Category Archives: reading

Poet Larry Beckett & Michael Goldberg to Read at The Octopus

An Evening of Poetry & Prose: Larry Beckett & Michael Goldberg

Celebrated poet and songwriter Larry Beckett will be reading from his epic poem, “Paul Bunyan,” for the first time in the Bay Area at The Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland, CA on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Joining Larry Beckett will be novelist and former Rolling Stone Senior Writer Michael Goldberg, who will read from his new novel, “Untitled.” The reading will begin at 7 pm.

If you are interested in attending, please head over to the event Facebook page and let me know.

Larry Beckett’s “Paul Bunyan” re-tells the legend of the giant lumberjack for the twenty-first century. Drawing on logger folklore, James Stevens’ stories and the Davy Crockett almanacs, Larry Beckett’s poem is a modern epic in ‘long-winded’ blank verse. It is a celebration of the everyday poetry of colloquial North American English, loose and rough, bragging and unbelievable.

Larry Beckett’s songs have been recorded by musicians all over the world; “Song to the Siren,” which he wrote with Tim Buckley, has been covered by David Gray, Robert Plant, Bryan Ferry, George Michael and Sinead O’Connor. Larry Beckett’s other books include “Songs and Sonnets” and “Beat Poetry.” He has translated many poets, including Heraclitus, Goethe and Li Po. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

About “Paul Bunyan,” San Francisco Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman wrote: “A terrific, epic-like poem based on the story of Paul Bunyan, in which Beckett creates a gigantic working-class type who is also everything and everyone. He’s mythic and his shibboleth is: Work. Beckett has written a rollicking, truly inventive long poem whose lines are sustained by a brilliant haiku-syllablation (each line has 12-15 syllables) coupled with images that bring the Bunyan myth right into the 21st Century. Certainly Beckett’s finest work to date.”

“Paul Bunyan” publisher’s page for more info is here.

Michael Goldberg is the author of three novels, “True Love Scars,” “The Flowers Lied” and “Untitled,” which comprise the Freak Scene Dream Trilogy, a rock ‘n’ roil coming-of-age story set in the late Sixties and early Seventies.

What the critics say about Goldberg’s novels:

“Radioactive as Godzilla!” – Richard Meltzer

“Kerouac in the 21st Century.” – Dennis McNally

“Penned in a staccato amphetamine grammar…” – Simon Warner

“Holden Caulfield meets Lord Buckley?” – Paul Krassner

“Our hero drinks and drugs and dances to the nightingale tune while birds fly high by the light of the moon.” – Larry Ratso Sloman

“If Lester Bangs had ever published a novel it might read something like this frothing debut by longtime music journalist Michael Goldberg.” – Colin Fleming, Rolling Stone

The Octopus Literary Salon is located at 2101 Webster St #170, Oakland, CA 94612

Phone: (510) 844-4120

Event Facebook page.

Video: Michael Goldberg & Henry Kaiser Do Neil Young

Michael Goldberg & Henry Kaiser, May 7, 2016.
Michael Goldberg & Henry Kaiser, May 7, 2016.

Last night (May 7, 2016) myself and the amazing experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser gave a reading to a standing-room-only audience at The Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland, CA.

Henry opened with a 20 minute solo electric guitar set of improvisations utilizing several guitars and a bank of effects pedals as well as a strange box that produced drum and bass based on what Henry played.

Then I joined Henry on the stage to read ten excerpts from my new rock ‘n’ roll coming-of-age novel, The Flowers Lied.

This reading was very special because Henry was accompanying me on guitar and machines. We had done this only once before, back in 2014, at Down Home Music. That was a great show, but it was totally different. Completely different vibe.

I read five longer excerpts with an “interlude” devoted to a musician or song between each. The first was about Skippy James and “I’m So Glad,” then Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” and Neil Young. Below you can hear “Interlude #4: Neil Young.”

For me, it was so very intense to stand there before the audience, all eyes on the two of us, and read words I’d spent more than six years perfecting. I had been reading my novel aloud as I wrote it. Every day for six years I read some of it aloud. Every page was read aloud and every revised page. I knew the sound of my words, my sentences, my paragraphs. I knew the rhythms of those sentences, and the music they make.

I had read in the privacy of my office. I had read before the members of three writers groups I was in: The Dangerous Writers group in Portland in 2008 and some of 2009 where all the early work got done, another group in Inverness, CA in late 2009 and 2010, and the group I led in Oakland and El Cerrito from late 2010 to late 2013.

