Saturday, February 27, 2021

Guest post by Robin Andrea: the 1982 Kerouac Conference in Boulder and more

 

Abbie Hoffman, Johanna Lawrenson, Gregory Corso and Timothy Leary (L-R) on the deck
of one of the little cabins Naropa had rented for the 1982 Kerouac Conference
(c) Gregory Mansur

I received the below e-mail (between the *******) from Robin Andrea and got her permission to publish it as a post here on The Daily Beat. She also sent me the above picture taken by her ex-husband, Gregory Mansur, at the famous 1982 Kerouac Conference at Naropa in Boulder, CO.

HERE is a link to Robin Andrea's blog -- check it out. Thanks for reaching out, Robin. Fascinating stuff! It's unexpected e-mails like this that make my blogging efforts worthwhile!


*******

Hello Rick Dale,

I found your blog today while googling around for some information about Lawrence Ferlinghetti and CU Boulder. After reading the sad news about Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s death, I was trying to remember if I had taken my parents to see Ferlinghetti reading poetry there back in 1982. Turns out it wasn’t Ferlinghetti but Gary Snyder, who I had taken them to see. Snyder was supposed to be at the conference but couldn’t make it. Your blog showed up during my search, and the very first image I saw on it was the poster from the Kerouac Conference of 1982. I was the Volunteer Coordinator at that conference. I wrote this on my blog about it several years ago:


"The closest I ever got to Jack Kerouac in spirit was to place flowers on his grave in Lowell, Massachusetts. The closest I ever got to him in life was to be with his dearest friends at a gathering in his honor back in 1982, during the 25th anniversary celebration of the publication of On the Road. It was a week-long celebration at Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. Naropa has a Writing and Poetics Department called the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics (begun by Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman in 1974), so a gathering of this sort was absolutely essential to the curriculum. I had just moved to Boulder and was looking to do something before I started classes at CU, so I volunteered to be the volunteer coordinator for this event. For months many of us joyously labored to gather all the old beat authors and bring them together to do readings, hold workshops, teach classes, and celebrate the life of Jack Kerouac. Quite a gathering it was-- Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Ken Kesey, Gregory Corso, Abbie Hoffman, Tim Leary, even the obscure characters from Kerouac's books like Herbert Huncke, Carl Solomon (to whom Ginsberg's Howl is dedicated) came. Jan Kerouac, Jack's daughter, was there, as well as Neal Cassady's widow, Carolyn. What an occasion. Kerouac was truly honored by those who knew and loved him. They read his words, they sang his praises, and we raised our glasses in his honor."

I have a copy of that Kerouac Conference poster as well signed by almost all of the attendees, even by some whose names are not on the list— like Jack Micheline and John Clellon Holmes. It’s been almost 40 years, and some of the signatures have faded with time.

As the volunteer coordinator I matched other volunteers with conference participants. Volunteers picked up people at the airport and took them to the places where they were staying during the conference. If I remember correctly we booked a place in a state park that had cabins. I chauffeured Abbie Hoffman and his partner Johanna Lawrenson. I have a photo of them with Tim Leary and Gregory Corso. If I remember correctly, one evening I drove William Burroughs back to where he was staying. On the way back, he said in the most gravelly cryptic voice, “Please stop at the store so I can get some strawberries.” The way he said strawberries has stayed with me all these years!

I was fortunate enough to do an apprenticeship with Allen Ginsberg that summer. He read my poetry ( I am embarrassed to admit! ) and I filed away some of his paper work at his home in Boulder. He had a filing cabinet with many folders labeled “Faded Yellow Newspaper Clippings.” 

It was a wonderful summer back then in 1982. I love remembering it even on a sad day as this. Here is a link to a blog post I did about running into Lawrence Ferlinghetti a couple of years ago. 

I’m also a little embarrassed that my husband and I chose to call our blog The New Dharma Bums back in 2004. We are both such fans of the beats, we couldn’t resist. 

I hope you don’t mind me sharing these stories with you. I’m hoping you enjoyed them.

A fellow Kerouac fan,
Robin

*******


2 comments:

robin andrea said...

Thank you so much for this post, Rick. It is a sad occasion saying our farewells to Lawrence Ferlinghetti. In the time of sorrow, it is uplifting to share stories with other heartfelt fans of the Beats. I'm glad our virtual paths crossed.

Rick Dale, author of The Beat Handbook said...

This is one of my favorite posts in a long time. I'm glad our virtual paths crossed, too!