Sunday, December 17, 2006

Todd Moore


The Kid followed Three Fingered Jack Slocam down the alley that separated the Desert Rose Saloon and Tess Wilson's Big Trail Gambling Hall. Slocum didn't even know the Kid was there until he heard a boot scrape dirt. When he turned the first thing he saw was the Kid's crooked teeth shining in the red light coming through a window in Tess' joint. He smiled and said, Billy. The Kid said, I'm curious. How did you ever lose those two fingers on your right hand? Shot off, Jack replied. But, you knew that. Sure, the Kid said. But you have to say something to be cordial before you kill a man. At the word kill, Jack went for his pistol, then twisted sideways with three slugs in his guts and chest. How come, he asked bleeding into the dirt? It was your hand, the Kid said. It gave me bad dreams. According to Tess, this was one of the Kid's unrecorded kills.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bryn Fortey: The Great Grey Hope Resurfaces

I've had a few enquiries (or is that "inquiries"?) in the poetry community about the mysterious disappearance of that near-mythical Welsh bard Bryn Fortey, publisher/ editor of the best-ever poetry magazine "Outlaw". It seemed to some that he just dropped off the map, after breathing new vigour into the post-Beat scene with the aforementioned little mag.
Why are they asking me? Well, in global terms, Bryn and I are near-neighbours for one, him being just a short hop down a long road and a few jolting hill crests away. And I made no secret of the fact that I admire the hell out of him, and may not even have been writing today without the encouragement he gave me to continue when absolutely everybody was treating my poetry like barely-warmed-over dogshit.
But anyway. I had a note from him today following on from one of mine and he has asked me to extend his apologies to anyone who was expecting correspondence from him and didn't get it. Aside from having a few problems at home, which I'll leave him to tell you about, Bryn had a mountain of correspondence (inevitable when you are the Great Grey Hope of poets everywhere thanks to your impeccable judgement and counter-cultural daring), and he just fell behind with it. Happens to us all: I have inadvertently insulted many a poet, including some major leaguers, by losing their correspondence, losing their submissions, taking their money and giving them nothing in return. We are poets who run magazines, after all: you don't get too many head wraiths who are also great office workers.
He will catch up on his correspondence when and if he can. The important thing is that he's still with us, and according to the note I had, he may even get back into the game sometime. And when that happens we'll all get a lesson in how it's supposed to be done.
The post-Beat scene awaits his return with beer bottle suspended in mid-air, roach flame winking in the fading light.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Book Proposal

A note for the gent who wrote to me today with the book proposal about a certain American actor. I won't publish your name just in case you are legit and you wish for the project to remain confidential. I know the publishing game works that way, especially when big money is involved as it would undoubtedly be with the actor in question. But you know who you are.

You will appreciate, kind sir, that I get a lot of emails making similar proposals, and I have to be careful about responding to them too rashly, in this age of internet scamming. Someone out there might be offering me a phoney deal so they can collect my banking details and filch my vast fortune.

If you are legit, and it does sound on the surface like a very interesting idea, can you email me your postal address so I can write to you? Snail mail is so much safer. I will not, of course, divulge your address to anybody, because unlike these internet scammers I'm not an unprincipled criminal scumbag. If you are able to do that, my friend--provide your postal address--I think we will be able to do business.


Monday, December 04, 2006



herald the coming
or such as you saw -
millions of thighs carrying shit-filled underwear
for garbage dumpsters smeared with egg-yolk-tagging
& corona of shell blinking through -
the French laveriette barked "aucun etranger de facon!"
to requests of scrub
soak /sink /dry on a line
& tho' not a lick of French to save rats from skinning
do commuters know,
they understand the ridding of shit
as their own task.

only oil-men hang Gandhi's corpse by his own homespun loincloth
& hand-crush his folded spectacles
belching their oleo-oh! mouths gripping cigar
stuffed with Apollinaire's fingertips & shrapnel-skull
as they go chuckling :
"the old brownie-baldy is nothing without his glasses ;
a saint my ass! Punjab can't saw outta the eyes Jesus gave heem! what kinda holy man
needs glasses to see shit in the toilet?"

