The Relevance of Allen Ginsberg
I have one more story to share about Allen Ginsberg. I was at Columbia
studying journalism, stressed utterly, with no time for poetry, trying
to get the nut graph right and learning to control my bladder to last
through the news conference and the follow-up interview. Then
I learned that Allen was to feature at a club downtown. Memories
of Honolulu, of our first meeting when he sang Sweet Oahu in the car
playing the harmonium. He told me then to cut half the first draft out.
I could not resist seeing him again so despite the heavy reporting load,
I took the subway down the West Side and walked East. He asked me
if I would read in the Open. I could not refuse. And I read my poem
about the 241 marines bombed in Beirut. And he told me he liked
the tat-a-tat rhymes and story but did not care for the doubting end.
He said you have to take a stance then say it. I am saying it now.
Get rid of the dissembler, hoodlum and pussy-grabber. Get rid of
the thou shalt not enter and the latrine supervisor. Get rid of
the one who would be king. Get rid of the golden tamarind
toupee. Get him out of the people’s house. Then speak
to me about the humming birds and next year’s cherry blossoms…
Originally published in New Verse News
We Are Going to Pennsylvania Avenue
We are going down to Pennsylvania Avenue
to 1600 to be precise. We are getting on buses
and trains, We are walking on Rock Creek Trail
We are taking Ubers and Lyfts to airports
We are wearing masks. We have washed our hands.
We are going to take planes, all the planes. Special
charter flights. On the way to Washington National
Washington Dulles Baltimore International.
We are starting now. Some of us will need time
to secure our homes, to assure that a designated
family member a friend a driver a walker
a housekeeper will take care of the cat,
the dog, the birds. We are going
to Pennsylvania Avenue, to 1600 to be exact.
We have got our kids with us too. They are
used to being out of school. And this is
a lesson in life, in hope, in history, my friends.
We are taking our children with us. And some
of us will take our pets as well. Whatever we can manage.
We are not making iron-fisted rules. We are not going
to separate kids from their parents. We are not going to stop
migrants from getting food and shelter. We are not going
to allow our values to be ridden over any more. Not any more.
We are going to Pennsylvania Avenue. To 1600 to be exact. We accept
the invitation from Kamala and Joe, from neighbors and friends
who tell me that it is we who will determine our destiny,
we who will rescue our Dream. So Kamala, Joe,
we have your back and we are in front of you as well
and by your side. We are walking, getting into cars, trains,
buses, planes. We are on our way. And we are not going
to stop on November 3rd. No Sir. No Ma’am. On January 20th.
we are going to fill every square inch of the Mall. And
we are not stopping even then. We are going to go back home
renewed, energized, ready to bring the prodigal son,
the prodigal daughter, the prodigal father, the prodigal mother,
back to work, to life, to the dream. Yes, we will.
Indran Amirthanayagam edits The Beltway Poetry Quarterly. He writes in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Haitian Creole. He has published 19 poetry collections, including The Migrant States (Hanging Losse Press, 2020), Sur l’ile nostalgique (L’Harmattan, Paris, 2020), Lirica a tiempo (Mesa Redonda, Lima, 2020), The Elephants of Reckoning (1994 Paterson Prize), Uncivil War, and The Splintered Face: Tsunami Poems. In music, he has recorded Rankont Dout which is available on Itunes, Apple Music, Spotify and in other music stores.
Amirthanayagam writes a poem every week for Haiti en Marche; is a 2020 Foundation for the Contemporary Arts fellow in poetry. He has also received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, The US/Mexico Fund for Culture and the MacDowell Colony.
Follow him on Twitter at @indranmx. On Instagram @Indran1960 And on Facebook and LinkedIn.
His WhatsAp is +1202 339 1436
He is available to give readings, conduct workshops, give keynote addresses.
His poetry channel on Youtube can be accessed here