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Allen Ginsberg, Revisited By His Right-Hand Man: Pt. 1

photo(144)Daniel Maurer Bob Rosenthal in the hallway of
437 East 12th Street, with Ginsberg
over his shoulder.

With just a few days left of National Poetry Month and a movie about the Beats in the works, it seems an appropriate time for Bob Rosenthal, former secretary to Allen Ginsberg, to share some memories of his former employer. After all, Mr. Rosenthal, an East Villager and a poet in his own right, recently completed a memoir titled “Straight Around Allen” (it’s being shopped to publishers) and he appears in “Passing Stranger,” a recently released audio tour of the neighborhood’s poetic landmarks.

It just so happens that the editor of The Local lives in Allen Ginsberg’s former apartment on East 12th Street – or rather, the portion of the apartment that contained the poet’s bedroom, bathtub, and the home office where Mr. Rosenthal worked alongside the literary legend for nearly two decades. Yesterday, Mr. Rosenthal, who these days teaches Beat literature to high schoolers, paid his first visit to his old workplace in some years, and spoke candidly about his time there.

Bob Moves to 437 East 12th, Allen Follows
My wife and I moved to New York from Chicago in 1973. We were living on St. Marks Place and met people in this building [437 East 12th Street]: Rebecca Wright, a poetess who was actually living with John Godfrey upstairs, was going back to somewhere in the Midwest where she’s from with her son and she was leaving me the apartment. It was like $125 per month and she said, “I’ll leave you these books” – all of them Allen Ginsberg books. She said, “I don’t need them anymore.” That’s when I started reading him. It was serendipitous. Read more…