when i found there was such a thing as "pen" and "paper" ,
( i recall tonguing sharp protrusions from gums - first appearance of TEETH
coinciding -)
boy did the shit diaper gallop furious!
these visions no-one saw or stuck around long enough to hear!: beheaded soldiers
hanging in
trees! ,
battleships passing between houses & i could see Mary there combing hair through the
mast, the window & drapes her mother pulled apart at dawn !
dead great-grandmother knitting me grey sweater there at the foot of my bed & boy-
body - couldn't wear it around mother for she would notice & say : "where did you
get that sweater? loose threads - wide neck - tattered even new - (sniff) smells like
Chesterfields!? where did you find this Paul?"

so good luck when i try to donate old clothes to Goodwill charity -
drive me a garbage sac fulla treats for the naked
only to hand some sweet red-smocked fluttering-nose-haired memere a sac of air
she balls up & tosses to waste.
'swhat happens when the dead make yr clothes for ya : nothing's ever ill-fitting eternal
& better buy yr underwear at full price.
so i wrote - wrote it all & my socks kept warm feet in winter sleep where i found
spiral notebooks the immensity of palm sandwiches on Sunday snow;
little pocket notebooks & you could buy shirts with full-frontal pockets over nipple!
be a regular Wild Bill Hickock of the Mounting Poetry Outlaw Re-emergence ;
bells instead of bones!

shirts right with pockets fit enough for the world through human eyes remind ;
i could still hug girls & dream of open-eyed kisses without an "excuse me for a

i forgot more than i give you.....a letter for my sister saying : "no one more sturdy
during the old man's licking another woman's sag than you that night at dining table
while football on muddy-television-turf & mom crying in her hands"
- just remembered.

i learned to play the sitar in my dreams - holding it as if i was a woman - contorting
legs into tubular bells & wending them around the pumpkin-swell where the neck &
treble ran into -
straddle a sitar , youngblood, with a body ghost-ships will pass through
& you cant callous a woman for her yellow teeth or sweaty hair.

Bernstein covered me in his sheet music as i had sleep with human-nakedness
& i woke - panting want for wool.

"what piece are playing Leonard?"

"Snoring No.5 - you will listen to yr dreaming heart & bless the femur with raucous
interpretation of dream-body's obedience to its brethren the body of bells"

a fart woke me up again before spontaneous composition & Bernstein dissolved like
yet only the stink left behind & i thought maybe my HAH-CHOO was a "BRAVO!"
the body delighting in its precision - burning what it needs for power & propulsion
while launching the refuse out back-door.

around here,
folks take their shitty underwear out the front door

& Beelzebub asked the same questions Gandhi posed :
"why is this door locked?"
"why do you carry the key?"

thing is, Beelzebub didn't write any of it down...
men came long after & wrote what they were told
to write about Her
& children grew up pissing their pants
& kissing crucifixes until the money......
Gandhi at least wrote his mind for you -
and they laid his body on flowers o'er the heads of lovers
& roofs of cars
where not even an ant would see him.

& underwear
& carrying of shit
& oil-men lighting cigars of our hair
& our bones singing -

they are all but the broken skeleton of Lucifer,
this world - Beelzebub piecing Her skeleton
back to Angel!

herald the coming
or as such as you saw!

falling from yr fingers
yr eyes
yr kisses
yr cumming alone in the lips of moon !

wings breaking from bullet holes!

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Bill Morgan's Big Bomb of a Book
By Jonah Raskin

"Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb."
That famous - or as some might say infamous - line appears, of course, in
"America" one of Allen Ginsberg's most famous poems. The line doesn't
show up in Bill Morgan's new greatly disappointing 702-page biography of
Allen Ginsberg that's entitled "I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private
Life of Allen Ginsberg." The poem itself receives only a passing mention
by Morgan, on page 216, and it's not the only important and significant
poem by Ginsberg that goes unexamined and uninterpreted.
"I Celebrate Myself" (published November 2006) may be the oddest
biography of a 20th-ccentury American poet that has ever written - for
the simple reason that it doesn't discuss Allen Ginsberg as a poet.
Morgan makes pronouncements about Ginsberg; he was "one of the century's
greatest poets," he writes in the Epilogue of this overblown biography,
but nowhere does he explain how or why Ginsberg was a "great poet." Of
course, Bill Morgan doesn't know a thing about poetry; he has no business
writing a book about a poet in the first place.
I would also like to say that I do not mean this as a personal attack on
Morgan. I know Bill. My name appears in the Acknowledgments at the end of
the book, and Morgan was kind enough to provide a blurb for my book about
Ginsberg - "American Scream: Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" and the Making of the
Beat Generation" - which appeared in print two-and-a half-years ago. This
is about the integrity of the art of biography and about the historical
record. It is about keeping the Beat flame burning brightly.
Morgan has written a book about Ginsberg that gets the facts wrong, that
applies broad brush strokes, loses sight of nuances and just plain
garbles the truth of the matter.
Perhaps I could start at the end. In the last sentence of the last
chapter, Morgan writes, "In death Allen Ginsberg had become a safe
topic." In fact, when the rabbi at the Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco
wanted to hold a memorial service for Ginsberg, his congregation opposed
the idea. He held it anyway. George Will, the conservative columnist,
attacked Ginsberg personally and insisted that he had "a talent that
rarely rose to mediocrity."
Morgan would like to make Ginsberg a safe topic for him to write about,
and he has in fact depoliticized Ginsberg - made him far less of a radical
than he was in fact. Morgan makes Ginsberg into a kind of egomaniac and a
narcissist - hence the title of his book -
"I Celebrate Myself."
But Ginsberg not only wrote about himself. He wrote about America, about
the nation and its history, and its outlaws and visionaries, its mad men
and mad women. Morgan also minimizes and trivializes the whole of the
Beat Generation. He says "In truth, the entire Beat Generation phenomenon
could be see as a group of writers who had little in common
stylistically, but who were united by their friendship with Allen
Ginsberg." Granted, Allen had friends, and granted Allen was a great
publicist for the Beats, but the Beat Generation was a form of cultural
rebellion, as Kerouac argued and Ginsberg argued, and as Morgan
stubbornly refuses to see. On the subject of Kerouac, he writes, "Kerouac
was politically conservative, religiously Roman Catholic" but that
statement ignores and denies the radical Kerouac, the Buddhist Kerouac,
the anti-war Kerouac.
Morgan writes that "On August 25, 1955, Allen sat at his typewriter. and
composed the original draft of what would become the first section of
Howl." But on August 19, 1955 Kerouac wrote to Ginsberg from Mexico with
his comments about Howl. So Ginsberg would have had to have written the
first draft in June or July. Mail to and from Mexico was slow. It would
have taken 2-3 weeks to get a letter to Mexico and then a letter from
Mexico to the States.
Morgan gets dates wrong, facts wrong. He gets Ginsberg wrong. Too bad. He
spent decades researching and writing about Ginsberg. But perhaps he was
too close to his subject. He worked for Ginsberg for years; he was paid
by Ginsberg.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti once said that to be a good writer you had to be
hungry and angry and have passion. He was right then and he still is.
Morgan isn't a hungry writer, or an angry and impassioned writer.
Hopefully a young, angry, hungry writer will come along and tell the
Ginsberg story truthfully and accurately.
Meanwhile, as Ginsberg said, "Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb."


then (memories of hendrix and mcqueen)

this old guy, he was a hippie.
he'd been around, but settled
for a time in london, early seventies.
he resembles a kind of fragile bird.
he says, over coffee yesterday,
listening to one of my cds:
"that's jimi hendrix. he was
a decent bloke. i used to sell
belts to him off my market stall.
the day he died, we'd said
we'd meet up for a pint.
that was how it was back then"

another guy had been a journalist.
his thing was bikes in those days.
i am 41, i've known him since
childhood, and he drops this in
an email: " in the sixties i met
steve mcqueen. i had two beers
with him in a kettering pub.
he only talked about motorcycles.
pumping me with questions all
the while. and he asked me for
my autograph. i was so
embarrassed i had to ask
for his.
my wife lost it
sometime in the seventies.
i wish i had it now.”

