Book Review – Ivy League Bohemians by Alison Winfield Burns

Ivy League Bohemians by Alison Winfield Burns

It is an irony of the Beat Generation and New York Schools that little is written about the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Founded at Naropa University in 1974 by Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman, the school aspires to cultivate “contemplative and experimental approaches to writing,” and to this end, for the last forty years the school’s been the gathering grounds … [Read more...]

The Howl Hat

Allen Ginsberg - HOWL

My friend Sylvain went to San Francisco recently and brought us back some souvenirs as gifts. One of the places he'd visited on his trip had been City Lights Books. He brought me a t-shirt from there. And he also brought me one of the most complicated objects I’ve ever had in my possession: a khaki-colored baseball cap emblazoned with the word HOWL in large, black capital … [Read more...]

Aural Dialectics: On Allen Ginsberg’s Musical Rendition of Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience

Allen Ginsberg / William Blake  Songs of Innocence and Experience

William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience (1789) is a collection of illuminated poems separated into two groupings, Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, that engage with their respective, eponymous forces and ostensibly present them as a dichotomy, or perhaps rather as a linear transition, with innocence giving way to experience. But to consider the poem a … [Read more...]

Movie Review – Kill Your Darlings


Long before Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs would be celebrated as the poetical and political figureheads of a 'beat generation,' there was a murder.In the new film, Kill Your Darlings, the crime scene sets itself at Columbia University, 1944, when a young Allen Ginsberg (Radcliffe) is introduced to the anarchic, pornographic mind of fellow student, … [Read more...]

Ginsberg and Lowell

Allen Ginsberg by Larry Keenan. Robert Lowell by Elsa Dorfman. Both copyright by their respective creators

the alignment of planets parents and the cost of going ensured that I missed the Albert Hall in 1965it was just an early disappointment and not outstanding because over years it joined many other disappointments too disappointing to recall too painful to listbut the night Ginsberg and Lowell read poetry at Saint Marks church in 1977 sat on stage or … [Read more...]

Six Poems by Patrick Mackay

image via

Jack Spicer and the Loyalty Oath“The testing of a University faculty by oath is a stupid and insulting procedure. If this oath is to have the effect of eliminating Communists from the faculty, we might as logically eliminate murderers from the faculty by forcing every faculty member to sign an oath saying that he has never committed murder.” --Jack Spicer (Response to … [Read more...]

Beat Generation film – “Kill Your Darlings” trailer released!


Kill Your Darlings dramatizes an actual event that took place in 1944, as the writers who would later be identified with the Beat Generation became embroiled in a murder that made headlines.While attending Columbia University, Allen Ginsberg became friends with Lucien Carr who introduced him to Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs - and to David Kammerer, an older man who was … [Read more...]

Two Poems by Alessandra Bava

Photo credit: RJ917 / CC BY

APRES NOUS, LE CHAOS(to Lawrence Ferlinghetti)In the bookstore the voice slowly uncurls some pages of life, revealing Allen's loss:"There is a HUGE HOLE in the sky" -That same voice is painting vividly that very hole to the marrow. The poet never dies, nor does his voice.Wasn't it … [Read more...]

Review – The Beats: A Very Short Introduction by David Sterritt

The Beats: A Short Introduction by David Sterritt

The Beats: A Very Short Introduction by David Sterritt / Oxford University Press / 978-0-19-979677-9 / 126 pagesDavid Sterritt's work might be familiar to Beat or film aficionados through his previous books, which include Mad to be Saved: The Beats, the '50s, and Film, and Screening the Beats: Media Culture and the Beat Sensibility among others.In The Beats: A Very … [Read more...]

Charged Vision: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg

Jack Kerouac by Allen Ginsberg

The photographs of Allen Ginsberg recently were on display at the Jewish Contemporary Museum in San Francisco. Walking through the museum is like going on a jaunt through Beat History. A spritely Jack Kerouac followed by the drunk. A youthful William Burroughs, and the junky with withered skin. Gregory Corso, Gary Snyder, Robert La Vigne, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and of course, … [Read more...]

Cry, Exploration, Ceremony

Howl by Allen Ginsberg / Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko / Diving into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich. Collage copyright Empty Mirror.

Oppositional postmodernist literature is associated with the Beat movement and came about after the terrible, unforeseen destruction of World War II. While the modernists were positive about the human spirit and mankind’s ability to progress to an ever better future, postmodernists posited that there is creative power in negativity and opposition as well as destructive … [Read more...]

