“A Fish With Frog’s Eyes”:  Bob Kaufman, George Romero and the Power of Radioactivity
Apr23

“A Fish With Frog’s Eyes”: Bob Kaufman, George Romero and the Power of Radioactivity

By Kurt Kline   In the poetry of Bob Kaufman, the poet is the healer, journeying down into the underworld of the American psyche in order to heal the wounds of racism, capitalist exploitation, and war. If Kaufman is, as many critics have suggested, a shaman, it is perhaps most properly in the tradition of Hoodoo, which employs music as a mode of otherworldly transport or to facilitate trance states. If Kaufman recuperates the...

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Naropa Turns 40
Apr17

Naropa Turns 40

This Sunday, April 20th, Naropa University – which was founded by Tungpa Rinpoche and was America’s first accredited Buddhist university – turns forty years old. Since the beginning, it included an English department known as the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, which was founded by Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman. To mark the event there will be a reading at City Lights Bookshop in San Francisco –...

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Allen Ginsberg at Nirvana’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction
Apr15

Allen Ginsberg at Nirvana’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction

A couple of days ago, Michael Stipe took the stage to introduce a night of celebrations of the life of Kurt Cobain and the music of his band, which arguably was a 1990s updated upon the Beat Generation, and gave a beautiful speech, dedicated “for the fags; for the fat girls; for the broken toys; the shy nerds; the Goth kids from Tennessee and Kentucky; for the rockers and the awkward; for the fed-up; the too-smart kids and the...

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Peter Orlovsky, a Life in Words: Intimate Chronicles of a Beat Writer
Apr14

Peter Orlovsky, a Life in Words: Intimate Chronicles of a Beat Writer

Here at Beatdom we have always had a fondness for Peter Orlovsky, and were surprised and delighted to hear about this brand new – and overdue – publication, Peter Orlovsky: a a Life in Words. Orlovsky is known as “Allen Ginsberg’s lover” or his husband, friend, life-partner, or whatever relationship is attributed to them by whatever scholar or journalist. But what we forget is that, while certainly no...

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Pulling Our Daisy: The Illusion of Spontaneity
Apr11

Pulling Our Daisy: The Illusion of Spontaneity

1959 was an important year in Beat Generation history. It was the year that William S. Burroughs published Naked Lunch from Paris’ Beat Hotel, that the Beats were first profiled in Life magazine, and the year the MGM released a sensationalist cinematic nightmare called The Beat Generation. In the previous three years, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac had shattered the notion that young people must conform to strict social codes, and...

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Call for Submissions: Beatdom #15
Mar25

Call for Submissions: Beatdom #15

The Beat Generation, it seems, dominated American culture between two major wars. The history books will tell you that they rose out of the Second World War, or as a the group emerged as a reaction to the post-WWII affluence of America. In fact, the Beats began as a circle of friends around Columbia University during WWII, and developing in the post-war era. Although not often dealt with in Beat literature, the war was of importance...

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The Architect Who Shaped Paterson, New Jersey, and Its People
Mar13

The Architect Who Shaped Paterson, New Jersey, and Its People

For readers especially interested in the Paterson life of Allen Ginsberg and his family, take note of The Life & Times of Fred Wesley Wentworth: The Architect Who Shaped Paterson, NJ, and Its People by Richard E. Polton. There is no mention of the Ginsbergs in this architectural history book, but this was their home, a “red” city that with its waves of immigrants—by 1900 a tremendous influx of Italians and Eastern European...

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Exiled on Beat Street
Feb17

Exiled on Beat Street

In 1957 Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky were in the midst of the obscenity trials in the US surrounding the publication of Ginsberg’s poem Howl. After being shunned by the clean-cut conservative American public, (who despised homosexuality and Ginsberg’s outspoken nature in the radicalised work) the pair went left to seek refuge in more liberal and artistic France. Eventually the couple sought exile with fellow Beat poet Gregory...

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