June 3rd, 1926
Newark, New Jersey residents Louis and Naomi Ginsberg give birth to their second son, Irwin Allen Ginsberg. (Brother, Eugene, is 5 years his senior.) Louis Ginsberg is a modestly successful published poet and high school teacher and Jewish democratic Socialist; Naomi is a Communist and irrepressible nudist who becomes tragically insane in early adulthood.1920s
Father Louis routinely recites Dickinson, Shelley, Keats, Poe and Milton to his children during their early childhood at 163 Quitman Street in Newark, New Jersey.1932
Naomi Ginsberg is hospitalized for the first time, leaving father Louis to care for the Ginsberg children alone.1935
Naomi Ginsberg suffers a series of mental breakdowns, suggesting her illness may be lifelong. Sadly, and with few alternatives, Louis is forced to commit his wife to New Jersey's Greystone State Mental Hospital. Naomi returns home after a year away but continues to suffer bouts of paranoia, believing doctors have put wires in her head and sticks in her back.June 1937
Eleven-year-old Allen Ginsberg starts capturing his thoughts in his first personal journal.June 24th, 1937
Naomi Ginsberg is found bleeding after father Louis breaks down the bathroom door and interupts her suicide attempt. Naomi is returned to Greystone State Mental Hospital for a two-year absence from the family.
(See early journals excerpt pg 1.)
A journal entry from eleven-year-old Allen shows his railing against the Nazi movement.
(See early journals excerpt pg 2 and following)
Allen graduates from grammar school and begins attending Paterson's Central High where he joins numerous clubs, later becoming the president of the Debating Society.
Mother Naomi returns from Greystone State Mental Hospital shortly thereafter and leads a near-normal life for a brief time.
Ginsberg is inspired by his first exposure to Walt Whitman through his teacher, Francis Durbin, after a switch to Paterson's East Side High from Central.December 1941
During a particularly disturbing event for the family, 15-year-old Allen is pulled into his mother's mental illness as she convinces him to drag her by bus throughout rural New Jersey in search of a rest home for her, only to be retrieved the next day by father Louis.October 1942
Brother Eugene's military post in Great Britain leaves Allen with more time to himself, which he decides to spend enlisting as an errand-boy for the popular local labor leader and congressional candidate, Irving Abramson.June 23, 1943
Allen graduates from Paterson's East Side High School.September 1943
Allen begins his education at Columbia University in New York City, originally aiming to become a labor lawyer.December 1943
Allen meets Lucien Carr, who soon introduces him to his St. Louis friends, David Kammerer and William S. Burroughs. Lucien chides Allen on his career choice; since he had never worked a day in his life, how could he know what "labor" was.June 1944
Lucien Carr (seeking occasional escape from the unwanted advances of his close friend, David Kammerer) joins his girlfriend, Celeine Young, as she spends time with her friends Edie Parker and her (Edie’s) roommate Joan Vollmer. Through Lucien, Allen finally meets Edie's boyfriend, Jack Kerouac, of whom he's been hearing so much.August 14, 1944
Lucien Carr stabs and kills his long time friend and nemesis, David Kammerer. Kerouac and Burroughs are arrested as material witnesse, for not reporting the homicide. Actually, Kerouac held as "witness after the fact," in that he saw Carr dispose of the murder weapon, but didn't help him dispose of it. Carr is sentenced to 1-20 years at Elmira Reformatory and released in 1946. The New York Times headline reads: Columbia Student Kills Friend and Sinks Body in Hudson.January 1945
While looking to dispose of some morphine syrettes and a submachine gun, William Burroughs stumbles onto Herbert Huncke, a then-New York street character, petty thief and junkie and later moderately successful internationally known author. Burroughs tries morphine for his first time at this same meeting.February 1945
An examination of Allen's journal entries from this period reveals his first strong poetic ability.March 16, 1945
While in the midst of a row with the housekeeper of his dormitory, Allen scrawls epithets in the dust of his dorm windowsill. His comments “Fuck the Jews” and “Butler (the university president) has no balls” leave him suspended from school and he moves into Joan Vollmer's apartment on West 115th Street.August 1, 1945
Temporarily barred from school, seeking funds and inspired by Jack Kerouac, Allen joins the Military Sea Transportation Service (the Merchant Marine). He graduates from training in November and soon sets off on his first voyage during which he experiments with marijuana for the first time with some Puerto Rican sailors.September 1946
With his suspension completed Allen Ginsberg resumes his education at Columbia University.December 1946
Hal Chase (a classmate of Allen and Jack Kerouac’s) introduces to the group his friend, Neal Cassady and his wife, LuAnne Henderson upon their arrival from Denver, Colorado. They were originally scheduled to arrive months before for Neal’s entrance exam at Columbia.January 1947
Intending to grow marijuana, William Burroughs and wife Joan (formerly Ms. Vollmer) move to a farm near New Waverly, Texas and are later joined by Herbert Huncke.March 1947
Neal Cassady moves to Denver, Colorado.July 1947
Grasping at Neal Cassady, Allen visits the object of his unrequited affection in Denver only to find Neal preoccupied with his girlfriend, Caroline Robinson. In his ongoing attempt to hold on to him, Ginsberg invites Cassady to accompany him on a journey to Texas to visit William and Joan Burroughs.September 1947
Allen departs the U.S. on the SS John Blair destined for Dakar from a port in Galveston, Texas. The trip terminates in New York in October of the same year.November 1947
Allen receives a letter from Doctors at Pilgrim State Hospital, where Naomi had been residing, recommending his mother receive a frontal lobotomy. Since Louis had divorced her, the legal responsibility fell to her sons; Allen signs the papers.July 1948
Allen experiences Blake vision from his Spanish Harlem apartment. In his words “Blake’s voice simultaneous with Eternity-vision.” The event influences Allen for the next 15 years.
