Wednesday, January 16, 2013

HOWL, Ginsberg, Poetry, and Me


Last night I watched HOWL, the biopic about Allen Ginsberg on Netflix and was completely inspired. My poetry has been on hiatus since focusing on writing fiction for kids. I’ve sporadically written some poetry, particularly when there isn’t much time for writing anything else. 

HOWL reminded me of my brush with Allen Ginsberg and the Beat Poets when I lived at 437 East 12street in 1989; where late one night, the howls of Ginsberg’s love Peter Orlovsky meet with the ambulance siren on the street, while my radio simultaneously reiterated the Beat generation's poetry. It was surreal. I thought messages were being sent to me—I always think I’m on the receiving line of some great truth.

I was a spunky twenty-something in 1989. It’s no wonder the apartment on east 12 street is where I began typing (on a rotary typewriter) in my attempt at writing fiction.
I had been writing poetry, lots and lots of poetry, for years. My earliest novella, at twelve, was taken by the school bus driver and never seen again.

Let’s say, it was the vibe of the building, which I barely understood at the time. But the frequent Beat messages poured unto me from all over and surrounded me. There were other poets in the building, and literary luminaries coming and going.
Edith Ginsberg, Cliff Fyman, Bob Rosenthal, Allen Ginsberg, John Godfey, Steven Taylor, Peter Orlovsky, Greg Masters, Michael Scholnick, in front of 437 E. 12th St., where all except Edith lived. Nov. 14, 1982. 

One day a man with black straggly hair knocked on my apartment door, and said his name was Richard Hell; he loved the music I was playing, said everyone should hear it. He ordered me to turn the music up--way up. The music was The Dead Can Dance.

Soon before I moved out of the building, I found a treasury of books that I was sure belonged to Allen Ginsberg, and he had put the books in a box on my floor—the second floor, just for me: Ken Kesey, George Bernard Shaw, Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath; books on philosophy, theosophy--so many, which I still have. I knew (or made believe) they once belonged to the Great Ginsberg, and he gave them to me--as a beacon, a glimpse of my path, as I imagined that I was meant to write.
Oh, to sweet dreams. 

Poetry for me was fast and quick, I could go anywhere with it. Instant gratification. Who knew, I would love the long haul of novel writing: the years of commitment, the revisions, the draft; the world I could paint with words. 

I’ve had little time lately to revise my WIP #3 –but with Poetry, I can keep my fingers greased and my mind fluid, so I won’t feel locked out of my world of fiction.

Today, I made the promise to myself to write one Blog entry before beginning this workday. What do you write when you can’t dig in to your novel?




My apt was on the second floor to the right of entrance. Inspiring times.



4 comments:

sugaropal said...

How cool! What a great chapter in a literary life (yours, that is). I'm just picturing the plastered walls of your apartment oozing poetry.

Karen lee Hallam said...

Ooozing! LoL-I'll put some snap shots up, eventually. :)) Thanks for commenting, Rhiann.

Justin McCoy said...

Ginseberg was a geat man. Lucky to have been part of that energy! Hold onto those books!

Karen lee Hallam said...

Thanks for the comment, Justin. I am holding tight to those books. I use them to make wishes, too. :)