Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 31st - Halloween Post

Ok - just this once - and only this once - we'll go there
 - Warning: No Ginsberg Content!
 - Happy Halloween everyone!



Actually, for the gesture itself I suppose, we ought to go here:



tho'  let's get to the root of it



Like we say, Happy Halloween everyone!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ezra Pound's Birthday




October 30 is Uncle Ez's birthday (see our detailed birthday post last year here on the occasion of his 116th - It's his 117th today). It's his publisher, supporter and friend, James Laughlin (1914-1997)'s birthday also. And, November 1, in two days time, 40 years since his (Pound's) death.


"I stayed several months in Rapallo at the "Ezuversity" learning and reading'', Laughlin has recalled, "before Pound said it was time for me to go back to Harvard and do something useful. Being useful meant that I should publish books..." - and publish he did (establishing the remarkable and pioneering modernist New Directions publishing house in 1936). 

Gregory Barnhisel's James Laughlin, New Directions and the Remaking of Ezra Pound is an informative and useful examination of that pivotal relationship.       

The comprehensive source for all Ezra Pound's distinctive recordings is, of course, the incomparable PennSound. See their Pound page here (edited by Richard Sieburth, featuring the classic (originally-available-on-vinyl) Caedmon recordings, the 1967 Spoleto Readings (from the Cantos), his broken-voiced reading of (his translations from) The Confucian Odes, and much much else besides).    


Recommended - Luciano Mangiafico's Attainted - The Life And After-Life of Ezra Pound in Italy.


Justo Navarro's La Spia  is an important examination of those times. It was published last year in Spain (and just this year, in Italian translation - see Massimo Bacigalupo's review of it here)


Might we mention, earlier in the year, Mary de Rachewiltz's valiant attempts to wrest her father's (already-complicated) legacy from the hands of contemporary fascism? - "The fascists want to claim Pound, but they have nothing to do with Pound. They are a nuisance and there has to be something I can do to stop them".

It was to Allen that Pound confessed his "stupid suburban prejudice" of anti-semitism, his "worst mistake, his fatal error.
For more of Allen and Pound (from his "Encounters with Ezra Pound (Journal Notes)" in the 1980 volume, Composed on The Tongue - see here).

and more on Pound (from a 1980 Naropa class) see here  




[Ezra Pound, Allen Ginsberg and Fernanda Pivano La Gritta American Bar, Portofino, Italy, September 1967. c. Ettore Sottsass]


Monday, October 29, 2012

Scribd Beats




[Paul Carroll with Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg,
and Peter Orlovsky at the time of the Big Table benefit
reading, Chicago, January 1959 (photo-booth image -
Photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]




[Allen Ginsberg, Irving Rosenthal (once Chicago Review editor & founder of Big Table)  Peter Orlovsky, 1959. courtesy Allen Ginsberg Collection]


Presuming that folks are familiar with Scribd - "a digital documents library that allows users to publish, discover and discuss original writings and documents in various languages" - Allen and William Burroughs' classic 1953 correspondence, The Yage Letters, for instance - and two brief letters, five years later, from Allen to Paul Carroll at the Chicago Review - (Allen on the Naked Lunch pages he sent Carroll - "I also enclose some final poison for your pot - Burroughs" - this is the initiative which would later transmute into the Paul Carroll-Irving Rosenthal-edited, Big Table).  

Other Ginsberg-related documents, that we've mentioned before, include the definitive document on Allen's 1965 expulsion from Czechoslovakia - "Final Report on the Activities of the American Poet Allen Ginsberg and his Deportation from Czechoslovakia"  that appeared in the Summer 1998 issue of the Massachusetts Review, not to mention various secondary articles - Tim Brown's analysis of a late (June 1994) Chicago reading, for instance & Jonathan Katz's "Allen Ginsberg, Herbert Marcuse, and the Politics of Eros".   

Here's a curious one -  Pesnici Bit Generacije - Vladislav Bajaci and Vojo Sindolic's 1979 Eastern European Beat translations.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

William Burroughs Home Movies






Yesterday, we featured William Burroughs being interviewed by Kathy Acker (in 1988). Today we continue a Burroughs weekend with the legendary, cinema verite, Lawrence, Kansas, home-movie footage shot by Wayne Probst (and edited by Michelle Tran), in, as the date-stamp shows, August of 1996 - Burroughs in retirement, with, as it turned out, less than a year left to live (August of the next year he would pass away).

