Qayna punchawmi Brother Robert AND THEN riwistata qespirichin. Chaypim Roger Santivanezwan qellqasqaykuta qespichirqayku. Solemos juntarnos para un cafe los fines de semana a resolver el mundo, pero el mundo da muchas vueltas, Thank you Brother, thank you AND THEN ayllu.
I mean the gods did not have a rumba on the sky, on Saint Marks Place, or the Lower east side, or anywhere.
I had been in Harlem for a few months, trying my luck with a script and a few essays here and there. Not enough, really. But still reading lots of news about the war in Peru, and any edgy post modern mumbo jumbo I could get my hand on, but very little poetry. Let alone writing even a single line for months!
But then again you could still read the Village Voice with gusto, feeling you were going somewhere. One day they announced a poetry marathon in Saint Mark’s Church.
Got there very early and witnessed a crazy amount of poets reading their work. My broken English allowed for little understanding, but I still remember a guy putting his whole being in a small piece, and another one talking about someone going uptown and describing what happened in every corner.
There was a short break. A bold and chubby guy with a backpack showed up. Someone said “Hi Allen”. They greeted with a kiss. He talked with a couple of other people and the left after a while.
The reading went on for a few hours and the uptown guy invited everybody to his loft near Tompkins Square. I was sure that it was going to turn into a wild blast of alcohol, music, nicotine and conversations, just like back home. But the party turned to be a bummer. Everybody was talking business like. If there was any trace of bohemian life in Manhattan it had to be found somewhere else.
A few days later I had a picnic with a hippie poet I meet at the party. We took the bus from Houston Street to Battery Park. She had tried to calm me down when I began complaining about the party not being cosmic enough. But now I had mellowed out. And told her the story about a young great beatnik poet going to Lima, and meeting in a bar with a great older Peruvian poet. He also went to Cusco and the jungle to score some Ayahuasca.
Then there was another beatnik poet I meet years later though a Peruvian friend in Woodstock. She found out I was going to Peru and gave me a manuscript so I could submit it to a local poetry editor. She had been married to a Peruvian painter, Fernando Vega, and spent a year or reclusion in Taquile, a island of weavers in Lake Titicaca, where the Incas began their journey to Cusco. In fact, her book of poetry is in Spanish. I have her manuscript somewhere in my mess.
The editor was interested in the book, but there was no follow up. Years later I mentioned her to my friend Roger in South Jersey, only to find out Janine Pommy Vega, who was a beatnik and feminist poet with strong ties to Peru, had just passed away. I still remember her warmth and intensity when she talked about Taquile, her relatives near the main police station in Lima, and her poetry work in upstate New York’s jails. May she rest in peace.
In Peru nobody talks about her.
But they are wild about the chubby and scruffy guy that showed up in Saint Mark’s Poetry Project Marathon. Every body is still talking and writing about it thousand years after.
She was born in Jersey City and he was born in Newark.
I am from Peru and now live in Kearny.
Nothing special happened the day I meet Allen Ginsberg. No karma blues or cosmic high. Just a bunch of them poets reading their work.
Years later Saint Mark’s Church became host of the Inti Raymi, the Fiesta of the Sun. that is when a Lower East Side Inca and his court celebrate the summer solstice. I guess them beatnik poets and them Incas have a strong connection way up there.
Go figure. You know what I mean.