Gordon Ball was born in Paterson, New Jersey at the end of 1944. From 1968 to 1971 he was farm manager for Allen Ginsberg’s upstate New York retreat for poets, recounted in his East Hill Farm: Seasons with Allen Ginsberg (Counterpoint, 2011). He edited three volumes with Ginsberg—Allen Verbatim: Lectures on Poetry, Politics, Consciousness (1974); Journals Early Fifties Early Sixties (1977); and Journals Mid-Fifties (l995). He took over 1,000 photographs of “Ginsberg & Beat Fellows,” some of which have been included in various books, exhibitions, and journals, including the Rolling Stone Book of the Beats, the New York Times Sunday magazine, and Doubletake; a sampling appears on his website http://www.gordonballgallery.com/. He’s authored numerous essays and other writings and interviews, including “A Nobel for Dylan?” in The Poetics of American Song Lyrics (ed. Charlotte Pence, 2012), “Wopbopgooglemop: Howl and its Influences” in The Poem that Changed America (ed. Jason Shinder, 2006), and “Saying Goodbye to Allen” (with photo by author) in the Chronicle of Higher Education (October 24, 1997).
Ball arranged for Ginsberg’s reading at the 1986 Modern Language Association convention and chaired its 30th anniversary discussion of Howl by Laszlo Gefin, Ann Charters, Barry Miles, and Marjorie Perloff; and moderated the panel on Kaddish with Czeslaw Milosz, Helen Vendler, Lewis Hyde, and Barry Miles at the 1991 MLA convention. He’s the author of `66 Frames: A Memoir (Coffee House Press, 1999), depicting mid-Sixties New York avant-garde and counterculture as well as early experiences with Ginsberg, Jonas Mekas, Timothy Leary, Andy Warhol, and others. His volume of prose poems, Dark Music (Cityful Press, 2006, Elik Press, 2012) includes vivid gists of moments with Ginsberg. Most recently he’s published On Tokyo’s Edge: Gaijin Tales from Postwar Japan (Red Mountain Press, 2017), a book of interrelated short stories based on early years in Japan. His independent personal films have shown at numerous venues including the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Cinematheque, and Anthology Film Archives. The DVD Films by Gordon Ball (2010) collects seven of his works. He’s taught at various universities including (as Fulbright Specialist Lecturer in American Literature) Sophia, Waseda, and Rikkyo universities in Tokyo, 1983-84; as American Literature and Culture Specialist at Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland (summers 1986, 1988); and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Old Dominion University, Tougaloo College, and the Virginia Military Institute. Since 2015 he’s been a Visiting Associate Professor of English at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.