Friday, May 19, 2023



Mick was one of the most prominent figures of the British counter-culture. A poet, author, musician, activist. In the late 60s Mick headed the protopunk band The Deviants and later released solo material under his own name. he is the author of more than 30 books both non-fiction and fiction. Here are some of them.
A biography and a chunky collection of his lifetime work.

This highly illustrated book  with design and layout by Edward Barker is a counter-culture classic. That's Ed and Mick with me just behind them. Cover by David Wills

Thursday, May 18, 2023


 Monday 15th May: Spotted  a hardback copy of 'The Letters of Allen Ginsberg' in the window of the Bow Windows  bookshop in Lewes. Edited by Bill Morgan who was Ginsberg's  literary archivist for many years. The letters are lengthy and full of thoughtful topics which make great reading. He is described as one of the most prolific letter writers of the 20th century. letters to Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Neal Cassady and Carolyn Cassady, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder, Gregory Corso, e.e. cummings, Peter Orlovsky, Herbert Hunke, Bob Dylan, Timothy Leary, Jimmy Carter, Paul Bowles, Bill Clinton and many more. He travels extensively and the reader is carried into a wide variety of adventures and countries. When searching for a possible extract I settled on his letter to President Jimmy Carter on October 26th 1979.

'It has recently been brought to my attention that no writer currently sits on the National Council on the Arts. Although the performing and visual arts have their own lobbying groups, there's not a commercial market for poetry large enough to support a heavy pressure group. Some assistance is open to writers within the National Endowment for the Arts, but Literature has the smallest budget in the N.E.A.

'Poetry practices control awareness and purification of the language, it makes up penetratingly communicative word pictures. Because poetry is like the central nervous system of the body politic, poetic projection of image has a compelling role in the history of human actions. That's why Shelly said, "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the World". That's why someone representing poetry and prose word arts should sit on the National Council on the Arts and have some say in national arts monies. Maybe it would be better to give no money to art at all, see what happens, if arts have been brought up by national patronage, and made lethargic to the pain of America's present history, politics etc. Painters have an industry with vast slush funds flowing up and down Madison Avenue. Because poetry comes out in little magazines, non commercial, it would be best to beef up the least fat-cat art. If we are going to have subsidiz- ation at all, put a poet to buffer it from commerce, censorship, and government interference. You need somebody with brains on top to figure out how to do it right - namely some writers on the National Council on the Arts.' Sincerely Allen Ginsberg.

I asked Jonathan if he had any other Ginsberg work and, within minutes I held in my hand a rare and wonderful book 'The Riverside Interviews 1: Allen Ginsberg' published by the Binnacle Press in 1980. First Edition 1/600 copies.:https//

This was the first of a series conducted by Gavin Selerie - a prolific poet and teacher in his own right. see

The other Riverside Interviews  2: Lawrence Ferlinghetti; 3: Gregory Corso; 4: Jerome Rothenberg [with Eric Mottram]; 6: Tom McGrath [Binnacle Press, produced between 1980 and 1984]

The text is produced on a typewriter. This interview was conducted at Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, London, before Ginsberg's reading on 4th November 1979, and at Miles' flat in the West End after Ginsberg's reading at Battersea Arts Centre. Some additional material was supplied in a conversation which took place after the reading at the Round House on 17th November 1979.

There is a 5 -page intro: Selerie writes on page iv: 'In conversation with Ginsberg, I found that I was dealing with a mind continually alert to new situations and ready to absorb new information.....

'On meeting Ginsberg, I was struck first of all by the authority of his bearings; here was a man who knew things from experience and who could muster facts and examples to support his argument. Then, gradually, the confident assertion of beliefs or opinions seemed to be counterbalances by a certain humility....Ginsberg's knowledge of literature commands respect. The ease with which he quoted from other people's writing underlined his sensitivity to language.'

The follows 42 pages of interview. Ginsberg talks in great depth about making poems, the rhythm of poems and his own experiences in life. I like this extract:

'Ezra Pound was the one who pointed out long ago that poetry, music and dance were one. His proposition was that at one time word, movement and melody were one art or parts of one performance...

'The person who comes nearest to that in pronouncing language aloud is Mick Jagger; or some other rock or popular musicians and ballet people. OK, so just to be classical about it: let us be reminded that in the immemorial mists of history poetry and music and even dance were allied and that this combination is nothing new.'

The book comes complete with photographs by Chris Schwarz. The cover is Ginsberg outside the front of William Blake's cottage at Felpham. November 1979.

One other is the Ginsberg and three others in front of the Public House Bookshop in Brighton  - Richard Cupidi who owned and ran the bookshop, Lee Harwood and Peter Orlovsky.