Allen Ginsberg i Danmark

Allen Ginsberg i Danmark

Author: Lars Movin

325 pages, 80 illustrations (many not previously published)

Published by Spring, Denmark, 2019

Language: Danish

Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) was a tireless traveller. According to David S. Wills’ recently published World Citizen: Ginsberg as Traveller, he visited about 65 countries in his life. In later years, many of the trips were reading tours, and one of these, in late 1982 and early 1983, took Ginsberg from the UNESCO conference “War on War” in France through The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and the Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland). He was journeying with his life companion Peter Orlovsky and guitarist Steven Taylor, and in most countries the trio did two or three gigs and then moved on. But there was one exception. In Denmark they spent two full weeks and did eight performances all over the country (one of them a workshop on Buddhism, poetry and Haiku). Most of the time they were privately accommodated, and they were very accessable and open to meet old and new friends, and did many interviews and appearances on radio and television. It remained Ginsberg’s only visit to Denmark, but it really made a mark.

Rosebud in front of the Poetry Building 2014

In preparation for his book, Ginsberg i Denmark, Lars Movin has spent two years tracking down most surviving witnesses and digging deep into the archives, including Ginsberg’s notebooks and a memoir by Steven Taylor (both unpublished). What he found has been condensed into a 325 page portrait of Ginsberg as a poet, performer and public figure, using a detailed mapping of the fourteen days in Denmark as a frame and narrative spine. Detours are made into various subjects, such as the background for the lengthy stay in Denmark, which turned out to be orchestrated by a close friend of Ginsberg from the 1960s, Rose “Rosebud” Feliu-Pettet, married to a Danish man in 1970s and living in Aarhus for the better part of the decade (with her son, Harley Flanagen, who, while in Denmark, at the age of eight published the book Stories & Illustrations by Harley with a foreword by Ginsberg).

Stories & Illustrations by Harley (1976)

Another detour concerns the milieu around “The Poets’ Building” on 437 East 12th Street in New York, home to Ginsberg and Orlovsky from 1975 and on, where many of the Danish friends stayed when visiting the city. Finally, the book looks into Ginsberg’s 1987 photo exhibition at Gallery Image in Aarhus, an important event as it marked the publication of the first book of his photography (by Danish publisher Klim).

Ginsberg, Orlovsky & Taylor in Aarhus 14.1.83 (Saul Shapiro)
Rose & Harley in Aarhus mid-1970s (Mille Guldbeck)

While in Denmark in 1983, Ginsberg produced a broadsheet of “Father Death Blues” in collaboration with Danish poet Dan Turèll, and with visual work by Hans Oldau Krull (artist) and Jan Haugaard (layout) (AA30 in Bill Morgan: The Works of Allen Ginsberg 1941-1994. A Descriptive Bibliography). And among the numerous interviews Ginsberg gave at least one of them has remained unpublished till now, a ninety minute late night conversation in the basement of a collective in Hvidovre, a suburb of Copenhagen. Excerpts of the 23 page transcript of the interview (done by Lars Movin in 2019) have been posted on the Allen Ginsberg Project website:

Ginsberg & Orlovsky on stage at Hvidovre Medborgerhus 21.1.83 (Hans Fromberg Schmidt)