FRI 4 SEPtember

Michael Horovitz

The Beat Goes On: Fifty Years of Counter-
Culture from The Beat Generation to A New
Waste Land

In the first of the two Beat Goes On sessions, I’ll be outlining my half century of
arts presentations on stages, pages and screens. The evening at The Tabernacle which runs from 8 till late on Friday 4 September will, among other things, trace the progress of New Departures publications & Live New Departures roadshows, which I launched in 1959, my last year as a student at Oxford. The first issues included the then relatively unknown Kurt Schwitters, Stevie Smith, Sam Beckett & Ionesco, John Cage & Cornelius Cardew, John & Tom McGrath, the first UK publication of excerpts from Burroughs’s Naked Lunch, plus the other Beat Generation writers together with emerging & neglected global voices.
The evening will highlight the bop beat soul rhythm & blues folk rock hippie reggae dub punk rap v/j continuum, with special reference to Jazz Poetry SuperJams (launched in 1960) and Poetry Olympics Festivals (launched in 1980) indicating some of the ways music, song, literature and politics overlapped and reverberated over the succeeding decades, with ever-increasing involvement & input from non-white, woman and gay artists, writers, play and film makers, and other experimental & (r)evolutionary workers.
In one of the last interviews Joe Strummer gave (to the Los Angeles liveDaily on August 14, 2001, sixteen months before his untimely death aged 50) – answering the question “Was there something that dictated the direction this album (Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros: Global a Go-Go – which he kindly dedicated to Nina Simone & me!) would go in?”, Joe referred the interviewer to our spontaneous Poets’ Cooperative’s Beat levitation of Albert Hall in 1965 – “. . . where you can mark the beginning of the British underground scene of the ’60s – it started on that particular night. Michael still puts on something called the Poetry Olympics, and we played on one (at the Royal Festival Hall on my 65th birthday in 2000), and that gave me the vibe, because Pablo Cook & I went there stripped down, with just congas and acoustics. It was kind of a beatnik evening – there weren’t any road managers or that kind of stuff. That really gave me the feeling of THIS IS THE WAY TO GO, let’s relax . . . Sometimes you get tired of the big guitars and walloping drums and all that stuff, it can get boring. I was looking for a break in the weather, ways to change things up, and doing that beatnik Poetry Olympics evening gave us the feeling to go on to this record and try a bit of grooving around, whether we kept to it or not . . .”
Strummer & Cook’s inventive set on that gig in 2000, and also an equally openspirited jam with Pablo, Tymon Dogg, Martin Carthy and Keith & Lily Allen at The London Astoria a few months later, are among the clips from many Poetry Olympics events we’ll be screening on September 4. I make no apologies for also screening a revealing exploration by Blast Films into what happened at Albert Hall in summer 1965, because that evening did indeed mark the first wider efflorescence of the Albionic & internationalist muses, among much else which was brought together there, and consolidated to mainly benign effects ever since. The other footage includes Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Frieda Hughes, Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend, Jerry Hall, LKJ, and others including my William Blake Klezmatrix Band – a quorum of whom will also be playing live sets on the night. I look forward to seeing you there – and also at Lee Harris’s presentation of The Beat Goes On 2: Burroughs, Ginsberg, Kerouac – also at The Tab on Sunday September 6.
Most of the original Beats, apart from Gary Snyder & Ferlinghetti, are dead. But the Beat Generation goes on generating – as will be seen on each of these unique and diversely effervescent evenings. When the music starts – the music plays – the music stops – still the beat goes on . . .
– Michael Horovitz

The Beat Goes On 1
Friday 4 September

8 till late

Michael Horovitz presents a Poetry Olympics marathon of films & live performances to celebrate Fifty Years of Counter-Culture from The Beat Generation to A New Waste Land. The William Blake Klezmatrix band, with Peter Lemer on piano, Annie Whitehead on trombone & vocals, and Horovitz’s poetry, songs & anglosaxophone will play klezmer, calypso, jazz & other folk musics, as well as Michael & Annie’s settings of Blake’s verse & lyrics. And Horovitz will ventilate excerpts from
A New Waste Land: Timeship Earth at Nillennium, with special reference to its beat generation aspects. This 464-page epic was described by D J Taylor in The Independent as “a deeply felt clarion-call from the radical underground”. Days in the Life: Gathering of the Tribes (40 mins), is Edmund Coulthard’s delightful Blast Films revisitation in 2000 to the First International Poetry Incarnation which jam-packed London’s Albert Hall for poetry on 11 June 1965. It revels in clips from Peter Whitehead’s hand-held cinéma vérité Wholly Communion footage of the variously wild, dramatic, challenging, poignant and hilarious performances by Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, Alex Trocchi, Harry Fainlight, Adrian Mitchell, Christopher Logue, Ernst Jandl, Horovitz & Pete Brown – interspersed with telling interviews with other participants that night including the late lamented Jeff Nuttall, Simon Vinkenoog & Mitchell, as well as Logue, Whitehead, M H, and a number of highly eloquent audience members including Ginsberg’s biographer Barry Miles.
Return of the Reforgotten (25 mins)presents Optic Nerve director Colin Still’s documentary footage from the ‘Thirty Years After’ Albert Hall Poetmeet of 1995, which featured Tom Pickard, Anne Waldman, Benjamin Zephaniah, Horovitz, and a grand finale in which Allen Ginsberg capped some high octane solo renditions by bringing Paul McCartney on stage to electrify his Ballad of the Skeletons. Poetry Olympics SuperJams is made up of two 35-minute compilations of highspots from the archive of New Departures/Poetry Olympics Festivals at venues including the Royal Festival Hall, St James’s Church
Piccadilly, The London Astoria, and the ‘Forty Years After’ POT! (Poetry Olympics Twenty05) Festival at Albert Hall, filmed by Marek Pytel & his associates Jill Daniels and Carl Stickley. These gigs included scintillating solo & jamming sessions by Joe Strummer, Pablo Cook, Martin Carthy, Tymon Dogg, Keith & Lily Allen, John Cooper Clarke, Paul McCartney, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Philip Glass, Linton Kwesi Johnson, John Hegley, Adrian Mitchell, Hanif Kureishi, Frieda Hughes, Rachel Fuller, Jerry Hall, Pete Townshend and The William Blake Klezmatrix.
This event is part of the 50th anniversary of New Departures/Poetry Olympics,
The POE! (Poetry Olympics Enlightenment) Festival. More info via: www.poetryolympics.

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