start

off to what i feel is a strong start for the new semester. i’ve been feeling invigorated and motivated and all that good jazz. i’m ready for my thesis, ready to treat myself better, ready to prepare myself for the real world ahead.

i mentioned i’ve started to develop a new routine, in order to keep my mental & physical health sound: i wake up, do my exercises,  make myself a cup of coffee, and sit down at my desk to write poetry in my little book before i log on to my computer, or anything else really. i’ve been feeling very good since starting to do this, which is important to me – i don’t want to have ebbs & flows of motivation & productivity – i need a consistent routine, and i think i’ve found it.

Allen Ginsberg Talking to His Father
22 Dec 1969, Miami, Florida, USA — Miami, Fla.: Allen Ginsberg, poet of the flower generation, points to his father during a press conference on his arrival in Miami. Dr. Louis Ginsberg interrupted his sons talk at a local temple with a “Shame on you Allen” when the younger Ginsberg advocated the use of drugs. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

additionally, i’ve ordered a few more books for my thesis (more biographies, more primary Allen sources). one of the books came in today – Family Business: Selected Letters Between a Father and Son, a book containing the letters sent between Allen & his father, Louis. there was one particular letter i was hoping to find, that has been described in a few biographies – one in which Allen comes out to Louis about his sexuality, his affair with Neal, and his subsequent dropping out of Columbia. i assumed that, oh, you know, this book of letters between them would have, you see, the letter in question.

it does not.

instead, it offers a paragraph that explains what the letter says; but alas, no such letter is documented in this book.

however, that doesn’t mean this book is a complete “failure.” there’s two letters from the summer of 1948 that follow Louis’ anger & disappointment in his son.

  1. The infamous reply from Louis, in which he only writes, “Exorcise Neal.”
  2. A reply from Louis critiquing a poem Allen wrote.

i’m excited to get the rest of the books, especially Spontaneous Minds.

in the mean time, here’s a (lesser) rough draft of two of the poems i wrote this past week

one

two

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title

I’m also still struggling with a working title… for some reason, though, I keep gravitating toward the words “binge” or “bent.” Maybe moreso bent, as it can be a slang for being intoxicated and gay, which fits Allen to a T.

I’m only worrying that the title might mess with maybe how the poems may feel. I don’t know if that sounds weird, but I can’t explain it. But if I do go with either of those words, I want them to be a play on one of Ginsberg’s titles, or even a line in his poetry. Specifically, I’m focusing on the poems he wrote in East Harlem from June-July in 1948. I think my most promising idea right now is maybe calling it “The Bent Rose.” It’s a play on Blake’s “The Sick Rose,” which is the poem Ginsberg was reading when he had his vision. Also, the image of a bent rose might be intriguing, so it could be a possibility, but something in me isn’t 100% sold – and isn’t Allen himself a bent rose, a vulnerable flower that’s been crippled by emotional turmoil?

Additionally, but maybe off topic, one of my favorite poetic lines Ginsberg uses toward the end of Part I of “Howl” is “and the last furnished room emptied down to the last piece of mental furniture, a yellow paper rose twisted on a wire hanger in the closet, and even that imaginary, nothing but a hopeful little bit of hallucination” (117). That image of the yellow paper rose, in my opinion, is a symbol of his mother, after he signed the papers for her lobotomy. Maybe he also saw himself as a flower? That’s a question for another day.

I’m still thinking about it, trust me, but for now I’m going with “The Bent Rose.” I think. Maybe.

allen goes digital, hailey goes on a rant

After last week’s Thesis Tank, you can say I was… inspired, so to say. Maybe a bit challenged, too. If I’m being honest, I feel like I got less out of it the experience than everyone else, and that’s okay – the panel was not a good fit for dispensing constructive criticism and guidance for my project. Besides Alan and Dr. Zamora, the only helpful response I got was from Kate Bowles, who suggested Peter Carey’s Ned Kelly, which I am yet to look into. But, even if I just got that, like I said, that’s okay! If anything, I did get something out of it – a fire to start the digital space of my project.

