Welcome to Venice West: Audio Recordings from the Lawrence Lipton PapersMain MenuIntroductionLawrence Lipton, the Beat Generation in Venice West, and the Lawrence Lipton papers at USC.Lipton and the Beat Generation PoetsLipton’s interviews with or about Beat poets, featuring Stuart Perkoff, Kenneth Rexroth, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and others.Lipton and VeniceThe Venice West Picture Essay, the Gas House, and the history of Venice.Lipton and JazzJazz Canto, Langston Hughes, and Lipton’s recordings of poetry jazz sessions.Audio CollectionBrowse all the Audio in this ExhibitProject Contributors
Tape 396, Side 1, Part A: Kenneth Rexroth in a live performance, January 1957-1958, reading poetry (all with music) [...]
1media/high-volume.png2019-07-18T12:32:08-07:00Curtis Fletcher3225f3b99ebb95ebd811595627293f68f680673e346104Tape 396, side 1, part A1) Kenneth Rexroth in a live performance, 1957 [1958?] January, reading poetry (all with music) (0:14): Li Qingzhao's "Late spring" (Kenneth Rexroth, translator; Ron Croddy, double bass) (2:10), Ju Shu Chun's "Spring has come" (Kenneth Rexroth, translator; Ron Croddy, double bass) (5:46), Rexroth's "Sword in a cloud of light" (1999) (10:24), Rexroth's "This night only" (Erik Satie's Gymnopédie #1"; Claire Willy, piano) (16:55) , Francis Carco's "The shadow" (22:05), Rexroth's "Habeus corpus" (38:03). ❧ Tape 396, side 2, part A2) [playback speed is too fast] Kenneth Rexroth in a live performance, 1957 [1958?] January, reading poetry (all with music): unidentified poem (0:06), Carl Sandburg's "Mag" (1:20), Kenneth Rexroth's "Quiet lady" (7:34), Rafael Alberti's "Homecoming of love amongst illustrious ruins" from "Retornos de lo vivo lejano" (Kenneth Rexroth, translator) (10:34). ❧ Tape 386, side 2, part B) Tram Combs reading his poetry, 1959 (all with music): "A farewell for Elliott Thomas" (15:29), "On the necessity of new statement of myths and ideas alien to the times" (18:07), "In the mind's silences" (19:50), "Ballad for Americans in mid century, for Elizabeth Malone with five kids" (21:03), "No responsibilities and small thoughts" (22:45), "En la que tu de la noche en San Juan" (24:15), "Lust at night" (26:09), "April carnival, St. Thomas" (27:32), "Down fields of concrete" (30:09), "A going away gift" (31:04), "A pastorale in New Orleans" (32:44), "Middle class" (36:09), "A letter to Gil to remember a hermit" (38:09). -- TIMES indicate where sections begin.plain2020-06-26T14:24:20-07:00Lawrence Lipton Papers, USC Digital Library1957; 1958; 1959Alberti, Rafael, 1902-1999, poet; Carco, Francis, 1886-1958, poet; Combs, Elisha Trammell "Tram", Jr., 1924-2018, poet; Combs, Elisha Trammell "Tram", Jr., 1924-2018, speaker; Croddy, Ron, double bass; 李清照, 1084-ca. 1141, poet; Qingzhiao, Li, 1084-ca. 1141 writer; Rexroth, Kenneth, 1905-1982, poet; Rexroth, Kenneth, 1905-1982, speaker; Rexroth, Kenneth, 1905-1982, translator; Sandburg, Carl, 1878-1967, poet; Satie, Erik, 1866-1925, composer; Willy, Claire, pianoBo Doub59bddb0b27f7b3138b6b5c39e4cc435e9208ebad
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12019-07-26T20:15:00-07:00Curtis Fletcher3225f3b99ebb95ebd811595627293f68f680673eKenneth Rexroth in a live performanceBo Doub6plain2019-07-29T10:56:42-07:00Bo Doub59bddb0b27f7b3138b6b5c39e4cc435e9208ebad
12019-08-07T11:18:59-07:00Curtis Fletcher3225f3b99ebb95ebd811595627293f68f680673eLipton and the Beat Generation PoetsCurtis Fletcher2Lawrence Lipton's relationship to Stuart Perkoff, Kenneth Rexroth, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg and Others.plain2019-08-07T11:23:07-07:00Curtis Fletcher3225f3b99ebb95ebd811595627293f68f680673e
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1media/Venice-West-Cafe-exterior-CROP.jpg2019-07-27T14:07:17-07:00Audio Collection67Browse all the Audio in this Exhibitimage_header2019-08-10T11:51:26-07:00Below is a collection of all audio clips included in this exhibit.
To view and access timestamps for each clip, click on "Annotations" below each audio player. To collapse the annotations for a clip, click on "Description."
