Once, many moons ago I remember watching Allen Ginsberg, at the Royal Albert Hall. He was curious sight, beating out verses of his long poem, Howl, accompanied by his Hammond organ. At one point Gregory Corso ambled on stage, dressed in white flowing robes, and began to recite one of his whimsical Californian pieces. Actually it was not only the Beats that influenced the poem that you see printed on the silhouette of the Greek warrior, but also the bar we used to go to called Otium.
I remember The Old Town had just begun to open up, after years of being considered out of bounds, on account of the pickpockets and thieves: topini, or little mice as the locals called them.
Otium was not in the Old Town but above some shops on the main drag, Corso Cavour. We were a loose fitting crowd of ex-pats, language teachers and local musicians. My friends, Big Daddy Lawman used to play at the Otium. During the intervals I would get up and recite my poems to bemused faces and the odd cheer. There was a poem I recall about Bin Laden, another about Cool Hand Luke. But really this was the one that summed it up for me: my poem about Aeneas, from the bottom of his cups:
I call on the monsters and gods
And other odd creatures
Who stalk our secret self
I call on hoofing Shiva
The spider on the biker’s tattoo
The Martian in his spaceship
And Venus out sniffing glue