Beat Generation Conference

Beat-era revival and literary three-ring circus 'Beatnik Shindig' comes to S.F. June 26-28
Beat Generation Conference
Coming to San Francisco June 26-28 is 'Beatnik Shindig,' what organizers say will be the "largest Beat Generation Conference to be held in twenty years."
Beat Generation Conference
On the Beatnik beat: San Francisco's North Beach circa 1960.

Once hip and happening, today the Beatnik scene that flourished in San Francisco's North Beach, among other locales, can seem antique and ancient.

But it won't seem that way the weekend of June 26-28, when original beatniks and their friends and family take over Fort Mason and its environs.

The organizers say it will be the "largest Beat Generation Conference to be held in twenty years"—since 1995, when Allen Ginsberg ran an event at New York University.

"It's not an academic conference, but it will have a lot of weight and gravitas," say Jerry Cimino, who runs San Francisco's Beat Museum and is sponsoring the event. "But we named it the 'Beatnik Shindig' to show that it's going to be fun, too. There will be 50 to 100 poets spontaneously erupting in different places."

Poets David Meltzer, ruth weiss (that's how she spells it), and musician David Amram, who were all part of the scene, will appear. Sons and daughters of other Beatnik luminaries will be there, including those of Neal and Carolyn Cassady.

"The themes of the Beats are timeless," Cimino says, "youth and rebellion, and finding yourself in the world, and sexuality." He noted a renewed interest in the Beat generation among young people, thanks in part to a spate of recent movies on the subject, including 'Howl' and 'Kill Your Darlings.'

"Now is the time" for such a festival, Cimino says. "Lots of these folks are in their 80s. We want people to have the chance to see them now. And we're the people to do it. We're located in San Francisco. We're the Beat Museum. I know most of these people."

Events range from $99 (the opening party) to free (a display of classic Hudson cars at Fort Mason, many poetry writing workshops, and a presentation on 'The Politics of Poetry' by Jack Hirschman, among many others).