Don’t Hesitate: Knowing Allen Ginsberg

About the Book

Marc Olmsted, a young poet, wrote to Allen Ginsberg in 1972 and was surprised to receive a reply from one of America’s most important poets. This letter began a friendship that lasted for decades, taking Olmsted on a journey through the literary world. In this, his memoirs, Olmsted details the turbulent events of his own life, which include sex with Ginsberg, filming William S. Burroughs, and encounters with other important counterculture figures. This “scrapbook” contains previously unpublished poems by Ginsberg, scanned letters and postcards by the poet, and photos, paintings, and posters collected by Olmsted during their friendship.

Don't Hesitate

About the Author

Allen Ginsberg said “MARC OLMSTED inherited Burroughs’ scientific nerve & Kerouac’s movie-minded line nailed down with gold eyebeam in San Francisco.” Olmsted has appeared in CITY LIGHTS JOURNAL, NEW DIRECTIONS IN PROSE & POETRY, OUTLAW BIBLE OF AMERICAN POETRY, SIGNS OF LIFE (a Manic D Press anthology), PROCESSED WORLD, Flesh Eater Chris D’s BONGO CHALICE, BLUE SATELLITE and a variety of small presses. His work includes two books, MILKY DESIRE (Subterranean Press, 1991) and RÉSUMÉ (Inevitable Press, 1998).

He has also made two short films, BURROUGHS ON BOWERY, a portrait of the NAKED LUNCH author, and AMERICAN MUTANT, with Burroughs, Ginsberg & Timothy Leary.


This book is a masterpiece — the most intimate, knowing, frank, and hilarious memoir of actual poetic practice with Allen I’ve ever read. – Steve Silberman, writer for WIRED

Don’t Hesitate is a masterpiece of candor. It is beautifully written and designed, making it a pleasure to read and re-read. One would like to pigeon-hole the book and say that it is a collection of poems; a collection of letters; a memoir; a love story; a character study; a coming of age story; a guide to meditation and enlightenment; but it is not just one of these things — it is all of them. —Bill Morgan, author of THE BEAT GENERATION IN SAN FRANCISCO

In Don’t Hesitate: Knowing Allen Ginsberg, youthful poet Marc Olmsted ricochets from one erotic and artistic incarnation and milieu to another before ultimate commitment to Tibetan Buddhism. This riveting account—letters, cards, drawings, photos as well as brisk perceptive narrative—is as incisive in self-depiction as in its rendering of many others from scene to scene, across the continent, across a quarter century, North Beach to CBGB to Buddhist retreat. Equally revealing of elder and younger poet alike, it’s a testament not only to love but, perhaps most importantly, friendship. — Col. Gordon Ball, author of 66 FRAMES

Who better to illuminate on the life and times of an elder Allen Ginsberg than his longtime intimate and student Marc Olmsted? From 1974 onward from North Beach to the Naropa Institute’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and elsewhere the Beat master engaged Olmsted‘s eager attention. Readers will delight in the insight that has emerged from that comradeship. —Neeli Cherkovski, author of HANK: THE LIFE OF CHARLES BUKOWSKI

Olmsted’s sinuous poetry moves on the page… thoughts at the instant they become muscular movements. —Michael McClure, author of HYMNS TO ST. GERYON AND OTHER POEMS

Buy the Book

Marc’s book is available through Amazon as paperback and Kindle books.