The poet travelled to 66 countries and left traces of each one in his poetry.
PARIS — Though almost entirely lacking a female presence — artist Jay DeFeo and poet Diane Di Prima being the exceptions that prove the rule — the Centre Pompidou’s airily laid out retrospective of the Beat Generation is otherwise flawless.
Identified as a member of both the Beat Generation and the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance of the mid-1950s, Philip Whalen (1923-2002) wrote poems and two novels marked by a sensibility that was his alone.
Writer William S. Burroughs took thousands of photographs from the 1950s to 1970s, but it’s likely you’ve not seen many as even he didn’t treat them like an art, but a mode of disrupting time.
From 1953 to 1963 — a period that corresponds with the publication of his most celebrated works — Allen Ginsberg snapped photographs of his cohort of soon-to-be famous friends. These shots weren’t intended for exhibition; they were mementos, thrown in the back of a drawer. He unearthed them two decades later and had copies made, in the borders of which he scrawled relevant details in felt-tip pen. It is these photographs, amended with shots from the ’80s and ’90s, that are on display at New York University’s Grey Art Gallery.
In his poem “America” (1956) Allen Ginsberg addresses the nation as if it were a codependent lover, asking, “Are you going to let your emotional life be run by Time Magazine?” followed immediately by the confession, “I’m obsessed by Time Magazine. I read it every week.”
BRIGHTON, UK — For the duration of the visit, we are invited to pretend that a space around the corner from the British Museum has become that site of Beat-generation novelist, painter, and performer William S. Burroughs’ fevered imagination: “Interzone” from the novel Naked Lunch.
I had no idea renowned beat poet Allen Ginsberg (1926–1997) was an avid amateur photographer. A current exhibition of his black and white snapshots are on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and they are annotated by Ginsberg himself, who rediscovered his early photos (made between 1953 and 1963) in the 1980s.