Jack Kerouac uses the term "beat generation" (earlier tossed about by Herbert Huncke) in a conversation with John Clellon Holmes.
Despite his repeated refusals, Allen acquiesces and allows Herbert Huncke to move in with him. Huncke is soon joined by Vicki Russell, and Little Jack Melody (an ex-con on parole) who quickly begin stocking the apartment with stolen goods. Ginsberg is unwittingly involved in a burglary ring.February 1949
Jack Kerouac’s Novel The Town and the City is accepted by publisher Harcourt Brace.April 21, 1949
Fearing their discovery by the law (due to his roommates' criminal deeds), Allen decides to relocate his private papers and journals to his brother's home. While traveling in a stolen car full of hot goods, he, Vicki Russell and Little Jack Melody are assailed by the police, the car overturns and Allen is caught and arrested. As a condition of his release Allen agrees to enter Columbia Psychiatric Institute, where he meets Carl Solomon the first day of his stay.1949
Father Louis take's Edith as his wife.September 1949
Joan Vollmer and William Burroughs move to Mexico City.February 27, 1950
Allen Ginsberg’s agreed-to hospitalization (resulting from his arrest) ends and he is discharged from Columbia Psychiatric Institute. Allen declares to several close friends his new-found — albeit clearly temporary — heterosexuality.March 1950
Kerouac’s first novel The Town and the City is released and is poorly received by critics.March 1950
William Burroughs begins an autobiographical narrative that is later published as Junky.March 30, 1950
On March 28th Allen hears renowned poet William Carlos Williams speak at New York's Guggenheim Museum. Moved and motivated to meet him, Ginsberg nevertheless scurries away, preferring to introduce himself two days later in a letter that would prove to change his life.March 1950
Allen meets Gregory Corso at the Pony Stable, a lesbian bar in New York's West Village. The two quickly become close friends.August 1951
Allen and Lucien Carr visit Joan Burroughs in Mexico City, just missing William, who had left for Ecuador with a young friend in search of Yage, a powerful psychedelic drug.September 6, 1951
William Burroughs fatally shoots his wife, Joan, in the forehead during a drunken "William Tell" routine.December 1951
Jack Kerouac receives a $250 advance for his novel On The Road with Allen's urging to his friend, Carl Solomon, who was then working at Ace books.May 1953
William Burroughs’ Junkie is first published as a 35-cent paperback by Ace books.September 1953
William Burroughs moves to New York from Mexico and falls in love with Allen. They have an intense affair, which Allen eventually ends. During this period they work on assembling their correspondence, later published as Yage Letters.December 1953
After Allen abruptly ends their affair, William Burroughs moves to Tangier and does not to return to the U.S. for 15 years.December 1953
Allen travels to Mexico for six months, returning to the U.S. that spring. During this period Allen begins writing "Siesta in Xbalba" and "Green Automobile."January 1954
Jack Kerouac begins serious study of Buddhism at the San Jose, California Library while staying with Neal Cassady and his new wife, Carolyn.June 1954
Upon his return from Mexico Allen moves in with Neal and Carolyn Cassady in San Jose, California. Allen finds himself less welcome after Carolyn walks in on him and Neal in bed together; he moves to San Francisco that August and proceeds to write his poem "Song."December 1954
Allen Ginsberg meets and immediately falls in love with Peter Orlovsky at painter, Robert LaVigne’s apartment in San Francisco, California.August 1955
Allen writes first and last sections of "Howl for Carl Solomon."August 10,1955
City Lights Books publishes its first book: Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s Pictures of the Gone World, which is the first in the Pocket Poet series.September 1955
Kenneth Rexroth introduces Allen to Gary Snyder, who in turn introduces Allen to Philip Whalen — all while Allen is planning a poetry reading at San Francisco’s Six Gallery at the request of friend Michael McClure’s (whom Allen met while teaching at San Francisco State College and who shares an interest in William Blake).September 1955
Allen moves to a cottage behind 1624 Milvia Street in Berkeley, California. During this time he writes "Strange New Cottage in Berkeley," "A supermarket in California," and "Sunflower Sutra" and holds several odd jobs, including teaching one night a week at San Francisco State College and as a baggage handler at a Greyhound bus station.October 7, 1955
At a poetry reading at San Francisco's Six Gallery, (arranged by Allen and moderated by Kenneth Rexroth), Allen reads parts of "Howl" for the first time. Philip Lamantia, Michael McClure, Gary Snyder and Philip Whalen also read. Lawrence Ferlinghetti telegrams Allen: "I greet you at the beginning of a great career. When do I get the Manuscript?"March 18, 1956
