1. What do we learn from Rub Out the Words: The Letters of William S. Burroughs 1959-1974, the second volume of letters edited by Beat Generation archivist and expert Bill Morgan? We learn that Burroughs’ obsession with literary splicing and combining possessed many of his thoughts; he writes about the cut-up method constantly, to everybody. We learn that he was polite to his parents and warmly paternal to and concerned about his son Billy. We learn that he had a calm demeanor but a cutting temper, that he couldn’t stand Timothy Leary but was considerate enough to offer support when Leary was arrested, that he really hated Truman Capote (and never offered Capote any support), that he had great regard for Barney Rosset of Grove Press, and none for Maurice Girodias of Olympia Press (the primary difference seemed to be that Rosset always paid Burroughs the money he owed him, and Girodias never did). Overall, this collection of letters doesn’t much change my understanding of William S. Burroughs, but is worthwhile for the pleasure of spending time in the company of this erudite and broadly original brutalist/postmodernist. Especially when Burroughs paraphrases Shakespeare, as in this quip about Herbert Huncke’s imdomitable sneakiness: “he is not only a junkie but a thief, strong both against the deed in the words of the immortal bard the raven himself is harsh who croaks the fatal entrance of Huncke.”
3. The official On The Road movie poster has been released, and the upcoming movie now has a twitter account. Meanwhile, here’s one amateur filmmaker’s vision of an On The Road movie. NOTE: this is NOT an actual trailer for the Hollywood movie coming out this May. But it might be better — we’ll have to wait and compare.
4. Jazzman and ethnomusicologist David Amram is the guiding soul behind David Amram Poetry Jam, a quiet riot of Beat-inspired spoken word poetry by Casey Cyr, Ron Whitehead, Steve Dalachinsky and Lee Ranaldo, accompanied by the master himself on piano, doumbek, Lakota chanting flute and french horn.
5. If you’re into Beat poetry, you should really check in regularly at the Allen Ginsberg Project blog, which has lately been sharing remembrances of Ginsberg’s courses on William Blake. When I sat in on one of Ginsberg’s classes at Brooklyn College in the mid-1990s, he was teaching this Blake course.
6. Beatitude … by Larry Closs at the Next Best Book Blog.
7. Silence — there’s something that’s truly evergreen. The Poetry Foundation remembers the ten year vow of silence taken by poet Bob Kaufman between 1963 to 1973. I don’t know many poets who could manage a feat like that.