I wanted to reread “Kaddish” today, and then when I finished, I wanted to hear it read by Allen himself. I know I’ve heard a recording of it before by him, but the one I was listening to just wasn’t doing it a lot of justice. I have it in the back of my mind to listen to an actual kaddish read aloud, because Dr. Rich says it will change the reading of the poem after listening to an actual one, which interested me.
Regardless, I went on Spotify, because Allen Ginsberg (as well as all the Beats) have channels full of recordings of them reading their work. Allen, too, loved to sing and record music, particularly later on – I haven’t really listened to any of it besides “Father Death Blues,” but I’ve been finding them amusing. I think they all speak to his character.
I also ordered three more books, one being Peter Carey’s book about Ned Kelly. The other two are also biographies about Ginsberg, so I’m wondering how / if they differ or can add anything that Bill Morgan hasn’t already covered in his biography of Allen. At any rate, they should be here next week, so I’m excited to read them.
In terms of the proposal: I’m still looking at what OED wants, and I guess I’m struggling writing my proposal to fit my thesis to it. I don’t know why I’m having such a difficult time with it.
Last Wednesday, Dr. Rich (the professor kinda sorta related to good old Allen) handed me a piece of paper before class started. He said it was a poem he had written a number of years ago, and he had more or less forgotten about it until our conversation had triggered the memory of it. Dr. Rich said he’s been having a lot of flashbacks and thoughts of Allen since our discussions about his own early life and encounters with Allen, and he wanted to share the poem with me, which I’ll share on this blog now:
To Allen Ginsberg
When I saw you on Public Television
You sparked tearful memories
About our family
Their concealments and jealousies
How your Aunt Rose was kind to me
But my father called her a Communist
What did that mean Allen
That she couldn’t hug me
Or I could not talk to her
Your Uncle Sam was the nicest man
I ever knew giving us rides in his Packard
While he spoke of his life in Russia
My mother and Bubba listened and glowed
I think my father was jealous and agry
Because he hated Russia and the pogroms
I never met your father
But he gave my Zeyde a copy of
The Everlasting Minute
I have it now next to Howl
But not my grandfather’s poetry
Bubba burned it after he died
So I finally called your Aunt Honey
Today after months of delay
Her voice richly intelligent
I want to talk to her more
To ask about you
Rose Naomi Sam Joel Claire
– Dr. Morton D. Rich
I was very emotional after reading the poem, and really appreciated that he was sharing it with me. After class, we talked more about Allen’s Aunt Rose and some other stories about the family. He also suggested I listen to a traditional kaddish, and then revisit Ginsberg’s “Kaddish.” Even if some of this seems “off topic” for my thesis, I don’t necessarily think it is – I enjoy listening to any real life knowledge of Allen, and I think it will all feed in to the character’s mythology. I told Dr. Rich that even if he remembers wrong, it still works out – any truths or untruths about Allen that he really believes are helpful and enjoyable.