An amazing thing happened here last night. Some grad students and former grad students and other students held a reading commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Six Gallery reading (there is some dispute over whether it happened on October 7 or 13), and people came. And they stayed. And listened. And some of them stood, and they listened, and they seemed to enjoy it. Can you believe it? Here?
Well, it's true.
No one organized this reading because some teacher wanted to, or told them to. Excuse me for effusing, but the poetry told them to, and they listened. And then we listened.
The reading was in halfs--first poets who were connected with the Beats somehow, but maybe later on, and who maybe spun off in their own directions. Then the things that were read at the famous Six at Six--Philip Lamantia, Michael McClure, Gary Snyder, Phil Whalen, Jack Kerouac, Kenneth Rexroth.
And don't forget Allen Ginsberg, who premiered Howl, written 2 weeks before, the story goes. Our guys made an exception for historial accuracy and read the whole thing, not just the first part.
I have heard Ginsberg read the poem, but you know, these guys did it justice. They were channeling something last night, and I don't think it was just the jug burgundy they had brought--for historical accuracy of course.
Their goal had been to memorize it, but the reader for Part I pointed out that there were something like 300 long stanza-like lines in that section that all start with "Who."
The readers who followed did not disappoint--part 3 was recited from memory, seemed to be born fully formed from its reader--and the poem was alive again, there in that surprisingly mod little sushi bar.
Some of you who were there haven't been here long enough to know how amazing this was. Here. Wish you could have come, and the jug wine was not bad.