Old Bull discusses the usual - guns and ammunition, weaponry (shows off his blackjack),  Allen appears approximately five-and-a-half-minutes in (head dips into the (left hand) corner of the frame) - and is seen again, comfortable and relaxed, later, quietly eating his supper. Steve Buscemi (currently filming Queer (and also appearing in a cameo role in On The Road) is seen in the company, as is William's secretary and amanuensis, the redoubtable James Grauerholz.  Patti Smith's mournful strumming provides a fitting sound track

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Kathy Acker Interviews William Burroughs







































[Kathy Acker - photograph by Allen Ginsberg c. The Allen Ginsberg Estate]


Two mod (post-mod) icons. Kathy Acker interviews William S Burroughs in London in 1988, on the occasion of the opening of his inaugeral show of his shotgun paintings, at the October Gallery. He discusses both his writing and his painting (the history and process) and corrects a couple of Kathy's apocryphal stories. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday's Weekly Round-Up - 97



Gelek Rinpoche from Lhasa & Ann Arbor unwrapping Tibetan text & beginning to chant it, Tokdhan Rinpoche handling brass lightning-bolt and bell, Sonam former chanting-master of Gyutö Tantric College idling behind them at picnic table outside lodge shrine-room after lunch, “Just fooling around rather than having a ceremony.”  Sonam came in from Chicago, Tokdhan from Eastern Tibet to give oral transmission of one volume short form Prajnaparamita Sutra to Gelek’s students.  Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha!  Our annual summer retreat, Yankee Springs State Park, Michigan, August 27, 1993.
Gelek Rinpoche, Allen's East 12th St apartment, NYC
February 23, 1990. Photo c Allen Ginsberg Estate.






















Today is Gelek Rinpoche's birthday (see our last year's posting here). Happy Birthday Gelek!

What else for the Friday Round-Up? - Well, first up, our friend Geoffrey Manaugh has just put up "Allen Ginsberg Photos and Ephemera, 1994-1996" (images from Europe - Prague, Milan, Paris - and from New York - plus, assorted scanned press-clippings - interviews from New York magazine, The Prague Post, a two-page interview with the Parisian magazine, Limelight..)   Here's his shot of Allen, taken in Milan in '96.

Allen Ginsberg in Milan, outside the Duomo, April 1996. Photo by Geoff Manaugh. 

and here's a poignant last snap of Allen in his new, barely-to-be-used, loft - "final photo I took of him and the last time I saw him in person"
Allen Ginsberg in new loft, East Village, December 1996, final photo I took of him and last time I saw him in person; photo by Geoff Manaugh. 


For those of you in New York next Thursday evening, Bob Rosenthal, Allen's long-time secretary,  will be reading (at the Sidewalk Cafe, in the East Village) from his much-anticipated prose-memoir Straight Around Allen. More on Bob's memories (in case any of you had missed it) here.  

Further Allen memories (vintage ones this time), John Wood has an article in the current (September-October) American Poetry Review - With Allen in Arkansas - An Ozark Diary - "I had not forgotten that these pages existed, but I'd not read them since I wrote them in 1969 recording a visit of Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to give a poetry reading", he writes
 - and concludes, "Allen (Ginsberg),Peter (Orlovsky), (poet) Frank Stanford, Jim (Whitehead, head of the poetry program), John Little, John Holmes - all gone. But these jottings I made a lifetime ago bring back a good place, good times, and sweet memories - especially of those who are gone, and most especially of Allen and Frank, two gentle, good men I'm happy to have known".

And, coincidentally, David W Smith on a later Fayetteville visit, "around 1983" - "It was really a joy to meet him and he was very gracious and generous with his time. He never seemed like I was bothering him. I think he liked people"  

Sad news to report, the great Indian (Bengali) writer (and Allen's good friend) Sunil Gangopadhyay died this past Tuesday, aged 78, "following a massive heart attack". Fellow writer, Amitav Ghosh provides this loving tribute. There's further notices here and here.
[Sunil Gangopadhyay  (Sunil Ganguly) (1934-2012)]
























[Sankar Chattopadhyay,  Peter Orlovsky, Sunil Ganguly, 
Jyoti Dutta, Hotel Amajadia, Calcutta, July 1962.  Photo
c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Picasso's Birthday



Allen had a magazine reproduction of this (Picasso's late self-portrait) taped to his refrigerator in his old East 12th Street apartment. He also had this (Bellini's St Francis in the Desert) but that's a whole other story. Recognitions of self? Glimpses of (im)mortality?  Today we celebrate Picasso's birth, October 25 1881 in Malaga, Spain.

There's the older, and then there's the younger, Picasso - This, (from "At Apollinaire's Grave") - "...the absent hand of Max Jacob/ Picasso in youth bearing me a tube of Mediterranean.." and (similarly from Paris, writing to Jack Kerouac) - "I sat weeping in Cafe Select, once haunted by Gide and Picasso and well-drest Jacob last week writing first lines of great formal elegy for my mother." 

