When Poets Battled the Bureaucrats


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April 2, 1964, Vol. IX, No. 24

City Softens Approach to Poets in Cafes

A vaguely positive ambiance resulted from last Wednesday’s meeting between representatives of the City License Department and a delegation of poets whose readings at Le Metro, 149 Second Avenue, had caused the licensing officials to issue a summons to the owner of the East Village restaurant.

The License Department had charged that Le Metro had been acting like a coffee house without a coffee house license because some of its patrons — who include poets Allen Ginsberg, Jackson MacLow, Ed Sanders, Harold Dickers, John Keys — had been reading their poetry there. Under the coffee house ordinance one of the criteria for determining whether an eating establishment is a coffee house is if poetry is read on the premises. Last Tuesday, however, Criminal Court Justice James L. Comerford dismissed the charges against Le Metro without comment.

Last Wednesday the poets met with the counsel and acting commissioner for the License Department, William Barlow, to discuss the problem…

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]