Archive of ‘Beat Generation’ category
A self-declared member of a “ragtag group of urban castoffs” including Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky, Herbert Huncke, and the mythic Barbara Rubin, farm manager Ball tends to a non-stop flurry of guests, chores, and emotional outbursts while also making time to sit quietly with Ginsberg and discuss poetry, Kerouac, sex, and America’s war in Vietnam. In honest and vivid prose, Ball offers a rare intimate glimpse of the poetic pillar of the Beat Generation as a striving and accessible human being at home on the farm and in the world.
Gordon Ball is a poet, photographer, filmmaker, professor of english, and master storyteller. For 28 years Gordon Ball took informal photographs of poet Allen Ginsberg and other members of the Beat Generation, the literary and cultural phenomenon which has had a world-wide impact since its inception in the mid-1950s. As well as being exhibited at five conferences on Ginsberg and the Beat Generation, at one-man shows at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art and other venues, Ball’s photos have appeared in many books, including Dennis McNally’s Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation, and America; Michael Köhler’s Burroughs: Eine Bild Biographie; Carole Tonkinson’s Big Sky Mind: Buddhism and the Beat Generation; Steven Watson’s The Birth of the Beat Generation: Visionaries, Rebels, and Hipsters, 1994-1960; and many more. Starting at Ginsberg’s farm in 1968, he worked with the poet on numerous literary and artistic projects, editing three books, including two volumes of journals and the Pulitzer Prize nominee Allen Verbatim: Lectures on Poetry, Politics, Consciousness. He’s the author of ’66 Frames: A Memoir (Coffee House Press, 1999) and Dark Music (Cityful Press, 2006) Gordon now lives in Lexington, Virginia, where he teaches at the Virginia Military Institute.
Bill Morgan is a painter, archival consultant, and historian working in New York City. He is the author of numerous publications including The Works of Allen Ginsberg 1941-1994: A Descriptive Bibliography, Lawrence Ferlinghetti: a Comprehensive Bibliography, The Typewriter Is Holy: The Complete Uncensored History Of The Beat Generation, The Beat Generation in New York, The Beat Generation in San Francisco, Howl On Trial (co-authored with Nancy Peters), I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life Of Allen Ginsberg. He has worked as an archivist for Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Abbie Hoffman, and Timothy Leary. He is a storyteller extraordinaire.
On Tuesday, January 24, 2012, Charlie Newton stopped by City Lights bookstore to discuss his novel, Start Shooting and “Beat-Noir” as a form of literary alchemy — burning away at the veneer of consumer culture and impacting America’s inner life just like the Beats did in the 1950s.
about Charlie Newton’s Start Shooting
Officer Bobby Vargas and actress/waitress Arleen Brennan understand hopes-and-dreams, the bet-it-all kind that either propel you through the fire or burn you to death. At age thirteen a gruesome rape/murder rocked their lives and the unforgiving streets of Chicago’s Four Corners. Now, twenty-nine years later, a dying Chicago newspaper plans a serial exposé on that “solved” case, threatening to implicate Bobby and his older brother, Ruben—a decorated detective, patron del barrio. The “exposé” will lead Arleen and the Vargas brothers down an increasingly twisted and terrifying path, where the sins of the past threaten to destroy what remains of the truth.
As readers and critics discovered in his first novel, Calumet City, Charlie Newton’s Chicago is a landscape as brutal and poignant as any in modern crime fiction—a multi-faceted, shockingly violent labyrinth of gangland politics, political backstabbing, corporate malfeasance, and, possibly, hope.
Newton was joined by author of City of Secrets Kelli Stanley.
City of Secrets is a powerful, heart-pounding sequel to Kelli Stanley’s scorching thriller and first-in-series City of Dragons, which introduced her unique and unforgettable series heroine, Miranda Corbie. Stanley writes 1940 without gloves on, without censorship, evoking the beauty of Benny Goodman swing and the brutality of a synagogue stained by a swastika. Against the backdrop of a Europe defeated by Nazi Germany, the world on the brink of total war, and an America unsure of where to turn, Miranda Corbie fights on, a lost soldier … but never a lost soul.
Charlie Newton‘s first novel, Calumet City, was a finalist for the Edgar, International Thriller Writers, and Macavity awards, among others. Start Shooting is his second novel.