1949 - here's Picasso painting

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Allen Ginsburg [sic] Talking to Fools




Allen Ginsburg?, Allen Ginsberg! - we've spoken of this one before - the perils of spelling! Behind this undeniably foot-shooting error, (on You Tube), there is something of substance, however - video from 1985 (from WUFT), by Stephen Robitaille (directed by Alan Saperstein) - Allen as the master poet - poetic teaching, poetic instruction.


Student: Long strips of crocheted.. what do you call that stuff?

AG: Don't stop to think of the right words..

Student: Anyway, I just put a line in there, and..

AG: Could you let me finish my sentence?

Student: I'm sorry

AG: Don't stop to think of the right words, stop to see the picture better. "Don't stop to see the words - comma - but to see the picture better" is (Jack) Kerouac's suggestion when you get into a problem like, "what do you call those"? - so then, you just see the picture and describe it.

Student:  In this case, I just put a line there, forget it, and come back to it.

AG: No, don't ever do that. Don't ever put a line there and come back to it. Finish it there and then, because, if you finish it there and then, you'll take the energy that you have during the time of writing and pursue it - because that's when you have a picture. So, whatever occurred to your mind, make use of. And then, judge it later. You'll have plenty of time to judge it. You have all your life to judge it and revise it! You don't have to judge it on the spot there. What rises, respect it. Respect what rises...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ginsberg Recordings Latest - Ballad of the Skeletons




Ginsberg Recordings have just released their latest digitalized Allen - The Ballad of the Skeletons.

For more on this exciting re-release see here 

And for more on the background and alternative performances of Ballad of the Skeletons see here.

Keep following Ginsberg Recordings! - and The Allen Ginsberg Project!

Remembering Philip Lamantia




[Philip Lamantia (1927-2005)]

It is - or would have been - the 85th birthday today of the great American Surrealist poet, Philip Lamantia. We would draw your attention to our comprehensive posting on him last year here.

Garrett Caples'  apprenticeship and generous custodianship of Philip is recounted here and here

We look forward with great interest to his edition of  The Collected Poems (due out, when we last heard, from the University of California Press, sometime towards the end of next year).


Meantime, just as a taster, and courtesy City Lights' "Abandon All Despair Ye Who Enter Here" blog, here's "Going Forth By Day", an excerpt from Tau, Lamantia's "mystical second collection of poems, slated for publication in 1955, but suppressed by the poet due to his evolving religious beliefs".  City Lights posthumously published it (with Caples' introduction), in 2008, along with Journey to the End by legendary "lost" Beat, John Hoffman (the source (subject), so it's been told, of Allen's immortal line "Angel-headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night", the poet who's work Lamantia read that night at the famous Gallery Six reading, mysteriously disappearing in Mexico and dead at 25).  

A review of that book (Tau combined with Journey to the End) may be read here. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Cosmic Vibrations in Cezanne

The Gulf of Marseilles Seen from L'Estaque



















Cézanne 's Ports

In the foreground we see time and life
swept in a race
toward the left hand side of the picture
where shore meets shore.
But that meeting place
isn't represented;
it doesn't occur on the canvas.
For the other side of the bay
is Heaven and Eternity,
with a bleak white haze over its mountains.
And the immense water of L'Estaque is a go-between
for minute rowboats.

(1949)


Allen to Lionel Trilling, New York, Columbia University, June 1948:


"Also, I must tell you about St. Shapiro (Meyer Schapiro). I finally took a course with him as you suggested a few years ago. I don't know anything about fine art and sat terrified in the front row, smiling to hear the sweetness of his discourse. I was also afraid to write his papers, but I couldn't evade the examination, for which I studied at the last moment, and I wrote him a wild sleepless book. I saw him the same afternoon to try to explain what I had meant there, though he hadn't read it yet, and held forth frantically on some mad idea about Cosmic Vibrations in Cézanne  and we parted, I suspect, mutually baffled. This morning I got a marvelous letter from him complimenting me on the exam and chiding me for not writing the term paper..."


