I thought of Kerouac’s broken heart as well. For that’s what it was. I felt there was too much emphasis on On the Road. As there always is in any show about Kerouac. As a little aside here – I this week read Tom Waits in a music magazine interview talking a little about Kerouac’s late brief novel PIC. And pumped the air. Good on you Tom. Sure it may raise the fur a little, but you have to see the wider picture, the context. Worrying was how promoting Kerouac seemed to be hand in glove with the tourist aspect of the town. Now I’m sure Jack would like to help the town anyway but it all seemed so corporate. To offset that feeling there was nice jazz. Used in countless other Kerouac radio shows, well because it’s so poignant and so good.
It all took me back to the what I’ve always understood to have been the very first planned, organised Kerouac event in Lowell on Saturday, October 17, 1981. I was in Lowell – had been there a few days. I kind of knew my way around town a little having been a regular visitor since the early 1970s on first discovering the works of Jack Kerouac. Early visits to the town had often elicited the reply ‘Jack who?’ when feeling my way around the town. Only when encountering the likes of Jay McHale, Martha Mayo, Rob McLeod, Jay Pendergast, Brian Dean and others did it become evident that there was a nucleus of Kerouac devotees there, carrying the torch through the doldrum years. Now, in 1981 there was a fresh group of young faces who rated Kerouac. Charlie Gargiulio, Paul Marion, Pat, Julie, Henry, Dean, Mary, Dick and Jean and others. All decent good people I was pleased to call friends. They were all there on this Saturday night at the event in what I was told was the Arts Alive building on Merrimack Street in the centre of Lowell. It was an empty store. There were maybe a hundred people there. Fans, the curious. Jack Kerouac’s third wife Stella was there. Perhaps the highlight of the evening, it ran for two or three hours, was a playing of NEAL AND THE THREE STOOGES, a livewire reading by Jack. You could hear a pin drop as the tape wound on. Remember this was well before the internet. People had mostly never heard Jack’s voice before. I’d heard a few bootleg cassettes, but that was it. In the midst of this reading Stella started quietly sobbing, trying to stifle her tears as best she could. Maybe it was my imagination but you could feel the empathy for her. And shortly after events came to a close. A lot of us went to the Old Worthern bar up the street. The night went into the wee small hours. The event seemed almost spontaneous and just a lot of people gathering because Jack Kerouac, the local guy made good, was one of them and to varying degrees they smiled when they heard his name, picked up one of his books. It was all about Jack. From here, now, it seems that the modern day Jack Kerouac yearly celebration, running over days, has, to an extent, lost its focus somewhat. The bus tours and the like.
‘I’ve never voted,’ Jack Kerouac tells Ben Hecht in WHAT’S LEFT OF KEROUAC? – it was a sign that he wasn’t interested in the corporate world – ‘reality’ that most of us get pulled into. He was an outsider and happy with that. Thinking back to the first time in Lowell in those early 1970s – it took me back to standing outside 9 Lupine Road, it was early in a sunny morning. We were staring at the house for a few quiet minutes, hoping somebody wasn’t calling the police. A young girl stepped out, maybe twenty years old. She was curious to know what we were doing, but friendly with it. I stammered something about Kerouac. She had heard vaguely of him I remember but had no idea he had been born here. It stunned me. She asked if I knew The Beatles. She seemed sincere about it. I liked that innocence. The street was deserted. It was very much Jack who? Part of me wanted it to stay that way.
KEROUAC’S MUSIC OF THE YEARS GONE BY
(with thanks to Hoagy Carmichael and the peerless Nat King Cole)
So, Jack Kerouac, you would have been a hundred years old today. Instead you have been safe in Heaven dead since October 1969. A few people have sent me emails and even a couple of letters, all arriving today. You seem to have impacted on people’s lives far beyond the reach of the average writer. You’ve gotten into their emotions. Sure your spontaneous rush of writing impresses them, that first thought, best sort kind of thing. But once they stretch past that they saw your humanity, warmth, compassion, your innate belief that life, for all of us could be….so different with a little extra thought. With some humility, humbleness, that, well I think of your compassion again, that you espoused in all those words of yours. Your Buddhism, your Catholicism, your religiosity and you barely had time for ‘organised faith’ – it was all a gut reaction. You didn’t need no church. You wanted to see the face of God -and now maybe, hopefully, you have and whatever is there in that great mystery of life and death, ‘God’ has shown you compassion and it isn’t all just that terrifying void that you sometimes spoke of. Who knows? We have to die to find out. Unless you closed your eyes one last time and that was it. No soul to Heaven. Us down here, we just don’t know. But your tragedy for us, and a few of those emails and letters here today, Saturday March 12, speak of this, this tragedy of your life, all those years past age 47 for you – you could have carried on. Gone to AA meetings, cleaned up. Written 50 more books. Told the world you still wanted to see the face of God, but were prepared to wait a decade or three more to do just that. Someone wrote to me just now, very astutely I thought, what if your On the Road had been reviewed by the regular New York Times guy instead of sympathetic Gilbert Millstein and he’d panned it, given you some more time before you were pushed into that white hot media glare as the ‘King of the Beats?’ You might have stumbled on a year or two more in semi obscurity? Quite a perceptive thought. Thanks Dan. So, for now, today, as I said in the ‘First Words’ of the new Beat Scene – we think of Jack Kerouac…we think of Jack Kerouac. What might have been. But what is, also.
It’s easy to imagine this is Jack Kerouac on some New Year’s Eve night. (See picture at top of this page) – He’s ditched the notion of a night of revelry in the Big Apple or San Francisco to speed type or handwrite in those dinky little notebooks of his – some few thousand words to go into his next book. He looks intent doesn’t he. The radio in the background, maybe Symphony Sid is on – a favourite of Jack’s we all know. He has on one of his check shirts, he was fond of those too – see above. This one looks suspiciously like one he was photographed in Florida with, but maybe he had a drawer full of them. All the same. And that’s a candle for certain. Didn’t he write about putting words down by candlelight – when it burns down the notebooks or typewriter get put away – or was it something he mentioned on a TV show he appeared on? Guessing the picture is around 1960/62 possibly. What an absolute tragedy that he died so young. Only himself to blame, but a great pity all the same. What stories he might have written.
Wonderful to see and hear Gary Snyder in a very recent 25 minute conversation with Wang Ping and towards the end with Steve Dickison at Snyder’s North California home he called Kit Kitdizzee. He’s mellowed, quite understandably as he’s in his 90s now. How I wish he had been President of the USA all these years. No more wars, pollution, corruption, corporate chicanery, we’d have clean rivers, mountains without end. Some ecological and environmental sanity. Have a look at the film, it’s on Youtube now.. He remembers Robert Duncan, Michael McClure, Nanao Sakaki, Kenneth Rexroth, his old friends from the East Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Charles Olson too. Gary is a USA National treasure. Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y29o2l2iRJ8
It has been a year hasn’t it. Sometimes it feels like a silent siege, a foe that vanishes in a mist. But it seems like an especially trying year for Ron Whitehead of Kentucky. Ron has contributed a number of articles and interviews to Beat Scene over the years. I’ve still got a photo of a young fresh faced Ron in the same room as Hunter Thompson – and there is a gun involved. And Ron got out alive. In a round robin sort of email just today I read of Ron’s life these past twelve months. Cancer on the side of his head, (operated on and sorted, says Ron) – a heart attack, travels around America for various poetry readings, Ron is a stirring live poet and he’s just been voted in as AMERICA’S BEAT POET LAUREATE. Wow. Ron Well done. The nice guys win sometimes.
Time to say thank you to all Beat Scene subscribers – You few, you happy few (I hope) and friends around the world – for your interest, your support. You keep things ticking along. Beat Scene includes no advertising. I scorn it. There are no University grants or the like. It is funded through your subscriptions, which have grown in the past year. The move to a perfect bound format was long overdue. I’m glad that was done. And I think we’ve covered the Beat Scene in fresh ways and alongside what I fondly call ‘The Holy Trinity’ of Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs, there are so many others, representing the multi dimensional nature of the ‘Beat Generation.’ The plan is to plough on. The next issue will be in March 2022 and will be an edition celebrating 100 years of Jack Kerouac. It doesn’t seem like five minutes ago that I first heard the name at an evening class at a local college back in the Autumn of 1971. It was – to coin a phrase – a little life changing for me certainly. Thank you Mr. Smith. And to Mart, who I shared a place with around that time – who kept banging on about ‘The Dharma Bums.’ Pivotal moments. Sliding doors. Wishing you all – all the health and good fortune in the world.
A little postscript on the opening day of the year. So looking forward to David Stephen Calonne’s new book – THE BEATS IN MEXICO coming out very soon from Rutgers University Press. Calonne has written on Charles Bukowski extensively in the past. And Robert Crumb more recently. He’s an academic yet has a light touch with those credentials. He’s so readable and jargon free. He has sections that include Joanne Kyger and her encounters in Mexico. Bring it on.
Subscriber Joe Specht in USA alerted me to this new compact disc very recently. These things have been released with differing lineups over the years. It’s a mixed bag. Obviously there are tracks from Jack Kerouac himself and good ones they are too. Some neat jazz, Slim Gaillard, Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker. A number of what many would term ‘novelty’ Beat records, that, in truth, many Beat fans would steer clear of. Ed Byrne, that super cool cat from 77 Sunset Strip (a US TV series from the 1960s) is in there, Perry Como of all people, sits alongside a recording of poet Carl Sandburg talking about the Beats. Lenny Bruce, Babs Gonzales, Allen Ginsberg. It’s those novelty, exploitation recordings that are, to be honest, offputting. But at least the CD brings that very Jack Kerouac word – Beatitude – into the equation. How many downloading/streaming kids will pick up on this compact disc I wonder? Is it just a very early jumping on the Kerouac at 100 bandwagon. But everyone has different takes.
