'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

04 February 2011

Allen Ginsberg and Yevgeny Yevtushenko

In the late sixties I had the great pleasure..... ??? Actually, in the fever of revolutionary student passion and in a time of marches and grand altruistic thoughts..... (Now that sounds better.)
Ok, on the floor of one of the student union buildings in the late 60's several hundred of us sat attentive and inspired by the presence of two of the great poets of the time, Allen Ginsberg and Yevgeny Yevtushenko. As I recall Yevtushenko read his Russian poems and Ginsberg translated. I have the image embedded in my soul but that is all I can recall. I was there and I know it was a big moment.
Yevgeny Yevtushenko
Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Yevtushenko was born 18 July 1933. He is a Soviet and now Russian poet as well as a novelist, essayist, dramatist, screenwriter, actor, editor, and an occasional film director. His great-grandfather was a suspected subversive and died on his way to exile in Siberia after the 1881 assassination of Emperor Alexander II. Both grandfathers were arrested in Stalinist times as "enemies of the people". His maternal grandfather had been a Red Army officer during the Russian Revolution and the Civil War. Yevtushenko was politically active in Khrushchev’s time and in 1961 he wrote his most famous poem ‘Babi Yar’ in which he denounced the Soviet distortion of historical facts. He was one of the best known poets of the 1950s and 1960s in the Soviet Union and was part of the 1960s generation. His criticism of the Soviet Union gained him popularity in the West, but at the same time he held to a strong Marxist-Leninist ideological stance. He has remained involved in the politics of Russia and in his time he has been a Time magazine coverboy and received awards throughout the world for poetry with his complex allegiances. Anyway back in the time when I was a student he was big news.
from Babi Yar

'No fiber of my body will forget this.
May "Internationale" thunder and ring
When, for all time, is buried and forgotten
The last of antisemites on this earth.

There is no Jewish blood that's blood of mine,
But, hated with a passion that's corrosive
Am I by antisemites like a Jew.
And that is why I call myself a Russian!'

Yevtushenko on Wiki
Allen Ginsberg
Creator of the Beat Generation and outstanding identity of the twentieth century. His work and legend speak for itself. Above are two photos of Allen and poet Peter Orlovsky, his companion and lover from their meeting in 1954 to Ginsberg's death in 1997. Orlovsky died in 2010. The film 'Howl' with James Franco playing an outstanding part will explain what needs to be said. A line from the obscenity trial against the publication of Howl goes something like. "Poetry can not be turned into prose. That is why it is poetry." This is also true of the poet. Experience his work his love and ideas not his lineage and geography. Tune into his vision, his identity, his greatness and his madness.
Ginsberg below
Play this stunning excerpt of James Franco as Ginsberg.

James Franco reading Howl by Allen Ginsberg - 1 from Tommy Judd on Vimeo.
Another film about these times with Ron Livingston as Ginsberg
An Extract from Howl
'I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machin-
ery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat
up smoking in the supernatural darkness of
cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities
contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and
saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene-
ment roofs illuminated,
Kill Your Darlings

Dabe DeHaan as Lucien Carr and Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg in the 2013 film. Great Trailer below.
On The Road
Tom Sturridge in Jack Kerouack's  'On The Road' 2012
as Carlo Marx the character based on Allen Ginsberg
There are other references to Ginsberg here - just use the search box in the right hand column for this or anything else you may be interested in.
Also a Play by a friend Larry Myers
Ginsberg on Wiki
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