Wednesday, March 20, 2013

the book i can't stop looking at




Look, I love being a writer. It is my safety, my wonder, my heart. I could never be anything else. I am more familiar with intensity than I may ever be with simple. This book gave me goose bumps--the writer in me trembled at the images. A meeting place of the things I love: photography, history, muse, writers, experience.


The handwriting beneath says: Bob Donlon (Rob Donelly, Kerouac’s "Desolation Angels",) Neal Cassady, myself in black corderoy jacket, Bay area poets’ “Court Painter” Robert La Vigne & poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in front of his City Lights Books shop, Broadway & Columbus Avenue North Beach. Donlon worked seasonally as Las Vegas waiter & oft drank with Jack K., Neal looks good in teeshirt, "Howl" first printing hadn’t arrived from England yet (500 copies), we were just hanging around, Peter Orlovsky stepped back off curb & snapped shot, San Francisco spring 1956.


The book was published by Chronicle Books in 1993 and contain only a fraction of Ginsberg's photography from that era. Each image comes with a handwritten description by Allen Ginsberg. There are haunting photos of William Burroughs that span decades--from youth to frailty. His face is incredible, chiseled and deadpan. One of my favorites of a young Burroughs:



There was a picture of Ginsberg's room, the very place where Howl was written. That's about when my goose bumps grew goose bumps. There are also images that brought tears to my eyes. Like photos of Jack when he was older, thicker--Ginsberg noticed he looked just like his father. Most pictures of Neal Cassady startled something within me--he's the guy I always seek out first when it comes to this era.


Timothy Leary and Neal Cassady

This simple thing--writers in photos together--inspires me so much. I think of our own community here--how wildly different we are...how so certainly we all love the same thing. When you're in a room and you feel that camaraderie, that energy bouncing from one to the next. That's what keeps me going.

Thanks for the nudge, Ginsberg. I'll nurture and appreciate my fellow writers better than I have in the past. I will also use my camera more.

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