[b & w photo of ginsberg] a patti smith babelogue honors

allen ginsberg (1926-1997)

"Master thyself, then others shall be bare."

Early in the morning on April 5th, Allen Ginsberg died. He was 70. The information had recently been released that he had terminal liver cancer, and had at most a few months to live. He died at home, in his Lower East Side apartment, surrounded by his friends and family. The cause of death was a heart attack related to his severe liver disease.

Fans of Patti Smith know how important Allen Ginsberg was/is to her. As a performer, she owes much to both the incantory rhythms of Ginsberg and the jazz recitations of Jack Kerouac, which she combines with the ancient tradition of the shaman -- the tribal sorcerer who acts as a medium for the other world. In many interviews and prose pieces, she has listed Ginsberg -- along, of course, with Arthur Rimbaud, Jean Genet, and William S. Burroughs -- as an influence on her own poetry. See John Rockwell's review of Horses for a historical view of what Ginsberg contributed to Patti's early work.

Another connection between Patti Smith and Allen Ginsberg in print is that Barry Miles, who would go on to write a 1989 biography of Ginsberg, interviewed Patti in 1977.

As a friend in recent times, Ginsberg was supportive to Patti after the deaths of her husband Fred and brother Todd in the fall of '94. As documented here nearly the first (if not the first) time she appeared on stage after those tragedies, was when she did a reading with Ginsberg in Ann Arbor, in early '95. Again in Ann Arbor, in April '96, they appeared together at a benefit for Jewel Heart (Tibetan Buddhist organization), where Ginsberg gave Patti a memorable introduction and read several of his own poems. Ginsberg has also showed up in the audience for several of her performances of the last couple of years, and has performed, among other things, his "Ballad of the Skeletons" on stage in appearances with Patti. They last performed on stage together at the Tibetan New Year's benefit at Carnegie Hall in February '97.

Patti (along with many others) performed at a memorial service for Allen on 4/12/97.

goodbye, buddha poet -- a memorial page

Some links:

info re. National Day of Remembrance for Ginsberg

4/6/97 obit in New York Times

4/6/97 obit in Washington Post

4/5/97 CNN article about Ginsberg's life and death

Allen Ginsberg Memorial Page by DeadBeat

Jewel Heart memorial page -- where to send donations in his memory

Village Voice tribute

reviews of his books and books about him in New York Times -- do a search on 'Allen Ginsberg'

Shadow Changes into Bone -- Mongo BearWolf's excellent Ginsberg home page

Bohemian Ink's Ginsberg Page -- another fine website

Literary Kicks (Beat website) page on Ginsberg -- good biography

an interview with Harvey R. Kubernik -- emphasizes Ginsberg's musical collaborations and includes some comments on Patti

an excerpt from "Howl"

article at Wired News -- includes link to recent interview

interesting recent interview with Seconds magazine.

1992 interview with Mavericks of the Mind -- he talks about God, death, Burroughs, and the afterlife

1976 interview with Peter Barry Chowka in New Age Journal

If you would like to post on the "goodbye, buddha poet" page a memorial of Allen for you -- how he was important to you, how you felt about him or his work -- send it to Fiona.