MY FAVORITE POETS PART 3 – OR HOW I LEARNED TO LOVE ALLEN GINSBERG AND THE JOYFUL BLUES


The weight of the world is love.

Sorry this took so long, I was out making a movie!

Allen Ginsberg was an American poet and one of my favorite people. I’ve talked about Rimbaud and Bob Dylan before and he liked ’em both! Just like me!

It is 03:30 at night, so this is the perfect time for beat poetry talk. We’re walking, lost on the railroad tracks, saluting and cheering the dark, drunk invisible barrier of immortality. A dog barks in the distance and pulls us out just in time to see the headlights of a train approaching. A saxophone cries in the night and light bends to throw us back into the smoky bars of Ginsberg, Kerouac and Burroughs.

 

See that guy, sitting in the corner there? The one with the glasses? No, no! Don’t look. Anyway, that’s Allen. He’s got that crazy look to him, doesn’t he? Allen’s father was a published poet, puttering around the house “reciting Emily Dickinson and Longfellow … or attacking T.S. Eliot”. His mother was affected by a mental illness that was never properly diagnosed and would later become a huge inspiration for both “Howl” and “Kaddish”

The guy were staring at would later go and write one of the great works of poetry: “Howl” (all 122 long-long-lines of it). He will be one of the key figures in the Beat movement and both Kerouac and Burroughs will mention him in their books. They were a tight knit group of rhyme vigilantes, changing the world with their poetry and weird stuff. It was probably a good time to be alive.

 

So why do you like him, I hear you ask? Well, order me something and I’ll tell you, can’t see nothing through this smoke and saxophone music.

Ginsberg’s got the same thing going as Rimbaud did, but I’d say he can be even more abstract at times. Let me read some of my favorite poetry to you and we’ll go over it together, cool? Thanks for the drink by the way.

From “Sunflower Sutra”

I walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock and sat down under the huge shade of a Southern Pacific locomotive to look at the sunset over the box house hills and cry.
Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty iron pole, companion, we thought the same thoughts of the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed, surrounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees of machinery.
The oily water on the river mirrored the red sky, sun sank on top of final Frisco peaks, no fish in that stream, no hermit in those mounts, just ourselves rheumy-eyed and hung-over like old bums on the riverbank, tired and wily.
Look at the Sunflower, he said, there was a dead gray shadow against the sky, big as a man, sitting dry on top of a pile of ancient sawdust—

 

When you read this, you know where you are. You can see the shade of the train and the sun downing towards the house hills. This is how Allen often writes, he describes what you’re seeing. And THEN you turn and see Jack Kerouac, sitting beside you, your friend.

I love how he writes this, focusing your mind, but somehow manages still to stay warm. He’s guiding your thoughts.

 

Allen Ginsberg and Philip Glass. It’s pretty great since I love them both, give a listen.

Wasn’t it good?

From “Transcription of Organ Music”

Can I bring back the words? Will thought of
transcription haze my mental open eye?
The kindly search for growth, the gracious de-
sire to exist of the flowers, my near ecstasy at existing
among them
The privilege to witness my existence-you too
must seek the sun…

My books piled up before me for my use
waiting in space where I placed them, they
haven’t disappeared, time’s left its remnants and qual-
ities for me to use-my words piled up, my texts, my manuscripts,
my loves.

This is Allen showing his personal loneliness. A neo-romantic poem that manages to carry its own personal emotion and lingers on it. He wants us around him, to witness what he is witnessing. There is sadness, but without sadness you wouldn’t recognize joy.

Damn! They’re looking at us now, I told you not to stare! Well, you should go and talk to them, I know them already, but you’ve got lots to learn yet. I mean, this is only part 3. It’s smoky, but I think I can see the streets from here. I’ll go take a walk in and around the rain and we’ll see what I come up with poetry-wise, okay? I’ll probably let you read it anyway.

Sweet (beat) dreams.

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