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East Hill Farm

Seasons with Allen Ginsberg

List Price: $18.95

December 11, 2012 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 416 Pages | ISBN 9781619020177
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"Ball deserves to be called the “Beat Boswell” for providing his uniquely personal, detailed account..." —Ann Charters, editor of The Portable Beat Reader

“This was Allen Ginsberg,” Gordon Ball declared after recounting intimate moments with the cultural icon and beloved Beat Generation poet on East Hill Farm, outside Cherry Valley, New York.

During the late 1960s, when peace, drugs, and free love were direct challenges to conventional society, Allen Ginsberg, treasurer of the Committee on Poetry, Inc., funded what he hoped was “a haven for comrades in distress” in rural upstate New York. First described as an uninspiring, dilapidated four-bedroom house with acres of untended land, including the graves of its first residents, East Hill Farm became home to those who sought pastoral enlightenment in the presence of Ginsberg’s brilliance and generosity.

A self-declared member of a “ragtag group of urban castoffs,” including Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky, Herbert Huncke, and the mythic Barbara Rubin, farm manager Ball tended to a non-stop flurry of guests, chores, and emotional outbursts while also making time to sit quietly with Ginsberg and discuss poetry, Kerouac, sex, and America’s war in Vietnam.

In honest and vivid prose, Ball offers a rare intimate glimpse of the poetic pillar of the Beat Generation as a striving and accessible human being at home on the farm and in the world.

GORDON BALL took informal photographs of poet Allen Ginsberg and the Beat Generation for twenty-eight years. As well as being exhibited at five conferences on Ginsberg and the Beat Generation, at one-man shows at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art and other venues, Ball’s photos have appeared in many publications. Ball is the author of 66 Frames: A Memoir and a volume of prose poems, Dark Music. He lives in Lexington, Virginia, and teaches at VMI.


“Ball deserves to be called the “Beat Boswell” for providing his uniquely personal, detailed account of the years 1968 to 1971 when he participated in and observed the people and events at Allen Ginsberg’s farm five miles from Cherry Valley, New York. Anyone interested in Ginsberg’s life and work, or desirous to explore the gritty daily reality of the Beat/Hippie lifestyle, will find this book essential reading.” —Ann Charters, editor of The Portable Beat Reader

“I couldn’t stop reading East Hill Farm and learning so much of what really went down on that farm in that so crucial period in the lives of the Beats. I visited the farm just twice but wish I had had Ball’s innocent yet so perceptive eye.” —Lawrence Ferlinghetti, author of A Coney Island of Mind 

“In the late 1960s, poet Allen Ginsberg bought an isolated, broken-down farm in upstate New York as a retreat for himself and his worn-out, burned-out friends. Ginsberg hoped to create an Elysium where they could escape from the urban pressures and drug addictions that had laid Kerouac, Corso, Orlovsky, and Huncke so low. Only a masterful story-teller like Gordon Ball could turn a depressing tale of poets at rock bottom into a triumph of the human spirit.”—Bill Morgan, author of I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg

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