BEAT SCENE 102 is OUT NOW. It is the second volume of THE BEATS IN BRITAIN. The first appeared in 2014. The intention was to quickly issue another of the same ilk, such was the mass of material that had to be left out. ‘Quickly’ became seven years – as life and other publishing demands overtook things, as they invariably do. In amongst Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Charles Bukowski (stop shouting ‘he’s not a beat! at the back there,) there is Tom Clark, Robert Creeley, Richard Brautigan, Gregory Corso, Janine Pommy Vega, Laura Ulewicz, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Neal Cassady and Kenneth Rexroth. It adds up, the hope is, to something completely different, as Beat Scene continues to try and chart the curve of the Beat Generation’s lifeline from this British (English) perspective. If you would like to order a copy get in touch at email@example.com
As the chap who steps out of the shed on British TV’s THE FAST SHOW used to say ‘This week we have mostly been …..’ Well here it’s been mostly putting together stories about Robert Creeley and Richard Brautigan, with a big dollop of Kenneth Rexroth thrown in in preparation for Beat Scene 102, which will be a second volume of ‘The Beats in Britain.’ Alongside that trio will be Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Laura Ulewicz and more besides. Coming quite soon. With regard to Kenneth Rexroth, things went along to connections with English writers Derek Savage and George Woodcock. Here’s what the English daily The Guardian had to say about Savage back in 2007. That’s Robert Creeley above. https://www.theguardian.com/news/2007/nov/21/guardianobituaries.booksobituaries
A few years ago Iain Sinclair agreed on seeing KITKITDIZZE…SEEING GARY SNYDER issued as part of the Beat Scene Press chapbook series. It stemmed from a visit Iain made to Gary’s remote home in Northern California. Snyder is a longtime big favourite around here, as is Iain Sinclair. So, it was a double bonus to publish the chapbook in the regular series format of 8″ x 5″ with cover flaps. An edition of 150 numbered copies. And to have a young ‘Dharma Bums’ era photo of Gary on the cover. Copies are signed by Iain. There are a number of Iain Sinclair penned chapbooks in this series, besides the Gary Snyder, there are William Burroughs, Charles Olson, work taken from his marvelous book AMERICAN SMOKE + a chapbook from his friend Alan Moore all about their friendship – A FUNNY KIND OF RELATIONSHIP – and Jeff Johnson’s CITE SCOUT FOR THE TERRITORY – all about compiling three volumes of Iain Sinclair’s bibliography (the first two now published are monumental). And of course the most recent chapbook in the series GOLD MACHINE BEATS by Iain.
KEEPING THE BEAT
For nearly thirty years, the magazine Beat Scene has celebrated the Beat Generation. The editor and founder, Kevin Ring, is based not in Lowell, Massachusetts, or Bolinas, California, but in Coventry. He is currently planning the journal’s eightieth issue. The latest, No 79, has an article on Jack Kerouac, “The Sounds of the Universe Coming through His Window” – that sort of title appeals to Beat folk – an interview with his ex-girlfriend and recent biographer Joyce Johnson, another interview with a girlfriend of Gregory Corso, and articles on Kenneth Rexroth and LeRoi Jones. Beat Scene’s regular essayist, Jim Burns, looks at the book from which the present journal takes its name, The Beat Scene (1960), edited by Elias Wilentz. There is, as usual, something on Gary Snyder, still living in the backwoods of Northern California, aged eighty-five. Without an actual book to review, Mr. Ring reprints and discusses the press release for Snyder’s forthcoming collection of nature writings, The Great Clod. When asked what has kept him going all this time, Mr. Ring answered, “Coverage of the Beats is still patchy and often not positive. And I like the idea of being English and writing about the Beats.” It has become a mission, he says, “low key, maybe, but a mission. It’s got to be fun. I don’t want the academics to steal the show and rewrite history.” That aspect of the scene – the Academy of Incomprehensibility – dismays him. “I’ve got a job on there.” He is in contact with the enduring Beat writers (not all of whom appreciate the label). “I admire Lawrence Ferlinghetti a lot, the way he has run City Lights Books since 1953 and remained a poet.” Ferlinghetti encouraged Beat Scene in its early years “with letters and postcards and poems.” The other principals are Michael McClure – “it’s a political thing with him: poetry with a purpose” – and Snyder. These three represent what Mr. Ring calls “the ecological wing of the Beat Generation” and are its chief standard bearers today. We asked for the definition of a Beat writer. “There isn’t one,” he replied. “Allen Ginsberg was the arch promoter. Kerouac at times willingly bought into it. But how can you compare Charles Bukowski with John Wieners, Rexroth with Brautigan, Burroughs with McClure? To me the term is a big umbrella under which you can shelter all the different writers, musicians, artists that might be somehow seen as Beat. Like a big family tree.”
James Campbell writing in the Times Literary Supplement December 11, 2015
Now working on issue 103, that will be JACK KEROUAC AT 100. It makes me smile to be described as ‘Mr. Ring.’ It’s just like being back in the classroom and marking the homework books all over again. Time has taken its toll of course, so many departed in the years since Jim wrote this little article, Ferlinghetti, McClure, ruth weiss, (she always stipulated her name in lower case), Hirschman, Meltzer, Clark, Kyger, Fagin, Fante, di Prima. And yet they live on in their works and all the time their archives reveal more. Jim Campbell no longer writes for the TLS, but tells me he has a book out soon. That book, THE BEAT SCENE, edited by Elias Wilentz – who also with his brother ran a brilliant bookstore in NY which was an unofficial Post Office box address for itinerant Beats way back 1950s – which partly inspired the beginnings of Beat Scene, pictured above. And Beat Scene 79, of which Jim Campbell writes, is also pictured here. Plus, at the top, a picture of that 8th St. Bookstore. https://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/2019/05/27/why-everyone-went-to-the-8th-street-bookshop/
A very early Beat Scene Press chapbook. No 4 in the series from March 2006. JACK KEROUAC IN SAN FRANCISCO by Tom Clark. These two are dummy copies that weren’t for sale back then. They are now. Tom agreed to let some notes in preparation for his biography of Jack Kerouac be published in this format. Carolyn Cassady told me in a letter that it was her favourite biography of Jack. Certainly Tom wrote it with a poet’s eye and ear. If you haven’t read it I recommend you do. Tom also penned biographies of Charles Olson and his pal Ed Dorn. Tom and Ed were together at Esssex University in England in the early 1960s, no doubt shaking up the staid English department there. It was during this time a very young Clark became the poetry editor of THE PARIS REVIEW, it opened the door to many of the poets included in Donald Allen’s THE NEW AMERICAN POETRY being in that journal, Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, Kerouac et al. Just to point out, both copies here are the same colour, my iPad has played tricks with it. Technology eh. If anyone is interested in a copy let me know by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The original run sold out many moons ago. These two are in fine condition, having been in a drawer for the past sixteen years.
A handful in a box. Beat Scene 36. Dating from 1996. Found today during a ‘tidy up.’ A multi coloured cover. The issue includes Albert Halper, one of Kerouac’s youthful favourite writers, an interview with Philip Whalen, Jack Kerouac, John Fante, William Burroughs, Harry Crews, Joyce Johnson, Charles Bukowski, Kenneth Patchen, Miriam Patchen, John Clellon Holmes. Grab a copy in the UK for £4.50 including postage. Contact email@example.com
See Gary Snyder above – top of the page.
Twenty six years ago in 1995 The Beat Scene Press issued one of a handful of paperbacks inspired, perhaps, by the work of Arthur and Kit Knight and their terrific series of books about America’s ‘Beat Generation.’ You might recall they went under the moniker of The Unspeakable Visions of the Individual or TUVOTI for short. Borrowed from one Jack Kerouac. The Beat Journals: The Beat Generation – Essays & Interviews featured twenty two articles. That cover image of William Burroughs is a favourite of mine. It might be useful to name those articles here – it kicked off with Michael Robert Gordon’s Jack Kerouac Hides In The Grass. It was followed by Young Jack Kerouac by yours truly. Jim Burns came in with Beat Women. That was a timely essay. There was an interview with William Burroughs which he did especially for an issue of Beat Scene. Robert Drover’s essay on Ken Kesey was also included. Another interview followed, this time with Ed Sanders. Charles Plymell contributed memoirs about Neal Cassady. There was an essay on Charles Bukowski The Misery of Everyday Life. Ann Charters was interviewed. A fine interview with Philip Whalen from Winston Smith. More Bukowski really – an interview with Black Sparrow Press man John Martin. An interview with Herbert Huncke. And another with Jack Micheline. Anne Waldman gave us her Jack Kerouac Dream. Onetime City Lights store manager Dick McBride related a phone conversation he had with an emotional Jack Kerouac. There was a rare talk with Gary Snyder’s sister Thea about her time with Gary and Jack. Angels Still Falling is both a stage play and a screenplay about Jack Kerouac by London writer Richard Deakin, this volume included an excerpt. Jack Kerouac’s Rucksack – another close encounter from yours truly from a time in Lowell. There was poetry from Jack Micheline and Ted Joans rounded off the contents with a letter. I tell you all this because the last copy was sold today. Twenty six years after publication. It was a decent collection, never getting close to Arthur and Kit Knight’s works but useful all the same in hindsight. There will be another completely new volume before too long.