Thursday, November 23, 2006


After The Slam

I met you in a lesbian bar
you were talking with your sister.
It wasn't far of a way to go
to the house you shared with her.
The snow was falling in Chicago that night.
I was ranting about wearing
a pair of Keds and slipping on the pavement.
You were smoking someone else's cigarettes.
When your sister started talking to some girl
you sucked on lemon drops. The bartender had already
called for the final round of drinks, as
we took off for your car.
After I opened up my door, some guitar frets fell on the floor.
The cops passed by us, Mars lights flashing.
They must be weary chasing psychos under cover of night.
The S&M in me was waiting to be undone.
It was still blazing bright in a cool burn
as I admired your leather seats.
I was a fool to think that bondage could release the inner joy.
Yet, my heart was jumping into a bed of unlucky stars
willing to be all then to fumble
and be led away from pleasure, and pain, again.

Carl Macki can be located on the internet at .

Monday, November 20, 2006


Planet Ali

Maybe Ali isn’t


he was dropped down
from space,

from a faraway star
system, a distant planet,
where the men are
more than men
as we know them;
where to the beat
of a different
celestial drum,
they all dance

like Nureyev,
are all handsome
as movie stars.

Maybe on Planet Ali,
Muhammad is just
one of millions
all the same,
and when someday
he returns home,
they’ll all have
a good ol’ laugh about
how he danced his way
to immortality
on dumb planet

PLANET ALI is a new book of poems by notable Australian poet Glenn Cooper. The ones I've seen so far suggest the book is going to be a killer. Watch this page for more news.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


For Gerald Locklin

Hank, you were right
to hold the city between yr. teeth
and shake it

I know that now, learning
on the drive down last month
to speak at the library
where they house yr. archive

I had things to say
about the ease
of yr. being, I guess
the curator knew the worst I could say
is that the land swelled within
your grasp, the dark sea
of protest calmed within
a wide understanding that deepens
the divide between us,

yr. land of sexy blondes and
tough men with rotten teeth
watering their lawns, yr. landlady
blues, yr. leaking sink, Hemingway
in the bathtub

I saw the hills divide into
sections, thigh and breast, leg
and neck, torso and
shoulder, the highway spun
our sorrow, would we find the museum
on time? do they want me to read a poem
in yr. honor? answer questions?

we inched uphill
past the century plants and
dry mesquite
knowing that the land would flatten
into the great, grave-minded basin

but truly
you and I drank the sober drafts
of sultry summer back in 68’ and 69’
while our soldiers
fielded Vietnam

we’d storm through
the beatitudes, I wanted yr.
self-assurance, yr. grip, time
pulled me into the roaring asphalt
and dragged you to the heights

this is today and
today feels like nowhere
except everything, I see Linda, yr
love, we embrace, we walk
together through long halls, “here
are the smoking ruins of
Jack London and this
is the Ellesmere Chaucer,” imagine,
down a narrow passage to a door
with a security timer, and into a room
where the manuscripts of Charles Bukowski
await the curator’s hand

theft is an issue at the Huntington Library
and Gardens, even scholars have larceny
secreted in their nimble fingers, touching
a Coleridge notebook, leafing through
a Shakespeare folio, now leaping
onto the backside of Bukowski

yeah, Hank,
I love you, I hate, I love, I
climb the dais with a microphone in my lapel
so the answers I give
will rise like condors
over the far distant mountains that somberly
push my old city
into its shadowy grave

I tell them to think of palm trees
and unending boulevards, to regard
the end as a beginning,
to forgive themselves
for the empty pages
of their own design

you might have been proud
of what I said and
how I spoke with such authority
in the grim business

driving home was
largely uneventful, they
sent a letter of thanks
and invited me to soar
over the Basin one last time

with/without you,
alive and alone

Neeli Cheerkovski
30 Oct 06

Someone Should Write Another HOWL

How often we hear that! It's been the great cliche of the Howl Fifty corporate buckfest, the embers of which still seem to be glowing here and there in America, if nowhere else. It seems every time you get five balding men in suits into an auditorium and Allen Ginsberg is mentioned, you'll hear it: "Somebody should write another Howl." These representatives of the liberalish wing of the literary Establishment apparently bemoaning the absence of some radical screed that will put an end to the infamies of everyone but them.

Leave aside the question of whether Howl was even the Howl it has come to be, with nostalgia and the obscurations of memory and the sentimentality of old men. There is an incredible, vital poetry scene in America and across the world today, full of angry or flip or drunken or stoned or philosophic or spiritual or existential or crazy men and women , and some of what they're producing is magnificent, maybe even better than Howl at times, and certainly better than the majority of Ginsberg's output. But if you take your literature from Harper-Collins or the inside of a university auditorium with panel-mates hand-picked by the terminally uninformed, you're going to miss the whole thing..