And yet this was totally different. There really is nothing like reading before an audience in a public space, an audience silent because they want to hear the words and the music, the music of the words and the music of the music.

Here’s a taste of what went down. This is a brief excerpt from a chapter in which the narrator and his friend go to a Neil Young concert in late 1972. The first line is cut off. So I’ll tell you what it is:

“I dig Neil the most, beginning in his Buffalo Springfield days…”

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

Novelist Michael Goldberg & Grammy Winner Henry Kaiser to Perform Together

tfl-fb copy

I’ll be reading from my new novel, The Flowers Lied, and the Grammy-winning experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser will be improvising when we do “a post-beat happening – words + music” on May 6, 2016 at The Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland, CA.

If you’re interested, check out the events Facebook page, “a post-beat happening.”

And please let your Bay Area friends know about this.

Here’s more info:

Celebrating ex-Rolling Stone Senior Writer Michael Goldberg’s new rock ‘n’ roll novel, The Flowers Lied, Goldberg and Grammy winning experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser will collaborate on “a post-beat happening” at The Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland, CA on Saturday, May 7, 2016. Goldberg will read from his new novel while Kaiser improvises on electric guitar. Plus a solo set by Kaiser. Note that no meat will be served during this event! Free.

What the critics say about Goldberg’s novels:

“Radioactive as Godzilla!” – Richard Meltzer

“Kerouac in the 21st Century.” – Dennis McNally

“Penned in a staccato amphetamine grammar…” – Simon Warner

“Holden Caulfield meets Lord Buckley?” – Paul Krassner

“Our hero drinks and drugs and dances to the nightingale tune while birds fly high by the light of the moon.” – Larry Ratso Sloman

“Reads like a fever dream from the dying days of the Summer of Love.” – Alina Simone

“If Lester Bangs had ever published a novel it might read something like this frothing debut by longtime music journalist Michael Goldberg.” – Colin Fleming, Rolling Stone

Michael Goldberg was a senior writer at Rolling Stone magazine for a decade. He has interviewed Jerry Garcia, Patti Smith, George Harrison, Captain Beefheart, Stevie Wonder, Sleater-Kinney, James Brown, Frank Zappa, Berry Gordy Jr., John Fogerty, Neil Young, Lou Reed, Black Flag, The Replacements, Flipper, Robbie Robertson, Sonic Youth and many more. In 1994 Goldberg launched the first Web music magazine, Addicted To Noise, and “invented music journalism on the web,” as journalist Denise Sullivan put it. Goldberg currently writes a column, The Drama You’ve Been Craving,” for Addicted To Noise and feature stories for the online animal rights magazine, The Daily Pitchfork.

“The Flowers Lied,” the second of the Freak Scene Dream Trilogy, is a story of love, friendship and the search for identity, set in the early ‘70s. Although it takes place in the past, themes running through the book — trying to live an authentic life, struggling against the powers that be, navigating the terrain between love and lust, loyalty and betrayal — are as relevant today as ever. Goldberg’s first novel, True Love Scars, was published in 2014.

Henry Kaiser in action - not to be missed.
Henry Kaiser in action – not to be missed.

Grammy winner Henry Kaiser is widely recognized as one of the most creative and innovative guitarists, improvisers, and producers in the fields of rock, jazz, world, and contemporary experimental musics. The California-based musician is one of the most extensively recorded as well, having appeared on more than 250 different albums and contributed to countless television and film soundtracks.

A restless collaborator who constantly seeks the most diverse and personally challenging contexts for his music, Mr. Kaiser not only produces and contributes to a staggering number of recorded projects, he performs frequently throughout the USA, Canada, Europe and Japan, with several regular groupings as well as solo guitar concerts and concerts of freely improvised music with a host of diverse instrumentalists. Among the numerous artists Kaiser has recorded or performed with are Herbie Hancock, Richard Thompson, David Lindley, Jerry Garcia, Steve Lacy, Fred Frith, Terry Riley, Negativland, Michael Stipe, Jim O’Rourke, Victoria Williams, Diamanda Galas and Cecil Taylor. Kaiser’s latest album, The Celestial Squid, was released last year.

The Octopus Literary Salon is located at 2101 Webster St #170, Oakland, CA 94612

Phone: (510) 844-4120

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

‘Still Howling’ Celebrates Allen Ginsberg’s Epic Poem, ‘Howl’

Flyer by artist J. Michael Anderson, who will exhibit his Beat-related artwork at Still Howling.

