Berkeley Beats Poetry
The heritage sites we are investigating for the Berkeley Beat Generation History project include Allen Ginsberg’s house (1624 Milvia Street in Berkeley), the U-Save Market in Berkeley (1885 University Avenue), the Berkeley Town Hall Theater (2797 Shattuck Avenue), and the Greyhound Station in San Francisco (1111 Eighth Street). As of today, all of these places have been altered substantially since they were first built. Ginsberg’s cottage where he wrote “A Strange New Cottage in Berkeley” has been turned into an apartment complex since the time of his residence in the 1950’s. The U-Save Market where Ginsberg was inspired to write “A Supermarket in California” has been rebuilt as a Trader Joe’s. The Town Hall Theater where Ginsberg’s first recorded reading of “Howl” took place is now the Sconehenge Café. The Greyhound Station in San Francisco, which served as the inspiration for “In the Baggage Room in Greyhound” and “Sunflower Sutra,” has been renovated into the California College of the Arts. It has though retained some indication of its historical relation to Ginsberg and the Beat Generation. However, because all of the original sites have been destroyed or heavily altered, we are interested in re-contextualizing the intangible heritage of the Berkeley Beat Generation, namely the poems themselves, into these physical spaces. In this way, our objective is much less about the physical sites and more about relating them back into the history of the Beat Generation. We propose that these locations maintain their functions as places of business and residence, but that information is added about the history of the location. This would add cultural value to each of the sites, as well as serve as a symbol of the Beat Generation and what it stood for.
In order to bring audiences closer to these places and their history, we ask ourselves and our visitors to engage with a unifying question: can performing/reading place-based poetry evoke the past and re-contextualize itself in historical moments if it’s brought to the place it engages with?
Here is a young Allen Ginsberg sitting on the front steps of his cottage in Berkeley.
Learn more about our heritage sites:
Read our full Site Management Plan: BBH_Milestone6_ SMP
Visit Our YouTube playlist
Visit Our Flickr Album
Visit Our SoundCloud
About the authors:
Alexandra Walton – Writer/Editor
Alex is a junior transfer from Los Medanos College to UC Berkeley. Her major is Anthropology with a focus in Archaeology and her minor is Geospatial Information Science and Technology. She plans to attend graduate school and to eventually teach at the university level, conduct original research, and travel the world. So far she has participated in archaeological digs at the Grand Portage site in Minnesota and Neolithic sites on the island of Cephalonia, Greece.
Jarre Hamilton – Media Manager
Jarre Hamilton is a first year Archaeology graduate student at UC Berkeley. She recently graduated from Appalachian State University with a BA in Archaeology in the Spring of 2015. Besides archaeology, she is also interested in movies, baking and cooking, water sports, and books.
Katie Kinkopf – Designer
Katie is a second year Bioarchaeology graduate student at UC Berkeley who plans to graduate in 2021. When she is not studying, she works at both the Agarwal Skeletal Biology Laboratory and the Archaeological Research Facility.
Monica Cassandras – Project Manager
Monica is a third year undergraduate pursuing a major in Molecular and Cell Biology and a minor in Anthropology. She has worked at the National Emerging Infectious Disease Lab in Boston, MA and enjoys watching football in her free time.