The week after Allen Ginsberg died, Ellen DeGeneres, the sit-com actress and stand-up
comedian, was on the cover of Time. She had come out on national television in an episode of her series. Ginsberg's
obituary was brief. Ginsberg himself had come out in a sense, but nearly a half-century
before, at San Francisco's Six Gallery in October, 1955. Unlike the millions who watched
Ms. DeGeneres kiss her same-gendered guest star, there were only around fifty in attendance
at Six, but the event resonated far beyond, as this was where the poet delivered the
inaugural reading of his barrier-breaking work, "Howl." Banned as obscene, "Howl"
is now often required reading in colleges and high schools. Ginsberg himself would
surely have seen the irony to playing a bit part in that particular issue of Time. In his poem "America" (1956), he says: "Are you going to let your emotional life be run by Time Magazine? I'm obsessed by Time Magazine. I read it every week. . . . It's always talking about responsibility. Businessmen
are serious. Movie producers are serious. Everybody's serious but me."
In the fall of 2003, after four years of offering online courses and a year of administrative
groundwork, Naropa University's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics launched
its MFA Creative Writing low-residency degree. An online publication was an obvious
inclusion. What to call it? In a culture where items used to be defined by what comprised
them, now things are often defined by what has been left out: no sugar, no salt, no
caffeine, no alcohol, no fat, no cholesterol. . . . Elements regarded as potentially
harmful. What then, does "not enough night" mean, and what does it mean to be? It's
from Kerouac. "Not enough ecstasy for me, not enough life, joy, kicks, darkness, music, not enough
night." It's about putting something vital back in.
In the more than fifty years since Kerouac wrote those words on the now-venerated
scroll he used for the composition of On the Road, it's all too clear that we've lost something. Sameness has set in. Where do you
live? If it's America, the smart money says you're not too far from the gentrified
industrial neighborhood, the renovated art house, the franchised coffee bar and the
chain bookstore . . . not enough night.
In this inaugural issue we feature writers who are instructing in the MFA Creative Writing program, augmented by work from Anne Waldman, co-founder (with Allen Ginsberg) of the Jack
Kerouac School. Also presented is an enduring friend of Naropa, Amiri Baraka, in a
2004 appearance at the acclaimed Summer Writing Program; courtesy of Naropa's Audio Archives, an astounding collection of literature that spans three decades and continues to
grow, finally being regarded for what it is: a cultural treasure.
So here we are. You'll be able to find us at least three times a year, putting forth
voices and points of view that fuel our purpose and keep the lights low but burning.
We'll be here singing while reactionaries babble on television and other media distracts
the populace by trafficking in minutiae. You're our own early-twenty-first century
audience at the Six Gallery. We offer ourselves and our work up to those who are committed
to seeing to it that the written (and spoken) word thrives, and even makes something
happen. Like us, you know all too well that there's not enough night.