A prolific poet, raconteur, activist, and thinker, Allen Ginsberg was also a prolific collector, meticulously saving letters, postcards, draft notes and manuscripts, photographs and snapshots, appearance bills and rally broadsheets, not only featuring him personally, but also his fellow poets, singers, lovers, writers, journey companions, friends, and agitators. Gathered here publicly for the first time is his personal archive of events and experiences documenting his life as a young man, breakaway poet, expansive spirit, curious intellectual traveler, and relentless enthusiast of the provocative and the profane.
There are hundreds of thousands of items carefully stored and archived at Stanford University’s Allen Ginsberg collection. Counterculture historian Pat Thomas, with the full cooperation of the Allen Ginsberg Estate's Peter Hale, has compiled and annotated a remarkable volume of material, unearthing in the process one astounding find after another. The result is a tome of previously unpublished historical paperwork and vintage graphics and photographs and ephemera that promises an unprecedented look inside one of the most prolific poets and agitators of cultural mores of the 20th century.
Allen’s own remarkable journey is here, too: agreements for BBC Radio appearances, schedules of lecture tours, notes for his iconic Kaddish poem. A parody of Howl as ‘Towel’ by Terry Southern. Obsessive letters from fans he never met.
Though this project is so much more than a book of Allen’s photography, the featured images can’t go unmentioned: Allen’s lens finds not only Kerouac, Corso, Burroughs, and other Beats, but also Lou Reed, Van Morrison, Philip Glass, Norman Mailer, Marianne Faithful, Anne Waldman, Iggy Pop, Don Cherry, Robert Frank, and Patti Smith. You’ll find he often scribbled his affection for the subject right on the photo itself.
Packed with ephemera you’ve never seen, Material Wealth is a smorgasbord of things that most of us would have tossed away decades ago: notes to oneself, accounting statements, letters of intent, fan and media crushes, criticisms and critiques, posters of events now considered historical and cultural canon, political manifestos, et al.
These are just a few of the most intriguing items folded between the pages of the one Ginsberg book that has never been—and needed to be done: a visual annotated compendium that reveals one of the unparalleled minds of his generation
PAT THOMAS is a countercultural historian and archival music producer who is the author of these books:Listen, Whitey! The Sights & Sounds of Black Power 1965–1975 and Did It! Jerry Rubin: An American Revolutionary. He co-curated Invitation to Openness: The Jazz & Soul Photography of Les McCann 1960-1980, co-edited My Week Beats Your Year: Encounters with Lou Reed and contributed to Kerouac on Record: A Literary Soundtrack. Thomas was a consultant on the PBS documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution and compiled the 3-CD box set The Last Word on First Blues for the Allen Ginsberg Estate (1970s recordings of Ginsberg with Bob Dylan, Arthur Russell), and the 2-CD set Songs of Innocence and Experience of Ginsberg’s 1969 recordings (with Don Cherry and Elvin Jones) putting William Blake poems to music with vocals by Allen.
PETER HALE grew up in Italy, Germany, and then Boulder, CO where he earned a BA in Classics, Greek & Latin, from the University of Colorado, all the while attending classes in music, poetry and meditation at Naropa University. He became part of the staff at Allen Ginsberg’s office in 1992, and in 1997 helped craft his posthumous estate, which he currently manages. He studied Guitar with Dave Van Ronk & Danny Kalb, and Piano with Peter Barbieri. He currently produces his own music, and djs around NYC. He lives in Ridgewood, Queens.
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