From The Rumpus:
Yesterday, avant-garde cinema legend Jonas Mekas posted remarkable archival footage of Allen Ginsberg, Frank O’hara, Amiri Baraka (who still went by Leroi Jones), and Ray Bremser reading together in 1959. The reading, which took place at the Living Theater in New York City, was a benefit for Yugen magazine. No audio was recorded at the event, but Mekas added audio (recorded in 1960) of Ginsberg reading “Sunflower Sutra.”
Being able to watch these masters goof around, smoke cigarettes, and share their work with each other is a treasure. It is especially astonishing to see O’Hara, as very few known videos of the definitive New York School poet exist today.
John Giorno, founder of Dial-A-Poem, rigging up the system.
It’s 1969; the phone is the medium and the poem is the message. Dial-A-Poem is brand-new. You pick up your phone, dial (212) 628-0400 and hear one of a dozen recorded poems by William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Joe Brainard, Anne Waldman, John Cage or who knows who. The next day there’s a fresh dozen. Some are dirty. Some are radical. A lot are about guns. Some really aren’t poems at all but songs or rants or sermons.
Millions called. “The busiest time was 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., so one figured that all those people sitting at desks in New York office buildings spend a lot of time on the telephone,” wrote John Giorno, the founder of Dial-A-Poem. “The second busiest time was 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. … then the California calls and those tripping on acid or couldn’t sleep, 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.”
The phones are now long gone, but Dial-A-Poem is still out there waiting for you day and night on the Web. Though it isn’t exactly what it used to be, it is as close as you can get.
Dial-A-Poem was first set up at the Architectural League on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. “It was one room and 10 phone lines,” said Bill Berkson, one of the Dial-A-Poem poets who occasionally minded the store, noting that “the will to subversion was intense.”
What callers got was not just three-minute hits of poetry. They got Black Panther speeches, and they got Buddhist mantras. Dial-A-Poem was part of the downtown scene, the antiwar movement and the sexual revolution. “It was agitprop,” Ms. Waldman said.
In its brief existence, the phones moved from place to place, off again, on again. By 1971 they were gone.
Now you get Dial-A-Poem by clicking on www.ubu.com/sound/dial_index.html, one of the subdivisions of UbuWeb, a huge online archive of avant-garde poetry. There you’ll see a menu of a dozen Dial-A-Poem albums put out by Giorno Poetry Systems.
sexuality, censorship, explicitness, etc at the Kerouac Symposium, Salem State College, 1973 (feat. Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso)
EMILY DICKINSON by Jack Kerouac
Ere so sober Emily
Did New England sow
With brooms of activity
I’d the tree-rock spoken to.
But it only said to me
“This sleet’s crack
You hear cracking my hide
Is the voice of olden poets
Not far from rocks of here
Did their olden eyes
On nature bestow blue
—” I said
“Ah Oh How So Sad.”
I said—”And graves?”
And I said “Darling
Supposing it should
To make unending poets
Nature Said: “Mean,
I dont know what you
“Ah Nature, Ah Rock,”
I cried, “Nobody’s Bone
Has so suffusèd been,
No burden of boredom
No love colder
No love life less
No grave nearer
Than Ye Bard”
Neal Cassady reading from The Town and the City by Jack Kerouac, ca. 1950.
A little Something i wrote in wake of finals week and those lonely winter days
April 15, 1970- San Fransisco, Peace (Moritorium) Day at the civic center with Allen Ginsberg, taken by Art Usherson
Poetry is a naked woman, a naked man, and the distance between them.
— Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Poetry as Insurgent Art (via nordsol)