Allen Ginsberg a celebration of his life and work St James Ch Piccadilly
London 17 May 98
A pleasant space. Light. Plenty of interesting things to look at when
the poetry lets you down.
Started with Adrian Mitchell who came over as sincere enough but bleeding
Unannounced performance by Philip Glass playing his piano piece on Wichita
Vortex Sutra. Hardly my favourite Glass piece, but I am pleased to have
heard it played by the present composer - as I was there anyway.
Tom Pickard with Liane Carroll and Peter Kirtley... Could have done with
more of Tom performing Tom, rather than the musicians performing Tom. I wish
Tom had stood nearer the mike. He seemed to be wearing a rather expensive
It occurred to me that there was little coherence to the evening. It
was bits and pieces. A strong intro at the start, on AG, might have been all
that was needed to solve *that. But all we had had was a rather diffuse
opening one sided discourse by Mike Horovitz.
Who came next.
Then there was a break.
Then Anne Waldman & Andrew Schelling and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
Where the earlier readers had sometimes read Ginsberg's poems indifferently
to quite badly, Anne / Andrew read Ginsberg *their way and *well; and LF
picked up AG's own cadences and pauses and emphases - yet *that didnt come
over as imitative but respectful, understanding, true to the texts.
Both styles seem to me entirely appropriate. At least on the night, some
could do it and some couldn't.
Both Waldman and Schelling read pieces arising from their response to
Ginsberg's disease and death. They read well. It was clear and strong and
loud. Ferlinghetti was quieter but, as I have indicated, accomplished
throughout; and I wish that he had read longer.
The evening finished with tapes of Ginsberg singing a couple of his songs,
finishing on Father Death.
So now near the end of this, I have to ask
myself why was I disappointed?
I had never seen Lawrence Ferlinghetti and am
glad to have seen him now, no matter how briefly.
I hadn't seen Andrew Schelling. Ditto.
Anne Waldman is always a superb performer and more often than
many manage it a good poet....
It was as if there were two evenings. One didn't have any sense of lack of
direction in the second half.
So the sense of disappointment, I have now talked myself to this, came from
the first half. Pardon me if I don't rewrite this ephemeral _review_...
I am *sure that Mitchell and Pickard could have been...
more... exciting... It's not as if they haven't had the practice
And I can only think that Michael Horovitz is a talent unrealised. But, as
it is, when I see him move towards the stage with his carrier bag and kazoo,
my heart does not leap.
Anne Waldman and Andrew Schelling perform at SVP Upstairs 3 Cups Sandland
Street London W 1 8 pm 19 5 98
There will be a 28pp SVP mag - SVP 1998 # 11 - of which I think 23pp are
poetry, some new poems by Waldman, some new poems by Schelling and a reprint
of a joint piece previously published only in USA in a limited edition. A
copy of that will be given to each member of the audience. If you arent
coming then it is L1.50 + 50p postage payable to me.
Hope to see some of you there
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