An intimate recollection of a Beat legend.
This week we’re excited to feature Elissa Schappell‘s essay, “The Craft of Poetry: A Semester with Allen Ginsberg,” as our Longreads Member Pick. Her recollections are an intimate window into the Beat legend. The piece originally appeared in the Summer 1995 issue of the Paris Review and was later anthologized in their 1999 collection Beat Writers at Work. Thanks to Schappell and the Paris Review for sharing it with the Longreads community.
Our latest Exclusive comes from author Elissa Schappell, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and co-founder and editor at large of Tin House, which is where she published “How the Light Gets In”—a story about a life changed by seizures. (Subscribe to Longreads to receive this and other exclusives.)
“To say it is a curse would be to lie. This is what I wrote in my journal in 1993, when I was twenty-nine. The handwriting is tiny and childlike, recognizable to no one but me as the way I wrote only after suffering a temporal lobe seizure. The brain’s temporal lobes, situated over each ear, swoop back from the temples like the wings on the thunder god’s helmet, which is fitting, given the ominous auras that sometimes rumble through my brain before a seizure.
“However, they don’t always portend a terrible storm, and while ‘suffering’ accurately depicts 99 percent of my seizures, 1 percent have been transcendent.”