I first read Allen Ginsberg’s City Lights paperback Howl and Other Poems late one autumn night 1980 with friends at the White Castle at the corner of Bardstown Road and Eastern Parkway. A few months after Mev Puleo died, I read most of Ginsberg’s work over a couple of months. And here it is, 2017, and I recently finished with appreciation the latest publication from the American bard (who died in 1997), interviews selected by Ginsberg biographer Michael Schumacher. This volume, First Thought: Conversations with Allen Ginsberg, is not as large and jewel-saturated as David Carter’s Spontaneous Mind: Selected Interviews 1958-1996, but I still found helpful reminders, avuncular advice, and serene encouragement.
Here are a few of the ways interviewers and others saw Allen Ginsberg: “poet, prophet, teacher”; “surrealist folk-hero”; “lobbyist for tenderness”; a man with a “friendly intermingling of smile and solemnity”; a lifelong learner with “a curiosity without boundaries”; a person “seemingness fearless of the consequences of exposing his mind.” What follows are a few samples of Ginsberg’s candor to his various interviewers over nearly four decades… Read the rest of this entry »