Allen reads "Howl" in its entirety at a poetry reading in Berkeley similar to a recent event at the Six Gallery.June 9, 1956
Naomi Ginsberg dies of a brain hemorrhage while at Greystone State Mental Hospital. Allen receives a letter from her the following day, apparently written just prior to her death.October 1956
City Lights Books publishes Howl and Other Poems as part of the Pocket Poet series.November 1956
After living in San Francisco, California for almost two years Allen begins planning his first trip to Europe. On their way back home Allen, Gregory Corso, and Peter and Lafcadio Orlovsky visit Jack Kerouac in Mexico.March 1957
Allen and Peter Orlovsky head for Morocco to meet up with William Burroughs and help edit William's "Naked lunch." They travel on to Europe later that year.May 21, 1957
Two plain-clothed police officers enter City Lights Books, buy copies “Howl and Other Poems” and leave. They return to arrest the clerk, Shigeyoshi Murao while an absent Lawrence Ferlinghetti is later served a warrant stating he sought to “willfully and lewdly print, publish and sell obscene and indecent writings, papers, and books, to wit: Howl and Other Poems.” An August trial is set. The incident bolsters sales of the book.June 10, 1957
Tensions rise between Allen and William Burroughs over Peter Orlovsky so Allen and Peter decide to head for Europe. They journey from Spain to Italy, staying through the summer in Venice with Alan Ansen, and eventually arriving in Paris in September where they land at 9, rue git le Coeur, which would later be known as the “Beat Hotel”. They are soon joined by Gregory Corso who’d been living in Amsterdam. Allen remains for 10 months.October 3, 1957
“Howl” is deemed “not obscene” by Judge Clayton Horn.November 1957
While at a café in Paris Allen starts “Kaddish”.January 1958
William Burroughs joins Allen and the others at the Beat Hotel in Paris, just missing Peter Orlovsky, who had returned to New York. During their stay Allen, Burroughs and Corso meet Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Benjamin Peret, Tristan Tzara and Louise Ferdinand Celine, among many others.April 2, 1958
San Francisco Chronicle journalist Herb Caen adds “nik” (a la Sputnik, etc.) to “Beat” in an attempt to taint the group with a communist-like moniker.April 8, 1958
Neal Cassady is arrested for possession of 2 marijuana cigarettes and later sentenced to 5 years to life in San Quentin Prison. He serves just over two years and is released on July 4, 1960.July 17, 1958
After an extended stay in the Beat Hotel in Paris, Allen sails for New York.February 5, 1959
In something of a homecoming, Allen, Peter Orlovsky and Gregory Corso read to a sell-out crowd at Columbia University's McMillan Theater. Allen’s father is present when Allen reads “Kaddish” for the first time.May 1959
Invited by Gregory Bateson, Allen signs on as a test subject for an LSD-25 study at Stanford University’s Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, California.1959
Olympia Press publishes William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch.June 1959
The government loses its obscenity trial against Big Table magazine for publishing excerpts of Naked Lunch, in part due to Allen's impassioned defense.April 1960
Allen travels to Chile with Lawrence Ferlinghetti for a literary conference organized by local communists just as Castro is taking control Cuba. Allen is exposed to anti-American rhetoric in South and Central America. He travels on to Bolivia and Peru where he samples yage for the first time in his Lima hotel room (on May 23).1960
Donald Allen’s anthology The New American Poetry: 1945-1960 is published representing the Beats and San Francisco poets for the first time in the mainstream.September 15, 1960
Nearly three years after starting, Allen Ginsberg completes “Kaddish” and sends it to Lawrence Ferlinghetti for inclusion in a forthcoming City Lights Book.November 26, 1960
Allen attends a psychiatry conference at which the Beats are the subject. Psychiatrist Sir Humphry Osmond, an associate of psychedelic researcher and novelist Aldous Huxley (The Doors of Perception), urges Ginsberg to meet Harvard psychiatrist Timothy Leary. Leary visits Ginsberg and invites him to Boston where Allen tries magic mushrooms (psilocybin) for the first time with Leary’s guidance.March 23, 1961
Allen and Peter Orlovsky sail for Europe on the SS America, stopping first in Paris to look for William Burroughs.April 29, 1961
City Lights Books releases Kaddish and Other poems as number fourteen of the Pocket Poet series.
Allen, Gregory & Peter head to Cannes for the Film Festival for out-of-competition showing of
Shirley Clarke's film "The Connection." From there they went to St Tropez to stay with Jaques Stern. As the story goes, Corso and Stern were at each others' throats the whole visit, precipitating Stern's generous offer to sail them all to Tangier by the end of the month.
