The Scene

Home » Posts tagged 'Beat Movement'

Tag Archives: Beat Movement

Gary Snyder Born on this Date

May 8, 2017

52614e679c3057626a1f32476f72aa25

Profiles of the Early Beats: Gary Snyder

On this date in in 1930 Gary Snyder was born in San Francisco. Snyder, today at age 87, keeps the Beat Movement alive while passing the flame on to successively younger generations. But let’s take a look at Snyder in the early days of the Beat Movement in this profile by Seymour Krim from his 1960 anthology The Beats. Easily forgotten about Snyder’s early career is that he was there at the famous Six Gallery reading in 1956 doing his own poetry the night Allen Ginsberg first read Howl and the night the Beat Movement became famous.

“Now making it in Japan-from which he wrote this charming letter [“Letter from Kyoto”]—Snyder is one of the important figures of the West Coast beat society, a poet, softly religious man, influence on Kerouac and others. Hostility syphned [sic.] out of him or transcended. His voice, like the very best of West Coast talent, is sweet without flaw or phoniness; not like the harsh New York hipsters. In a modest way Snyder is a credit to the human race, as sportswriter Jimmy Cannon once called Joe Louis. In addition to Snyder’s letter we are appending a very straight little number by him on beat religious attitudes; once again his writing gets to the bone with unsurgical, unhard naturalness. For a poet he writes first-rate prose.”

Follow The Scene: Radical Poetics at the Zig Zag Edges and share widely on social media.

Paul Varner

Advertisements

Profiles of the Early Beats: Phillip Lamantia

April 10, 2017

Profiles of the Early Beats: Phillip Lamantia

8119c523b76a31a8f4c94be9bb1a5eb2

Seymour Krim’s profile of Philip Lamantia in his 1960 anthology The Beats surely must be one of the most colorful description of the neo-surrealist poet. One thing about Philip Lamantia often forgotten is that he read his poetry that famous night at the Six Gallery when Allen Ginsberg first read Howl.

“Lamantia is a flamethrowing Roman catholic and can really light up the poetic pinball machine 1 out of every 4 shots. His whole bent is mystic, ecstatic, sensuous, dangerous. But when he hits, he hits for a high score. Sometimes the work gets vague and shrill; but the misses are what have to be suffered in order for him to get his rare, charging highs which sweep into the memory like an army of Christian neon lights. Hot stuff here, always a hair’s breadth away from over-statement. But the real spinal shudder when he makes it.”

the-beats4128186dae84cc928d19de95e253b359

Follow The Scene: Radical Poetics at the Zig Zag Edges and share widely on social media.

Paul Varner

Early Beat Writers Richard Barker and James Grady

March 30, 2017

0aaa1210cab20c0910fb70a3c7e462c8

Here is another post I am publishing based on Seymour Krim’s 1960 anthology of the Beat Movement. Before each Beat writer Krim featured he wrote a short profile. What’s so fascinating about Krim and his little book is that it was written and published when the Beatnik culture was dominating America’s 1950s. So he writes from the perspective of the moment and with the crazy Beatnik vernacular that often was fodder for cartoons, satire, and ultimately Hollywood movies. Here are Krim’s profiles of two lesser-known early Beats:

Richard Barker

“Barker is a professional drummer. WestCoast-based, with a legit literary background (MA at Cornell, 1953, with a pre-Beat Henry Miller as his thesis) and some Paris knocking-around as part of his picture. He’s 30 and has made the bohemian scene from coast to coast. He writes a tense swinging piece here.”

For the anthology Krim published Barker’s prose piece “Horn Fight at the Mission Corral.”

James Grady

“Cocky Jim Grady comes out of Ohio, the Army, Manhattan’s New School and is bucking for Broadway dramatist fame—he’s honest about wanting the dollar and beatly bitter in his appreciation of its Lordship. A flinty, sardonic wiseguy complete with brain and, unexpectedly, soul. Plus that startling Irish wit.”

For Grady, Krim published the poem “The Buck is My Benison.”

the-beats4128186dae84cc928d19de95e253b359

On This Day in History Gregory Corso was Born

March 26, 2017

cd643a6d0102f3f2d65dc74dc2ed4173

The Beat Hotel, Paris

The Beats: Gregory Corso

On this day in 1930 Gregory Corso was born. He died in 2001 and is buried in the English Cemetery in Rome, in proximity to the Romantic poets Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats.

Here is the profile of Corso written during the frenetic days of the Beatnik scene by Seymour Krim in his 1960 anthology The Beats,

“Corso is urchin-looking, street-bred, a true singer and loving wordman with lots of humor plus a regal tone. A big treasure of talent in this little guy which he’s not entirely certain how to handle—comes on tough or rude or me-no-speak-english when his poetry gives his living-room style the lie. Full of unexpectedness and unclassifiableness; offbeat imagination to burn. One of the big three that began to turn the public on around 1954; Kerouac and Ginsberg the other two. A glitter of contradictions, Corso also has formidable verbal refinements and a closetful of skills along with his deadend-kid comeon [sic.]. Last heard from he was in Athens, jazzing, playing roulette, making a carnival out of this ah sweet mystery of life bit. More power and joy to him.”