The Beat Generation vs. “Beatniks”

beat beat beat

"Beatnik" is sometimes - incorrectly - used to describe to the Beat Generation writers and artists. We're going to straighten out the confusion for you! Here's an explanation of who the Beats were, and what the term "beatnik" is all about.What is the "Beat Generation"? "Beat Generation" refers to a group of writers who hit their creative stride in the 1940s-1960s. They … [Read more...]

Ginsberg’s Refrigerator

Photo credit: Rich Anderson / CC BY-SA / photoshopped by Empty Mirror

In Allen’s tenement flat at 170 East 2nd Street, even the refrigerator is an outlet of poetry. The picture in black and white shows a handlepointing north. On the off-white surface a picture of Edgar Allan Poe is glued on the left, one of Baudelaire, le maudit, hangs on the right.In the backroom a wolf types away poetry in shape of scars and bright stars. From … [Read more...]

Ginsberg at the Grey

Photo credit: Joybot / CC BY-SA

How belly they aged, your friends, how hard the young years, every look, an eye for an eye, rapscallions when this country had corners rounded to secret, sweet places unfound by blab and tweet. In that famous photo, which stood over my desk so many years, I regard the defiant penis on Gregory and you, but here, in the Grey Gallery, I see I missed the smile hidden in the … [Read more...]

Illuminescence by John O’Kane

Illuminescence - Poem by John O'Kane

I think of how Allen Ginsberg could see society when gizmos glistened salvation, freeways traced our future, freeon cooled our passions, primeval blackooze birthed plastic, the prophylactic of progress, east yeasted west, and Moloch masheened the spirit.I try to visualize the monstrous measure of plastic chit, the frenzies of pleonastic chat compacted … [Read more...]

Celebrating Allen Ginsberg’s birthday with a few videos

Allen Ginsberg

In honor of Allen Ginsberg's birthday (June 3, 1926), we've gathered a few videos together. We've got some poetry for you, a chant, and an interview or two.What are your favorite Ginsberg recordings? Please leave a comment below!Allen Ginsberg leads a chant in Chicago, 1968 ahead of the Democratic National ConventionHey, you smokers! Listen to what Allen … [Read more...]

Three pieces for beat poets


1For Eileen Myles (New Generation Beat)   He licked his lips but not at me. I watched his eyes walk by, glazedly, hanging their thumbs on their belt loops oh so casual. We had only just arrived and he was already leaving but of course that was fine. I could wait. I did, and then I left.Walked home, everything felt like burning, burnt, burn-it. I wanted to fall … [Read more...]

Review – Beatitude: A Novel by Larry Closs

Beatitude by Larry Closs

Beatitude by Larry Closs / Rebel Satori Press / 2011 / 978-1608640294 / 272 pagesLarry Closs' debut novel focuses on Harry Charity, who is gay, and his relationship with straight poet & Marine Jay Bishop. The Beat Generation fills the pages: there's the pair's shared affinity for the Beat Generation writers, the books, bookshops, the jazz, the New York setting, and even an … [Read more...]

Long-Sleeve White Collared Shirt

6 Poems by Martin Elwell

Self Portrait To GinsbergDon’t read into this, Allen. I just want to talk.I’m listening to Vietnam protest songs,meditating through my anxiety and my need for approval from executives and peers.I’m conflicted.No one drinks beer on Tuesday afternoons anymore. But I keep hearing your voicereading to yawning 1980’s audiences, desensitized by … [Read more...]

Beat Generation Photos by Rob Lee

Photos by Rob Lee

Lawrence FerlinghettiMarch 11, 1987 Taken in his office above City Lights Bookstore (shaped like an arrowhead bisecting Columbus Avenue and Jack Kerouac Alley), Ferlinghetti spends more time in his painting studio at this point in his life. A quiet, observant presence, "fighting the good fight." Gregory CorsoSeptember 25, 1988 Gregory was on a tear, for reasons … [Read more...]

The Beat Hotel by Barry Miles


With the July 2000 Grove Press release of The Beat Hotel, author (Barry) Miles revisits 9 rue Git-le-Coeur, an historic set of decaying digs amid a rat infested slum on the Left Bank of Paris, "a decrepit rooming house with hole-in-the-floor toilets shared by all..." circa 1957-1963. A spectral time in diminutive spaces where life's more literate mysteries were eloquently … [Read more...]

Legendary Poet, Lyricist Pete Brown

Pete Brown

On June 16 ("Bloomsday"), 1964, Pete Brown gave the first ever poetry reading at Morden Tower, now a literary landmark in Newcastle, England. The Morden Tower Readings, conceived and organized by Tom and Connie Pickard, went on to host readings by more poets than can be listed here, especially from the Beat and Black Mountain movements, including Allen Ginsberg's first European … [Read more...]