Saturday, August 11, 2007

Ginsberg's Sunflower Sutra: The Beat Goes On...In Me.

...lately, I've been craving the prose of Ginsberg...I've always adored The Sunflower Sutra...because, like the sun does for the Helianthus Annuus, it has always lent me psychic nourishment and more recently its helped replenish the expended stores of optimism I had begun to suckle from several months ago as I watched the last of it circling the drain, seeping into the barren ground that had become the soil of my inner self; as the world seemed to wax into a solemn quiet all around me, they gathered in silent gaggles, muted herds; a collective hush that would bear witness to another anonymous expiration on the troubled side of town; a fresh denouement realized...they'll wait for it altogether, while listening with pricked ears, attentive, anticipating the whisper-like groan that would be my ultimate rattle of breath; the moment of demarcation crossed when I break under the weight of youthful aspiration gone all kinds of I go to the other side...but Allen's words always help me remember why I've done things the way I have...

..."poor dead flower, when did you forget you were a flower?"...I'm too far along to refocus; desist with the existential search...I'm Ahab in the crow's nest of the quotidian, squinting through a sextant pointed towards that place where the heavens and earth meld, surveying the azure horizon for some huge ivory hump, the telltale funnel of spume that will inform; guide me it tangible or imagined, I'm consumed with the follow through...the scrape takes on a clayish form and even though the blade of my shovel has gotten dull around the edges, I still attack said trench with eyes scanning crazily; my hands grasping blindly for purchase...the crowd of spectators looking down at me continues to expand..."and you there, standing in the sunset", staring down on me with creaky, crooked grins will have to wait a while be on your there will be no sermons to the soul for this one, least not today...for I am still a beautiful sunflower...

1955 - Allen Ginsberg recites the poem “Howl” at the Six Gallery in San Francisco with Philip Lamantia, Michael McClure, Gary Snyder, and Phil Whalen.

1956 - Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Books publishes “Howl,” and “America” is released.

1957 - Ferlinghetti is arrested and taken to trial for publishing “Howl,” which is deemed “obscene material.” Jack Kerouac’s On The Road hits the bookshelves.

1961 - Ginsberg’s Kaddish And Other Poems is published, featuring the epic ode to his mother's tragic life.

1962 - The “Howl” obscenity trial comes to a close, and the not-guilty verdict is announced, bringing even more publicity to Ginsberg and the Beats.

1963 - Reality Sandwiches is released, and Ginsberg goes on a pilgrimage to India. William Carlos Williams, one of the first major poets to support Ginsberg’s style, dies.

1965 - Ginsberg takes the Beat movement abroad, reading at the Royal Albert Hall in Britain, invoking the underground scene in Europe. Additionally, the poet travels around the continent spreading the tenets of new consciousness.

1967 - Allen Ginsberg joins Michael McClure, who’d read with him at the legendary Six Gallery session a decade earlier, at San Francisco’s Be-In.

1969 Jack Kerouac, Ginsberg’s longtime friend and fellow Beat writer, dies.

1970 - After meeting Chogyam Rungpa Rinpoche, Ginsberg becomes a follower of the Tibetan guru.

1974 - Allen Ginsberg is given the National Book Award for poetry.

1977 - Ginsberg collaborates with Bob Dylan on the film Renaldo And Clara.

1988 - Ginsberg continues to buck the system’s censorship policies with PEN (the Poets, Essayists, Editors, Novelists Club), the ACLU, and an small army of lawyers to contest Jesse Helms’ indecent language laws imposed on the FCC, which would ban broadcasts of anything deemed "indecent/ obscene" from the nation’s airwaves.

1997 - Allen Ginsberg dies in New York City.

• Although Allen Ginsberg’s father was a published poet himself, he urged his son toward a degree in law. Allen continued on this scholastic path until he met Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and Neal Cassady during his first year at Columbia University in New York, his introduction to the burgeoning counterculture.

• Shortly after meeting fellow Patersonian/poet William Carlos Williams, Ginsberg headed west to the fertile poetry scene of San Francisco. There he burst onto the scene with the premiere oration of “Howl.”

• Ginsberg’s style of free verse, typified in “Howl,” helped to turn conventional poetry standards upside down. The stream of consciousness flow of his works seemed to follow impromptu speech patterns as opposed to a formulaic template, which was unheard of in the intellectual brain trust at the time.

• The poem “Howl” has become one of, if not the, definitive beat era writings (in spite of mainstream attempts to discredit its form). Ironically, Ginsberg admitted later that he’d never intended to recite or publish it. He’d written it to share with his chum Jack Kerouac. When it was finally put to print, only a few hundred copies were made.

• In the early ’60s Ginsberg joined the fold of Timothy Leary’s crusade supporting the “new” drug LSD. Both made concerted attempts to get celebrities and artists such as Thelonious Monk, William De Kooning, and even Jack Kerouac turned on to the psychotropic drug.

• Allen Ginsberg appeared in Bob Dylan’s video Subterranean Homesick Blues.

• Ginsberg’s provocative means of expression rarely wavered in an artistic careerspan riddled with right-wing bridge burnings in America and abroad. He also got booted out of both Czechoslovakia and Cuba in 1965 for his candor while orating his opinions.

• At the time, the iconoclastic viewpoints of the beatniks gained an unsavory reception from the “straight” public. Exploring Eastern philosophies (specifically Zen Buddhism) and alternate lifestyles, later, the scene becoming almost cliché, got them written off as cultists.

• Ginsberg’s writing style echoed the patterns refined by the likes of American poets such as Walt Whitman (considered by some to be the original beat poet) and Ezra Pound, who forged prose standards based on American speech rhythms. Taking this principle a step further, the beat poets incorporated the harmonic flow of the purest forms of American music, jazz, and blues into their newer beat equation.

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Blogger wassonii said...

as always, brilliant amounts of good info and thoughts provoked one way or t'other.
be well.
thank you!

3:03 PM, August 12, 2007  

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