Online Archive  
Issue 15 - September 1973
Ginsberg In Newcastle
On Tuesday August 7th, Allen Ginsberg appeared at the Miners' Institute, Newcastle, an event arranged by the Morden Tower poetry people. We had looked forward to seeing this legendary figure whom the Newcastle Journal called 'The Master of the Universe', and were not disappointed. Allen's happiness and good humour are infectious.

The evening began with the chanting of mantras. A frequent visitor to the East, Ginsberg has absorbed many influences, especially from Hindu and Buddhist cultures.

Allen then sang from Blake's 'Songs of Innocence', which he had recently put to music, accompanying himself on harmonium. Although he possesses only an average voice, Ginsberg put much effort into his singing and playing, making his renditions most effective.

A few more chants and some playing on finger cymbals and prayer bells were followed by the reading of poetry. The themes were those expected from Ginsberg - American political oppression, gay sex and dope. Also there were more personal poems about dead friends, chiefly Kerouac and Casady. Allen read well with perfect timing bringing out fully the humour and seriousness of his work.

Finally there was more singing, this time of newly written songs. Again Ginsberg sang his heart out and again he danced and jogged about totally absorbed in the music and words.

The evening was made memorable by Ginsberg's joy and zest for life. He was continually inviting latecomers standing at the back to join him at the front and always concerned about his audience's welfare. His good vibes made it seem like an intimate evening with an old friend.