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May 21, 1997 - Image 9

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1997-05-21

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See Kenneth Branagh's four-hour, 70-
mm version of the Shakespeare classic.
Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 and 9j


May 21, 1997 7

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A2 community responds to poet's death

By Anitha Chalam
Daily Arts Writer
Around the time of his high school
graduation, Allen Ginsberg is quoted as
having said, "Do what you want to,
when you want to" Ginsberg is histor-
ically notable for his role as a Beat
Generation thinker, artist and writer.
Such distinction has undoubtedly
secured him a place in anthologies for
years to come, but it takes a lot more
than "textbook success" to generate a
response like the one Ann Arbor is giv-
ing to Ginsberg's life and death.
Karl Pohrt, owner of Shaman Drum
bookstore, explained that Ginsberg was
a key figure in the arts and letters of the
20th century. "What makes him so
interesting is his fusion of politics- and
religion, breaking through the conserv-

ative Judeo-Christian mindset (which
was choking mid-century American
culture)." Pohrt said that he was greatly
saddened by the death of the writer. "He
was a holy fool, and that made him an
important figure, both culturally and
politically. I don't know who on the
national scene can replace that."
This concept of being a "holy fool"
was related to the Beat aesthetic.
Ginsberg and the Beat Generation
advocated pacifism, the peace move-
ment, the civil rights movement, drug
experimentation, sexual experimenta-
tion - all the hallmarks of college life,
then and now. Consequently, the college
reader can relate to Ginsberg, an
accomplished writer who knew the
masters (Baudelaire, Thoreau and
Whitman, among others) and brought

out their ideals in a modernist form.
Brian Drozdowski, a recent LSA
graduate, was shocked and disappoint-
ed by the death of the writer. "I read a
poem, 'Howl,' aloud to my English
class once. The passage I had chosen
was graphic and a little obscene, and I
think some people were offended, but
his genius really came through for me."
Lisa Hojnacki, an LSA senior,
remarked that she was surprised by
Ginsberg's death. Recalling the recent
death of Beat Generation thinker and
abstract expressionist Willem de
Kooning, she remarked, "It's the end of
an era, an era of thinkers." Hojnacki
remarked that she was fond of Ginsberg
especially because he came to town so
frequently. "Allen Ginsberg really had a
connection here," she said.

Among the more liberal college
towns in America, and with a large stu-
dent body, Ann Arbor remained impor-
tant through the end of Ginsberg's life.
When the writer converted to
Buddhism, he did so under the tutelage
of Gelek Rinpoche, founder and direc-
tor of the Jewel Heart Buddhist Center
located on Ashley Street. A spokesper-
son for Jewel Heart remarked that,
"Allen was a very good friend to all of
us at Jewel Heart, and a remarkable
man in many ways. We will miss him
very much,"
Ginsberg was, after all, a college stu-
dent in successful writer's clothing, ho
advocated that people should do what
they want, when they want. He may
have passed on, but as they say, "The
Beat goes on.?

Allen Ginsberg performed at a poetry
reading in Lincoln, NE, in March 1995.
Ginsberg was also a frequent visitor to
Ann Arbor.

jewel Heart to host memorial
By Sarah Beldo significant in Tibetan Buddhist prac-
For the Daily tice as a day to be accompanied with
When Allen Ginsberg pledged him- religious rituals and intense prayer.
self to the cause of Jewel Heart, a Before the concert, at 7 p.m., there
Buddhist preservationist organization, will be brief religious services for
it was with more than a passing inter- Ginsberg in both the Tibetan
, , est. Ginsberg had gone two years Buddhist and Jewish traditions.
without a Buddhist teacher when his Rinpoche will lead a prayer with sev-
friend Philip Glass introduced him to eral Tibetan monks from the Gyuto
Kyabje Gelek Rinpoche. Rinpoche, Monks Tantric Choir, known for their
the spiritual director unusual musical
of Jewel Heart, soon collaboration with
became Ginsberg's P PR E V I E WA/ the Grateful
close friend bnd Allen G Dead.
spiritual mentor, a A . University Prof
man with whom he MemOrial Service Elliot Ginsburg
had an immediate Saturday, 7 p.m., Hill Auditorium will then represent
~ connection. Tickets $sy $15 and $20 Ginsberg's long-
Over the years, time friend, Rabbi
Ginsberg became fiercely dedicated to Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, reading the
Jewel Heart, serving on the Governing Kaddish, the traditional Jewish prayer
Board (along with Glass and others) for the dead. Last, Ginsberg's longtime
and dedicating his time for such events secretary, Bob Rosenthal, will read
as the annual Jewel Heart benefit at some of the poet's most recent works,
Hill Auditorium, where he performed including the funeral poem "Gone,
last year with Patti Smith. Gone, Gone," written shortly before his
Because of his loyalty, it only seems death.
fitting that the first Jewel Heart benefit The concert, a patchwork of poetry
since Ginsberg's April 5 death be com- and music, will commence at 8 p.m.
bined with a memorial service to honor The winner of this year's Jewel Heart
the poet. Earlier this year, Ginsberg had poetry contest to honor the life and
planned to return to Ann Arbor on May times of Ginsberg will read his or her
24 for another benefit concert with poem, followed by a night of talent and
Patti Smith. tribute.
In honor of Ginsberg's memory, the Tickets for the event can be pur-
concert will go on; collaborating with chased at the Michigan Union Ticket
Smith will be former 10,000 Maniac Office, Jewel Heart, Shaman Drum or
Natalie Merchant, along with gui- Mayflower Bookshop.
tarist Lenny Kaye and poet Anne All proceeds from the concert sup-
Waldman - who co-founded the port Jewel Heart, which says it is "ded-
Naropa Institute with Ginsberg in icated to the preservation of Tibetan
Denver, Colo. Interestingly, the show Buddhism and to the practice of this
courtesy of Jewel Heart will take place on the 49th day after rich tradition within the context of con-
Natalie Merchant (top) and Patti Smith Ginsberg's death, a number that is temporary life.'
will perform at the memorial service.

Allen Ginsberg performed at a Jewel Heart benefit in April 1995.
Allen Ginsberg: A Chronology
+ June 3, 1926 - Ginsberg born in Newark, NJ.
+ 194448 - Ginsberg attends Columbia University and befriends William
S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady.
+ Early 1950s - Inspired by meeting William Carlos Williams, Ginsberg
moves to San Francisco, joining the beat poetry movement.
+ 1956 - Ginsberg publishes his first book, "Howl and Other Poems."
V 1961- Ginsberg's second major work, "Kaddish," is published.
4+1960s - Ginsberg promotes LSD with Timothy Leary, takes part in
Ken Kesey's Acid Tests and actively protests the Vietnam War.
+ 1970 - Ginsberg converts to Buddhism and founds the Jack Kerouac
School of Disembodied Poetics, with poet Anne Waldman.
+ 1974 - "The Fall of America" wins the National Book Award.
+1984-Ginsberg publishes "Collected Poems, 1947-1980."
4 April 5, 1997 - Ginsberg dies of liver cancer in New York City.

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