The gang finally meet up with William Burroughs in Tangier. It's soon clear that Burroughs is not fond of Peter Orlovsky to the point that it drives Peter to depart for Istanbul July 15. Timothy Leary makes a brief appearance during this tripAugust 24, 1961
Allen sails to Greece and remains there through the middle of October all the while trying to track down Peter.October, 1961
Allen departs Greece for Israel and finally links up once again with Peter Orlovsky.January 21, 1962
Allen and Peter Orlovsky leave Israel and journey to East Africa where they attend a rally in Nairobi.February 15, 1962
Allen and Peter Orlovsky travel from Africa to India, arriving in Bombay. They move on to Delhi and meet up with Gary Snyder and his wife, Joanne Kyger, who were living in Japan during the previous 5 years. For the next 15 months Peter joins Allen on a relentless journey through India in search of spiritual guidance. Allen meets with as many holy men as possible.May 15, 1963
Allen leaves Peter (who chooses to remain in India for a while longer) and journeys through Bangkok, Saigon and Cambodia, finally spending 5 weeks with JoAnne Kyger and Gary Snyder in Japan. Allen then leaves for North America and on the train from Kyoto to Tokyo, writes “The Change”.C. July 26, 1963
Allen arrives in Vancouver, British Columbia from his lengthy travels in South and East Asia to participate in a poetry conference on July 17th. He then moves to San Francisco until the end of November, when he returns to New York.July 4, 1964
It’s a U.S. presidential election year and Allen writes his essay “Back to the Wall”, lamenting the direction of American politics and the choice of candidates.October 1964
Ken Kesey arrives in New York with Neal Cassady at the helm of his bus. Jack Kerouac is fetched from his home on Long Island for a gathering in the city but is more offended than excited by their wildness.November 1964
Allen, Peter Orlovsky and Gregory Corso conduct a series of readings at Brandeis and Harvard Universities. The Brandeis reading of "Kaddish" is recorded and later released on record.January 11, 1965
In a Boston, Massachusetts courtroom, Allen defends Naked Lunch. Judge Eugene A. Hudson nevertheless rules the book obscene but is overturned by the State Supreme Court on July 7, 1966.January 15, 1965
Allen attends a literary conference in Cuba. Castro's regime is not recognized by the U.S. government so he is forced to travel through Mexico City (and exit via Czechoslovakia). Tension develops when Allen is rumored to have said Fidel's brother Raul is gay and that he (Ginsberg) thinks Che Guevara is cute. Numerous young poets are arrested and questioned after spending time with Ginsberg. Allen is escorted from his room and put on a flight to Prague on the 18th of February.March 18, 1965
While in Prague Allen jaunts to Moscow seeking a sense of ancestry and meets with Naomi's cousin, Joe Levy. He also spends some time with Russian poets Yevgeny Yevtuchenko and Andrei Voznesenski. On his way back to Czechoslovakia, Allen stops in Warsaw and Auschwitz.May 1, 1965
Allen returns to Prague just in time for the first May Day celebration since Soviet control began. Poet Joseph Skvorecky, the intended “King of May” is ill and asks Allen to take his place. Allen is shuttled through the crowds on a flatbed truck donning a paper crown. The high visibility draws attention from the authorities who confiscate Allen’s journal and cite it as “evidence” of unwanted activity; Allen is expelled from the country.May7, 1965
Expelled from Czechoslovakia and on a flight to London, Allen writes his poem "Kral Majales," recounting his Prague experiences.May 9, 1965
Bob Dylan invites Allen to his performance at London's Albert Hall and to a party with the Beatles thereafter. Noticing a very tense gathering, Allen nestles up to Dylan only to have John Lennon chide, "why don't you get closer!" Not missing a beat, Allen falls into Lennon's lap with "have you read William Blake?"June 11, 1965
Aware London is teaming with poets, Allen organizes a reading similar to the 1956 affair he arranged in Berkeley, California. He writes “Who Be Kind To” especially for the occasion — with just three days to go. The international event draws 7,000 spectators and 19 poets, including Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Andrei Voznesenski, Harry Fainlight, Ernst Jandl and even William Burroughs.June 29, 1965
Upon returning from his Cuba-Prague-Russia-London excursion, Allen is stopped by U.S. Customs and strip-searched. Stealing a glance at the customs papers Allen notes his previously deactivated FBI file is once again active and that “these persons are reported to be engaged in smuggling narcotics.”July 1965
Allen returns to California for the Berkeley Poetry Conference with colleagues Amiri Baraka, Robert Duncan, John Wieners. He is reunited with Gary Snyder, who has recently returned from Japan, and the two travel to Oregon and Washington for a backpacking trip and shared Buddhist studies.October 1965
During a peace protest, “patriotic” Hells Angels harass demonstrators while the police stand by and do nothing. Worried about safety during an upcoming event, Allen composes a 21-point plan on “How to make a March/Spectacle,” with instructions for peaceful demonstration and avoiding confrontation. The leaflet proves futile but Allen’s chanting OM with his Harmonium sways the Angels, who reverse course and join in.
