“Plutonian Ode” by Allen Ginsberg

1 Jan


Plutonian Ode Front Cover

Just about a year ago I posted an article on my complete collection of the City Lights Pocket Poets Series.  I continue to add to the collection and replace near fine copies with finer examples.  It remains one of my proudest collective achievements.  The above was an unexpected Christmas present from my father who was supposed to be “keeping things simple” this year over the holidays.

As you can see from the cover, Ginsberg’s “Plutonian Ode” is the fortieth installment of the Pocket Poets Series.  It also happens to be the sixth and final poem which Ginsberg published in the PPS circa 1982.  “Plutonian Ode” is a reactionary poem against the arms race and unholy superpowers that be.  I already had a hardcover first of the poem but I’ve been trying to round out my collection with softcover firsts of those poems which I have the hardcover of and vice versa.  My father spotted this one some months ago and thankfully picked it up.

It is a softcover first, and with the exclusion of some minor tanning and slight edge-wear, it is a near-fine copy.  What makes this copy special is Ginsberg’s inscription.  Ginsberg was known for signing his work given any and every opportunity and so the signature itself is not particularly important.  What is important is to whom the copy was inscribed: Larry Rivers.

Plutonian Ode Inscription

Above: “For Larry Rivers / 4/28/83 / at a party in big loft / Allen Ginsberg”

Larry Rivers was a saxophonist who played alongside Miles Davis turned “grandfather of pop art.”  During the 1960s Rivers resided in the Hotel Chelsea among a slew of other important artists/poets/musicians loosely or directly tied to Warhol’s Factory.  His work can be found on permanent display in Washington D.C.’s Hirshhorn Museum.

What is most significant about Rivers ownership of Allen Ginsberg’s “Plutonian Ode” is that Rivers also appeared in the 1959 short film, Pull My Daisy, about the Beat Generation and its characters.  Pull My Daisy was directed by artist/photographers Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie.  Narrated by Kerouac, the premise of the film is a “beat” group of ne’er-do-wells crashing a bishop’s visit to a home.  Though once assumed to be a triumph in improvisation, Leslie revealed in 1968 to be a calculated studio production.  The film features Ginsberg and Rivers as well as Gregory Corso, Ginsberg’s poet/lifemate Peter Orlovsky and musician/composer David Amram.

Cover of John Clellon Holmes' Go

Above: Cover to John Clellon Holmes’ beat novel “Go.”  (clockwise from bottom left) Gregory Corso (w/ cap), Larry Rivers, Jack Kerouac, David Amram, Allen Ginsberg.

Fourteen years after their beat film collaboration Ginsberg and Rivers remained friends and I now own proof!

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