It was sixty years ago, on October 7, 1955, that Allen Ginsberg stood in the Six Gallery, a gallery/poetry space that artist Wally Hedrick had opened on Fillmore Street in San Francisco in 1954, and read his radical and epic poem “Howl” for the first time.

Hedrick had to convince his friend Ginsberg to appear. “[Hedrik] asked him to organize a poetry reading at the Six Gallery,” according to Wikipedia. “At first, Ginsberg refused. But once he’d written a rough draft of ‘Howl,’ he changed his ‘fucking mind,’ as he put it. The large and excited audience included a drunken Jack Kerouac, who refused to read his own work but cheered the other poets on, shouting ‘Yeah! Go! Go!’ during their performances.”

Ginsberg was second to last on a lineup that also included Gary Snyder, Philip Lamantia, and Philip Whalen, Michael McClure and Kenneth Rexroth.

Michael McClure later wrote: “Ginsberg read on to the end of the poem, which left us standing in wonder, or cheering and wondering, but knowing at the deepest level that a barrier had been broken, that a human voice and body had been hurled against the harsh wall of America…”

In addition to being one of the seminal works to come out of the Beat movement, “Howl” influenced numerous poets around the world, both at the time and continuing right up to today. But it also had a profound impact on many rock musicians including a young Bob Dylan, whose songwriting was clearly influenced by Ginsberg’s electric writing in that poem, which begins:

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix…”

On October 10th, the 60th anniversary of that first reading of “Howl” will be celebrated during a nine hour event, Still Howling, at the Wonder Inn in Manchester, England, that will run from 2 pm until 11 pm.

Flyer for the Six Gallery, 1955,

Participating will be Ginsberg biographer (and Beat expert) Barry Miles, British poet Michael Horovitz who appeared along with Ginsberg at the International Poetry Incarnation at the Royal Albert Hall in 1965, Ginsberg guitarist Steven Taylor, who accompanied Ginsberg for 20 years (and a member of The Fugs for the past 30 years) and the British actor George Hunt, who will read “Howl” in its entirety. MCing will be CP Lee, author of “like the night: Bob Dylan and the road to the Manchester Free Trade Hall,” and a former senior lecturer at the University of Salford.

There will be an afternoon symposium featuring Miles, Horovitz, Taylor, Peter Hale of the Ginsberg Trust and poets Christina Fonthes and Elmi Ali, and others.

Taylor will collaborate with Horovitz, perform a solo set and give the British premiere of his short choral work, “Footnote to Howl.”

There will also be a series of musical performances, paying reference to Ginsberg and the Beats, by spoken word artist Heath Common, joined by the Lincoln 72s and Dub Sex front man Mark Hoyle, alt-folk singer-songwriter Chris T-T, whose debut album was called Beatverse, and the Isness.

The event is co-produced by Beat authority Simon Warner, who in 2005 organized a 50th anniversary celebration of the first reading of “Howl,” and Manchester-based installation artist Roger Bygott. “Roger proposed we try and do another [‘Howl’] birthday event,” Warner explained via email from Leeds, England, where he teaches at the University of Leeds. “A decade on seemed a good moment to return to this seminal moment in twentieth-century poetry.”

Warner has been a fan of ‘Howl’ since he first read it as a teenager. “At first Ginsberg’s poem seems like a dislocated explosion, a chaotic stream of consciousness,” Warner said during a 2013 interview. “But when you start to unpack the details and debate the reasons why the poet uses such a fragmented form, its treasures are many. Its language is rich and raucous, surprising, sometimes shocking. ‘Howl’ is one of the great modernist statements, to rank with masterpieces by Picasso and Brecht, Beckett and Eliot. Its truths lie in its dissonance, in its fragmented shards, in its huge rolling passion, its heartfelt gravity.”

It was in the late ‘70s that Warner discovered the Beats. “I first encountered the names of the Beats through publications like New Musical Express, a weekly magazine forging an alternative voice and confirming that there were links between popular musical expression and the ideas of those maverick American writers,” he wrote in his email. “But then I read Ann Charters’ biography of Kerouac, the first such book to profile the novelist, then came across a remarkable late 1950s compilation called ‘Protest,’ which gathered work by the Beats and the UK’s Angry Young Men, and ‘Howl’ was one of the featured items.”

While Kerouac’s “On the Road” is likely the most popular (and influential) piece of writing to emerge from the Beat scene, Warner thinks “Howl” – published a year before “On the Road” – is just as important a literary work, perhaps more important.

