Lawrence Lipton (1898-1975) was a Beat poet and chronicler of the Beat Generation as it manifested across the cafés and artists' pads of Venice, California. At various times in his life, Lipton also worked as a graphic artist, a journalist, the publicity director of a large movie theater, a writer and poet, an editor, and a jazz composer.
Lipton's papers, held at USC Libraries Special Collections, document his prolific output through typescripts and manuscripts of his works; correspondence between Lipton and various members of the Beat literary movement; photographs of Venice and its countercultural scene; Lipton's research materials and collected works; and interviews that Lipton conducted with a variety of notable writers and musicians. One significant part of Lipton's papers that, until recently, has been largely inaccessible and undescribed is his collection of audio recordings. Lipton's audio recordings comprise 300 hours of original interviews with monumental artists, such as Kenneth Rexroth and Langston Hughes; live readings by numerous Beat poets from the "Venice West" scene; and live jazz and poetry experiments with musicians like Dave Brubeck and Buddy Collette. Lipton recorded much of this content during the research and writing of his landmark study of the Beats, The Holy Barbarians (1959), and his study of sexual mores, The Erotic Revolution (1965).
In Tape 158 from the collection, Lipton welcomes listeners to "Venice West" and introduces concepts of modern poetry, such as metrical style and strophic form. Lipton then introduces listeners to some of the "interests" of the Venice West poets: to restore the vocal arts and oral properties to poetry, experiment with the integration of poetry and jazz music, and introduce modern dance to the performance of reading (or singing) poetry. Lipton then commences the readings on this tape with one of his own poems titled "How to Listen to a Poem."