A little bit of housekeeping – Liam Hudson – if you are out there – let me know your address so that Beat Scene can be posted to you. Tried email numerous times – but no reply.
Chris Torrance – the poet who had long lived in rural Wales has just died. His good friend Iain Sinclair said once that he lived a few fields from tarmac. He was 80. Greatly influenced by Charles Olson and Robert Duncan, indeed many of the Beat Poets, Lew Welch included. A photo of him here from the mid 1970s blowing a tune. Writing in The Guardian, a noted English daily newspaper a few years ago, journalist Billy Mills said – “Written episodically over the past 35 years, Chris Torrance’s exploration of myth and landscape in prose and verse is a buried treasure. The Magic Door is the overall title of an ongoing long sequence in prose and verse by Chris Torrance, a Scottish born, London-reared, resident of Wales, and is a work very much in the tradition of Ezra Pound, David Jones, Charles Olson, and the Beats.
This is one of those very interesting works that have been quite systematically written out of the official view of contemporary British poetry. If Torrance was American, he would be a cult figure. But he’s British and almost totally neglected”.
Later. Tuesday September 7, on a walk with M.Ring in the local woods across the road, it was silent in there – as it often is. The trees providing plenty of shade. Really a good place to be. We walk a mile or two, there is nobody else around. We come to a bench and think it is a pleasant spot to sit and just be – look at the blue sky, listen to the faint sounds of nature, take in some deep breaths. There at the end of the bench is a hand painted plaster, it seems to me, image about 5 or 6 inches square – forgive me, I’ve never really gone metric. Someone has created an arched doorway. The colours are vibrant. And I’m thinking – that’s got to be a sign from Chris Torrance – it’s his ‘Magic Door.’ Readers of Chris Torrance will recognise his big book of the same name, a work that had been in progress for decades and then finally published by Will Shutes through his Test Centre Press in Norwich. A couple of days before Chris is cremated down near Aberdare there’s this arched doorway icon type thing – propped up on a bench in a wood. Is it a sign or just some weird, random coincidence? I’m going back tomorrow and will photograph the image in situ.
Friday Sept 10 – Here’s a picture of the Magic Door in the woods this morning. A brief service – non religious – was held at the Llwydcoed chapel near Aberdare for Chris yesterday. His cousin Roger Davies spoke warmly of times with Chris at the cottage in Pontneathvaughan, that followed Boogie Stop Shuffle by Charles Mingus. His friend Clare E. Potter spoke of times with Chris and read a Mervyn Peake poem. Epistrophy by Thelonius Monk followed. Another friend, Ric Hool read words by Robert Tay which gave a glimpse of how Chris lived in the area, the local shop, bottles of wine and how he was a well loved figure in the region. Then Praise Poem to Neith where a recording of Chris reading with musical backing was played. It reminded me in some ways of the kinds of material David Meltzer played with his bands in the 1960s. Another good friend Robert King spoke warmly of his friendship over a long time with Chris. A local man. Things finished with Dexter Gordon and Stairway to the Stars. The torrential rain had stopped. It was good to meet some of the people who saw Chris on a regular basis. Clear to see how the man and his writing touched many people. And also meeting Will Shutes again, the publisher of The Magic Door. And, speaking briefly with a man who had been a student of Chris at Cardiff University way back, Mike Greenhoff. Sensibly wearing a mask.
Monday 20 September. Walking in the local woods again this morning M.Ring spotted that the ‘Magic Door’ was now to be found at the base of a very old tree, having been moved from the bench which was far deeper into the woods. It would have escaped my attention. Has Chris moved on? Is it a sign?
Thursday 30 September. In the woods early. The Chris Torrance ‘Magic Door’ has now gone from the base of the tree, its second home in there. Where to I don’t know. But did see a tiny muntjac deer. Don’t think it spotted us as it seemed to be taking its time. Reading from Gary Snyder’s AXE HANDLES on the rough bench. Seemed appropriate.
Optic Nerve is a brilliant site run by Colin Still. It’s an archive of the films Colin has made of people like Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, Frank O’Hara, Robert Creeley and others. Colin is so modest he rarely promotes what he does. Here’s a link to a clip of Robert Creeley talking about Stan Brakhage. See that and investigate Optic Nerve. https://www.opticnerve.co.uk/film/robert-creeley-on-stan-brakhage
Thanks to the little band of people who pre-ordered ROBERT CREELEY on JACK KEROUAC and DOCTOR SAX, the upcoming Beat Scene chapbook. Number 70 in the series. It’s in the usual series format. A talk given by Robert Creeley a number of years ago, one which needed to be put into print. You know, the old way. Creeley and Kerouac shared that brief mid 1950s time on the West Coast, with the odd letter or two over the next ten years. But that ‘Dharma Bums’ period in Berkeley was crucial for both writers. If you are interested in ordering a copy contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
A little more on Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Anne Waldman, that fast speaking woman, has written a few words on the fine ArtForum site. Go here — https://www.artforum.com/passages/lawrence-ferlinghetti-1919-2021-85298?fbclid=IwAR2ME68AwzcVbwJCvf0tXaYUeWM2jJt6DzpAg__uESf2ilEL3lac7WyWYCI
IS BASEBALL HOLY: JACK KEROUAC and the NATIONAL PASTIME by Gregory Stephenson dropped through the letterbox this morning. Out of the blue. It’s an attractive pocket book which will probably catch the attention of those hungry for more Kerouac. There is a lull at the moment. You may have seen KEROUAC AT BAT, published a few years ago, not widely circulated I suspect – Is Baseball Holy? comes from the same stable in a way, examining the fascination Kerouac had for sports and sports reporting. The title coming from the indie 1959 film PULL MY DAISY where Kerouac narrated Robert Frank’s film which featured Allen Ginsberg, David Amram, Gregory Corso and others. Remember, briefly he was a reporter for the Lowell Sun and books, collections like his GOOD BLONDE & OTHER STORIES include a number of sports themes. Stephenson is a seasoned writer on Kerouac and the Beats, so he knows his stuff. Well researched and noted. This one is sure to be a winner.
Joan Vollmer – a shadowy figure from Beat history. We all know her final tragic outcome, death by gunshot wound to the head in an incident with William Burroughs that, even today, makes any rational thinker shake their head in disbelief. Part of the New York City crowd that included Lucien Carr, Burroughs, Ginsberg, Huncke, Kerouac, Edie Parker and others, a group that would eventually evolve into the so called Beat Generation. Of course the group as a whole negotiated some tricky periods, Carr did time for the killing of David Kammerer. Kerouac got married to Edie Parker while incarcerated for being an accessory. Allen Ginsberg ended up in a psychiatric unit with Carl Solomon. It was not always as straightforward as it might have been. Little is known of Joan Vollmer besides being included in various books about ‘Beat Women.’ Rick Peabody’s pioneering book, The Brenda Price collection featured Joan. In the film of On the Road Joan appears in Texas as a drug confused young woman, in a crazy chaotic relationship with Burroughs, a child in tow, Recent studies at a college that Vollmer attended have unearthed fragments of her writing. It’s not much but it casts a little more light on this bright, intelligent young woman who, if truth be told, probably got in with the wrong crowd. Go here — https://www.doanestuart.org/the-doane-stuart-schools-beat-generation-connection/?mc_cid=848942cef7&mc_eid=fcdbf1a2e6
Three or four years ago now we featured THERE YOU ARE, a collection of journals, poems, fragments, photos, letters from Joanne Kyger in Beat Scene. A fine poet. The publishers Wave Press have also published substantial books of the writings of John Wieners and Philip Lamantia, amongst so many others. Here’s a little promotional film they have on their site to illustrate that Joanne Kyger collection. https://www.wavepoetry.com/collections/books/products/there-you-are-interviews-journals-and-ephemera
Jack Kerouac fans might be interested in this new, brief film from the Special Collections department of the New York Public Library (The Berg Collection) where one of his notebooks is looked at. Kerouac, as we have all come to know, was meticulous about his many notebooks. They gave him the basis, the foundations for much of his published work. Here’s a link to that little film which displays a Kerouac notebook from 1950. And….then it was gone. Now apparently the film is gone, marked as ‘private’ so us fans are not allowed to see one of Jack’s notebooks anymore. What’s the point of the Berg Collection if readers of Jack Kerouac are not let in to see it – on film? Is it just for the white glove brigade then? Here instead, above, a page from a 1949 notebook.
Further on the poet Lew Welch. Counter Culture Chronicles in the Netherlands have recently published a chapbook which includes an excerpt from an as yet unpublished biography of the late poet Lew Welch. HOWLING IN HIS HILLS OF SUR by Ewan Clark. Distributed by Sea Urchin. Here’s a link to it. https://www.sea-urchin.net/audio-video/counter-culture-chronicles/ewan-clark-howling-in-his-hills-of-sur/
One of the most attractive Beat/Jack Kerouac book covers I know. Simple, understated, clear, nice typeface. The image is just perfect, the jeep, the road, the three compadres on a journey together. Reading it they seem to be in one of the happier points of their lives at that time, on that road trip. All produced by a little press in Germany – Stadlichter Press, run by Ralf Zuhlke. They produced a number of dual language books, (English/German) – all in a uniform edition, other Kerouac’s. Lew Welch, Albert Saijo, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Joanne Kyger, Diane di Prima, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Anne Waldman and Richard Brautigan to name a few. A simple, uncluttered style that really does it. Don’t know if they are still active. Hope so.