Allen buys a state-of-the-art tape recorder with $600 he receives from Bob Dylan and records spontaneously composed poetry. He adds these to a theme he started in Seattle the previous September, at first titled “These States,” that trace his travels from Los Angeles to Kansas and back east. The works are later assembled into “The Fall of America” collection with “Wichita Vortex Sutra” proclaiming an to end the Vietnam war.March 26, 1966
Appalled that his tax dollars play a role, however small, in America’s war in Vietnam, Allen forms the Committee on Poetry to decrease his income tax by donating it instead to artists.June 14, 1966
Allen testifies before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency and argues against making LSD possession illegal.January 14, 1967
Allen helps plan the “Human Be-In” a speaking-musical-poetry-performance “...gathering of younger people aware of the planet’s fate — desiring a new kind of society involving prayer, music and spiritual life.” Timothy Leary and Jerry Rubin speak; Allen, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gary Snyder read poetry; and the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane perform.July 5, 1967
Allen travels to Italy for the Spoleto Festival, where he reads “Who Be Kind To.” He is later arrested and detained by the Italian police for “use of certain words.” An argument ensues over Allen’s refusal to sign a statement the police prepared for him.July 20, 1967
Allen travels from Italy to London to attend the Dialects of Liberation conference, organized by radical Psychologist R.D. Laing, who is seeking to “demystify human violence in all its forms.” Allen gives his address: “Consciousness and Practical Action.” Notably, Allen is rather effected by Gregory Bateson’s introduction to the Greenhouse effect theory.July 29, 1967
From London and the "Dialectics" conference, Allen Travels to Llanthony Valley in Wales where, feeling rather safe, he partakes of LSD. With the drugs and Gregory Bateson's Greenhouse effect theory swimming in his mind, Allen writes the poem "Wales Visitation."October 21, 1967
Tens of thousands attend a march on Washington, DC — the largest anti-war rally yet — to protest America's actions in Vietnam. The highlight of the event is the "Pentagon Exorcism" delivered by Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg of the Fugs, the text of which was written by Allen (who is in Italy) and titled "No Taxation Without Representation."October 28, 1967
Allen returns to Italy from his U.K. jaunts and finally meets with Ezra Pound, with whom he had sought an audience for quite some time. Pound agrees to answer some questions from Allen about his (Ezra’s) poetry.December 5, 1967
Allen is arrested along with pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock and 264 others at an anti-draft demonstration in New York City.February 3, 1968
Neal Cassady is found dead near the railroad tracks between San Miguel Allende and Celaya, Mexico. Cassady set out on a 15-mile walk wearing shorts and a t-shirt and became sidetracked at a local wedding. After combining a Mexican agave-based alcohol called pulque with the barbiturate, Seconal he apparently continued on at sundown and died of exposure during the night.
Allen purchases an 80-acre farm as a retreat and work place and to insulate Peter Orlovsky from drugs. Allen’s friend, the filmmaker Barbara Rubin (who is familiar with the area) helps Allen select the property, which is 60 minutes west of Albany, near the small town of Cherry Valley.August 24-30, 1968
Allen arrives in Chicago for the Democratic National Convention to find that Mayor Daley has refused to issue a permit for the “Festival of Life” and has armed the city to its teeth. As thousands stream into town, Allen feels responsible for preventing violence. At one point police attack the crowd and Allen begins a 7-hour chant of “Om.” Outbreaks continue through the week as the police brutalize TV reporters, news journalists and bystanders. Many are hospitalized.
“Tear gassed chanting OM at Lincoln park Yippie Life-Festival Chicago 1968 Presidential convention, then accompanied Jean Genet & William Burroughs on front line Peace “Conspiracy” march led by Dave Dellinger.”
Drained by the events at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Allen repairs to his property in Cherry Valley, New York for the winter. He hires young filmmaker Gordon Ball to manage the farm with Peter Orlovsky and begins setting some of William Blake’s work to music for release on the Beatles’ Apple Records label.November 1968
Allen’s Planet News: Poems 1961-1967 is published by City Lights Books as part of the Pocket Poet series.June 1969
Allen begins recording the Blake songs he set to music, mostly from Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. Barry Miles manages the project, which includes musicians Don cherry, Elvin Jones and Jon Scholle. After some troubles with Apple Records, the material is released by MGM records in 1970.October 21, 1969
Jack Kerouac dies in St. Petersburg, Florida of cirrhosis of the liver. After he serves as a pal bearer at the funeral in Lowell, MA, Allen begins writing the long elegy, “Memory Gardens.”December 1969
Allen testifies on behalf of the so-called Chicago Seven — the “Festival of Life” organizers who were tried for inciting a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Five of the defendants — Rubin, Hoffman, Hayden, Dellinger and Davis — are convicted but the ruling is later reversed.May 1970
City Lights Books publishes Allen’s Indian Journals, covering his travels in India from March 1962 through May 1963.August 1970
Swami Muktananda invites Allen to join him in Dallas, Texas to practice his (Muktananda’s) style of chanting. Allen practices chanting “Guru Om” in his hotel room for a week and adopts the style for a short period.
Later that same year, however, while hailing a cab on a New York City street to take his father to the hospital, Allen meets the Tibetan Lama, Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche. The purely chance acquaintance proves to be the longer relationship.June 1971
Allen meets with Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche at a San Francisco motel before a public talk. Allen complains of fatigue and Trungpa replies “that’s because you don’t like your poetry. Make up your poems on the spot.” "Why don't you do like the great poets do, like Milarepa. Trust your own mind." Allen takes the advice to heart, though with only slight success, but finds himself fully intrigued by the man. (see Vomit of a Mad Tyger)September 1971
Using an anonymously donated ticket, Allen visits India and West Bengal, and in the latter, tours refugee camps at Jessore road after floods and famine have left some 7 million people homeless. In response, he writes the lengthy poem “September on Jessore Road.”November 9 & 17, 1971
Bob Dylan observes Allen reading poetry at New York University. Dylan is impressed with Allen’s improvisation and they continue that night with an impromptu jam session at Allen’s apartment. The encounter is so successful that Dylan asks Allen to join him in the studio. The collaboration includes musicians Happy Traum and David Amram and the resulting work is released as First Blues, albeit much later in 1983.January 1972
After years of preparation Allen’s stage adaptation of “Kaddish” is mounted at the Chelsea Theater in Brooklyn, New York. Directed by Robert Kalfin, the production is a critical success, running for nearly a month.
