Who was Sinclair Beiles? / Gary Cummiskey & Eva Kowalska, editors / Dye Hard Press / 2009 / 978-0-620-42792-0
Before I opened Dye Hard Press‘ new volume, its title, Who was Sinclair Beiles? was a question I certainly didn’t know the answer to. His is a name I’ve occasionally come across, as a poet who, as a resident of Paris’ famous “Beat Hotel,” created cut-ups with William S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin, and Gregory Corso, and helped to edit Naked Lunch. But there’s where my knowledge stopped.
Gary Cummiskey and Eva Kowalska have brought together a collection of eleven essays and interviews which address the question, “Who Was Sinclair Beiles?” from multiple angles.
Cummiskey starts things off with a biographical piece, followed by his 1994 interview with Beiles, in which they discussed the poet’s life and work, and his recollections of the Beats.
Next up is Dawie Malan’s essay recounting his friendship with the poet, followed by his interview with Beiles. Earle Holmes also contributes an interview with Beiles, in which they mostly discuss his relationships with the Beat writers. George Dillon Slater’s recollection of meeting Beiles in Greece shows us Beiles’ humor and personality. Fred de Vries’ travels in an attempt to understand Beiles and his life took him to all sorts of fascinating places – Paris, Greece, London and beyond – each of which lit up a different facet of the poet’s life. Alan Finlay contributes reviews of the Beat Hotel exhibition and a video show about Beiles.
Eva Kowalska’s exploration of where the poet fits into the literary landscape – and whether he can (or should) truly be as one of the Beat Generation writers – is insightful and well thought out.
Cummiskey considers Beiles’ books from a reader’s standpoint with a discussion of their relative merits and availabilities, before the volume finishes up with Kowalska’s annotated biography, providing inspiration for further exploration of the poet’s work.
The editors have done a fine job in presenting materials from different sources in order to give a well-rounded view of the man and his writing. The black-and-white photos scattered throughout the book are appreciated as well.
Poetry lovers and readers of the Beats who wish to learn more about – or discover – Sinclair Beiles, will find this book to be illuminating. It’s an important exploration of the life and work of a writer whose work is, unfortunately too-little-known. Who was Sinclair Beiles? should spur further study of Beiles’ work, which is deserving of a larger readership.