A Ginsberg Love Fest at First Blues

22 Jan

 

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Oh, I am still on cloud 9 after the First Blues event to celebrate Allen Ginsberg’s recording!! I got there a bit late, and it was jam-packed with white-haired men who’d probably known various beat poets back in the ‘40s and ‘50s, and earnest, young, bearded hipsters, and girls in leggings and berets. I spotted the incredible poet Steve Dalachinsky and poet-painter Yuko Otomo, whom I’d met at Lowell Celebrates Kerouac, in the crowd. I got to talk with poet Christopher Barry. I had heard another author I know was supposed to be there but there were so many people I couldn’t find him to say hi.

 

David Amram was his usual self: inspiring. The way he transmutes cultures into music and bends the “rules” of how to play instruments floors me every time. Watching him teaches me that Art is creative and fun, which is something after years of schooling and rule enforcing I often forget. He talked about how the best university is “hangoutology,” that we learn through other people and that we too should always generously teach others.

Kevin Twigg played glockenspiel with Amram. I’d normally heard him play in a full band, but hearing just him and Amram play was special. Twigg’s music sounded like magic!

Anne Waldman, who with Allen Ginsberg founded Naropa University, the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, gave an intense reading. Back in undergrad at Scripps in my 1950s Core class, I heard a recording of Ginsberg reading Howl that forever changed my understanding of the poem because of its moaning intensity. After singing a Blake poem, Waldman did a “Howl” that was transfixing. Hearing her howl live was a glimpse of what it must’ve been like to hear Ginsberg first read “Howl” at the now infamous Gallery Six reading.

Hettie Jones, who is a fantastic and generous writer, read, and I wish she would’ve read longer because it went by too, too quickly.

My eighteen-year-old self would never have imagined that not only would I one day ever-so-casually get to hear all these people read and make music and perform in a bookstore but that I’d actually know so many of them. I couldn’t find Jones after the reading, but she had graciously spent time talking to me when I met her in a class at The New School. A few years ago, I was in the same circle of conversation as Waldman at a party. Twigg asked me to sign a book, which he showed me had been signed by pretty much everyone associated with the Beats. Here he is this amazing musician with tons of covet-worth signatures, and he made me feel like a million bucks by asking me to sign too. Amram, always swamped by the masses, still made time for me, and again made me feel like I was the star. I hope that I do that for other people. He introduced me to his daughter, who was really sweet. He also introduced me to Bill Morgan, whose books have been a tremendous resource to me over the years. It’s so surreal to meet someone you’ve footnoted.

There were also other musicians and poets there, including Ambrose Bye, CA Conrad, Steven Taylor, and Arthur’s Landing, whom I’d never heard before and yet who captured my attention, making me want to explore their work.

Amanda Bullock, who plans the events at Housing Works and whom I’d heard speak about social media at the CLMP literary conference at The New School, was there kicking us all out at the end because we all kept mingling and having hurried, beautiful conversations.

I could hardly sleep from all the excitement.

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6 Responses to “A Ginsberg Love Fest at First Blues”

  1. David Amram January 22, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    Yassoo Stephanie

    Reading your account of the evening was as much fun as being part of it, and what you wrote informed me, as I am sure it did many others, of precious things that we ALL MISSED, with such a jam packed crowd.
    It was like playing the game Sardines (but with grownups)to all be there, quqitly but harmonopously squashed together.
    There certainly was a spirit that filled the room, and you captured a lot of that in this fine latest of your joyous and informative blog-servations.
    Nikolopoulos IN THE HOUSE!
    Ephraristoh Kyria Stephanie!!
    David

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. David Amram Performs in NYC Twice Next Week! | Stephanie Nikolopoulos - May 2, 2013

    […] of making music. He’s also a great storyteller. He has stories about everyone: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Johnny Depp, the list goes […]

  2. Allen Ginsberg’s William Blake Vision | Stephanie Nikolopoulos - April 3, 2014

    […] A Ginsberg Love Fest […]

  3. Before the Beats, Rimbaud Had a “Bohemian Life” | Stephanie Nikolopoulos - April 17, 2014

    […] interesting to discover how they all met and became friends)—that Kerouac met Lucien Carr and Allen Ginsberg. Back then, the phrase they were throwing around was a “New […]

  4. See New York Through David Amram’s Eyes Tomorrow | Stephanie Nikolopoulos - April 25, 2014

    […] at First Blues to celebrate an Allen Ginsberg […]

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