Kelli Stanley is the author of a critically acclaimed Roman Noir series. The first book in that series, Nox Dormienda, won the Bruce Alexander Award for best historical mystery. The second, The Curse-Maker, was also published by Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books. The first book in the Miranda Corbie series, City of Dragons, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It was also named one of the 2010 Top Ten Mystery Thrillers by Oline Cogdill and one of the Top Ten Best Fiction by Bay Area Authors by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Victoria Nelson and Jack Werner Stauffacher celebrate the release of Bestiary of My Heart: Cautionary Tales
On Wednesday, December 14, 2011, Victoria Nelson joined Jack Werner Stauffacher as City Lights celebrated Jack’s 91st Birthday! on the occasion of the release of Bestiary Of My Heart: Cautionary Tales (InkerMen Press) by Victoria Nelson.
King Cobra. Draculess. Son of the Pope. Black leather cats. Panther-parrots. A wild child. An eighty-year-old woman eight months pregnant. A man and a woman. A woman and a woman. A woman and a dead man. Flash floods and earthquakes. Spirit animals and strange herbs. The pig that knew the trick. A man’s heart roasted on a spit. A red ruby. Stories drawn from dreams, anecdotes, and other unexpected sources over thirty years.
Tall tales, cataclysms, transformations.
‘Victoria Nelson must stop being a national secret. What a writer she is! And what a mind she is—brilliant, original, imaginative; her language dazzles. A splendid critic and storyteller, she is also an authority on the literature of the spectral and the surreal. In A Bestiary of My Heart, Nelson and Deborah Barrett achieve a mesmerizing fusion of tale and drawing reminiscent of the high art of Bruno Schulz.’ – Cynthia Ozick
‘Rather than a bestiary, Victoria Nelson could well call her book a treasure chest or jewel box. She gifts the reader with gems, crowns, amulets—poetry. Resplendence. Deep Satisfaction.’ – Maxine Hong Kingston
Victoria Nelson is the author of the award-winning The Secret Life of Puppets, and its companion volume, the forthcoming, Gothika. Her other works include a memoir, a study of creativity, and a previous collection of stories Wild California. She was the co-translator of Letters, Drawings, and Essays of Bruno Schultz and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Jack Werner Stauffacher is an master printer, typeface designer, and fine book publisher. He has taught at the Carnegie Mellon University and the San Francisco Art Institute. He is the founder of Greenwood Press and examples of his work can be found in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
SF Bay Area favorite Michael McClure stopped by City Lights Bookstore on January 26th, 2011 to read from Of Indigo and Saffron: New and Selected Poems.
This essential collection of Michael McClure’s poetry contains the most original, radical, and visionary work of a major poet who has been garnering acclaim and generating controversy for more than fifty years. Ranging from A Fist Full, published in 1957, through Swirls in Asphalt, a new poem sequence, Of Indigo and Saffron is both an excellent introduction to this unique American voice and an impressive selection from McClure’s landmark volumes for those already familiar with his boldly inventive work. One of the five poets who heralded the Beat movement in the 1955 Six Gallery reading in San Francisco, McClure reveals in his poetry a close kinship to Romanticism, Modernism, Surrealism, and Japanese haiku. These poems–grounded in imagination and a profound regard for the natural world–chart a poetic landscape of utter originality.
On Tuesday, October 11, 2011, City Lights and Litquake hosted a Gala Celebration of a quintessential American publisher with appearances by: Willis Barnstone, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, Denise Newman, Michael Palmer, Katy Silver, Declan Spring, Nathaniel Tarn, and special guests.
New Directions was founded in 1936, when James Laughlin (1914 – 1997), then a twenty-two-year-old Harvard sophomore, issued the first of the New Directions anthologies. “I asked Ezra Pound for ‘career advice,’” James Laughlin recalled. “He had been seeing my poems for months and had ruled them hopeless. He urged me to finish Harvard and then do ‘something’ useful.” Intended “as a place where experimentalists could test their inventions by publication,” the ND anthologies first introduced readers to the early work of such writers as William Saroyan, Louis Zukofsky, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, Kay Boyle, Delmore Schwartz, Dylan Thomas, Thomas Merton, John Hawkes, Denise Levertov, James Agee, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Soon after issuing the first of the anthologies, New Directions began publishing novels, plays, and collections of poems. Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, who once had difficulty finding publishers, were early New Directions authors and have remained at the core of ND’s backlist of modernist writers. Publishing influential foreign writers in translation, (often in bilingual editions), New Directions has been largely responsible for America’s interest in Céline, André Gide, Apollinaire, Yukio Mishima, Italo Svevo, Tommaso Landolfi, Rainer Maria Rilke, Kafka, Octavio Paz, Eugenio Montale, Lorca, Nabokov, and most recently W.G. Sebald, Javier Marías, Roberto Bolaño, Inger Christensen, Uwe Timm, Yoko Tawada, Antonio Tabucchi, Bei Dao, and Victor Pelevin. And from Britain — E.M. Forster, B. S. Johnson, and H. E. Bates. New Directions now publishes about 30 books annually in hardcover and paperback. It remains a vital force in the world of American letters. visit: www.ndpublishing.com
Willis Barnstone is a poet, translator, and memoirist. He has translated poets from the the Ancient Greek and is also a New Testament and Gnostic scholar.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti is a poet, painter, den-mother to the Beat Generation, and co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers. He has authored poetry, translation, fiction, theatre, art criticism, and film narration. He is best known for his bestseller A Coney Island of the Mind and for publishing the legendary Beat classic HOWL, by Allen Ginsberg.
