The Vortex: An Indian legend, a science-fiction epic, a literary manifesto, a Beat myth, a place…
This is a new, updated version of Lee Streiff’s original Wichita Vortex site, which is no longer available in its original form.
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Lee Streiff (1932-2004)
In the 50s and 60s Wichita, Kansas was the hub of a midwestern Beat generation, with leading lights Michael McClure, Bruce Conner and Dave Haselwood. They painted, wrote, made music and shot films. Writer and educator Lee Streiff documented their genesis and the development of the two movement on his site Wichita Vortex, which fell into abeyance and now exists only in the Way Back archive.
I have moved the surviving content to a new platform. Read about the reasons for doing this on About this site.
Lee Streiff tells the story of poet Allen Ginsberg’s historic visit to Wichita and analyses Ginsberg’s famous 1966 anti-war poem Wichita Vortex Sutra.
Composed spontaneously, the poem brings together images of the landscape of Kansas with snippets of media reports about the Vietnam war and links the violence of war with the conservatism of the heartland.
Wichita and its schools sent to flight literally scores of Beat artists: Michael McClure, Bruce Conner, David Haselwood, in a first migration; Robert Branaman, Charles Plymell and others, in a second. Many of them — so independently minded, so unique, their works — transcend limiting labels. Yet their collective story mirrors a wider stirring, called, for the moment at least, Beat…