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Sunday, August 30, 2020


by Indran Amirthanayagam

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. .

Indran Amirthanayagam writes in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Haitian Creole. He has 19 poetry books, including The Migrant States (Hanging Loose Press, 2020) and Sur l'île nostalgique (L'Harmattan, 2020). In music, he recorded Rankont Dout. He edits The Beltway Poetry Quarterly, is a columnist for Haiti en Marchewon the Paterson Prize, and is a 2020 Foundation for the Contemporary Arts fellow.