Someone should write another Howl? Idiots! Read Norbert Blei, read Ronald Baatz, read Christopher Wunderlee, read Delphine Lecompte, read Glenn Cooper, read Dave Church, read Gerald Nicosia, just bloody wake up and smell the poetical coffee. There is music in the cafes again, and revolution in the air, as another great and still just-about-living bard once said.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Jonah Raskin Radio Appearance Cancelled

Jonah Raskin's scheduled appearance on American radio, where he was to discuss Ginsberg's HOWL with Bill Morgan, was cancelled today--barely two days after the publication of his essay on this site.

Events like this do nothing to stop the persistent rumours of political interference on the part of the Beat estates when it come to critical portrayals of themselves or the poets.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Beats: Beautiful in an Ugly, Graceful Way.

By Jonah Raskin

The Beats have brought me a great deal of joy - and a great deal of sadness, as well. To be more precise, the original Beat writers have brought joy, and the Beat businessmen have brought sadness. I suppose that's what happens with every literary revolution; sooner or later it becomes established - or it vanishes from the scene - and when it becomes established it becomes a matter of money, copyright, control of literary property and control of the literary image as well.
A case in point: Allen Ginsberg did not copyright Howl when it was first published. The idea of copyright did not cross his mind. Soon after CityLights published the first edition, he did copyright it, and made a handsome living from the million or so copies of Howl that City Lights sold, along with Kaddish and his many other volumes of poetry.Today, HarperCollins - part of Rupert Murdock's media empire - owns the copyright to Ginsberg poetry, and anyone who uses more a line or two of quotations has to pay a fee -or risk a law suit and a fine. I applied for and received permission for my book about Allen Ginsberg entitled American Scream: Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" and the Making of the BeatGeneration. HarperCollins counted up the total number of words from Ginsberg's work and charged me a fee - with words like "and," "but" and "like" costing as much as phrases like "hydrogen jukebox" or "drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality" - which makes no sense at all. To their copyright division it did not matter what words were at issues, or the uniqueness of the phrasing. All that matters to them is the total number of words.
Paying a fee to Ginsberg would have made sense. I understand the notion that an artist will go on being creative if he or she is paid for his orher work. But paying a corporation doesn't make anyone creative.I also had to get permission from Allen Ginsberg's estate, which was more interested in presenting a sanitized image of Ginsberg then in presenting a full and complete picture of him as a poet and as human being. Only the fact that Ginsberg himself insisted "Candor is our business" forced the executors of the estate to give me permission to quote from Ginsberg's work, all of which is in libraries across America, from Berkeley, California to Austin, Texas and New York. Libraries do an excellent job of preserving manuscripts and I have no complaint against them.What I don't like is that the Ginsberg estate did not want to give permission until and unless I showed that I was going to write a book of which they would approve. Of course, I did not promise to write the official story with their official version. I insisted on writing the book that told the full story, and I did resent it that I had to battle the folks at the Ginsberg estate. When I published a story I had learned from the executors themselves about Ginsberg on his death bed, they were irate.
Ginsberg had called the White House and had asked then President William Clinton if he would present him, Allen Ginsberg, with an award. Clinton had no award to give, and Ginsberg died without the recognition he had wanted. To anyone who had known Ginsberg, or who had studied his work, it was obvious that he thrived on fame, and craved fame and adulation. In "Transcription of Organ Music," a poem which he wrote in Berkeley in 1955, at the same time he was writing Howl, he wrote, "I want people to bow asthey see me and say/ he is gifted with poetry."
The Ginsberg exeuctors did not want me to portray Ginsberg as he really was: a man obsessed with fame. They wanted me to describe him as a Buddhist totally detached from self and from ego and from power, and whenI also wrote about the ad that Ginsberg did for the Gap that promotes Khakis they did not approve of that, either, I am sorry to say. And let me say here that Ginsberg made about $300,000 a year in the last decade of his life - a fact that the guardians of the estate would not like to be made public, either.
Writing biographies of famous writers, including the Beats, can be frustrating and it can feel as though the original intention of the Beat Generation writer has been perverted by corporate control and by copyright. My own experience has taught me the importance of not knuckling under and insisting on telling the truth, even when it does not paint a beautiful picture.
Of course, the Beats weren't always beautiful, as Jack Kerouac noted in "About the Beat Generation," his landmark 1957 essay, but rather "beautiful in an ugly graceful new way." Writers about the Beats must capture the ugliness and the gracefulness, and the ugly gracefulness, too, or they will fail to reflect the truth of the Beats.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


SF Gate carries a story about City Lights founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti's war record entitled "Ferlinghetti Chased Subs in WWII."

