MR. HOWL

ALL POETRY AND NO MUSIC MAKE ALLEN A DULL BOY; GINSBERG'S BOX PROVES HE'S ANYTHING BUT

NT: So how do you feel about the spoken-word movement now, the marketing of poetry? Ginsberg: Well, because the government and the media have been so censored--by Jesse Helms and the FCC, among others--everything we hear is plastic, basically. So there is the impulse toward the person-to-person communication of poetry, as there was in the Fifties, and there is a revival of the spoken word, coffee-house poetry, slams and all that. And, of course, some of it is commodified, commercialized, but the individual voices are so clear. There is a kind of genuineness and hope that goes beyond the commodity.

NT: It seems difficult for anything nowadays that is affected by the media to remain genuine.

Ginsberg: That is the thing, this is a compilation [the boxed set] of things done in solitude, like most of Kerouac's work. His early work--13 or 14 books--were written with no hope of ever being published.

NT: So where is your music going?
Ginsberg: Well, Dylan taught me blues.
NT: So what's a day in the life of a legendary poet like? Ginsberg: I read late, get up late, take care of my hygiene, cook my breakfast. Then I answer mail, make phone calls, write in my journal, if I have had an interesting dream, I write it down. I have a new book of journals coming out next year.

NT: Do you have any pets? You seem like a probable cat fancier.
Ginsberg: Well, I had a lot of cockroaches, but they're all gone now. And a couple of mice . . . I'm allergic to cats now, but I used to have them when I was younger. Burroughs has six cats, and when I go to visit and stay at his house, I manage to get through it.

NT: Do you have a favorite color?
Ginsberg: Blue! Blue like the sky. Empty sky, empty mind.

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