Poetry News

Allen's World, via Bob Rosenthal

By Harriet Staff

Yep, more Ginsberg for you. Here's the second installment of "Allen Ginsberg, Revisited by His Right-Hand Man" from The Local. Here we are treated to remembrances from Ginsberg's life through his secretary of twenty years, Bob Rosenthal, who recently completed the memoir Straight Around Allen.

A taste:

It was a crazy household. Peter Orlovsky was there; Denise Mercedes, who was Peter’s girlfriend then and started a sort of punk rock band called The Stimulators, was there. So there was a lot of activity here. It was an open house – there were always people staying here.

I always thought I was blessed that I was given this opportunity of getting to meet so many people. Dylan and Roger McGuinn in the bedroom, playing music. I talked to Paul McCartney on the phone. I met Dylan in person a couple of times, though I didn’t get to know him or anything. People dropped by – Ram Dass, all these spiritual kinds of people – but mainly the poets: I liked Philip Whalen being here and getting to know him – Robert Creeley, all my heroes.

Gary Snyder came by – he would stay here. Michael McClure. And Robert Frank. Lucien, Robert, and his brother Eugene – and then William, of course – were his closest, oldest friends.

I don’t remember seeing Burroughs here – Allen probably went to see him. He was deferential to Burroughs. He was 8 or 10 years older than Allen. Then when Burroughs went out to Kansas, Allen went to Kansas several times a year to see William. He loved William. The whole thing about the Beat generation: it’s not an art movement, it’s a friendship movement. They were sacred friends and Allen’s pictures, especially the early ones – he was taking pictures of his sacred friends. He didn’t even think of them as photographs.

He once came back from seeing William and said, “I’ve been thinking about gun control. If you have gun control, only the criminals will have guns.” I said, “Allen, that’s what people have been saying forever about gun control!” He said, “Yes, but William never told me before.” Anything William said had a lot of credence. He loved Jack Kerouac. I never met him, but I could tell he loved him.

More after the jump, and keep an eye out for future installments.

Originally Published: May 3rd, 2012