It was March 1988 that the first issue of Beat Scene was published. What’s that, thirty three years ago. How time fades away so quickly when you’re not looking. The first five issues were smaller format. Printed at a local firm by Diane and Susanne and stapled by me on the kitchen table. About two hundred and fifty copies. Andy Darlington, who published his own magazine LUDD’S MILL, supplied the cover artwork. Andy’s magazine was something of an inspiration, as was Palantir by Jim Burns. Contents were strong to begin with, it seems to me now. George Chigas on Kerouac, John Clellon Holmes, John Fante, Jim Burns writing about Al Cohn. Frozen man Bukowski, Gary Snyder, ( a review of LEFT OUT IN THE RAIN), Paul Bowles, Patti Smith, Burroughs, Nanao Sakaki. There was a full page advert for MOODY STREET IRREGULARS: A Jack Kerouac Newsletter published by the devoted Joy Walsh. That first issue was quickly followed by number 2. Cover artwork supplied by Carolyn Cassady. Carolyn allowed some letters from Neal Cassady inside. John Fante again, Charlie Parker, Barry Miles had an excerpt from his biography of Allen Ginsberg. John Clellon Holmes again and, well you can see what else is in there. Jokingly I once called them ‘church newsletters,’ and in hindsight they were just that in many respects. They went out largely to Beat devotees. I can’t claim to any in depth or substantial material in those early days, but it grew with time and experience. It was a lot of fun. Hiring an electric Golfball typewriter for the job, my little Olivetti Lettera 22 was not quite up to the task. And Letraset, remember that? You’d run out of a key letter just at the wrong moment. Five issues appeared in a year. The sales grew with each issue. Mostly to fans in England and then, gradually worldwide. Number 6 was the first to be the standard magazine size. Over a hundred issues of Beat Scene later the magazine continues to be devoted to America’s Beat Generation and, as I always say, associated figures. That’s not to mention countless books, broadsides, recordings, even a film, over those ensuing thirty three years. Thank you all, everyone who ever took the time and put their hand in their pocket to order a copy.
A few short words from Gary Snyder on Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Gary is simple, precise but warm about his friend. Taken from Gerry Cimino’s BEAT MUSEUM site.
Something on Lawrence Ferlinghetti in a roundabout way, remembering Allen Ginsberg’s feisty nature when faced with hate. https://lithub.com/when-lawrence-ferlinghetti-defended-a-tribute-to-allen-ginsberg/?fbclid=IwAR0REUCsgskE3h3TzPkgAnCXFoYPaVE1exB9ExhJKKsbW4_p3j_fQnHYUDg
A few copies of this Beat Scene chapbook from 2012 have been found in a box. No 35 in the chapbook series – JACK KEROUAC’S LAST NIGHT IN NORTHPORT by Pat Fenton. 125 numbered copies originally. Contact me on email@example.com for information
More on Lawrence Ferlinghetti – a film of him reading from his A CONEY ISLAND OF THE MIND with the so talented David Amram – that’s David above – providing musical accompaniment ‘with instruments pulled from a duffle bag.’ Recorded in 2002 when Lawrence was just a kid (with a dream maybe) of 83. https://vimeo.com/517629552/ae9b6103a0
By now most of the media will have some words on Lawrence Ferlinghetti – who has died just short of his 102nd birthday. A fully lived life, where he juggled his creativity through poetry and art alongside maintaining the business of City Lights Books, store and publishing. Not an easy task. You will read his story in many places, though there is only one biography by Barry Silesky and that is decades old. There is Chris Felver’s lovely book of photos, capturing Ferlinghetti in many places. The feeling is that Ferlinghetti didn’t want the attention. He seemed a calm, private man. My only experiences of him, if you can call them that, are a few brief letters from him asking about Beat Scene and ordering copies on a number of issues. He’d usually include a little spontaneous artwork in the letter and he was kind enough to allow one or two poems in my Transit magazine. The only other time was in Brigham’s Ice Cream Parlour in Lowell in 1988. The Jack Kerouac memorial park was being officially opened. Was lucky enough to connect up with the memorial creator Ben Woitena, who was from Texas. A couple of hours sitting with Ben and a couple of milkshakes. Right beside us were Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, we were almost touching knees. They were talking like the very old friends that they were, Ferlinghetti was a young man of about 70 then. Neither Ben or I spoke to them, it seemed bad manners to even think of cutting in. Though we could hear much of what they said. Lawrence Ferlinghetti always had my admiration and always will. He achieved so much and remained true to his ideals. As I said somewhere – he was waiting, now he’s not waiting. Hopefully, in the words of another bloke who’s name escapes me – he’s now safe in Heaven dead.
LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI has died aged 101. Some people talk of eras ending. This might be the case today. He is no longer waiting. The English daily newspaper The Guardian carried this obituary a short while ago. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/feb/23/lawrence-ferlinghetti-poet-founder-city-lights-bookshop-dies-aged-101
A brief clip of a film from Colin Still’s excellent Optic Nerve site. LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI reading The World Is A Beautiful Place in the City Lights office. Colin Still has made many films of Beat writers over the years and his site is a treasure trove. https://www.opticnerve.co.uk/poetry/american-poets/lawrence-ferlinghetti/the-world-is-a-beautiful-place
51 years ago Wallace Berman was killed in an car accident. It was his birthday. The Allen Ginsberg Project site recalls this talented man and supreme catalyst with a page or two on his remarkably inspirational life. Film, found sound recordings made at home, Jack Hirschman knocks on his door and comes in. Photos of Berman at work, with Allen Ginsberg. Tosh Berman, son of Wallace and Shirley, reads from his book. And much more besides. Go here – https://allenginsberg.org/2021/02/t-f-18-2/
A rarely seen photo of Neal Cassady – on left – presumably in Mexico, as he seems to be in his early forties here. He died aged just 42 in 1968. Does anyone know the other people in the photograph?
An article in the English daily newspaper THE GUARDIAN. An English travel writer Dan Richards gets to Desolation Peak and meets with the current fire watcher. Of course the Peak is where Jack Kerouac spent a couple of months in 1956 as a fire lookout. He followed in the steps of his West Coast friends Philip Whalen and Gary Snyder, both encouraged him to take up the job. https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2021/feb/16/desolation-peak-cabin-washington-state-fire-spotters-lonely-vantage-point
A link to the film A MAN WITHIN – with a lot of clips of William Burroughs – much to see.
OUT NOW from The Beat Scene Press, a bigger chapbook in the black cover series THANKS FOR ASKING: THE WHALEN JOURNAL by Steve Silberman. An edition of 125 numbered copies. An intimate picture of Philip Whalen in his later years – Silberman was friend and carer for Philip. Advance orders being taken now. email firstname.lastname@example.org
Allen Ginsberg’s book THE FALL OF AMERICA gets a musical treatment with range of musicians and poets, in a 50th anniversary celebration. Looks like a format for everyone, digital, vinyl, compact disc. What no cassette? Here’s a link. https://allenginsberg.bandcamp.com/album/allen-ginsberg-s-the-fall-of-america-a-50th-anniversary-musical-tribute
In these doldrum weeks of frigid January, when life itself seems frozen as we wait for better, free days – it is a boost to the flagging spirit to be able to read Michael McClure’s MULE KICK BLUES. The book appears in April and it is a volume that Michael McClure worked on together with editor Garrett Caples at City Lights. Despite his failing health Michael pushed the book along during 2018 into 2019. He died on May 4, 2020. He was 87. McClure really rated Jack Kerouac’s MEXICO CITY BLUES and the poems and haiku that he penned – but which remained criminally unpublished in his lifetime. There are echoes or homage to Kerouac’s work here. As well as to Blues masters like Leadbelly. And death as McClure, fading, faces it. Diane di Prima, Jack Kerouac, Philip Whalen, all feature. Editor Caples has written a substantial essay of introduction. It’s almost as if he started writing and became a biographer and had to rein back. It’s an introduction that will be referred to much by many in the future. McClure is so much more than a ‘Beat’ poet. Sure he was there at the Six Gallery in 1955 with Lamantia, Whalen, Snyder and Ginsberg, with Kerouac, Ferlinghetti, Cassady, Rexroth and John Montgomery in attendance in that converted garage – and he never sneered at the Beat label, yet he went on into the decades ahead and equally could be tagged ‘Eco-poet.’ Years before it all became part of the furniture. He never made it to see publication. And yet with City Lights as publisher it seems fitting that he should bow out with them.
Those nice people at the Beat Museum in San Francisco have posted up a link to a newly ‘colourised’ version of film of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Lucien Carr and others walking in New York. The footage has been around for some years and is priceless in black and white – enhanced with colour it seems to bring them to life even more so, as though they are not really so far away in historical time as we might sometimes imagine. Kerouac looks very tired as he attempts to get a friend to answer a door. Maybe they’ve been up all night. Allen looks tired too. And it is rare footage of Lucien Carr who shied away from any publicity that might connect him with Kerouac and Ginsberg. I’m wondering who the two slightly cleaner cut men are with them? And while one of the women is Lucien Carr’s wife, I’m struggling to name the other woman with long fair hair. (Since realised it is the wife of film man Robert Frank). Thanks to whomever colourised the film. It would be interesting to know what they are saying. Any lip readers out there? The picture above is from the film. Go here to see it all. Five minutes duration.
