GINSBERG, Allen




Author Tags: Famous Visitor

Allen Ginsberg made several visits to Vancouver, notably in November of 1978 when he headlined two evenings in support of his friend Warren Tallman's Vancouver Poetry Centre and its 'defence' of Talonbooks. The former advertising scribe and author of Howl in the 1950s asked for a 'good vibe' audience for "lifting the city to Heaven which exists and is everywhere about us." He appeared at the PNE Gardens Auditorium on November 25, 1978 to spearhead Tallman's vision of seven evenings of readings to be held in 1979. In 1979, Allen Ginsberg was accompanied by musician Mike Beddoes during a performance at the Italian Cultural Centre.

Ginsberg returned to British Columbia in 1985. At the invitation of Rex Weyler, he accepted an invitation to lead a poetry and meditation retreat at Hollyhock Farm on Cortes Island for a handful of participants that included Trevor Carolan, who recorded his memories and impressions of accompanying his mentor to Cortes Island in Giving Up Poetry: With Allen Ginsberg at Hollyhock (Banff Centre Press, 2001). An excerpt was reprinted in the collection entitled Off Beat (Printed Matter Press, 2009), edited by Hillel Wright, who recorded an interview with Ginsberg at Hollyhock on May 5, 1985, using a portable, reel-to-reel tape recorder from Vancouver Co-op Radio. Also in 1985, Ginsberg performed with guitarist Gary Cramer of the venerable Vancouver group Brain Damage at Kitsilano High School. The concert is available on YouTube, as recorded by Lenore Herb. [The address is
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGx0bZ0iMLI&feature=channel_page]
While in Vancouver Ginsberg expressed some dismay that his droning and simple harmonium playing was not met with a recording contract from Columbia Records.

Allen Ginsberg last read poetry in Vancouver at the Italian Cultural Centre in October of 1989.


Born in 1926 in Newark, New Jersey, Ginsberg received a B.A. from Columbia University in 1948. The reading of Howl resulted in the arrest of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the owner of City Lights Books, on obscenity charges, leading to Ginsberg's notoriety as a voice of the counter-culture. He died in April of 1997.

PHOTO: Vancouver, 1969

[BCBW 2010] "Famous Visitor"