The Beat Generation with Biographer Bill Morgan and Poet David Meltzer


Bill Morgan, photograph by Chris Felver, and David Meltzer.

Date/Time: Thursday, Jul 11 | 6:30–8pm
Admission: Free for Members and co-sponsors; $10 general (includes Museum admission) Get Tickets
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About the Program

Part of the Allen Ginsberg Festival. Learn more at →

Two literary legends take the stage to delve into the myth and man of Allen Ginsberg and the legacy of the Beat Generation. Bill Morgan (I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg and The Beat Generation in San Francisco) talks with David Meltzer (San Francisco Beats: Talking with the Poets and David’s Copy: The Selected Poems of David Meltzer). CJM’s Gravity Goldberg will moderate the conversation.

Bill Morgan

Bill Morgan is an American writer, editor, and painter, best known for his work as an archivist and bibliographer for public figures such as Allen Ginsberg,Lawrence FerlinghettiAbbie Hoffman, and Timothy Leary.

Morgan served as Ginsberg's personal archivist and bibliographer from the early1980s until the author's death of cancer in 1997. Over their twenty-year professional relationship, Morgan became quite close to Ginsberg, and has written extensively on the Beat Generation and its key figures.

As Ginsberg's bibliographer, Morgan spent fifteen years corresponding with and visiting numerous publishers, editors, scholars, and library collections in order to gather sufficient information to document the history of Ginsberg's prodigious output and the worldwide attention it has drawn. The results of his research appeared in a two-volume bibliography: The Works of Allen Ginsberg, 1941-1994: A Descriptive Bibliography and The Response to Allen Ginsberg, 1926-1994: A Bibliography of Secondary Sources] (1995, 1997). In 2006, Morgan published I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg (2006). He followed that in 2010 with The Typewriter Is Holy: The Complete, Uncensored History of the Beat Generation (2010). Morgan has also authored or edited a half-dozen other works relating to the Beats, including collections of Ginsberg's essays ,Deliberate Prose: Selected Essays, 1952–1995( 2000), of the poet's last poems, Death & Fame: Poems, 1993-1997, co-edited with Bob Rosenthal and Peter Hale (1999), and of Gregory Corso's correspondence, An Accidental Autobiography: The Selected Letters of Gregory Corso ( 2003). Through City Lights Publishers in San Francisco, he has published two guides, The Beat Generation in New York: A Walking Tour of Jack Kerouac's City (1997) and The Beat Generation in San Francisco: A Literary Tour (2003). The latter appeared during the fiftieth anniversary celebration of City Lights, to which Morgan also contributed with a series of free walking tours of the North Beach section of San Francisco, once a center of bohemian life in the city and a past home for many of the Beats in the 1950s and 1960s.

David Meltzer

David Meltzer was born in Rochester, New York, and raised in Brooklyn. He began his literary career during the San Francisco Beat and Berkeley Renaissance period in North Beach, California, and his work was included in the anthology, The New American Poetry 1945-1960. At the age of 20 he recorded his poetry with jazz musicians in Los Angeles and also became a singer-songwriter and guitarist for several bands during the 1960s, including The Serpent Power. He is the author of over forty volumes of poetry, including Arrows: Selected Poetry 1957–1992No Eyes: Lester Young (2000), Beat Thing (2004), and David’s Copy (2005).  He has also published fiction and essays, and has edited numerous anthologies and collections of interviews, such as The Secret Garden: An Anthology in the Kabbalah (1976), Reading Jazz (1993), Writing Jazz (1999), Birth: Anthology of Ancient Texts, Songs, Prayers, and Stories (1981), Death: Anthology of Texts, Songs, Charms, Prayers, and Tales (1981), and San Francisco Beat: Talking with the Poets (2001). His most recent book is When I Was a Poet (2011).
Meltzer taught in the humanities and poetics programs at the New College of California in San Francisco for 30 years. In 2008, he received the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award. He was also given the Bay Area Guardian's Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2012 was nominated for the Northern California Book Award in Poetry. An expanded version of his book Two-Way Mirror: A Poetry Notebook (1977), a unique instruction manual for writing and understanding poetry, will be reissued in 2014.

Meltzer and his wife, the poet Julie Rogers, live in Oakland, California. 



Public Programs and New Media Initiatives at the CJM are made possible with lead support from The Jim Joseph Foundation. Major support has been provided by the Leavitt Family and supporting sponsorship comes from The Toole Family Charitable Foundation, David B. Gold Foundation, In Memory of Benjamin Alpert, and Alyse Mason Brill and Nathan Brill.




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