A memoir by Don Carpenter
It was the spring of 1964 and Gary Snyder had just come back from several years in Japan, and I thought it would be a good thing for him to have a public reading of his new poems. Up until then the poetry readings I had gone to had been chaotic and profitless (for the poets), and so the trick would be to set up the reading on a professional basis.
Some years earlier I had hosted a poetry reading in my basement in Portland, Oregon, with Gary Snyder and Philip Whalen reading, and it had been awful, all except for the poetry. It was too crowded, too hot, and when we passed the hat to pay for the wine we only got $1.75. A window got broken and somebody trampled my nasturtiums. But hell. This time, I resolved, there would be planning, care lavished on every detail, the audience would be comfortable and the poets would make a few bucks.
I asked Snyder and Whalen if they would like to read together again if I did all the work and they got all the money, and they agreed. But, it turned out, Donald Allen, the redoubtable editor and translator, who sprung the Beat Generation on the world with Evergreen Review Number Two, had it in mind to offer Snyder and Lew Welch in a joint reading. A meeting was called at my apartment on Jersey Street and it was quickly agreed that we should pool forces.