His ( Cézanne 's), Bill Morgan writes, in I Celebrate Myself - The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg,  were "the first works of art in which Allen was aware of the mind of a living, intelligent person behind them. Until then, (he) had viewed artworks as objects of beauty, but the mental acumen of Cézanne  himself was transmitted through his paintings in a way (he) had never before experienced"

"Need a significant jump of change, Time, or experience to reveal, as Cezanne says, the Petit Sensation, Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus great gap of change..", Allen writes in his Journal, June 1955 - 
"The parallel between Cézanne 's theory and poetry theory - to present to the mind's eye two equally strong images without editorial or rhetorical connection - same as without traditional perspective lines, for the effect of the juxtaposition: the resulting pun or ellipses of Space. The problem is to learn to speak Cézanne 's language of color & space, to see what he is creating, what relationships he is drawing between planes, and how."

regarding "Howl", in the famous Letter to Richard Eberhart, of the following year:

"I have noticed that the unspoken visual-verbal flow inside the mind has great rhythm and have approached the problem of strophe, line and stanza and measure by listening and transcribing to a great extent) the coherent mental flow. Taking that for the model for form, as Cézanne  took Nature."

"The latter parts of the first section (thus) set forth a "formal" esthetic derived in part incidentally from my master who is Cezanne" [sic]


" - who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space through images juxtaposed, and trapped the archangel of the soul between 2 visual images and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun and dash of consciousness together jumping with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus". (from "Howl") 


From his Journals, May/June 1961:

"Yesterday in Aix comparing postcard Cézanne  reproduction with Saint-Victoire and measuring each brushstroke to a geological epoch. Went to Avenue Paul-Cézanne  & stole into his studio - the cracked white hat &; green cloak - (modeled in photos &; paintings) - his skulls &; thighbone-rosary-wooden puppet in a drawer - his easel & palette & the shining slippery polished wood floor of the vast room..
Then..up to Vauves hill to see Sainte-Victoire a new housing project annihilating the old point of view from which Cezanne saw the Mountain's south face steeper than at Chateau Noir".  

Cezanne, Allen's "master". He addresses all these things and the nature of the relationship in considerable detail in the must-read Paris Review interview - see here


Interviewer (Tom Clark): "You once mentioned something you found in Cézanne - a remark about the reconstitution of the petite sensations of experience, in his own painting - and you compared this with the method of your poetry.

Allen: I got all hung up on Cézanne around 1949 in my last year at Columbia studying with Meyer Shapiro. I don't know how it led into..I think it was about the same time that I was having these Blake visions..

" I was looking at Cézanne  and I suddenly got a strange shuddering impression looking at his canvases...Partly it's when the canvas opens up into three dimensions and looks like wooden objects, like solid-space objects in three dimensions rather than flat. Partly it's the enormous spaces that open up in Cézanne 's landscapes..."


Cézanne  "shuffled off his mortal coil" on this day - October 22, 1906.


Coincidentally (coincidentally?) today is also the anniversary of the birth of Timothy Leary.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Philip Whalen (1923-2002)

[Philip Whalen, Sensei, in his peaceful chair, my apartment living room,
East 12th Street New York March 1984. he was visiting East coast to give
readings N.Y. and Buffalo, calm poet. 'What are you reading?' 'I'm
not reading I'm just turning the pages.' (Ginsberg caption.)
photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]







Allen Ginsberg & Philp Whalen,  in Allen's East
12th St apartment, New York City 1984. photo
c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

[Philip Whalen, Dr Weber's office, Boulder,
Colorado, August 1, 1985. Photo c. Allen
Ginsberg Estate]




A Philip Whalen birthday posting. A gathering of links. (Today is also Rimbaud's birthday, and the birthday of Michael McClure). Michael Rothenberg's definitive edition of The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen is obviously the place to start off (tho' we still have a warm spot also for his (Phil's) Selected Poems (Overtime) - not to mention the immortal On Bear's Head).

For texts immediately available on line, the classic "Sourdough Mountain Lookout" may be read here. It may also be heard (along with other poems) in an early (1956) reading here. Similarly vintage is his contribution to the 1963 Vancouver Poetry Conference here (and here he is in discussion on that occasion with Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley, Charles Olson and Allen). PennSound have also a 1971 San Francisco reading from "Scenes of Life at the Capital" -  and a 1987 reading from Albuquerque, New Mexico
"Sourdough Mountain Lookout" can also be listened to there).  

Back to printed texts and the illuminating "Goldberry is Waiting" - or P.W., His Magic Education As A Poet" (not the whole text, but a goodly proportion) is available here. And here is his Introduction to the 1982 volume, Heavy Breathing. Another important essay (and here given in its entirety) is, from 1991, About Writing and Meditation. Here's a generous selection of  "12 Buddhist Poems" (they are, of course, all Buddhist poems). Here's "Complaint To The Muse", here's "A Vision of the Bodhisattvas", here's "Historical Disquisitions", here's "Discriminations". Here's "True Confessions" ("My real trouble is/ People keep mistaking me/ for a human being/  Olson (being a great poet) says/ "Whalen! - that Whalen is a - a -/ That Whalen is a great big vegetable/ He's guessing in exactly the right direction") - (this is a reproduction of a broadside, illustrated by Keith Abbott).  