To see where, in this exhibit, a given audio clip appears, click on "Citations."Introduction Lawrence Lipton, the Beat Generation in Venice West, and the Lawrence Lipton papers at USC.Lipton and the Beat Generation Poets Lipton’s interviews with or about Beat poets, featuring Stuart Perkoff, Kenneth Rexroth, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and others.
Lipton and Venice The Venice West Picture Essay, the Gas House, and the history of Venice.
Lipton and Jazz Jazz Canto, Langston Hughes, and Lipton’s recordings of poetry jazz sessions.
12019-07-17T20:25:14-07:00Lipton and the Beat Generation Poets61Lipton’s interviews with or about Beat poets, featuring Stuart Perkoff, Kenneth Rexroth, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and others.plain2019-08-10T11:41:52-07:00Lawrence Lipton was not known as a part of the Beat movement until much later in his life when he published The Holy Barbarians (1959) at the age of sixty-one. However, as a resident of Venice since 1941 and through his literary connections from his earlier work as a writer and editor, Lipton quickly became a leader of the "Venice West" Beat community during the period surrounding The Holy Barbarians.
One figure that frequently appears in Lipton's audio recordings and writings on the Beats is Stuart Z. Perkoff.
Perkoff lived, wrote, and performed in the Venice West Beat community and, in 1958, he co-founded the Venice West Expresso Café--on Dudley Avenue near Ocean Front Walk--in order to establish an authentic gathering place for Beat artists in the area. Perkoff ran the café for about six months until January of 1959 when he was forced to sell it at a loss because of the lack in paying customers. The Venice West Café remained active under new ownership and even began to thrive following the publication of Lipton's The Holy Barbarians in July of 1959. The "Venice West Picture Essay" that concludes The Holy Barbarians includes photographs of the café, captioned: "a real Beat generation coffeehouse that tourists haven't discovered yet" (a caption that helped secure the café with future tourist patronage).
In Tape 106 from the Lipton papers, Perkoff discusses his relation as a poet to "the social phenomenon called the Beat Generation" in an interview conducted by Lipton. Later in the same interview (beginning around 15:53 in the recording), Perkoff discusses the challenges of using poetry to communicate to other people. Perkoff describes the different meanings that his poetry could take in different contexts: "If I read this poem at the Venice West Café, I'd get a much different response. I know some of the people would be just lost. And they won't dig being lost. [...] It's a question of coming back and not trying to reach so many people. Not trying to reach anybody." Perkoff concludes that writing a poem to reach a specific audience can cause that poem to become too rigid.
In another recording, Perkoff performs a few of his poems paired with jazz music, followed by Julie Meredith singing.
Kenneth Rexroth and Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Kenneth Rexroth, known as the founding father of the San Francisco Renaissance of the 1940s and 1950s, is also featured on the Lipton tapes.
Rexroth was an avid reader and translator of Chinese literature, publishing translations in his "Classics Revisited" column in the Saturday Review (1965-1969) and in various anthologies that he edited and/or translated, such as One Hundred Poems From the Chinese (1956) and The Orchid Boat (1972) – later reprinted as Women Poets of China. Tape 396 from the Lipton papers begins with a live performance by Rexroth reading his translations of Song dynasty poets Li Qingzhao and Chu Shu Chen, accompanied by Ron Croddy playing double bass.
On a different tape from the collection, Rexroth expresses some of his disapproval for the Beat Generation. During a KPFK radio interview recorded on Tape 132, Rexroth describes the tensions and overlaps between the talented poets of the San Francisco Renaissance on one side and the "kept press," which he describes as the enemy (and the establishment), on the other. Rexroth argues that some of San Francisco's Beat poets have behaved "the way the enemy wants them to behave" – as the artist stereotype devised by "the most evil section of American journalism," which is only interested in debauching poetry and making it seem ridiculous. Rexroth uses a concept from the labor movement to characterize the "beatnik" as "an artistic strikebreaker" and cites Lawrence Ferlinghetti as one example of a truly talented poet who has fallen into this exchange between art, the Beat literary movement, popular journalism, and commercialism.
Despite Rexroth's disapproval of the Beats, he and Ferlinghetti were friends and frequent collaborators during their years in San Francisco.
Allen Ginsberg, author of Howl and arguably the most famous Beat poet, is frequently discussed in Lipton's recorded conversations and interviews.
Tape 470 records a discussion between Lipton and novelist Herbert Gold on a number of Beat writers. Part of their discussion on Allen Ginsberg leads to a disagreement on whether or not Ginsberg's former pursuits of controversy and publicity had an adverse effect on the quality of his writing. Lipton and Gold later question if a poet's heightened media attention always leads to financial gains. In Ginsberg's case, Lipton and Gold agree that increased publicity did not necessarily lead to greater income.
Other Beats (and Beat-adjacents) who appear on Lipton's tapes as performers or interviewees include Robert Duncan, Bruce Boyd, Leland Auslender, Charles Foster, Archer Goodwin, Carl Forsberg, and Jack Zucker.