...the movement that became labeled "the Beats" started all over America in the post-WWII 1940s and early 1950's. The end of "the Beats" may have come as early as 1965, but for those of us living in Lawrence, KS, the 1968 closing of the unique Abington Book Shop -- where Charley Plymell, George Kimball and Jim McCrary worked; where Grist magazine and S. Clay Wilson were published -- and its owner John E. Fowler moving, certainly marked one ending point....
That Beat writer William S. Burroughs, the godfather of the Beat Generation, lived long and died in Kansas marks another.
'Anybody can make Paris holy, but I can make Topeka holy.' Jack Kerouac
Beats in Kansas: A Literary Cosmic Vortex Seminar, Wichita Public Library, Wichita, Kansas; April 7, 2019
The heartland has known the Beat writers from cradle to grave -- Michael McClure and Charles Plymell were born in Kansas, and William S. Burroughs spent his last years and died in Lawrence. In between, Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder made significant trips to the state. Other Kansas figures include Bruce Connor, Dennis Hopper, James Mechem, Roxie Powell, Jim McCrary, Wayne Propst, Glenn Todd, Alan Russo, John Fowler, Justin Hein, Bob Branaman, Ronald Johnson, and Burroughs' heir James Grauerholz, to name a few. The karmic connection between Beat figures and Kansas influences the literary communities to this day. George Laughead's website Beats In Kansas was launched in 2002. Seminar sponsored by Humanities Kansas.
Troy James Weaver, Wichita writer, gave a reading, with brief comments about how the Beats influence his work;
Denise Low, former Poet Laureate Kansas, talked about Beats in Kansas: The Lawrence-Wichita Magnetic Pole
George Laughead, founder Beats in Kansas website, gave a Beat Memoir with Artifacts, Beat life from 1963-2019
Honored guests included Patrick O'Connor and David Quick.
Happy Birthday Charley Plymell; April 26, 1935; Holcomb, Kansas
Charley Plymell & Roxie Powell, September 2009; photo by Laki Vazakas, copyright 2009.
Expanded Charles Plymell section:
"Nobody Rides For Free" by Grant Hart (Husker Du), music video by Laki Vazakas, YouTube
Charley Plymell notes: "I first met Grant at B's [William Burroughs] funeral. Charles Henri Ford has a cameo in this and Ray Bremser kissing the bird. Funny story when Angelica, daughter of keyboard jazz great, Paul Bley, who lives here, brought the bird to the party, Claude [Pelieu] said 'I deedn't know whether to say tweet tweet or twat twat!'"
Charles Plymell, from Kansa, Land of the Wind People, autobiographical sketch, 12/2002; Now at Beats In Kansas, 2009
"Pat O'Connor playing to my dancing at Wichita Art Museum. The Hotel Eaton is where I took Ginsberg and Robert Frank flew from NY to film us but I've never seen his film. The rest is mostly in Cherry Valley, NY." CP
Writer poet Charley Plymell, November 8, 2013, New York, with poet photographer Gerard Malanga introducing Charley. Plymell's new book Benzedrine Highways is from Kicks Books (associated with Norton Records) and founder/editor Miriam Linna will be at the event. Plymell understanding of the culture of the times has kept him on the front line. Linna still rocks out as The Cramps drummer, and Gerard just completed a huge European show of his recent photography around the Hudson, NY, area.
Ian Harris and the overediting of Burroughs' Nova Trio
Byron Coley Interview: friend and publisher of Charley Plymell, Coley is major rock writer and works with Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) on publishing projects. From Perfect Sound Forever on-line magazine, June 2010
Call Me Burroughs, first a recording, now an authorized book Call Me Burroughs: A Life released 28 Janurary 2014, tied to William's 100th birthday on February 05, 2014. Barry Miles, known as Miles, did the decades old biography on Burroughs (William Burroughs: El Hombre Invisible), after knowing him in London during Miles' infamous gallery years (where John Lennon met Yoko Ono), and Miles' very early beat and punk publishing.
Miles took over a 15-year long project of research by James Grauerholz, Burroughs' adopted son, lover, editor, and estate trustee. It should be a good final review of a man gone since August 02, 1997. Burroughs saw the marketing addiction, corporate scams and government controls in the 1950s and 1960s -- then, as they continue to this day. Miles was also a member of Allen Ginsberg's Committee on Poetry farm near Cherry Valley, NY, and also connected to Andy Warhol circles, and to the Beatles -- their enjoyment of Burroughs help rebirth his availability.
Oddly, the finished book leaves out anything about Burroughs work with poet and publisher Charley Plymell-- as early as 1964 -- or his association for decades with photographer Gerard Malanga -- some iconic photos -- also not in the book except for a passing reference related to Andy Warhol.
Joan Vollmer Burroughs, 1924-1951, Poem by Allen Ginsberg
Joan Vollmer Adams Biography, Literary Kicks
"The Death of Joan Vollmer Burroughs," by James Grauerholz, a 70-page
essay on the question of William Burroughs' motives in shooting Joan Vollmer Burroughs. Massive details on the murder conviction of William Burroughs in Mexico; posted 9 Dec 03, lawrence.com
"And that's the Vortex in Toto!"
Bruce Conner, 1987
The Beat Vortex Wichita, 1947-1966, (includes Bruce Conner, Dave Haselwood,
Michael McClure, Charles Plymell, Lee Streiff), by Lee Streiff, Wichita
[The late Lee Streiff, close friend from youth of many other more famous Beats, remained to teach high school English in Wichita, KS. His former students include university deans that stayed in touch. Lee Streiff's influence on his Beat peers -- Conner, Haselwood, McClure -- should be better known. The Wichita Vortex attracted even Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg to visit. March 2009 -- archive.org copy, original off-line]
Bruce Conner Oral History Interview Conducted by Paul Cummings; Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1973 ["Wichita was a formative period. I don't know what kind of formatives. I can't judge, except that I know there are certain points that are important for myself."]