How things change. Now he chases rich literary estates to stay central to the money doings around the lives of dead friends.

Kenneth Rexroth

King Wenclas' ruminations on the Patriarch of the San Francisco scene Kenneth Rexroth on King's site ATTACKING THE DEMI-PUPPETS ( ), have provoked some interesting thoughts on Rexroth's relationship to Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation, as well as fruitful correspondence with the Rexroth archive site BUREAU OF PUBLIC SECRETS ( ).
The correspondent from the site (didn't sign their email), says that Rexroth's role in the Beat history has been played down because of his later, difficult relationship with Kerouac. And it's true.

He shouldn't be viewed as another of the Establishment jackasses and lickspittles who lined up to put Jack down, though put him down Rexroth did. His criticisms were serious, though spiteful, and they were motivated by Rexroth's desire to protect a radical tradition he genuinely believed Kerouac was undermining with his sentimentality, his secret populism, his conservatism. It's a highly arguable position, but it's a position, which is more than you can say for the hack journalists who were insulting Jack for cheap laughs in suburban breakfast nooks.

Wild Bill Blackolive

One of the best writers I've come across in what might be called, lazily, the "post-Beat" vein is Wild Bill Blackolive. His novel TALES FROM THE TEXAS GANG is available to read in its entirety at Bill's site . If you came to this site because your hang-up is the Beats, know this: William Burroughs himself read and liked TEXAS GANG, which first jumped out at the world from behind a Texas tree in 1978. He even offered to try and help it get wider circulation, though given how good it seems to be (I've only read the first few pages), it never stood a chance.

One day, eh? Maybe one day, if we all keep pushing at the doors. As that great Beat poet Oscar Wilde would say, Cynicism is intellectual dandyism.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Morgan's New Biog Doesn't Tell The Whole Truth

Bill Morgan's unimaginatively (and confusingly) titled biography of Allen Ginsberg I CELEBRATE MYSELF has appeared. I say it's confusingly titled because it seems strange and misleading to me to use a quote from one mega-famous poet to title a book about another. But perhaps I'm being too literal-minded.

Anyway. Early reviews suggest it's a congenial-enough book lacking in a certain incisiveness because of Morgan's proximity (if not closeness) to Ginsberg in life. It would also appear to paint a rather saintly picture of the Beats' central poet, stressing--according to SFGate--his ceaseless promotion of his friends' works during the Beat explosion and for the rest of his long career.

Well, maybe. But according to conversations I've had with people closer to Allen, and to other poets and writers in the Beat environs, Morgan has chosen to omit a few very telling details about Ginsberg's life from the biography, details that contradict the picture of the man that he is attempting to paint. Include these and Ginsberg is a flawed man capable of overweening ambition and fits of astoundingly disloyal behaviour.

Which is fine by me, I've heard the stories and I've still got a large portrait of Allen over my fireplace. I don't need my heroes to be cleaner than the Lone Ranger. And I don't think anybody else who's a fan of the Beats would expect it either. Or perhaps we're now going to see an attempt at reinventing Ginsberg for suburban readers and neocons?

Anyway, at least one of the writers Morgan chose to ignore when he was writing I CELEBRATE MYSELF will be publishing his story on this page soon instead, so the balance will be somewhat redressed. Keep an eye on WHOLLY COMMUNION to see the side of Allen Ginsberg that the folks from the Estate didn't think you would be able to swallow.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Beats On MySpace

The people running the various Beat Generation sites on MySpace have responded to my requests to add them to my own network (as you do there), in some surprising ways. All have approved my request except one (more of which in a moment.)

The Ginsberg and Cassady sites then left it at that, with no further communication.

The Kerouac site has exchanged a few messages with me in a polite and supportive way.