Michael McClure is one of the movers and shakers of the Beat Generation. He is a poet, playwright, songwriter, and novelist. He read at the famous San Francisco Six Gallery reading in 1955. He is the author of numerous books of poetry and has collaborated on music projects with the likes of Terry Reilly and Ray Manzarek of The Doors.
Denise Newman is a poet and translator. She is the author of three collections of poems. She translated The Painted Room by the Danish poet Inger Christensen, and her translation of Azorno, also by Christensen, was published by New Directions in 2009. Her work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Volt, Fence, New American Writing, ZYZZYVA, and elsewhere.
Michael Palmer is a poet and translator. He has worked extensively within contemporary dance and has collaborated with numerous composers and visual artists. Palmer is the author of ten books of poetry, including Company of Moths, Codes Appearing: Poems 1979-1988, The Promises of Glass, and several others. He has published translations from the French, Russian and Brazilian Portuguese.
Katherine Silver is an award-winning translator of Spanish and Latin American literature. She has translated plays, screenplays—some for major motion pictures—and a wide assortment of academic and other non-fiction books. She also works as an editor and publishing consultant for trade, academic, and literary presses. Her most recent and forthcoming translations include works by Daniel Sada, Horacio Castellanos Moya, César Aira, and Carla Guelfenbein.
Declan Spring is Vice President and Senior Editor at New Directions Publishing.
Nathaniel Tarn is poet, translator, essayist, and anthropologist. He has translated the work of Neruda and Segalen and is the author of numerous books of poetry, criticism, and anthropology. His published works include Ins and Outs of the Forest Rivers, Recollections of Being, Selected Poems: 1950-2000, and many, many others
Accompanied by a reading from his creative partner, Julie Rogers, David Meltzer read at City Lights on June 24th, 2011 from his new collection of poetry, When I Was A Poet. A dual milestone in City Lights history, When I Was a Poet is volume 60 of the Pocket Poets Series as well as our first book of poems by this renowned Beat author.
The title piece is an ambitious work by a master at the height of his powers, a spiritual assessment of the meaning of a lifetime spent writing poetry. Also included are portraits of key figures in the poet’s life, including Semina artist Wallace Berman, as well as “California Dreamin’,” a reminiscence of Beat-era bohemian life. Among its other highlights are the vintage, previously uncollected series, “French Broom,” a nutty homage to “Mr. Peanut,” a section of mystical “amulets,” and complete versions of “Night Reals” and “Dogma,” which appear here for the first time. With its profound meditations on love, loss, aging, and death, When I Was a Poet is a substantial contribution to American poetry by one of its foremost living practitioners.
David Meltzer is a poet associated with both the Beat Generation and the San Francisco Renaissance. A pioneer of jazz poetry readings, Meltzer also formed a psychedelic folk-rock group. He continues to perform with the music and poetry review, “Rockpile.” He has edited many anthologies, including San Francisco Beat: Talking with the Poets (City Lights, 2001), and has published 11 erotic novels. He also taught for many years in the poetics program at New College of California. In 2005, Penguin Books published David’s Copy: The Selected Poems of David Meltzer.
John Dolphin Allen discusses his new book, Me and the Biospheres: A Memoir, published by Synergetic Press
Anyone suffering from the Global Warming Blues will cherish this uplifting account of the most ambitious environmental experiment of our time: Biosphere 2, a miniature Earth under glass, the world’s largest laboratory for global ecology. John Allen’s memoir, Me and the Biospheres is a rich and complex narrative, filled with rollicking adventure, exceptional camaraderie and mind-bending science.
Covering three acres of Arizona desert, Biosphere 2 contained five biomes: a 900,000-gallon ocean with coral reef, a rainforest, a savannah, a desert, a farm and a micro-city, all housed within an air-tight, sealed glass and steel frame structure. Eight people lived inside for two years (1991-1993) setting world records in human life-support, monitoring their impact on the environment, while providing crucial data for future manned missions into outer space.
