Orlovsky, Peter, 1933-2010Variant names
Writer, associate of Allen Ginsberg.
From the description of Papers, 1954-1971. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 122482491
American poet, born July 8, 1933, in New York City.
From the description of Peter Orlovsky Papers, 1952-1983. (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC); University of Texas at Austin). WorldCat record id: 122590485
Peter Orlovsky, poet, musician, farmer, teacher, and companion of poet Allen Ginsberg, was born July 8, 1933, on the Lower East Side of New York City to Oleg and Katherine Orlovsky. He was one of five children who grew up in the Northport section of Long Island, New York.
As a teenager, Orlovsky's parents separated after a series of failed business ventures and bouts with alcoholism. At that time, Orlovsky moved to Queens with his mother and siblings. Orlovsky dropped out of school in his senior year and began supporting himself at age 17 due to family economic problems. After many odd jobs, he began working as an orderly at Creedmore State Mental Hospital in New York giving him an opportunity to complete the requirements for a high school diploma.
In 1953, Orlovsky was drafted into the military as the Korean War began. Due to his erratic behavior and conspicuous anti-military sentiments at boot camp, army psychiatrists ordered his transfer. He spent the rest of his military service as a medic in a San Francisco hospital.
Following his discharge from the army, Orlovsky moved in with San Franscisco painter Robert LaVigne as both model and companion. In 1954, Orlovsky was introduced to LaVigne's friend, Allen Ginsberg. Soon after this first meeting, Orlovsky and Ginsberg became lovers and moved in together, defining their relationship as a marriage. Despite periods of separation, this arrangement remained intact until Ginsberg's death in April 1997.
Prior to meeting Ginsberg, Orlovsky had made no deliberate attempts at becoming a poet. With Ginsberg's encouragement, Orlovsky began writing in 1957 while the pair was living in Paris. His early compositional process began at the typewriter as spontaneous outbursts of ideas. From that point on, he often carried small notebooks to document his experiences, dreams, and impressionistic images.
Orlovsky's relationship with Ginsberg exposed him to individuals involved with the literary and artistic renaissance emerging in San Francisco during the 1950s. Accompanied by such Beat luminaries as Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and Gregory Corso, Orlovsky traveled extensively for several years, both with and without Ginsberg, throughout the Middle East, Northern Africa, India, and Europe. The fragile mental condition of his brothers, Julius and Lafcadio, often abbreviated these trips, forcing his return to New York. Orlovsky and Ginsberg eventually settled into an apartment on New York's Lower East Side.
During the 1970s, Orlovsky spent much of his time on a farm in Cherry Valley, New York, writing, playing music, growing his own food, and communing with nature. In 1974, Orlovsky joined the faculty of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, to teach a course entitled “Poetry for Dumb Students.” Although Orlovsky never regarded writing as a career, he received a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1979 to continue his creative endeavors.
Orlovsky has supported many social and political causes by participating in anti-nuclear demonstrations, LEMAR, a pro-marijuana organization, and the League for Sexual Freedom. Orlovsky and Ginsberg's frank and open discussion of their homosexual marriage has been credited with increasing gay consciousness in America.
To date, Orlovsky's work has been published in Dear Allen: Ship will land Jan 23, 58 (1971), Lepers Cry (1972), Clean Asshole Poems & Smiling Vegetable Songs: Poems 1957-1977 (1978), and Straight Hearts' Delight: Love Poems and Selected Letters (1980), a collaboration with Ginsberg. His work has also appeared in New American Poetry: 1945-1960 (1960), The Beatitude Anthology (1965), as well as the literary magazines Yugen and Outsider. Orlovsky has appeared in two films, Andy Warhol's Couch (1965) and photographer Robert Frank's Me and My Brother (1969), a film documenting Julius Orlovsky's mental illness.
From the guide to the Peter Orlovsky Papers TXRC99-A2., 1952-1983, (bulk 1957-1983), (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin)
BIOGHIST REQUIRED Peter Orlovsky was born in 1933 to Oleg, a Russian immigrant who painted silk neckties and Katherine Orlovsky, an aspiring writer. He was born in Manhattan, on the Lower East Side, but grew up on Long Island in the town of Northport. The family was poor and both Oleg and Katherine were alcoholics and the Orlovsky's five children were often neglected and abused. The oldest son, Julius, went mad and had, eventually to be institutionalized, and both Peter and his younger brother Lafcadio struggled throughout their lives with substance abuse.
BIOGHIST REQUIRED Peter, the second of the Orlovsky's five children left his mother's home at 17. He worked as an orderly in a mental hospital in Queens while taking night classes to complete the requirements for his high school diploma. In 1953 he was drafted into the Korean war where he served as a medic in a hospital in San Francisco.
BIOGHIST REQUIRED In 1954, Orlovsky and moved in with painter Robert LaVigne acting both as the painter's model and his lover. Through LaVigne he met other writers and artists, most significantly Allen Ginsberg. Orlovsky and Ginsberg almost immediately became lovers and within months entered into a marriage that would last most of the remainder of their lives.
BIOGHIST REQUIRED Ginsberg and Orlovsky lived together first in North Beach in California and later in New York City, but also traveled extensively throughout Europe and the Mediterranean as well as India and Pakistan. Though he lived and traveled all over the globe, Peter felt his responsibility to his brothers Julius and Lafcadio keenly, and his trips abroad were often abbreviated in order for him to care for one or both of them.
BIOGHIST REQUIRED With Ginsberg's influence and encouragement, Orlovsky began writing poetry in 1957 while the two were living in Paris. He was first published in 1960 and continued to write throughout that decade, though this is also when his own drug use, particularly amphetamines, was at its worst.
BIOGHIST REQUIRED In 1970 Orlovsky moved to the farm Allen Ginsberg purchased in Cherry Valley, New York to pursue organic farming and his writing. He joined the faculty of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute in 1974 to teach the course "Poetry for Dumb Students" and remained a core member of the faculty for several years. He was awarded a $10,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1979.
BIOGHIST REQUIRED He is the author of several books of poetry including Dear Allen: Ship will land Jan 23, 58, Clean Asshole Poems & Smiling Vegetable Songs: Poems 1957-1977, Lepers Cry, and the volume Straight Hearts' Delight--Love Poems and Selected Letters, by Orlovsky and Allen Ginsberg as well as publishing poems in a number of periodicals. He was also featured in Robert Frank's documentary film Me and My Brother (1969), which explores Julius Orlovsky's mental illness.
From the guide to the Peter Orlovsky Papers, 1954-1971., (Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library)
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|American literature--20th century|
|American poetry--20th century|