YOURS PRESENTLY: THE SELECTED LETTERS of JOHN WIENERS edited by Michael Seth Stewart is a big new book published by the University of New Mexico Press. Always connected with Black Mountain college and its then rector Charles Olson, John Wieners is a writer greatly influenced by his time with Ed Dorn, Robert Duncan, Charles Olson of course, his Projective Verse among other elements and a key figure in that so called ‘Black Mountain school’ of writers that people like Dorn, Robert Creeley and others are often tagged into. The letters cover the period 1955 right through to 1997. The volume reveal the highs and the lows of an often chaotic life. His euphoria and despair. He was at times a poet lauded by his peers but one who, at points, slipped through the cracks into the shadows. The collection amounts to a fabulous literary history, a network of connections. Especially insightful are the letters relating to the magazine Wieners published, MEASURE. It was a short lived thing but, like the seven issues of THE BLACK MOUNTAIN REVIEW, it was influential on so many levels. But in reality Wieners was no magazine editor, as this collection will tell you. It could not contain his energies, his soaring imagination. Another crucial point was his initial publication in 1957, a time where he was to be found in San Francisco, being a key figure in the ‘Poetry Renaissance’ there. The hope is that enough people will see this essential book and have insight into the mind of an important American poet.
ISBN 978-0-8263-6204-9 — University of New Mexico Press
A two hour film celebration of the life and work of Kenneth Rexroth was recorded at Beyond Baroque in recent times. To see this film and get insights into Rexroth and his massive influence on modern American poetics, on literature in general – go here — http://kennethrexroth.com/
Over a period of two or three years The University of Minnesota Press have undertaken to publish three vast collections from the archives of poet Allen Ginsberg. Expertly edited by Michael Schumacher, a man well grounded in Ginsberg research, these three volumes gives the reader close insight into the mind, the thoughts, the dreams, the actions of the poet who, with HOWL, broke the conservative stranglehold on poetry in America and thereafter the world. No mean feat. These really are big, substantial books. The third of which is sitting here ALLEN GINSBERG – THE FALL OF AMERICA JOURNALS 1965-1971. It is the period where Ginsberg travels more than ever, Asia, Europe, Russia and becomes the poster boy for the anti Vietnam protests in America, you can see him here on the cover in a stars and stripes hat, an image known everywhere. Allen, as ever, is so frank, painfully so at points, revealing himself at times as a very vulnerable figure. These three volumes will certainly open new doors into Ginsberg.
Brief black and white film footage of Jack Kerouac in Milan during his ill fated trip there in the mid 1960s. Fernanda Pivano speaks of his visit in Italian. Jack seems bemused as he is escorted throughs a big bookstore there and is seen sleepily sipping from a glass before eventually dozing off on a sofa. He was, he said, doing the promotional trip there to earn money to care for his sick mother. The film lasts just a couple of minutes. Click here — https://lanostrastoria.ch/entries/x08AooOA1lg?fbclid=IwAR0pfvLPmEEOtyPcEcG42ndlRM3MoZ0XUOotDKkGKT5_IxLW7cGYbtUxSrU
Out now BEAT SCENE issue number 99. In a packed new edition there is close focus on TUVOTI. Older heads will recall this is shorthand for The Unspeakable Visions of the Individual, drawn from Jack Kerouac of course. This was a press run first by Arthur and Glee Knight and later on by Arthur and Kit Knight. Arthur died a few years ago, but not before this man of many talents – along with Kit, saw published a string of books devoted to the Beats, interviews, letters, previously unpublished material, from all of them. They were the kinds of books you’ll never see today, purely because it would be beyond the purse of virtually all publishers to secure rights. And this in the era of 1970s onwards, when quite frankly the Beats were yesterday’s men. Out of print, largely unloved. Arthur wrote to them all, Kerouac, Burroughs, Holmes, Ginsberg, McClure, Snyder. Kit Knight herself has written her memories of what they did. And her essay is preceded by V.J. Eaton’s recollections of their achievements. They were true Beat pioneers. No question. A photo here of Kit Knight with John Clellon Holmes and on the right V.J. Eaton (some of you may have one or two of his Literary Denim books). The picture dates from 1981 at the home of John Clellon Holmes at Old Saybrook.
Those nice people at the Beat Museum in San Francisco have put these pictures on their site, highlighting the issue of Beat Scene that has a sharp focus on Jack Kerouac’s novel ON THE ROAD. In better times no doubt many of you will take a trip to SF and possibly visit the museum. Here’s a link to the Beat Scene images they’ve put up. https://www.facebook.com/thebeatmuseum/photos/ms.c.eJwzNDA0tTC3NDAxMzczMzYxNNMzRIiYmKCLGBmjixiaWKCKmFmAdQEAK~_QSDQ~-~-.bps.a.10150109389103416/10158790467148416/
There is a new issue of Beat Scene – number 98. See image of the front cover here. That’s a young Gary Snyder. He also features on the back cover. Naturally Gary features inside, as does Jack Kerouac, Robert Creeley, Ruth Weiss, Philip Whalen, Kenneth Patchen and more. This issue is, once again, ‘Perfect Bound.’ It has a spine. We continue our sharp focus on the Beat Generation and associated figures, with interviews, long essays, photos, histories and up to the minute news (Well as up to the minute as a Quarterly can be). What Beat Scene does, I think, is gather together in one place the Beats – rather than the reader having to search the infinity of online or to have to seek out the obscure places they might appear. It’s a place to turn the page at your own pace. Forget virtual. If you would like to order a copy – please get in touch and email email@example.com
Diane di Prima has died in the past week. She was 86. Here she is with Anne Waldman. It looks a little like the picture was taken at Naropa. Diane had a few stints teaching there. And another couple of her as a young woman. Over the past thirty years or so Diane was always helpful to me. Sending poems for Transit, doing interviews for Beat Scene. She remembered her small press roots. She was, after all, a printer and publisher herself with her Poet’s Press in New York way back. I got to meet Diane twenty years ago in Berkeley and had time for a little conversation. There will be much on Diane in Beat Scene number 99, out before the end of the year.
Besides Diane di Prima – Philip Whalen seems to take up quite a lot of reading time here lately. Going back to old books only half (if that) understood and appreciated. Big Bridge https://bigbridge.org/BB19/index.html invariably devote time to Whalen (Warren Coughlin if you read Jack Kerouac). A commendable American poetry site – Brian Unger set up and transcribed some excerpts from 1967 notebooks of Whalen. You’ll find them here. You will see the original Whalen pages and Brian’s transcriptions. https://bigbridge.org/BB15/2011_BB_15_FEATURES/2011_BB_15_WHALEN_FEATURE/bb_15_features_WHALEN_intro.html
More on MICHAEL McCLURE – his good Oakland friend, poet and broadcaster Jack Foley has done a couple of radio show tributes to Michael on the station KPFA (a lot of history in that place). Jack talks about Michael and the show includes live recordings of Michael reading with Ray Manzarek playing keyboard accompaniment. Go to https://soundcloud.com/john-w-foley/michael-mcclure-tribute-mp3
Tough Poets Press are issuing a new edition of San Francisco poet Kirby Doyle’s critically acclaimed HAPPINESS BASTARD. Originally published by Essex House back in 1968, the book has been out of print in the years since. Doyle died in 2003 aged 71. Contact Rick at www.toughpoets.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org — for more information.
In the period before his death in May this year Michael McClure was working on what was to be his last book. Soon City Lights Books will publish MULEKICK BLUES. I’ve cribbed some of the early reviews from the City Lights site to give you here a feel for what the book might be on release. Here’s Eileen Myles and then Anne Waldman speaking of what they see in McClure’s book………
“What a beautiful book. He’s Blake-huge and gets away with it, possibly because he’s always in motion. ‘Should I put a hairy tail where my head is?’ He revels in the unstable. The famous all caps that explode in his poems show the bounce of his desire at the micro and macro, a wish to experience, to understand the scale of existence. I’ve never read such a disarming approach to mortality and death, he’s young in it and absolutely with it, most felicitously when he shares it with a friend: “AROUND / THE / EARS / a puff / of / cherry blossom smell” which he repeats to Diane because poets always speak to each other in rhythm. I can’t think of any contemporary artist who explores the interior, the inside-out of the dharma as magically and freely as McClure except maybe for David Lynch. Were they friends? He talks to a shark before crossing to ‘the other side’. The radicality of Michael McClure might be that he’s all on the surface, but rarely alone, like a new kind of depth: ‘To the sensual fly buzzing in my ear / I am a warm good tasting stone.'”—Eileen Myles
“Like Zen poets of yore, Michael McClure’s tender satori consciousness cuts though the Dark Age with friendship, desire, psalms of the meat-wheel, pond-plants physics, and animal cries in spines of symmetry. It’s a pulsing maelstrom. And others chime in: Sung Tung-P’o, Dōgen, Mallarmé, and Blake flex biceps in mutual co-arising. Mule Kick Blues is claps of thunder bringing the mind back to a luminous level of particulars. ‘I’m coming from my hormones with nothing left to tease.’ A cat’s face is ‘like a basket of pine cones in a dream.’ Recently departed, this legendary rockstar eco-poet’s gemlike modal structures will keep humming while ‘black ants circle a bubble of honey.’ A final performance from a master poet.”—Anne Waldman
Those very nice people at The Times Literary Supplement recently wrote some kind words about the current issue of Beat Scene magazine, number 97. The one with the Michael McClure image on the front cover. Thank you James Campbell, who I understand penned the article. Much appreciated. Beat Scene of course features many other people besides what I tongue in cheek sometimes tag as the ‘Holy Trinity’ of William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. Here’s an image of the TLS words.
