PROGRAM: ALLEN GINSBERG AND GREGORY CORSO READING FROM THEIR WORK. SUNDAY, OCTOBER 21, 1956 - 8:30 PM. Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, text.

PROGRAM: ALLEN GINSBERG AND GREGORY CORSO READING FROM THEIR WORK. SUNDAY, OCTOBER 21, 1956 - 8:30 PM

[San Francisco]: The Poetry Center, 1956. First Edition. A well-preserved original program for an early Bay Area reading by Allen Ginsberg, and Gregory Corso's first public reading, held at the Poetry Center roughly a year after the historic Six Gallery reading. Ginsberg would be involved in a flurry of activity in the months leading up to the October 21, 1965 reading, including production of the mimeographed edition of Howl (May 16), receiving the proofs for the City Lights edition from Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and taking off on a Merchant Marine ship to the arctic circle, where he wrote and printed Siesta in Xbalba (July 28-29). He returned from sea in September to find an impatient Gregory Corso, "anxious to fill Allen in on what had been happening in his absence. Ferlinghetti had offered to publish Corso as one of his Pocket Poets and Witt-Diamant had scheduled him for a reading at the Poetry Center" (Morgan, I Celebrate Myself, p.223). The reading itself was quite an event, chiefly due to Ginsberg's shocking choice of poems. "Allen read his "Many Loves," which he called "a big queer poem" that he had written on his voyage to the Arctic, but the audience was disappointed, hoping probably to hear him read Howl and some of the other poems from the Six Gallery reading. Instead they heard lines like "Ass of a thousand lonely craps in gas stations ass of great painful secrecies of the years." It was shocking, especially by mid-1950s standards. Allen was harsh in his criticism of Gregory's reading that night, too. He said Gregory had no steam in his delivery and wasn't as ecstatic as Allen would have preferred. Immediately following the reading, both Gregory and Allen were anxious to get on the road themselves, hitchhiking south to Mexico to rendezvous with Jack" (p.224-225).

The two-page program was written entirely by Robert Duncan, who had returned from Mallorca and Black Mountain College with Jess Collins, and began working as assistant director of the Poetry Center, San Francisco State University, in September 1956. "Duncan wanted to line up his contemporaries, poets who shared his vision of the possibilities of open composition" (Bertholf, Robert. "Duncan's Introductions at the Poetry Center, San Francisco State University." Chicago Review, Vol.45, No.2 (1999), p.74). Despite his "ego war" with Ginsberg (and Jack Spicer's dislike of him), Duncan booked he and Corso for the October 21 reading. The text of his program is at once humorous, celebratory, and self-deprecating, though ultimately hailing both Ginsberg and Corso as prophets and voices of a new generation. After the humorous opening remarks, and listing some choice excerpts from poems the two would perform, he launches into the missive "Two People Who Are Not Afraid": "These new poets are gang-minded, taking poetry and the angels (but we discover the angels are of the gang) with them. They challenge, and rightly, all our personal, sexual, and cultural modesty. But what is Modesty if it not be challenged. Leaving another poetry, when the gang has swept on to new magazines, new readings, new anthologies. Leaving an unimportance that does not disappear from the soul's orders. At last. And thank God for these gifts. Are not great nor illustrious nor fated--as this poetry of Ginsberg and Corso is--to ride the high waves, triumphant and despondent, of historic event" (p.2).

A scarce survival; OCLC notes 2 copies, at UC Berkeley and Stanford (though Stanford's copy appears to have p.1 only). Bertholf D1c. Item #5381

Quarto (28cm); two mimeographed leaves, with text printed on rectos and side-stapled at left margin. Two old folds smoothed-out, some light wear and handling, with subtle toning to extremities and along the horizontal fold; Very Good+.

Price: $3,500.00

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