Almost as astonishing as the structure is the story of how it came to be. Back in 1969, Biosphere 2 was a mere seed in the luminous mind of writer, actor, philosopher, inventor, and scientist John Allen. He prepared for the manifestation of Biosphere 2 by assembling smaller projects: the creation of a ship to study ocean and river ecologies and cultures; a rainforest enrichment project; a theater group; a world-class art gallery and more. As awe-inspiring as the great cathedrals, Biosphere 2′s building and operation demanded the efforts of the most diverse team of scientists, engineers, artists and thinkers from around the world with whom John Allen worked closely for decades.
Me and the Biospheres is also an account of the singular life John Allen has led: his travels to Egypt, Vietnam, Nepal, Tibet and India, his meetings with people like Buckminster Fuller, William Burroughs, Charles Mingus, and Ornette Coleman. From building developments in Iran to adobe houses in New Mexico, from Harvard Business School to cafés in Tangiers, from board meetings in Fort Worth to mystical moments with Sufi sages, John Allen has impacted millions of people with manifest integrity. His humorous and Whitmanesque memoir is a tribute to the ingenuity and dauntlessness of the human mind. Me and the Biospheres is a passionate call to reawaken to the beauty of our peerless home, Biosphere 1, the Earth.
Synergetic Press was founded in 1969 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. After 39 years of publishing, they are still fiercely independent and continue to follow their mission of advancing the most relevant and far-reaching work they can find in the fields of biosphere science, ethnobotany, and world cultures.
Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi dropped by City Lights to talk about their new book, Wherever There’s a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California from Heyday Books.
Wherever There’s a Fight captures the sweeping story of how freedom and equality have grown in California, from the gold rush right up to the precarious post-9/11 era. The book tells the stories of the brave individuals who have stood up for their rights in the face of social hostility, physical violence, economic hardship, and political stonewalling.
It connects the experiences of early Chinese immigrants subjected to discriminatory laws to those of professionals who challenged McCarthyism and those of people who have fought to gain equal rights in California schools: people of color, people with disabilities, and people standing up for their religious freedom. The authors bring a special focus to the World War II internment of Japanese Americans, focusing on the infamous Korematsu case, which was foreshadowed by a century of civil liberties violations and reverberates in more recent times—regrettably, even today in the Patriot Act. And they follow the ongoing struggles for workers’ rights and same-sex marriage.
State and federal constitutions spell out many liberties and rights, but it is the people who challenge prejudice and discrimination that transform those lofty ideals into practical realities. Wherever There’s a Fight paints vivid portraits of these people and brings to light their often hidden stories.
Elaine Elinson was the communications director of the ACLU of Northern California and editor of the ACLU News for more than two decades. She is a coauthor of Development Debacle: The World Bank in the Philippines, which was banned by the Marcos regime. Her articles have been published in the Los Angeles Daily Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Nation, Poets and Writers, and numerous other periodicals. She is married to journalist Rene CiriaCruz and they have one son.
Stan Yogi has managed development programs for the ACLU of Northern California since 1997. He is the coeditor of two books, Highway 99: A Literary Journey through California’s Great Central Valley and Asian American Literature: An Annotated Bibliography. His work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, MELUS, Los Angeles Daily Journal, and several anthologies. He is married to nonprofit administrator David Carroll and lives in Oakland.
This podcast was recorded live at City Lights Books on Nov. 11, 2009.
Yippie co-founder. merry prankster and satirical provocateur Paul Krassner reads from Who’s to Say What’s Obscene?: Politics, Culture and Comedy in America Today, published by City Lights Books, July 15, 2009.
Fans of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Onion will appreciate this timely collection of satirical essays by counterculture icon Paul Krassner. With irreverence and an often X-rated wit, Krassner explores contemporary comedy, and obscenity in politics and culture from “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” banners to scenes cut out of recent movies, including Borat.
In his essay “Don Imus Meets Michael Richards” Krassner examines racism in comedy from Lenny Bruce to Dave Chapelle, on The Sarah Silverman Show and Curb Your Enthusiasm, and in controversial comic strips like The Boondocks.
“These are times of repression,” says Krassner, “and the more repression there is, the more need there is for irreverence toward those in authority.”
Praise for Paul Krassner:
“He is an expert at ferreting out hypocrisy and absurdism from the more solemn crannies of American culture.” — New York Times
“To classify Krassner as a social rebel is far too cute. He’s a nut, a raving, unconfined nut.” — Federal Bureau of Investigation
“The FBI was right. This man is dangerous—and funny; and necessary.” — George Carlin
Lew Welch, advertising copy-writer, taxi cab driver, and one of the principal poets of the Beat Generation in San Francisco, reads from his poetry at a raucous evening at San Francisco’s Glide Memorial Church on June 8, 1968.
Read more about Ring of Bone, the collected poems of Lew Welch. A new edition will by published by City Lights in June 2012.