Peter Orlovsky was a sweet and handsome 21-year-old with a troubled past when he met Allen Ginsberg in San Francisco in 1954, and the two forged a relationship that would last for decades and transform their lives.
Mr. Orlovsky, who became a poet in his own right but was always overshadowed by Ginsberg's fame, died Sunday in Vermont. He was 76 and had battled emphysema and lung cancer.
"When Peter and Allen met, they were both troubled," said Gerald Nicosia, a Marin County poet and biographer of Jack Kerouac. "Ginsberg was troubled by his homosexuality and afraid to be a poet, and Peter had come from this family defined by mental illness, and he was living in San Francisco and wondering where his own life was going."
Within a year of meeting Mr. Orlovsky, Ginsberg started writing "Howl," a poem that was first performed Oct. 7, 1955, at the Six Gallery in San Francisco and published a year later. The controversial poem became a seminal work of the Beat Generation.
"Allen was the brains, and Peter was the heart," said Nicosia. " You couldn't be around him without feeling this love radiating from his eyes."Read more:
Friday, June 4, 2010
Another lost Beat - so sad, so few left to tell the stories from one of our most intriguing generations.