Gordon Ball spent 28 years taking candid photos of Beat legend Allen Ginsberg and his colorful circle of friends. The Howl scribe’s life is well documented in over one thousand images that Ball captured from 1969 — at Ginsberg’s Cherry Valley, New York farm that the photographer managed for a time — to the author’s funerals in New York City in 1997. Paging through Ball’s photos, you’ll find Beat fellows and other friends like Burroughs (in swimming trunks!), writer Herbert Huncke, poets Philip Whalen, Peter Orlovsky (also Ginsberg’s lifelong partner), Gregory Corso, and even Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth. Shots of Ginsberg’s Lower East Side apartment, his desk, and other personal belongings have also been intimately captured.
The counterculture poet’s aforementioned farm — which Ginsberg described as “a haven for comrades in distress” — has inspired a new book for Ball, East Hill Farm: Seasons with Allen Ginsberg. “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.” Pick up a copy of the book over here, and visit our gallery past the break where we share Ball’s deeply personal photographs of the literary legend.
“Allen studies his portrait by Mary Beach, Varsity Apartments, Naropa Institute, August 1984.”