Olmsted and William Burroughs in Constanzo Allione's documentery, Fried Shoes, Cooked Diamonds (1978).
"I LOVED this class! I found my voice and the best way to express it. - Marc's lectures were inspiring, thought provoking and sometimes a kick in the rear. His direction and guidance fabulous. I can't wait to take his next class!! I've actually submitted work and am now awaiting the responses." - Peggy Bell
photo credit: copyright Chris Felver
Olmsted formed New Wave band The Job in San Francisco 1980. The Job backed up Ginsberg on a number of occasions. Listen here.
Allen Ginsberg in American Mutant.
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Olmsted's 2014 memoir (Beatdom Books) is based on their correspondence now kept in Stanford University Library's Special Collections. It's available on Amazon.
Olmsted has taught at San Francisco State University, University of California Santa Cruz and Naropa University. He has been teaching poetry on line through Writers.Com for nearly 15 years.
"I took the course with the intention of bettering my understanding of the the Beat Generation, their aesthetic, the way in which they practiced writing. The class did exactly this. Marc has an intimate understanding of the Beats and practices their principles in his own writing. In addition, his last lecture made the daunting task of sending off material to likely publishers easy - a nice bonus for me!" - Lisa McCool-Grimes
Olmsted is also a filmmaker. His 1977 16mm short experimental portrait, Burroughs on Bowery, was recently screened at NYC's MOMA. His American Mutant features Burroughs, Ginsberg and Timothy Leary, is still shown nationally. Olmsted's Remembering Neal Cassady, a conversation with the Beat artist, Bob Branaman, is immensensely popular on internet.
contact Marc Olmsted firstname.lastname@example.org
Allen Ginsberg said "MARC OLMSTED inherited Burroughs' scientific nerve & Kerouac's movie-minded line nailed down with gold eyebeam in San Francisco." (New Directions in Prose & Poetry #37). Olmsted appeared in that same volume, as well as in City Lights Journal, Outlaw Bible of American Poetry and a large variety of small presses. He has four books of poetry, Milky Desire (Subterranean Press 1991), Resume (Inevitable Press, 1998), What Use Am I A Hungry Ghost? which has an introduction by Allen Ginsberg (Valley Contemporary Press 2001), and Fresh Lotus Rehab (Virgogray Press, 2009). Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Olmsted received the San Francisco Acker Award for Poetry in 2014 along with David Meltzer and Ishmael Reed.
"...one of the few practitioners post-Kerouac who picked up on the loose and lucid form that Kerouac had developed." from Allen Ginsberg's intro to Olmsted's What Use Am I a Hungry Ghost?
Allen Ginsberg, Anam Thubten Rinpoche and Marc Olmsted at a benefit for the Vajrayana Foundation, October 1996, DNA Lounge, San Francisco.
"Again and again Marc Olmsted's poetry presents us with co-emergence: the simultaneity of the dark and light in our minds, in our lives. This book is a fierce and honest portrayal of the struggle toward realization: 'better prayers/ in other bodies.'" Diane di Prima's praise for What Use Am I A Hungry Ghost?
Marc Olmsted has long published in webzines, but the most comprehensive archive of his poetry can be found here under his name in this link's Table of Contents.
"Olmsted's sinuous poetry moves on the page. and in the eye and mind, like thoughts at the instant they become muscular movements. Sometimes there is winsome observation of old feelings making new punk imagery. Sometimes there is emptiness and the real ordinariness of a shining Buddhist world. It's vivid!" - Michael McClure's praise for What Use Am I a Hungry Ghost?
and plastic tube of urine
- still mountain
Olmsted has also written a number of essays about the Beats, including a piece in the book above, and a variety of others in such diverse publications as Journal of Beat Studies, Journal of Global Buddhism, Buddhadharma, Beatdom, Beat Scene, Otherzine, Sensitive Skin, Sunflower Collective and Empty Mirror. Read one here.
Marc began Buddhist meditation in 1974 after Allen Ginsberg taught him. Olmsted went on to become a student of Lama Tharchin Rinpoche in 1991 and completed a three-year retreat supervised by this great teacher. Afterwards, as a senior student, he was encouraged by Tharchin Rinpoche to teach at the San Francisco chapter of the Vajrayana Foundation, Last Chance Gompa. In time, Olmsted incorporated simple mindfulness meditation instructions into his poetry classes, again following Ginsberg's example.
Michael McClure and Marc Olmsted with the Director of Beyond Baroque, Richard Modiano (center), Venice Beach, California.
Olmsted's oil portrait of Kerouac, "Jack's Empty Phnatom," hangs in North Beach's Beat Museum in the city the On the Road author loved, San Francisco.