Excerpt Wednesday – A Supermarket in California – Ginsberg

IMG_2927What thoughts I have of you, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the sidestreets
under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon…
Allen Ginsberg (1926 – 1997)

This painting was one of two that I did for Matthias over at Beat Company (you can see the other one here) to mark the anniversary of Allen Ginsberg’s passing on April 5th, 1997. The inspiration for the piece was the footnote to Howl and a photograph of Ginsberg as a young man in Berkeley, California. When Matthias didn’t wind up using this painting for the anniversary post, I decided to post it here on Illustrated Poetry – but the more I looked at it, the more I realized it reminded me of the opening lines of A Supermarket in California. It is one of those cases where the art knows more than I do! You can read the entire text of A Supermarket in California here. Painting, acrylic on illustration board, by me. Have a wonderful week!


    1. Thank you, Geo! I’ve never considered myself a painter, but working on these illustrations with Matthias is starting to change my mind.

      And I wanted to say: Your collaboration with Victor is fantastic – I’m so glad your creative universes have collided! That’s how new planets get formed. 😉

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  1. On my end table in my study, directly to my left as I sit here with laptop in my lap, “City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology.” Have you been to City Lights in San Francisco? This painting should be haning on the wall there — home of the beat generation!


    1. Thank you, Lillian – that would be an incredible honor! I have been to City Lights – not for ages, though, and not enough! I bet that is a fantastic anthology. I hope to make a return (and far more knowledgable/intentional) visit to City Lights the next time I head to the Bay Area for a visit!

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    1. Thank you so much, Tom! This illustration had a lot of layers, so it really called for patience and planning (neither of those are natural virtues of mine!) to get it done on time for the original deadline. As Matthias informed us below, as Californians, we could easily go and visit the very supermarket Ginsberg wrote about!


    1. Thank you, Claudia! I am right there with you – I have to admit that, until fairly recently, I had not been familiar with Ginsberg’s poetry beyond Howl. Matthias’ blog has really inspired me to get to know the Beats better!

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  2. The “real” Supermarket in California is located at:

    261 Columbus Avenue at Broadway,
    San Francisco, CA 94133
    Open daily 10 am to midnight

    BTW 🙂

    Cheers, Matthias


    1. I might try to pay this place a visit! It is a rare occasion that you can visit the very site of such an iconic poem. Thank you again for this “assignment” – it was a true pleasure.

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