"The Cosmology of Finding Your Spot" Poem by Ed Dorn, 1969, Lawrence, Beats In Kansas [Ed Dorn on beer with Wayne Propst, George Kimball and The Great White Dog of the Rock Chalk Bar.]
Edward Dorn 1929 - 1999, The Independent Buffalo, NY, 1999. Electronic Poetry Center Library [The Gunslinger, a major American long poem, is Dorn's best known work. "...the mission bells are ringing in Kansas."]
Edward Dorn, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 1999. [Ed Dorn and Black Mountain College information.]
Any reference to the original GRIST would be incomplete if there were no indication of the contribution made by co-editors George Kimball and Charley Plymell. For many issues they were, in fact, the editors, while I acted as publisher (from the thin bankroll of the Abington Book Shop which was too soon exhausted). They sought out authors, gathered material, traveled, wrote letters, made phone calls, cajoled subscribers, designed, laid out, typed, printed, collated, stapled, stamped and delivered. (John Fowler)
John Ezra Fowler "Appreciations and Observations: A Collection of 8 Sets of Poems"
6 POETS AT 6 GALLERY
Philip Lamantia reading mss. of late John
Hoffman-- Mike McClure, Allen Ginsberg,
Gary Snyder & Phil Whalen--all sharp new
straightforward writing-- remarkable coll-
ection of angels on one stage reading
their poetry. No charge, small collection
for wine, and postcards. Charming event.
Kenneth Rexroth, M.C.
8 PM Friday Night October 7, 1955
6 Gallery 3119 Fillmore St.
James Mechem Writer, Caprice magazine publisher, New York, NY, 2003;
Interview and photographs by Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate, 2007-2009, Lawrence, Beats In Kansas [Beat Generation writer and native Kansan, talks about life at 80]
At Burroughs's services, Lawrence, Kansas, August 6, 1997
The Muse Is Satiated, well paid
Her Splayed Wand, still sparking
Her Stray Cats all found a pillow
Her Nefarious Boy came home
Osiris, share Thy Vortex Throne
Charles Plymell, from Kansa, Land of the Wind People [Autobiographical sketch] 12/02, Beats In Kansas
Roxie PowellKansas Collateral poems, 1978, Cherry Valley Editions, Cherry Valley, NY
Roxie PowellWild Whispers Chapbook introduction from Synaesthesia Press. Robert Peters said of Powellâï¿½ï¿½s first chapbook, "anyone anxious for an original experience in poetry will love Dreams of Straw." Allen Ginsberg paid for a second printing of the book. Friend of Charley Plymell and Dave Haselwood.
"The birth of the beatnik", by James Campbell, author of This is the Beat Generation, 1999 [Excellant background to the naming of the beatniks by Herb Caen -- Sputnik 1 went into orbit October 4, 1957, the day after "Howl" was cleared by Judge Horn in San Francisco]
Black Spring: "Lawrence, Kansas" issue with poetics by Ken Irby, Judy Roitman, John Moritz, Caryn Goldberg, Jim McCrary, Monica Peck, Jonathon Mayhew and Hawkman.
Ashleigh Brilliant, Artist and writer, creator of pot-shots cartoons, famous for their 17-word limit. Since 1967, Brilliant epigrams have influenced us all - "I Want to Reach Your Mind... Where Is It Currently Located?" [did visit Dodge City, KS in 2005 -- to see inside of grain elevators.]
Neal Cassady Estate, official site [with help from Mrs. Carolyn Cassady (email, August 2007); "I've no idea if Neal ever spent any time in Kansas. He very likely passed through there, but if he doesn't mention it in The First Third, I doubt it. [Neal writes a letter to Jack Kerouac, July 2, 1949, (page 192; 1981 edition) about going to Wichita, KS to get car tags for his first car, then through Russell, KS, and briefly jail, on his way back to Denver.] When he and I and our kids went to visit grandparents (as described in my book Off The Road), we stopped in Kansas City for a brief chat with his half-brother, Jimmy. We may even have spent the night there--I forget exactly where."]
City Lights Books, San Francisco [Lawrence Ferlinghetti's great store; Ferlinghetti did ride around Lawrence, KS in March 1970 with site author, while playing a lap dulcimer.]
Everygreen Review, founded in 1957 by Barney Rosset, publisher of Grove Press. The second issue declared the "San Francisco Scene," and was the first collection of work by the new Beat writers - including Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, Philip Whalen, Jack Kerouac, and Allen Ginsberg.
Larry Keenan, Counter-Culture Photographer, exhibit of his photographs, potent view of the Beat Generation and beyond. Keenan captures many essential moments -- of Ginsberg, Whalen, Cassady, Corso, McClure, Dylan, and many others.
Billygoon Party Rap, The Fabulous Billygoons music video [Broad St. Gym, Boston, 1982 - click on 'clip info'], Boston [Site author's post-punk 1980s rock friends. Thank you, Tommy White and Scott Lindberg. Barb Kitson, Thrills singer, RIP.]
Naropa University - Audio Archive Project; Massive oral collection from Buddhist university; includes Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, William S. Burroughs, Philip Whalen, Michael McClure, Gary Snyder, Diane DiPrima, Lawrence Ferlinghetti