Phil Whalen's site, like the man at his best, has been delightful, avuncular, provocative, friendly.

Robert Creeley's site were polite and gentle (okay, he's not Beat, but he's part of that generation, if nothing else.)

But Gregory Corso's site sent me a private message saying I would not be approved because I didn't have any of Gregory's books in my favourites list! I didn't have any of Whalen's, Cassady's or Creeley's either, but they didn't feel the need to be so pretentious about it.

WHOLLY COMMUNION is the one corner of the Beat/ post-Beat world that will expose this kind of nonsense wherever it occurs.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

9 Unarguable Reasons Why Memory Babe Should Be Republished

WHOLLY COMMUNION, which picks up where the author's previous shared page THE BEAT left off (I have parted company with my previous host because of continuing difficulties with the publishing of posts to the internet), is leading a campaign to get the definitive Jack Kerouac biography MEMORY BABE republished. New books about the Beats appear on the shelves of our bookshops every few months but none of them seems to add anything to our understanding of these very real, but flawed heroes ("messy beat angels" as someone once called them, correctly). Instead they re-present the same information in an increasingly anodyne way for new generations of readers, who as a result are coming to view Jack and Allen as spectacular abstractions rather than real people; they have turned into representations of attitudes they were probably only vaguely sympathetic to at best. They sell books. MEMORY BABE presents a different Jack. A rounded, human Jack possessed of an angelic talent but all too rooted to the pain of everyday love and loss, all too frail emotionally, all too haunted by the Void. Listen America. We know that the Kerouac Estate hates MEMORY BABE author Gerald Nicosia (it's such a badly kept secret I first heard it four years ago from a Welsh poet who warned me I would be on the outs with them if I published one of Gerald's poems in a little print magazine I was doing: I published it anyway)**, but don't they want their boy to be represented in the most truthful way that is available to us? Anything else dishonours Jack, surely.
I now present 9 pieces of evidence to defend my proposition that MEMORY BABE is the definitive Kerouac biography.

1. "In the tent each night, he [Ginsberg] had time to relax as he skimmed through Gerry Nicosia's new Kerouac biography, MEMORY BABE. 'For all its crudities [it] is a monument of Kerouac, smells and tastes like Kerouac, has a powerful impact and a mountain of life detail I'd forgotten, great book,' he wrote. In Allen's opinion, of all the books about Kerouac to date, it was the one that came the closest to capturing his true essence." --Bill Morgan

2."It is by far the best of the many books published about Jack Kerouac's life and work, accurately and clearly written, with a sure feeling for Jack's own prose." -- William S. Burroughs

3."This is the Kerouac I knew, his sufferings and his exultations, his elusive charisma and his maddening moods. At last he has been treated as the serious, searching soul he was. A great writer and a great biographer have come together, and the result is a book that is essential for anyone interested in the development of postwar American literature." -- John Clellon Holmes

4."An enormous labor of love that stands like a monument to its martyred subject. It dwarfs the first three Kerouac bigoraphies that preceded it in single-mindedness, seriousness, intensity and tireless pursuit of detail. It is finally a model of what a relentlessly engaged biography should be." -- Seymour Krim

5."MEMORY BABE is beautiful, deep, seeing. The swift, close focuses and then broadenings of spectrum, combined with Nicosia's painstaking love, put MEMORY BABE in the front rank of the first generation of Kerouac studies." --Michael McClure

6."Through years of research and careful scholarship, Gerald Nicosia has done a great service for literature and for those of us who believed in Jack's genius." -- Carolyn Cassady

7."MEMORY BABE is the most comprehensive and accurate biography of my father that I've yet come across." -- Jan Kerouac

8."Gerald Nicosia is the first biographer who ever bothered to come and talk to me." -- Edie Parker Kerouac

9. "Very impressive, nonjudgmental biography ... thorough in knowledge of subject and smooth, lyrical narrative style ... it integrates well the intellectualism of the author and that of Kerouac." -- Irving Stone

**WHOLLY COMMUNION would be delighted to publish a rebuttal from the Kerouac Estate on the above point. Do you, in fact, hold Mr. Nicosia in high regard? Is the widespread belief that Nicosia has been blacklisted wrong? Email me and I will publish your response in full.