Additionally, since my project revolves around authenticity in personal poetics, such as Allen’s die-hard belief that the line between what you tell your friends and what you tell your audience should be blurred, I was not pleased after my part of the Tank. I appreciate guidance. I appreciate constructive criticism. I just felt like I was very greatly underestimated by some people on that panel, since all I felt like I was hearing was “don’t overwhelm yourself,” which I completely understand! I never want to take on a project that’s way too big – and this project is, in my opinion, a Master’s level project, and as such, I want to take on and produce a Master’s level work ethic and project. I’m not going to half-ass it, and I’m not going to leave it unfinished – this piece of electronic literature will be, at the end of spring semester, completed and ready to be explored and experienced by whoever stumbles across it. That’s the standard I hold myself to, and I never once thought of doing anything less.

Suffice to say, by the end of last week’s session, I felt motivated. Maybe motivated by the “wrong” reasons, but alas – I thought of the things that someone might have thought would “overwhelm” me. The only idea I had for my project that I wasn’t “sure” about was if I could implement HTML code alongside of Wix. I know a lot of Wix is drag and drop (it’s what I made my last piece of elit with, so I feel like I’m pretty skilled with the website creator), and I know it’s “limited” with those features that aren’t explicit coding. Specifically, one project idea I had came from Alan, in having some texts change upon viewing them; basically, if you click on an image of a typewriter, perhaps a rough draft comes up of a poem. Next time you click on the same image, something else is there in its place. I know Wix can’t do that on its own, so I found the code. Amazingly, it wasn’t an “overwhelming” task. Go figure.

I had to rewrite the code because I couldn’t change the font size and style, so I changed it around to fit my own purposes to test it out. It took a few tries, but I got my desired result (and I apologize right now for my… Jersey language. I just used a string of dirtier words to generate because I’m a simple girl with a simple mind.)

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Alas! The only thing I was most worried about! I’m excited to tackle the rest of the digital space. As of now, here’s the site so far – nothing impressive. I just put a picture of Allen there for now to take up space (and, if you look at the upper right hand corner, my code is still in actions. Don’t worry, that’ll get taken down). I tried looking for higher quality pictures of Allen’s actual apartment, but my searches did not yield promising results. Thus, I might just take generic 1940s apartment photos, maybe photoshop some typewriters in, so on so forth, in order to make it look like Allen’s space.

That’s all for now, unless another man underestimates me!

ride the reel

I’ve been thinking about films lately as a resource – I think partially after Alan emailed me about finding little glimpses of the Beats, even in movie credits (sorry I never replied! I did read it, though!), and also partially because of our fangirling over things like Moana. There’s been a few movies about the Beat Generation, especially over the past ten years. Most notably, there has been Howl (2010), where Ginsberg is portrayed by James Franco, who surprisingly does a great job at acting and sounding him. A live adaptation of Kerouac’s On the Road was made in 2012, too. Most recently, though, was a movie made from the novel Kerouac and Burroughs collaborated together on about their experiences getting away with murdering Lucien Carr’s ex-lover and professor. The novel, And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, turned into more of a toxic love story between Carr and Ginsberg called Kill Your Darlings (2014). Another fun fact: Daniel Radcliffe, our beloved Harry Potter, plays Ginsberg in this movie, which I think was very generous of the producers. Don’t get me wrong – I love Ginsberg, but he was not a very handsome dude.

All of this has a point, though, instead of just naming off some good movie suggestions! I know I want to explore Ginsberg’s psyche, toying with the accuracy of the character, but there have people who have already done that for creative purposes – actors. I’m wondering if there are some interviews with actors like Franco and Radcliffe, where they talk about their experience in becoming Allen. After all, it’s more than just putting on a pair of dark-framed glasses and running around naked. Franco, too, is an English professor at Columbia, so he has a pretty analytical and interesting perspective:

I think their information is very valuable, and can definitely be used as a reference – maybe even, when I get to the digital part, I can even rip and embed audio soundbytes from Franco or Radcliffe talking about “being Allen.”

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.