Februrary -March 1972
Allen allong with Lawrence Ferlinghetti and his son Lorenzo, fly to Australia for the Adelaide Poetry Festival, stopping off in Hawaii & Fiji along the way. Allen writes "Busdride Ballad to Suva," "Reef Mantra," while in Fiji and Hawaii, and later"Ayers Rock/Uluru Song" during a visit to Ayers Rock in the Australian outback.
More Dharma & Seeds of Naropa Institute
On May 6, Allen along with Gary Snyder, Nanao Sakaki, and Robert Bly stage a benefit reading in Boulder, Coloroad, for Rocky Mountain Dharma Center (now Shambhala Mountain Center) which Allen calls the "first big reading in Boulder for Dharma." After some travels around the Rocky Mountains, Allen, Chogyam Trungpa and Nanao Sakaki rejoin in Santa Fe, in June, meeting up with Bhagavan Das and Ram Dass as sort of spiritual summit. Later that month Allen writes Peter Orlovksy of Trungpa's plans for Naropa Institute.August 1972
With the Republican National Convention coming up, Allen organizes a peace protest, which — documents later obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request would prove — was infiltrated by the FBI. The agents posed as demonstrators and deliberately generated a disruption to instigate arrests, including those of Allen and a several other participants. Though later released, the otherwise peaceful demonstrators are depicted as violent.December 1972
City Lights Books publishes Fall of America to wide acclaim. Assembled from his recorded poems in early 1966, the book is faithful to Allen’s chronicle of his travels and serves as a travelogue, capturing a sense of a country at war. The work receives the National Book Award for Poetry.
While staying on the farm in Cherry Valley, Allen breaks his leg while heading out of the house to feed the farm animals. This is somehwhat of a blessing in disguise, allowing him to slow his busy schedule, write and practice meditation more. He writes the songs "Broken Bone Blues," "Everybody Sing," and "Prayer Blues," as well as the poems "Yes and it's Hopeless," "Thoughts Sitting Breathing," & "What Would You do if you Lost It" during this period.February 1973
Allen — along with Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. — is elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters.September 15, 1973
Allen joins Chogyam Trungpa's students for a three month retreat near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Due to scheduling conflicts he is only able to attend partially. He writes the poem "Mind Breaths" during this retreat, and Trungpa and Allen further discuss Allen's forming of a poetics school for Naropa.
January 13, 1974
Allen laments the Yom Kippur war in the Middle East, writing “Jaweh & Allah Battle” in his frustration.
Allen joins Michael McClure, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Kenneth Rexroth, Gary Snyder, Gregory Corso and many others for the City Lights North in Dakota Beat Conference, in Grand Forks. Sponsored by the UND English Department, this was was the first of the many beat related conferences recognizing the importance of the beats.June, 10, 1974
After a few years in the planning, Naropa finally launches it's first round of courses & lectures, in two five week session and taught by the likes of John Cage, Ram Dass, Gregory Bateson, and Bhagavan Das. Trungpa at this point asks Allen to form a permanent poetry school for Naropa. Allen enlists Anne Waldman to help run the school which they playfully name the "Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics."October 27, 1975
After working to establish Naropa University, Allen joins Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Review tour late in 1975 and through parts of 1976.July 7, 1976
Louis Ginsberg dies at the age of 80. Allen writes “Father Death Blues” while flying from Colorado to New York for the funeral.October 31, 1976
During Trungpa, Rinpoche’s 1976 seminary near Snowmass, Colorado, poet W.S. Merwin and companion Dana Naone are noted absent from a naked Halloween party. When located they refuse to join in, at which time Trungpa directs several people to break into their barricaded room and drag the reluctant pair to the gathering. An argument follows and they are forcibly stripped of their clothing.
The incident — which Trungpa characterizes as merely another teaching — becomes public three years later when Allen’s interview with Tom Clark is published in the Boulder Monthly. The fiasco haunts Naropa for several years, setting off the “poetry wars,” severing numerous friendships and drawing public criticism.
Allen’s Mind Breaths is published by City Lights Books in yet another of the Pocket Poet series.January 1978
Allen, using the Freedom of Information Act, obtains copies of his FBI, CIA and files, which prove more extensive — and petty — than he’d imagined. The first entry describes a 1960 television show during which Allen advocated the legalization of Marijuana.
Allen notes there is also a great deal of focus on his sexual behavior, which, strangely, the government characterizes as dangerous.
Allen, Peter Orlovsky, Daniel Ellsberg and others protest nuclear proliferation by practicing sitting meditation on railroad tracks, blocking trains that are bearing Plutonium and fissile materials. During the summer, Allen is arrested twice at Rocky Flats, Colorado nuclear facility during the summer and composes “Plutonian Ode” in the wake of these events.1979
Allen tours Europe several times, accompanying Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky and the Living Theater with musician, Steven Taylor. He also visits Blake's Cottage in Felpham, England, reads and sings in Oxford, England and in Heidelberg and Tübingen Germany and at international poetry readings in Cambridge, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Paris, Genoa and Rome.Late 1979
Allen and Naropa both continue to strain under the ongoing weight of the Merwin incident with the 1979 publication of Ed Sanders "The Party: A Chronological Perspective on a Confrontation at a Buddhist Seminary" and Tom Clark's "The Great Naropa Poetry Wars."
