I received an early Birthday present today - thanks Dylan! - something I have been wanting since I saw it posted about on The Allen Ginsberg Project last year. The Allen Ginsberg Press Pop toy figurine. Yes it is a little bit tacky and very kitsch, but what is not to love? The Ginsberg action figure (it's arms move) comes with a CD of Ginsberg live at the Knitting Factory in 1995, a little papercraft hat and poetry book covers. He is wearing his iconic glasses, fabric shirt, tie and jacket, as well as some real beads. What a wonderful pop culture homage to a modern literary master. I love it!
Ginsberg is a poet that I have loved and admired for many years. Last year I was able to turn this interest and passion into a Master's thesis. I researched Ginsberg and the Beats; in the process travelling to America, going to San Fransisco, Palo Alto and New York. Being a tourist and an amateur researcher in Public and University libraries. I spent a week reading through Ginsberg's archives at Stanford, I went to the infamous City Lights bookstore, the Beat Museum and visited many sites of interest. I met Peter Hale from the Allen Ginsberg Project in Ginsberg's last apartment. I met author Jonah Raskin for breakfast in San Fran. I posted home boxes and boxes of books, DVDs, CDs and a signed (by Ginsberg) Holy Soul, Jelly Roll boxed set.
From America I went to the UK, and while I was there I went to two William S. Burroughs' exhibitions in London, and took a train out to Birmingham University to see Kerouac's On the Road scroll which was at the time on a world wide tour. I read everything I could find about Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs, Snyder, Corso, Hunke, Carr, Cassady, Ferlinghetti and more. I poured over books of poetry, journals, letters, biographies and autobiographies. I read about other poetry movements and related American writers. I read Whitman, William Carlos Williams and Ginsberg's other influences, like Pound, Crane and Blake (and more). And then I wrote, and wrote and drafted and edited and rewrote and pulled it all together into a thesis. I received first class honors for the thesis and subsequently I was accepted at the University of Queensland to do my PhD on Australian poetry of the 1960s and 70s. Lucky me!
Suffice to say, doing a thesis on Ginsberg was an incredible journey and it was an amazing year spent reading and writing while teaching art full-time in a High School in regional Queensland. As a side affect of the thesis, I have perhaps one of the best Beat libraries privately owned in the Southern hemisphere, as well as an ongoing passion for all things Beat and Ginsberg related. I am also lucky enough to have a partner who has endured all things Beat and poetry, study and work for the last few years and encourages me (still!) by buying me a Ginsberg toy for my Birthday on Tuesday! What a great present, don't you think?