first thoughts

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I love Allen Ginsberg. I want to say I don’t know where this unending fascination with this man comes from, but I guess that would be a lie. He showed me the capability of how raw, how blatantly honest, and how personal poetry can be, and not in any of that confessional crap sense. There was something about Ginsberg talking about his numerous fucks and peoples’ assholes that captivated me – there was some humor, some truth, and a lot of literature. He made blowjobs poetic – who does that, even? There’s something in the way his poetic anecdotes of his own personal life that reminded me of my own friends, and the adolescent adventures and late night talks we would have. I loved it.

With that being said, those personal details, the chronicles of the Beat generation, and the relationships between front members like Ginsberg, Kerouac, Cassidy, Burroughs, Corso, Carr, and Huncke, and so on and so forth, are what I want to explore and illustrate. I want to create a poetry project that incorporates multimodal, primary sources from the Beats, a collection of poetry that feels authentic, engaging, and a little dirty, something that embodies the spirit of the literary movement. Additionally, I want to draw inspiration from one of my favorite books of poetry, Michael Ondaatje’s The Collected Works of Billy the Kid. In that book, Ondaatje captures this myth that the Wild West has built of Billy the Kid and his world, whether he was a real sharpshooter or not. Ondaatje uses letters, comic strips, pictures, and newspaper clippings to add layers to the character. In the same vein, I want to do that with Ginsberg and his world – however, what better way to add dimension to poetry than by making it digital poetry?

By making this project digital, the multimodality is greater. The incorporation of audio, moving visuals, transitions, backgrounds, hypertext, and so forth, can add to what I want to accomplish in this collection of poetry.

However!

My biggest concern on what I’m doing is always this: is what I’m doing worth it? Is it adding to the literary conversation, the discourse of the Beats? Is it interesting enough? Who wants to read this shit besides other Beat-obsessed freaks like myself?

I want this poetry to connect with people who don’t even know what the Beat generation is. But, what is it I’m trying to say with the poems? Am I trying to say something more about the significance of the self-prophecy and legend Ginsberg had built himself to be? Or is it something else? I guess, in the end, I’m concerned about having the poetry speak out to something, as opposed to just nothing.

As of right now, though, I feel a little stuck. Mostly, it’s because I’m still waiting on important books regarding the Beat generation. But then again, my hands might feel a little tied because I’m just a bit afraid. This project, without a doubt, will be near and dear to my heart, if/when I start doing it – I just want it to be something that is more relevant than to myself, is all.

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4 Replies to “first thoughts”

  1. I’m really interested in our last brainstorm of the idea of a fanfic approach to framing Ginsburg’s mindset or thinking in his most creative phases. You can invent “fanbio”!

    I was describing this in text to Dr Zamora and she suggested looking into Hagiography — which was more of a thing in the Middle Ages to glorify saints through a path of suffering then overcoming; more modern uses seem derogatory, but given what you’ve described as Ginsburg’s self-identification as a profit, it seems like an interesting angle.

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  2. however
    doubts crowd me in
    fears keep me out
    voices from the outside
    seem louder by day
    and by night
    I’m sinking into all the reasons
    it won’t work,
    only to wake up
    clear-headed, and full of wonder
    that the dreams of the night before
    might yet hold the possibility
    of moving forward

    — Kevin
    PS — I suspect by doubting your idea, you will slowly come to find the kernel of truth that will guide you forward. Good luck!

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  3. On value and connection: A first thought to your first thought. You asked is it worth it? The short answer is yes. Because what you have to say is genuine, considered and researched, and you bothered to share it. That makes it worth it. And on connecting with the Beat generation. Heck I had to look up what Generation X was and it looks like I may be one of them. As for the Beat generation- am I one? Can I relate? Dunno. but- You never know who you will connect with. The important first step is to reach out. (and yes, what you write is interesting)

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  4. Okay, I have just cracked open a few pages of BtK but am noting (probably what’s obvious to you):

    * It’s first person perspective
    * The poetic form varies much. And most likely it was not how Billy really communicated. So your voice of Ginsberg can be unlike his own voice, because it’s aiming to get at his inner voice, not what the world saw (?)
    * It is not in chronological order

    Also, just poking around, I am not sure what factors Good Reads uses to say one book is like another (just that people who liked BtK liked these), but maybe some parallel examples?

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/similar/1289903-the-collected-works-of-billy-the-kid-left-handed-poems

    Or if this list has anything
    http://www.similarkind.com/entity/243738/similar-books-like-the-collected-works-of-billy-the-kid%3A-left-handed-poems

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