While Sanders' book reflects a measure of fairness, Clark's work clearly reveals a bias against Trungpa and is in part viewed by critics and readers alike as inaccurate and malicious. With Naropa's existence hanging in the balance, Allen is consumed for some time with defending Trungpa.
Allen is joined by Joanne Kyger, Bobbie-Louise Hawkins, Peter Orlovsky, Michael McClure and Dianne Wakowski in Bisbee Arizona, a small border town south of Tuscon, which hosted the poetry conference there. Peter Orlovsky's collection of poems Clean Asshole Poems and Smiling Vegetable Songs had just been published and the title alone was cause for some local protest, however the poets persevered in Orlovsky's defense and the festival went on with only minor disruption.
March 3, 1981
Billy Burroughs, Jr passes away. Despite receving one of the first liver transplants, his struggles with alcholism proved insurmountable. Allen would later scatter Billy's ashes at Rocky Mountain Dharma Center (now Shambhala Mountain Center) near Red Feather Lakes, Colorado.
June 10, 1981
Allen performs his poem/song "Capitol Air" on stage with the Clash at Bond's in New York City and later records a track called "Ghetto Defendant" with them for their album "Combat Rock."
Allen co-authors a P.E.N. Club report titled Un-American Activities, about the FBI’s harassment of the underground press in America during 1960’s and 1970’s. City Lights Books publishes the book.October 1981
Allen relocates to Boulder, Colorado for several years to be more active in Naropa’s poetics department.January 1982
City Lights Books releases Plutonian Ode: Poems 1977-1982, Allen’s last contribution to the publisher, as part of their Pocket Poets series.February - February 1982
Allen travels to Nicaragua to read at the Poetry Festival in Managua. He composes "Declaration of 3" with Ernesto Cardenal and Yevgeny Yevtuchenko, proposing non-interference in Nicaraguan evolution by the United States.July 1982
Allen hosts the 25th Anniversary National Celebration of On The Road at Naropa. He is joined by William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky, Robert Creeley, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, Diane Di Prima, Ken Kesey, Ted Berrigan, Carl Solomon, Ray Bremser, Jack Micheline, Robert Frank, Herbert Huncke, Dave Amram, Anne Waldman, Abbie Hoffman, Timothy Leary, Jan Kerouac, and others.
November 13, 1982
Peter Orlovksy's father, Oleg, dies at Cabrini hospital in New York City at age 84.
December 8, 1983
Allen with Steven Taylor kicks off his European Tour in Paris as part of UNESCO's 'War on War' alongside Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Andrei Voznesensky. Allen continued travelling through Italy and back through France, spending time in Arthur Rimbaud's hometown of Charleville, just before Christmas. The trip would last through January taking them to Denmark, Norway, Finland and Germany.
January 2, 1983
Mondriaan string Qartet perform and record Steven Taylor's arrangement for "September on Jessore Road" at the Melveg in Amsterdam. This is later released on Ben Possett's Soyo Records in 1989Februray 1983
Allen’s double album First Blues: 1971 - 1981 is released, due in part to efforts by John Hammond, who formed his own label after problems with Columbia Records. The materials represent the best from three recordings, including the Bob Dylan collaboration.
Allen meets Berenice Abbott while on a trip to Maine. Allen had recently rediscovered his older photographs which kindled a keen interest in photography. That, combined with meeting Abbott launches Allen into a new near obsession with photography, despite Abbott's advice: "Don't be a shutterbug, Allen!"January 1, 1984
New Year's Day sang Do the Meditation Rock with Peter Orlovsky & Steven Taylor and Arthur Russell in Nam June Paik's Good Morning Mr. Orwell Satellite TV performance with John Cage, Merce Cunningham & Laurie Anderson.October 1984
Allen travels to Beijing with Gary Snyder, Toni Morrison, Francine du Plessix Grey, William Gass and Harrison Salisbury as part of an American Academy of Arts & Letters delegation for a 4-day writers conference. He remains in China for an additional 8 weeks.January 1985
Allen’s new literary agent and friend, Andrew Wylie, arranges a 6-book, 6-figure deal with Harper & Row. Collected Poems 1947-1980 is the first effort, gathering the previous City Lights Books into one volume. (City Lights maintains the right to continue publishing the individual works.) Detractors scream “sell out” and accuse Allen of abandoning the small press world.January 1985
Allen reconnects with his love for taking pictures after a photo exhibition at Holly Solomon Gallery in New York. The show, “Hideous Human Angles” has Allen rediscovering old snapshots from throughout his lifetime. What amounts to something of a new career for Allen also brings a measure of international attention, with numerous photo exhibitions in Europe and the U.S.February 1985
Harry Smith, in Allen's words "painter, film-maker, universal folklore archaeologist, Bibliographer, American Folkways anthologist, archivist, Hermetic philosopher & Alchemist" moves in to Allen's 12th Street apartment after leaving the Hotel Breslin in January. He stays for the bulk of 1985. "He spent months recording ambient sounds of the Lower East Side come in thru my Manhattan windows from miles around."more>>November 17, 1985
