About Gordon Ball

Allen Ginsberg's Committee on Poetry, Inc.

Gordon Ball and Ginsberg's
Committee on Poetry, Inc.

For over twenty-nine years Gordon Ball took informal photographs of poet Allen Ginsberg and other members of the Beat Generation, the literary and cultural phenomenon which has had a world-wide impact since its inception in the mid-1950s. As well as being exhibited at conferences on Ginsberg and the Beat Generation, at a one-man show at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, at Great Modern Pictures in New York, the College of William and Mary, Le Centre Pompidou-Metz, and other venues, Ball's photos have appeared in books such as Ann Charters' Kerouac (first edition); Dennis McNally's Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation, and America; Rick Fields' How the Swans Came to the Lake: A Narrative History of Buddhism in America; Michael Kohler's Burroughs: Eine Bild Biographie; Carole Tonkinson's Big Sky Mind: Buddhism and the Beat Generation; Steven Watson's The
Birth of the Beat Generation: Visionaries, Rebels, and Hipsters, 1994-1960; and Ball's own East Hill Farm: Seasons with Allen Ginsberg. Periodicals from DoubleTake magazine (whose fall 1996 issue devoted two pages to one photo) to the Sunday New York Times magazine and the Chronicle of Higher Education have also reproduced his works.

This very small selection from over several hundred photographs captures Ginsberg (and Ginsbergiana) at various points of the poet's career from Cherry Valley, New York 1969 and San Francisco 1971 through Ginsberg's death in New York City 1997. Within it we see the poet and some of his earliest Beat colleagues, such as hipster Herbert Huneke, novelist Willaim S. Burroughs, poets Philip Whalen, Peter Orlovsky, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Gregory Corso; as well as fellow Buddhist poet Anne Waldman, Russian poet Andrei Voznesensky, and rock star Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth. Among locations are the streets of New York; the swimming pool attached to faculty housing at Naropa Institute (now Naropa University) in Boulder, Colorado, 1976; Ginsberg's own fourth-floor walk-up apartment on New York's Lower East Side; and the new loft he'd moved into not long before his death in 1997.

Gordon Ball, grandson of a portrait photographer, was born in Paterson, New Jersey, and grew up in Tokyo, Japan, where he first took up photography. Also an award-winning filmmaker, he's made fourteen independent movies which have shown at such institutions as the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Art Institute, Anthology Film Archives, and the Guggenheim Museum. Starting at Ginsberg's farm in l968, he worked with the poet on numerous literary and artistic projects, editing three books, including two volumes of journals and the Pulitzer Prize nominee Allen Verbatim: Lectures on Poetry, Politics, Consciousness. A Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he's the author of '66 Frames: A Memoir (Coffee House Press, l999); a volume of prose poems, Dark Music (Cityful Press, 2006; Elik Press, 2012) and East Hill Farm: Seasons with Allen Ginsberg (Counterpoint, 2011). He's taught in Poland and Japan as well as the United States, and is presently [2016] Visiting Associate Professor of English at Washington and Lee University.

About Gordon Ball