A new film YOU NEVER HAD IT – all about Charles Bukowski will soon be available. Filmed mostly in 1981 and never released commercially I understand, the footage remained in storage until very recently. A link here to see a clip from the film which is going to be shown at various film festivals. All quite fitting in the year Bukowski would have one hundred years old.
Thanks to Beat Scene friend Peter Hollywood for reminding me of this Satori Books paper catalogue from back in 1987. In the ancient days before the internet took over the world – sending things in the mail was the way. I’d been selling books by and about the Beat Generation since the late 1970s, formalising it with the name Satori Books in 1982. No prizes for guessing where the name arose from. One of Jack Kerouac’s less heralded books of course. This paper catalogue has them all. I marvel at those prices, some of which possibly seemed steep at the time. As I recall it, there were few places you could get ‘Beat’ books in the 1970s and 1980s. Compendium of course in London’s Camden town. God bless Chris Render and Mike Hart & co – Iain Sinclair did paper lists – you’ll see those documented in Jeff Johnson’s monumental bibliographical books on Iain – I’m sure there were one or two others waving the flag too. But they were few. And, judging from a glance inside this catalogue, my desire to publish a magazine was showing itself. That came with BEAT SCENE in 1988. Bits about Kerouac, some words from him on the cover – think that may have been stolen from Moody Street Irregulars – the terrific Kerouac fan magazine from Joy Walsh that played a significant role in reviving Jack Kerouac’s reputation all those years ago. Lawrence Ferlinghetti on the back too. There was a note from Kerouac biographer Ellis Amburn inside – he was a onetime editor of Jack’s too. These were times when I worked as a school teacher and working any other hours at this Beat stuff. Laughing now at what you could do with a few sheets of Letraset (ask your dad) and a portable typewriter. A big advert for Gerald Nicosia’s Memory Babe biography of Kerouac, a page on the excellent The Unspeakable Visions of the Individual books (TUVOTI) put out by Arthur and Kit Knight. It reminded me of trips to Airlift Books near The Barbican in London. People who got Bukowski established in this country, amongst others. Good book distributors and to Dick McBride’s old chapel book warehouse in Buckinghamshire. RIP in Dick. And inside too a short account of going to Bath and meeting up with a lot of other Beat readers to see and hear the revue CITY LIGHTS put on by Jean Wagoner and friends. The hilarious Richard Brautigan sketch is forever in my memory bank. Glad to be reminded of it. Thanks Peter.
It was about this time all of 55 years ago that poets Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg came to London to join forces with a whole roster of British and European poets at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Robert Creeley was supposed to have joined them but never made it. It was an unprecedented poetry gathering for England with thousands attending. The reading got national coverage and was a turning point in the literary landscape of this country. The feeling being that all those who attended realised they were part of something bigger. The event had a unifying impact. In some respects it was the British equivalent of the Six Gallery reading of ten years earlier, where Ginsberg had electrified a much smaller venue with Howl. Poets Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, Philip Lamantia and Philip Whalen were there and played their part also. Here’s a recent article from the London Magazine which reflects on the Albert Hall reading.
Ahead of Beat Scene 98, where Gary Snyder will feature, I looked at the film made about ten years ago of Gary with the novelist Jim Harrison, THE PRACTICE OF THE WILD. A slowly paced, thoughtful film, centred a lot around a dining room table with various guests. Michael McClure features, as does Gary’s former wife, the late poet Joanne Kyger, along with a significant figure in Gary’s life, the publisher Jack Shoemaker. Gary was just a kid in his late 70s at that point, now 90 of late. Here’s a link to the film on the quality site Vimeo. Thanks to Beat Scene friend Gary Raine for suggesting the link. https://vimeo.com/418682866?fbclid=IwAR2bj_j5CZP0us7uIzD26GZrdjY1p-Y7mJIB37FLF0kEqppijZA2Zwi64V4
As well as a new issue of Beat Scene magazine, see just below, a new bigger format chapbook is out soon from The Beat Scene Press. BILL BUTLER AND UNICORN BOOKS by Terry Adams, charts the times in the later 1960s and early 1970s when an ex US Marine Bill Butler came to England, worked briefly in the book trade in London and then established the Unicorn bookshop and press in Brighton. Some say the shop was an outreach of Compendium Books in London, so full of Beat Generation, obscure alternative books as it was. Butler, over the years, clashed with the authorities. He also published Bob Dylan, Alex Trocchi, William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac amongst others. Terry Adams tells the story of these years. Available quite soon.
There is a brand new issue of Beat Scene, number 97. As ever, if interested, please email email@example.com for further information.Included are Michael McClure, Diane di Prima, Jack Kerouac, Lew Welch, Tom Clark, Charles Olson, Gregory Corso, Kirby Olson, Burroughs and more. This is the first Beat Scene in a ‘perfect bound’ state. With a spine. A big deal for the magazine.
A few lines below about the work of Michael McClure. One from the English alternative music magazine Wire. The other from Jack Kerouac.
“…… it’s salutary to hear the voice of Michael McClure, a poet who (for fifty years in print) has explored states of freedom with candor and athletic intelligence. He writes poetry with acute eyes and ears, translating critical observation into precisely tempered verbal notations, celebrating the animal body and human consciousness growing out from it. He’s an expert reader too, with an actor’s voice, sensual and attuned finely to cadence and energies of enunciation. And he’s learned from musicians. As his Beat associate Jack Kerouac might have noted, McClure knows time…”
— WIRE magazine, from a review of the CD I Like your Eyes Liberty
“The most fantastic poem in America…”
— Jack Kerouac (writing about McClure’s long poem Dark Brown)
Some images of poet Michael McClure from the files here. Sadly missed by many. By me. He was a good friend. Despite the many demands on him, he always found time for me. Poet, essayist, performer with Ray Manzarek for many years. Also collaborated with Terry Riley and others. A playwright, with many productions to his credit besides THAT play! (The Beard). The photo of him typing with Frank Reynolds in the background hangs in the hallway here.
You know when you are searching for something, you can’t put your hands on it to save your life, but other things turn up. Such was the case this morning. Looking in my diary for 1988 for some information that would help a future article for Beat Scene, I found an entry for this month, June of that year. In it I’d entered that I’d spoken with Lawrence of the Birmingham band Felt. I know his surname but he’s protective about it and I won’t mention it. Though it’s possibly common knowledge after all these years. We had quite a long conversation. Think he talked of having his home up for sale, our book passions, Kerouac, music. He’d been over to see me in Coventry a week or two before. A quiet young lad, self effacing. Unique in his own personality. Just a young kid really. Even though I was dealing with something of a migraine I warmed to him right away. His band Felt were pretty popular, hovering on the cusp of real fame. I thought their music was exceptional. Highly melodic, clever, informed. Lots of references, dropped hints. The album at that time was something called THE PICTORIAL JACKSON REVIEW. Lawrence was a big Jack Kerouac fan and it was a kind of tip of the hat from the band to Jack. It was somehow typical that they would pick a novella by Kerouac to shine the light on, a book not always top of any list. But that was Lawrence. If the crowd were going one way, he’d go the other. It was an aspect of him that I liked and respected. He was a good bloke anyway. I think he had Kerouac’s fear of the limelight as well. Unusual in a rock musician. But refreshing. We did make arrangements to go and see the re-screening of the film HEART BEAT in a Birmingham cinema but he wanted to sit on his own. Something about wanting to absorb it by himself. I didn’t mind at all. I like to sit in silence watching films too. Getting drawn into that world. He was deeply into Kerouac back then. I wonder if he still is? At my youngest brother’s (another Loz) house in Sussex a while back I browsed through the big book on Felt that he had on his shelves. It reminded me of that album again. Which I’ll play today. Those guitars. Hope Lawrence is doing ok. He’s had some ups and downs. It’s thirty two years ago. Hard to believe. Quite scary really.
OUT NOW from The Beat Scene Press. A new chapbook in the continuing series. No 69. LOOK AT UNCLE BILL: AN INTERVIEW WITH WILLIAM BURROUGHS. (London 1972). 125 numbered copies in the usual 8″x 5″ format. Thanks to all those who pre-ordered a copy. Yours should be there by now. Anyone else interested please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
A fresh article on Jack Kerouac and his quest to discover his ancestry. You’ll find it by clicking the link here which will take you to the Penguin site and the essay written by Pauline Bock.