Travels with delegation of U.S.-Soviet Writers, meeting in Vilnius, Minsk, Leningrad & Moscow with William Gass, Bill Gaddis, Arthur Miller, Norman Cousins & Louis Auchincloss; visits with Bela Achmadulina. At first Allen's Visa is denied then granted for solitary visit Tibilisi encounter with filmmaker Sergei Parajanov; In he Moscow performs at A. Kozloff's birthday jazz concert & poetry reading at Lomonosov University with Yvgeny Yevtuchenko & Andrei Sergiev as translators.January 1986
In January Allen drafted a controversial widely-endorsed delegates' statement against American intervention in Nicaragua with Arthur Miller & Gunther Grass for P.E.N. International Conference NYC of which Allen was a Vice President, American chapter. more>>1986
Allen is appointed Distinguished Professor of English at Brooklyn College. While teaching responsibilities at Naropa could be considered somewhat “regular,” this is Allen’s first paid professorial job.January 21, 1986
Allen makes his second visit to Ruben Dario Poetry Festival in Nicaragua (the first visit was in 1982) with friend Patrick Warner, for eight days & meets with poets Jose Coronel Urtecho, Pablo A. Cuadra, Ernesto Cardenal, Carlos Martinez Rivas.1986
Harper & Row publishes White Shroud: Poems 1980-1985 and also an annotated version of “Howl” that includes a photocopy of Allen’s original manuscript.August 11-Sept 12, 1986
Arriving first in Budapest, Allen records with the Hobo Blues Band, and continues with a tour of readings stretching from Warsaw (Solidarity readings) through Belgrade, and Skopje, Macedonia, where he receives the prestigious, Golden Wreath prize for that year. more>>April 4, 1987
Allen’s friend and Buddhist mentor Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche dies at the age of 47 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. A heart attack 6 months earlier had complicated his already precarious health situation and led to a rapid decline thereafter. His funeral, conducted the traditional 49 days after death, is set at Karmê Chöling in Vermont, and attending the funeral with Peter Orlovsky & his girlfriend Beverly Isis, and Peter Hale, Allen writes "On Cremation of Chögyam Trungpa, Vidyadhara."August, 1987
Allen records material for his spoken word music album The Lion for Real, which was the brainchild of producer Hal Willner. Allen speaks, rather than singing, taking advice from Marianne Faithful who commented, “maybe you shouldn’t sing.” Musicians include Marc Ribot, Garo Yellin and Michael Blair and the album is released two years later.January 5-28, 1988
Allen travels to Israel and gives readings with Natan Zach at Tel Aviv & Haifa Universities & Jerusalem Cinemathique. He meets with Palestinian moderates Mubarak Awad & Hanna Senoria, addresses 60,000 at the Peace Now Rally. Also lectures at Camera Obscura School "Photographic Poetics" with Robert Frank. Organizes P.E.N. American Center protest of Israeli censorship of minority Palestinian literature & media.February 1988
The Eye and Ear Theater in New York City revives a stage presentation of Kaddish with music by Steven Taylor & sets by Eric Fischl. That same month Allen's collaboration opera with Philip Glass "Wichita Vortex Sutra" premiers at New York's Schubert Theater.
"This collaboration came about because Veteran"s Theater Company asked Philip Glass to do a benefit performance with me at New York's Schubert Theater, 1988. We crossed paths at St. Mark's Bookshop, I showed him this passage I thought short & exciting, appropriate for the Vietnam Vets theater group," says Allen. From this seed another Ginsberg-Glass collaboration, Hydrogen Jukebox grew.
Allen Reads in Tokyo with Kazuko Shiraishi at the American Literature Society of Japan, and has a photography exhibition at Tokyo Watari Gallery. He participates in the Osaka Anti-Nuke Rally, and gives benefit readings at Seika & Kyoto Universities with Nanao Sakaki to protect the Okinawan Shiraho Blue Coral Reef from construction of a new airport. more>>1989
Allen's first biography, written by friend & associate Barry Miles is published this year.Spring 1989
For the spring semester at Brooklyn College Allen, along with Professor Marie Buncomb teach Brooklyn College course "African American Poetic Genius Ma Rainey to Gwendolyn Brooks." They host teacher/poets Quincey Troupe, David Henderson, Jayne Cortez, Lorenzo Thomas, June Jordan, Audrey Lorde, Alice Childress, Sonia Sanchez, Michael Harper and Gwendolyn Brooks.1989
Through Philip Glass, Allen meets Tibetan Lama, Gelek, Rinpoche and the two quickly become friends. Allen and Philip jointly stage benefits for Gelek’s Jewel Heart organization, and the two go on to enjoy summer and winter retreats together for the rest of Allen’s life.1990
A collection of Allen's photographs is elegantly published by TwelveTrees press and marks Allen's first such release in the U.S. Hitherto he'd had photography collections published only in Denmark and Germany.April 24-May 5, 1990
Allen's first return to Prague since his notorius 1965 visit, May King crowning & subsequent expulsion. He is received by Prague mayor, Jaroslav Koran & Czech President Havel and recrowned King of May after 25 years.August 20 - September 2, 1990
Allen is the American delegate to the 12th World Congress of Poets, Seoul, South KoreaNovember 5-15, 1990
Allen travels to France for the launch of his travelling photography exhibition at the French supermarket chain, FNAC. Each FNAC store in France & Italy has photography exhibitions of photographers ranging from Henri Cartier-Bresson, Berenice Abbot%
“Bearded robots drink from Uranium coffee cups on Saturn's ring. May 1990”
— American Sentences