Allen and I met on three occasions: First, in New Orleans in 1971.
During the week we visited schools where Allen chanted and read his poetry, stirring up the younger children who would try to imitate his chanting. Allen walked the streets of the Quarter carrying a long, brass trident from India and wearing beads. He had shaved; so the characteristic beard was missing. But he was otherwise clearly the Beat poet. He chanted on the Quad, drawing a large crowd of onlookers, and on the night of the Symposium he had a group of Hare Krishna followers join him on stage for a lively chant.
Allen Ginsberg and friend
at the Olivier House,
Second, in San Francisco:
Aperture opening in 1993 featuring Ginsberg's photography. It was
a bustling, crowded opening-- very New York chic. Allen looked fatigued
and sat on one of the few seats outside the gallery entrance. Darryl
spoke to him and I resisted the urge to remind him of our past
encounters. I enjoyed the photographs-- there were several of William Burroughs, and a nude of Allen and Peter Orlovsky. Allen was proud of the photograph Darryl was asking him about-- a lovely boy on a Greek Island-- or was it that the boy was Greek? I recall the photo-- a beautiful face and torso.
1971 and, of course, the thousands others have taken and shared. The
films and videos bring back his image and his voice to us. His own
photos give repeatedly his wry humor and heart. And yet, if ever there
was a spirit that was likely to be reincarnated, I think the soul of
Allen Ginsberg is it. He reminded me always of the Hopi trickster Kokopelli.
Allen Ginsberg, W. S. Merwin, and I
Lunch, New Orleans