Michael McClure dies aged 87
Very sad news yesterday of Michael McClure dying at the age of 87. Even though I was aware that it was a year since he’d suffered a heart attack and a stroke, followed by Sepsis, I hoped he would recover enough to go on. Will recall being with him a number of times, especially one good day at his home, shared with wife Amy, in Oakland. It seemed to me a secluded kind of space. He was kind, gentle natured. Totally dedicated to poetry. Very serious about it. A student of poetic history, aware of the lineage of it all. Proud to be one of that little band of poets at the 6 Gallery reading in 1955 with Gary Snyder, Philip Lamantia, Philip Whalen and Allen Ginsberg. All putting their toes across the line, as I recall him saying of that night. Along with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Neal Cassady, Kenneth Rexroth and Jack Kerouac, all there together joyously. A string of books over the years. Controversy over his play THE BEARD. Many other plays in his locker. Friend of rock musicians like Janis Joplin and The Doors. Joplin famously recreating his words OH LORD WON’T YOU BUY ME A MERCEDES BENZ. A midlife career in tandem with the brilliant Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek. Their ACTION PHILOSOPHY is a favourite here. Other collaborations with musicians such as Terry Riley. Plenty of observers have spoken of his poetry and vision of us humans as animals, mammals, all part of some great connectedness. In letters to me he spoke of the birds and other creatures he encountered on hikes near his home. Trips to Africa. His friendship with filmmaker Stan Brakhage way back. Recall him reading in Ledbury in England to a packed hall. He seemed nervous. Told me he had great moments of self doubt. He seemed shy to me. A serious man with a warm smile. I like serious. And he came to England a good few times. The London Review Bookshop readings with Iain Sinclair compering and Colin Still filming. Hushed, attentive crowds. He was a big draw. I hoped these readings here sustained him. And he was generous. Only last year allowing me publication of an essay on Bob Dylan from way back in the mid 1960s. You’ll no doubt have seen those photos by his friend Larry Keenan Jr. of Michael with Allen Ginsberg, Robbie Robertson and Allen Ginsberg in the alley beside City Lights Bookstore. Now renamed Kerouac Alley. He experimented. Who can forget his ‘beast language?’ All part of his take on our place on this planet. He was, along with Gary Snyder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and others, known as the environmental wing of the Beat Generation. Of course that Beat Generation thing was the work of arch promoter Allen Ginsberg. And Michael McClure, like Gary Snyder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, transcended that label to go on into the future. He didn’t diminish its importance by any means, instead valued what he felt they had achieved. He was an important poet. I suspect his reputation will grow. For a young student who initially came to San Francisco to study art, he painted quite dazzling exploratory images with his poetry. His physical presence will be sorely missed around these parts but his work will endure. A life lived to the full.
Want to see City Lights Bookstore? Jack Kerouac Alley beside it? Remember Bob Dylan, Michael McClure, Robbie Robertson and a camera shy Lawrence Ferlinghetti gathered in the alley to be photographed by Larry Keenan Jr. in 1965? Go here to have a look courtesy of Google Maps. Just over the street is Jerry Cimino’s Beat Museum. In these days of no travel, it’s a bonus to digitally walk these streets. Thanks to Gary Raine. https://email@example.com,-122.4065593,3a,75y,278.98h,85.73t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sZVIRtzMl-Tihi-ctDro2Fw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656
Here’s a link to the pages of Granta magazine where Andrew O’Hagan goes to visit Carolyn Cassady in England. If you want to read the long article in its entirety you’ll need to have a subscription to the site. Nevertheless it is a good read.
A link to a short film about an exhibit of the photos of William Burroughs a few years ago at the Photographer’s Gallery in London.
Being this is the year that marks 100 since the birth of Charles Bukowski in 1920 – it seems only right that Black Sparrow Press (the version under the David Godine umbrella) will republish Neeli Cherkovski’s biography of the man. Neeli was a friend, a good friend of Bukowski. They collaborated on a short lived magazine together. Neeli, a well respected San Francisco poet, also published an excellent volume WHITMAN’S WILD CHILDREN which should also surely be ripe for republication. Buk thought that Neeli’s biography went too easy on him, he wanted Neeli to dig deeper, tell the world about how really awful this man Charles Bukowski was – Neeli couldn’t quite do it but his substantial book has got to be a must for anyone at all curious about how this ‘underground’ figure got to be the writer he became. Thanks to Al Berlinski for telling me about this.
Back in 2006 Beat Scene did a special unnumbered issue which was a revised and extended edition of Iain Sinclair’s THE KODAK MANTRA DIARIES. Originally published by Albion Press in 1971 it had long been quite scarce. We thought Iain’s book about attempting to interview and film Allen Ginsberg in London in the mid 1960s – amongst other things – deserved to find a new audience. The Dialectics of Liberation conference was on at The Roundhouse in London’s Camden Town district. Ginsberg was a big presence at the conference and his discussions, sometimes very heated, with Stokeley Carmiichael were big crowd pleasers. There is a classic photo of Ginsberg, Emmett Grogan and Carmichael in full rant mode in the issue. Included in this new issue were photos of Ginsberg in discussion with Sinclair in the garden of Panna Grady’s house (where Charles Olson was hiding out at). William Burroughs floats in and out. There is Ginsberg out in the parks, talking, being interviewed by a young Iain Sinclair. Running alongside this is the tale of Iain Sinclair and his gang of friends, filmmakers, their struggles to finance things, film as they got to understand the techniques of filming. The setbacks, there was a major setback, but with tenacity Sinclair, in what seems to me a major turning point in his life, grits his teeth and overcomes near disaster to get the film, in glorious 1960s colour, over the line. It’s London, so called ‘Swinging London’, and ‘Ah, Sunflower.’ A beautiful film of its time.
It was a lot of fun to do, with Iain playing his part in getting things right. A learning curve for me.
Ginsberg resplendent in a bright red silk type shirt on the covers, given to him by Paul McCartney. The text was expanded with a new introduction by poet Tom Clark and an afterword from Iain. Lots of new photographs were introduced. The interview with Ginsberg really stands the test of time.
I’m proud of it in a humble way – if that doesn’t sound Double Dutch.
BEAT SCENE number 96 is out shortly. Allen Ginsberg in the early 1970s, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski, William Burroughs, Arthur Knight, John Giorno and more. Orders being taken now. Single copies in the UK are £8. Single copies in Europe are 15 Euros and outside is $20 USA. Includes postage.Please contact by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
IAIN SINCLAIR and GARY SNYDER – TWO BIOREGIONALISTS
Early exploratory notes
Gary Snyder has often spoken of the idea of ‘bioregionalism’ – if you look back into his collection of essays and interviews – THE REAL WORK: INTERVIEWS & TALKS 1964-1979 (published by New Directions Press back in 1980) you’ll find an interview where he talks with Richard Grossinger, the editor of IO magazine, about this idea of place. The interview took place in 1971 and appeared in Grossinger’s IO, (issue 12) a serious literary magazine of its time (see the Charles Olson issues they published). In this interview Snyder, in my reading of it, appears to tackle the idea or concept of ‘Biogregionalism’ head on. Remember we’ve barely left the 1960s, those years – at least the later 1960s – where the idea of communes, ‘getting back to the country’ were taking firm hold. An era of The Diggers and copycat believers. In my reading of it all Snyder is keen for people to find a place, it often seems rural, pastoral, not always a bucolic idyll and understand that place. To care for it, be in it, immerse yourself, tend it in a benign way, don’t impose on it too much, respect it and live in it. It sounds like a great idea. Ambitious but an aim worth pursuing. Snyder has expanded on his ideas over the next fifty years. Rereading AUSTERLTZ & AFTER: TRACKING SEBALD by Iain Sinclair, published by Test Centre in 2013 reminded me of Snyder’s concept immediately, as so much of Iain Sinclair’s London focused writing does. Sinclair the indomitable walker, going around the boundaries of his Hackney world on a daily basis, that’s on the days when he’s not sailing in a plastic swan boat or venturing to remote Scottish islands or on an overseas trip visiting Post War American poets as in his AMERICAN SMOKE: JOURNEYS TO THE END OF THE LIGHT (published by Hamish Hamilton in 2013) – or even to Peru in the footsteps of his grandfather. Those Hackney and environs walks remind me so much of Snyder’s idea of bioregionalism. Instead of Manzanita and bear Sinclair’s domain includes neglected canals and austerity ridden urban streets. He’s walking the boundaries, seeing what’s up in his neighbourhood. He doesn’t build a home, Kitkitdizze, as Snyder did, yet he’s no less proprietorial about his place than Gary Snyder is about his place in Northern California. His diaries of the state of the place he occupies are as valid as the area Gary Snyder cherishes. In AUSTERLITZ & AFTER:TRACKING SEBALD, Iain Sinclair, in part recalls W.G. Sebald – the name – for me – conjures up English cricketers from about 1930, it’s up there with ‘The Nawab of Pataudi’ who represented Sussex and India as recently as the early 1960s, an era of Fred Truman, Colin Cowdrey, Peter May and others. But initially Sinclair is proceeding along the canal on his morning walk. Part of a body has been discovered in the water. It transpires that it is a soap opera actress. Sinclair notes down his observations and follows the case as it unfolds, he walks alone on these daily trips, a passive observer you might imagine. Yet he’s charting the daily life of his home streets. He’s achieved a measure of ‘success’ with this approach and well merited it is – yet it’s true worth may only be fully appreciated in the decades to come. Such is the accelerating pace of life today that people will uncover his works many decades into the future and rediscover how we lived then. In his own way Sinclair makes his own clarion call for place, digging the powers that be in the shins and the ribs to the state of his nation.
The W.G. Sebald section in the company of friend and co writer Stephen Watts is equally ‘bioregional’ in tone. Watts is steeped in Sebald, they walked together, collaborated in research. You’ll recall Sebald, the Austrian writer domiciled just outside Norwich. A writer of such mysterious and beguiling (to me at least) books as THE RINGS OF SATURN. A man who, like some of the best writers, allowed the sometimes apparently unimportant details, encounters, flotsam, to filter into his works. He saw significance and history where others walked on by. An arch creator of mood, especially melancholy, with room for lateral thought, flights of fancy. But also of the real truth. Not some hand me down reality. Here, in that wider London, Sinclair and Watts chart the sometimes eerie synchronicity of street life. Again, they are both unofficial keepers of their regions.
