POI: 51.502667, -0.126139
Harry Fainlight (1935–1982) was a British/American poet associated with the Beats movement. He was the younger brother of Ruth Fainlight (b 1931), also a poet, who edited a posthumous volume of his work, Selected Poems, published in 1986.
Personal lifeEducated at English grammar schools and Cambridge University, where he was contemporary with Ted Hughes, Fainlight was a precocious youth who admired the Beat poets and published in English magazines like Encounter from his early twenties. Dual citizenship gave him the opportunity to travel freely to the US and view heroes such as Allen Ginsberg at first-hand. He stayed in New York for three years from 1962. During his sojourn there, Ginsberg called him, "the most gifted English poet of his generation", and Fainlight contributed to Fuck You, a radical arts magazine published by Ed Sanders (see also The Fugs). Like Ginsberg, Fainlight was Jewish, homosexual and a keen user of drugs. His American work included a poem, "Mescaline Notes" and a disturbing epic about a bad LSD trip, "The Spider". Fainlight returned to London in the spring of 1965; there, small imprint, Turret Books, issued the only volume published in England in his lifetime, Sussicran, a slim 12-page pamphlet. The title is "Narcissus" reversed. Fainlight never sustained a significant relationship, never lived with anyone and was, according to his sister, "in and out of mental hospitals all his adult life." In 1982 while suffering from pneumonia, he went for an evening walk in light clothing. He was found later lying in a field dead from hypothermia.
The International Poetry Incarnation, 11 June 1965When Ginsberg visited London in June 1965 he gave a reading at Better Books in Charing Cross Road which proved extremely popular. The shop's manager Barry Miles suggested a larger event, incorporating fellow beat writers Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gregory Corso who were due in the city. Ginsberg’s girlfriend of the time, Barbara Rubin, asked which was the largest venue in London. Miles’s wife mentioned the Royal Albert Hall. Rubin spontaneously booked the 5000-seat venue for 10 days later. Incredibly, for a modern poetry reading, the International Poetry Incarnation was more than sold out. It was, says Miles - in Stephen Gammond’s film, A Technicolour Dream (2008) – "like a poetry rave," the first sign of many like-minds being interested in "underground’ art. Harry Fainlight was one of 17 poets booked to appear alongside Ginsberg. His sublime performance can be seen in Peter Whitehead’s film of the event, Wholly Communion (1965). The packed hall takes against the young poet as he begins to read 'The Spider' and is interrupted by Dutch writer Simon Vinkenoog, high on mescalin, who chants "Love, love!" when the crowd becomes restless. It was hard for Fainlight to continue reading after this. The occasion upset him deeply, though was typical of various crises and outrages in a troubled life.
International TimesFainlight became... ... (English)
Nearby sights panorama
Ludgate Hill railway station (1931m)
Elephant & Castle tube station (2044m)
Princess's Theatre, London (1671m)
Richmond House (42m)
Red Lion, Westminster (73m)
Cabinet Office (111m)
Cannon Row Police Station (113m)
Norman Shaw Buildings (113m)
Downing Street (113m)
9 Downing Street (131m)
Downing Street mortar attack (131m)
10 Downing Street (132m)
New Scotland Yard (137m)
11 Downing Street (142m)
12 Downing Street (157m)