Krim published the long poem “Spontaneous Requiem for the American Indian” in the anthology. I thought I would print a particularly relevant clip to our current political predicament in America.

Ghost-herds of uneaten left to rot animals thundering across the plains

Chasing the ghost of England across the plains forever ever, pompous Kiwago raging in the still Dakotas, o america—

America o mineral scant america o mineralize america o conferva of that once

great lovely Muskhogean pool, o oil-suck America despite, oil from forgetive days, hare to arrow, muskellunge tospear, fleet-footed know ye speed-well the tribes thence

outraced the earth to eat to love to die,

o requiems, Hathor off-far bespeaks Wakonda. . . .

the-beats4128186dae84cc928d19de95e253b359

Follow The Scene: Radical Poetics at the Zig Zag Edges.

Paul Varner

 

 

The Beats: John Clellon Holmes

March 6, 2017

12f20d60507e7236391d7d126df062f1

This is the third post I am publishing based on Seymour Krim’s 1960 anthology of the Beat Movement. Before each Beat writer Krim featured he wrote a short profile. What’s so fascinating about Krim and his little book is that it was written and published when the Beatnik culture was dominating America’s 1950s. So he writes from the perspective of the moment and with the crazy Beatnik vernacular that often was fodder for cartoons, satire, and ultimately Hollywood movies.

His first profile was of the first real daddy-o of the Beatniks–John Clellon Holmes–who 1.) wrote Go, the first novel of the Beat Generation, and 2.) defined the essence of “Beat” as Krim notes below.

John Clellon Holmes

“Less glamorous, less publicized than Kerouac-and-gang, Holmes was one of the first explicit beat writers, wrote the fairly good ‘Go,’ was sort of conservative ballast to the high cats who wailed the first notes of the movement. Loves and knows and digs jazz, lives the suburban scholar sober hardworking novelist life in Connecticut, is both in and out of the present beat hurly-burly; has acted as sort of Ivy league counterpoint to the gutter-scenes played by the crazier beats. Doesn’t get his hands too dirty. But he has a unifying mind, has impressive ‘felt thought,’ in the words of the big American novelist Henry James, and is really capable one day of writing a huge, thorough blockbuster of a novel about the bloody beat 50’s. Brings a New England temper to Harlem, so to speak—conservativeness to a frantic scene, and nobody else writing on the same wavelength gets the same convincing result. His article [‘The Philosophy of the Beat Generation’] was written in late 1957-58, before the movement was as torrid as today; nevertheless it holds as honest sober statement, despite its occasional tone of Apologizing to the Squares” (13).

the-beats4128186dae84cc928d19de95e253b359

The Beats: Dan Propper

f4adaa27b98ae506abc4ad7028c5ca8b

This is another post I am publishing based on Seymour Krim’s 1960 anthology of the Beat Movement. Before each Beat writer Krim featured he wrote a short profile. What’s so fascinating about Krim and his little book is that it was written and published when the Beatnik culture was dominating America’s 1950s. So he writes from the perspective of the moment and with the crazy Beatnik vernacular that often was fodder for cartoons, satire, and ultimately Hollywood movies.

Dan Propper

Seymour Krim said of Dan Propper, “The phenomenon of all this is that Propper is 22; much to learn you might think, but also much to forget. Except, as poet-painter William Morris has pointed out (and Morris’ own contribution was squeezed out by space and morality), you only forget when you ain’t. Propper is very bright, with the bitter glitter of missile-age precocity.”

Propper’s long poem “The Fable of the Final Hour,” suitably dark and beaten down toward beatitude is the selection in The Beats.

Follow The Scene: Radical Poetics at the Zig Zag Edges.

Paul Varner

the-beats4128186dae84cc928d19de95e253b359

 

 

 

The Beats with Seymour Krim

March 2, 2017

The Beats, ed Seymour Krim

 the-beats4128186dae84cc928d19de95e253b359

Unquestionably, the Beatnik scene in the 1950s U.S., and its counterpart in the U.K., the Angry Young Men, brought the Beat Movement to public awareness and provided color and popularity to the movement. I love uncovering original material from the Beatnik era and one of my favorites is a paperback anthology edited by Seymour Krim titled The Beats, published in 1960 with a second edition in 1962 lamenting the end of the Beatnik era.

The back cover of The Beats screams out at the reader the way old ‘50s paperbacks were wont:

The drive, the fury, the frankness they bring to their writing has made the Beat generation the most hotly discussed literary movement of the century. Here is the Beat world, the world that has aroused critics to shocked outrage and loud praise. Here is the jazz, the junk, the jargon—and, above all, the anger. Here is a ruthlessly honest collection of their writing together with some sharp critical assessments of their deliberate and their holy war with Society.

Over the nest several weeks in The Scene I want to devote a number of posts to this amazing time capsule witness of the actual now and present of its colorful time. Krim had a way of describing all the writers and the goings on especially in New York with current Beatnik slang and dramatic this-is-important! urgency. Stay with me here and you won’t regret it.

Follow The Scene and share widely on social media.