The two chapters in this Test Centre publication were intended to form part of AMERICAN SMOKE: JOURNEYS TO THE END OF THE LIGHT – but it was felt that, ‘a London detour might be confusing.’ Of course AMERICAN SMOKE concerns itself very much with Post War American writing and culture – as it collides with Iain Sinclair’s own personal history – so taking it out made sense. Of course this unspoken ‘bioregionalism’ of Sinclair’s is evident throughout his London writings. He’s not dispassionate about his environs, far from it. He’s not a carpenter like Snyder, or an expert in plants and fauna, of watercourses, though he knows his canals and he’ll provide anyone who cares to know the history, the vibe and moods of a place. And that, in its own way, is equally as valid when pondering this term of Snyder’s. Watching bodies being fished out of canals and watching the watchers, the people of his region and stepping out in the footsteps of Sebald is as ‘bioregional’ as it gets. Labels evolve. Once Sinclair’s approach was tagged, maybe still is, ‘psychogeography,’ but Iain Sinclair and Gary Snyder share much in their awareness of their respective places. They both, one on America’s West Coast, the other in London’s East End, are ‘bioregionals’ in their own special ways.
To ask about AUSTERLITZ & AFTER: TRACKING SEBALD by Iain Sinclair go to Test Centre run by Will Shutes. www.testcentre.org.uk
Gary Snyder’s THE REAL WORK: INTERVIEWS & TALKS 1964-1979 is published by New Directions Press and is very much still in print.
Out now – KEROUAC and JAZZ by Jim Burns. Number 68 1n the Beat Scene chapbook series. The regular series format of 8″ x 5″ inches with cover flaps. Really pleased with how it has turned and with the healthy orders for it to date. If interested please contact me on email@example.com
Beat Scene 96 is well progressed. Lots of variety in an eclectic issue – coming up soon. The current situation has delayed the issue but I’m working on getting it published without compromising anyone’s health and safety. I’d rather throw it away than do that. Plus another bigger format chapbook – a little out of the ordinary but one it is hoped will pique the interest of Beat Generation readers who want to delve deeper. Again, out before too long. While they are imminent I’ve put up here the cover of Beat Scene 68 from 2012. That’s Richard Brautigan on the front, of course, and inside is an interview with William Hjortsberg who had recently seen his mammoth biography of Brautigan published. Highly rated here. Plus Jack Kerouac, Philip Whalen – including an excerpt from a newly published biography of him – another interview, this time with Gordon Ball about being the manager of Allen Ginsberg’s Cherry Valley farm, Paul Bowles and Tangier, Michael McClure, Charles Plymell and Robert Branaman. So, if this sounds up your street – get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org
A brand new larger than average chapbook – AN EVENING AT BUK’S PLACE: AN INTERVIEW by Jean Francois Duval – is out now. All ordered copies have been posted. Thank you all. A substantial 16,000 word conversation conducted at Bukowski’s home in the mid 1980s. With photos. An edition of 150 numbered copies. Orders being taken now. email me at email@example.com
New chapbook soon from the Beat Scene Press – An Evening at Buk’s Place: An Interview with Charles Bukowski by Jean – Francois Duval. A 16,000 word conversation from 1986 – it took place at Bukowski’s house. 150 numbered copies in a slightly larger format than usual. With photos. If this interests you and you would like to pre-order a copy – get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ed Sanders appears in this BBC Radio 4 documentary – HIPPY INTERNET: THE WHOLE EARTH CATALOG – about Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog – a pivotal and huge alternative (some would say) publication of the late 1960s and early 1970s that had echoes of the Sears Roebuck catalogue of earlier decades. A guide to a new way of life. I’ve just listened to it after reading a Guardian newspaper review of SMALL TOWN TALK by Barney Hoskyns – all about Bob Dylan, Woodstock, The Band etc. Where it was linked. The show runs for 27 minutes. The documentary was originally broadcast in 2015.
In the post this morning SONGS OF INNOCENCE and of EXPERIENCE – William Blake reinterpreted by Allen Ginsberg and friends. Of course released previously – but now in this new issue from Ace Records in London, England. Complete with substantial sleeve notes from Allen Ginsberg’s longtime guitarist Steven Taylor, many Blake images too. At www.acerecords.com
All subscriber copies of the very latest issue of Beat Scene, number 95, have been mailed out. Most will have received their copy by now. A few overseas should receive their copy in a few days. Comments, suggestions, corrections, always welcome. This issue includes Michael Fles on travelling with Ginsberg, Corso and Orlovsky in the depths of freezing Winter to Chicago in the very early 1960s. Also featured are Jack Kerouac’s Trip Trap with Lew Welch and Albert Saijo, not so much a book as an epic journey – through the eyes of Joe Ridgwell, A lost recording of Gregory Corso – salvaged by George Scrivani. Allen Ginsberg on the William Buckley FIRING LINE show and trailing him in Belfast and Swansea eye witness accounts from Peter Hollywood and David Woolley. Plus there’s a feature on the English poet Lee Harwood and his strong links with the American poetry scene of his times. Lewis Warsh provides some insight. Jim Pennington goes on a search for Jajouka and Brion Gysin. Ann Charters recalls the journey her husband Sam had in writing the book SOME POEMS POETS back in the early 1970s, a point at which Beat poets had barely been researched. We can’t have Beat Scene without William Burroughs – there’s an excerpt from the Jake Rabinowitz book BLAME IT ON BLAKE – where Jake recalls his times with Burroughs in Kansas. Plus Robert Frank, Peter Whitehead, Lawrence Feringhetti and obscure cassette releases of his readings and more. As we always say – This Is The Beat Generation. Get in touch at email@example.com
COLLECTED POEMS OF BOB KAUFMAN arrived this past few days from City Lights – with a foreword by Devorah Major, edited by San Francisco poet and biographer Neeli Cherkovski and Raymond Foye & Tate Swindell – it is a substantial collection of some 234 pages with photos included also. Proving that City Lights go from strength to strength and that Bob Kaufman, who was allegedly ‘The Silent One’ for ten years, endures and his reputation remains undiminished. We’ll be featuring this book and Kaufman in general in Beat Scene 96 which will appear later in January 2020.
Following on from publication of HARDY TREE (Published by Bracket Press in England) by Warwick Sweeney, which deals with the work of Doctor John Yerbury Dent and in particular the Apomorphine treatment regarding William Burroughs in London in the 1950s, there was a recent radio discussion with Warwick Sweeney, along with Burroughs scholar Jim Pennington, on Resonance Radio. Sweeney discusses the book and the holistic approach John Yerbury Dent employed to gain the best possible outcome. Go here to listen. http://williamenglish.com/hardy-tree/
Something for the experimentalists among you – EVE LIBERTINE with a ‘freeform, improvising of Jack Kerouac’s poem SEA – available on compact disc and download – go and see for yourself at https://evelibertine.bandcamp.com/album/sea
A link to a feature in the Guardian today (November 19) all about BLADE RUNNER the film and the William Burroughs book of the same name. The book has just been republished by Michael Curran’s TANGERINE PRESS.
Thanks to James Campbell of The Times Literary Supplement for the little writeup on Beat Scene 94 in the most recent issue. Here, for those who haven’t seen a copy, is an image.
Beat Scene 95 is now available and is being mailed out to subscribers over the next ten days through late November. Here’s a look at the cover featuring the beautiful artwork of Jonathan Collins who recently displayed his Beat inspired art at the Lowell Celebrates Kerouac in his hometown. Anyone interested in pre-ordering a copy get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org – copies are £8 in the UK, 15 Euros in Europe and $20 USA outside Europe
Beat Scene 94 is out now. Here in October. Sure you all recognise the significance of this month in Kerouac’s imagination. It is a special issue devoted entirely to Kerouac and is us marking 50 years since his death back in 1969. All copies have now been posted out. The last batch of 50 went out just today. It is a marginally smaller format and style to the regular issue of Beat Scene. Next issue it will revert to its usual specifications. If you would like to order a copy get in touch at email@example.com – prices are £8 in the UK, 15 Euros in Europe and $20 USA everywhere else — including Postage – click here
Beat Scene 95 will also appear shortly after – back to regular format for that one. That will be the fourth issue this year. For this one man band that’s not so shabby. P.S. I’ve had a number of people ask where is it available online? It isn’t and it won’t be. We’re old school here. The digital age has its benefits but Beat Scene is a thing to turn the page and take your time with.
The past ten days have been very busy. The Beat Scene 93 mailout was just completed this morning. What a slog it’s been. All subscriber copies mailed out. If you haven’t received your copy yet you will soon. Plus all ordered copies of the David Calonne chapbook on Charles Bukowski have been mailed and again – if not there yet – it will be very soon. Appreciate the subscriptions and orders for both. You keep it alive.
The second volume of Iain Sinclair’s bibliography – deeply researched by the intrepid Jeff Johnson – has just got here. As with the first volume it is vast. Covering the period 1988-1998. Published by Test Centre Books. There are many letters, documents, publication, extracts, almost amounting to a biography. What a research tool this will be for future scholars. A diary of Iain Sinclair’s literary life. Contact https://testcentre.org.uk for more information
In the long running Beat Scene Press chapbook series – On Some Early Poems – The Genius Emerges by David Stephen Calonne is number 67. 150 numbered copies and in the regular 8″ x 5″ format with foldover covers. OUT NOW. David Calonne is a biographer of Charles Bukowski and an editor of several collections of his early work. Copies in the UK are £8 including postage. Overseas please email firstname.lastname@example.org for rates.