“I think that ‘Howl’ was a genuine game-changer in all sorts of ways,” Warner wrote. “Until then, this underground gathering of friends and lovers, largely unpublished novelists and poets, dubbed the Beat Generation, was essentially beneath the radar, largely anonymous. Ginsberg was desperate to escape the formal strictures of the academy when it came to poetry, but he was very nervous about expressing his most intense, inner personal feelings.

“Here was a Jewish, socialist, second-generation Russian immigrant and a homosexual man to boot, who was likely to upset the conservative WASP establishment on so many levels, at a time when anyone stepping out of line faced censure, the prospect of unemployment, even imprisonment,” Warner continued. “Ginsberg had devised a new observational poetry, a fractured, fractious consideration of contemporary America, a modernist view of a land ensnared in the post-war paranoia of Cold War politics.

“Yet there was also a deep humanity to the piece,” Warner wrote. “The poem was certainly a tremendously brave gesture and once it was read in the Six Gallery on October 7th, 1955, the padlocks of repression and inhibition were smashed. In short, ‘Howl’ introduced powerful and controversial ideas but also trumpeted, by name, those very writers who would become the key, published members of the Beat community, widely read and acclaimed in the decade that followed. It also opened up the possibility of the counterculture having a voice and, it might be argued, was actually a significant preface to what happened, socially, culturally, even politically, in the West in the 1960s.”

Warner is the author of “Text and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Beats and Rock Culture,” and in that book he makes the case that the Beats, including Ginsberg, had an immense influence on rock music.

“The Beats had a tremendous impact on rock culture,” Warner wrote in the email. “Particularly that version of sophisticated rock music that emerged around 1965 and 1966, that time when Dylan went electric, when the Beatles entered a new era of musical and lyrical maturity.
“Artists from the Doors to Jefferson Airplane, the Stones to Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead to Van Morrison and Cream, acknowledged the influence that writers like Kerouac, Burroughs and Ginsberg had had on their sensibilities, opening their consciousness and encouraging them to be more adventurous artistically.”

Artist Wally Hedrick, who convinced Ginsberg to read at the Six Gallery. Photo by Michael Goldberg

For more info on Still Howling, head to the Facebook page.

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

Audio: Michael Goldberg & Guitiarist Henry Kaiser Live – ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ Set Me Free

Photo from my LitQuake reading, October 2014.
Photo from my LitQuake reading, October 2014.

Yesterday afternoon, Saturday December 13, 2104, I read from my novel, True Love Scars, as the acclaimed, Grammy-winning experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser improvised. And then Henry did a short, brilliant instrumental. The reading took place at Down Home Music in El Cerrito, CA.

I called the event a “post-beat happening.”

It was thrilling to read as Henry’s music lit up the room. When you’re on a stage and you’re in the groove, and the music, music you’ve never heard before, is exactly right for what you’re doing, you levitate.

Two sections I read were about how Bob Dylan’s music changed the narrator’s life. I’ve included both of those and then another excerpt which is the first few pages of the novel. Plus an instrumental improvisation by Henry that concluded the reading.

Down Home Music was an incredible environment for a reading. A room filled with CDs and vinyl and a wall of music books and music posters on the walls and incredibly knowledgeable folks running the place.

Where else is an impulse buy going to be a Roscoe Holcomb DVD?

Yep, I now own that DVD.

There was a nice write-up in advance of the reading in the East Bay Express and that brought a great group of folks into the store to hear me and Henry do our thing.

I read about 30 minutes while Henry utilized a guitar, a whammy bar and more than a dozen pedals to create a sonic backdrop for my words. Actually, it was more than a backdrop, as you’ll see if you listen to the first excerpt, below.

1) The impact of “Like A Rolling Stone”:

2) “It was Dylan, man!”:

3) How the book begins:

4) Henry’s concluding instrumental:

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Live: East Bay Express Hypes Michael Goldberg/ Henry Kaiser ‘post-beat happening’

Big surprise today when I opened the latest East Bay Express and discovered that my reading Saturday with Henry Kaiser at Down Home Music is their pick for “Lectures & Lit” this week, and one of this weekend’s “Top Five Events.”

How cool is that!

I’ll read from my novel, True Love Scars, and experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser will improvise on electric guitar.

It’ll happen at 3 pm at Down Home Music, 10341 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito, CA. And it’s free, of course.

Writes Arts and Culture Editor Sarah Burke:

True Love Scars is a rock ’n’ roll novel about harboring nostalgia for the 1960s, getting lost in a drugged-up dream-world, finding love, and then losing it tragically.

You can read the rest of the writeup here.

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]