Tag: Allen Ginsberg

My Little Town 20121024: The Day I Met Allen Ginsberg

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

This recollection is from a bit later in life rather than in childhood.  I was in graduate school at The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and I am guessing that this happened around 1983, give or take a year of so.  The former Mrs. Translator had not yet had our first child, so the time sounds about right.

At the time The University of Arkansas was pretty much a run of the mill public university with a couple of notable exceptions:  the Chemistry Department and the English Department.  Those were recognized at outstanding at a national level and I am honored to have been part of the Chemistry Department.  Both of these departments were part of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

The Night that I met Allen Ginsberg 20090616

Dr. Whitehead, Dean of the English Department in the Colleges of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas swung a pretty big stick in his heyday there.  He was able to get important persons of letters to come and give free (well, at least to the public) readings of their material.  Notable amongst them were Ken Kesey and Allen Ginsberg.  Mrs. Translator and I went to both of those.

The fliers had been distributed around town for a week or two.  They were pretty much generic, essentially saying “Famous poet to give reading at the U of A on such and such date at 8:00 PM”.  Well, Mrs. Translator and I decided to go, as we try to be cultured individuals and I was very familiar with Allen from reading.

the more things change….

the more they apparently stay the same, or sometimes go backwards.

On October 3, 1957, Judge Clayton Horn had ruled that Allan Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” was not written with the intent of obscenity. Fifty years later, the epic poem is still regarded as one of the most important literary works of the twentieth century.

Fifty years later, “Howl” is once again too obscene for American audiences…