Steve Silberman provides us with The Invention of the Letter - A Beastly Morality (written in 1966, and first published two years later), Alastair Johnson, with two Poltroon Press books - Prolegomena to a Study of the Universe (from 1976) and Prose (Out) Takes (2002), Michael Rothenberg's Big Bridge has Mark Other Place, another chapbook (with drawings by Nancy Davis). Brian Unger, currently hard at work among the Whalen papers, provides "Excerpts from the Notebooks of Philip Whalen" (notations from September-October 1967 - essential stuff!). Here's selections of his correspondence with Swiss-Italian poet, Franco Beltrametti - and with British poet, Tom Raworth (here, here and  here) (Tom, incidentally, hosts another essential spot, an on-line memorial shrine - featuring, among many other things, obituary notices from the US newspapers, the San Francisco Chronicle,  the LA Times and the New York Times).

Interviews? - Phil was, of course, a Soto Zen priest (here's a 1995 interview with David Chadwick - here) - and here's a 2000 interview with friend and fellow-poet David Meltzer - (and here's a late interview with Brian Howlett (with Lynn Bougureau's photos and illustrations)).

Secondary sources? - well, let's start off with Lew Welch on Phil Whalen (from 1969) and Kenneth Rexroth, (from the same year). Tom Clark reviews the Selected in Jacket magazine (as does Lewis MacAdams (for L.A. Weekly)). Alice Notley provides a personal tribute on the PSA (Poetry Society of America)'s web site. Leslie Scalapino's introduction to the Collected is available here.
Speaking of Jacket, poet Dale Smith curated a Whalen feature for them (for Jacket 11) in April 2000, (alongside features on Joanne Kyger and the Australian poet-translator, Martin Johnston). He also created a similar gathering for Big Bridge - "On The Occasion of the Publication of  Philip Whalen's Collected Poems".  His own writings on Whalen may be read here, here, here and here
Miscellaneous other writings - Ron Silliman, Jed Birmingham, Miriam Sagan, Michael Hrebeniak..  

We eagerly await Tensho David Schneider's forthcoming biography, Crowded By Beauty,
(due out soon, perhaps?, from University of California) - A sample can be read, courtesy Jim Koller's Coyote's Journal  ("Kalyanamitra") (and another brief extract - here). 

The Internet Archives remain, of course, an extraordinary trove. Where else to find PW on Virginia Woolf,? on Alexander Pope?, on Shakespeare's Pericles? on Stravinsky
The Internet Archive houses all 13 classes of the quaintly-named "In The Pressure Tank",  a series of talks held at Naropa Institute in July and August of 1980.

Here's Tom Clark's poem and memory, "Phil" 

Here's Joanne Kyger's, "Philip Whalen's Hat".

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday's Weekly Round-Up - 96




















[Randy Roark and Allen Ginsberg, July 1996, Boulder, Colorado, photograph by Kai Sibley]

We lead off this week with Randy Roark's illuminating memoir of studying under Allen, - "A Poet's Progress - Apprenticing with Allen Ginsberg - The Object Is To See Clearly" -  Humility and wisdom - "You've got to learn how to transcribe your own sense impressions", "You've got to learn to be your own secretary". The piece was originally penned in 1980. He revisits it three decades on.

Poetic Likeness - Modern American Poets, the new show up at the National Portrait Gallery at The Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC features (of course), amongst a select (representative) company, Allen. The image here chosen is Wes Wilson's classic 1967 Who Be Kind To poster (after a photo by Larry Keenan).


And on the campus, last week, of Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, a charming continuing, tradition - the annual public reading (five consecutive years now!) of "Howl". English professor, Jeffrey Skoblow and History professor, Eric Ruckh combine forces. Skoblow: "It (the poem)'s a howl against repression of all kinds, sexual repressions very primarily, but also repression of free expression, political repression, religious expression, religiously motivated repression and repression of spiritual experience. It's a very broad based attack and ecstatic advocacy of freedoms". 

The Jack Kerouac Conference last week in Lowell. Here's Rick Dale of the Daily Beat with a detailed review and report.

and here's the Lowell Sun's report on the premiere production (staged reading) of "The Beat Generation", Kerouac's play -
and on the background to the production here

Walter Salles' On The Road film adaptation continues to get (curiously and revealingly) "mixed reviews". Here's Ryan Gilbey's enthusiastic note in the New Statesman 
 - and here's Matthew Bond (in the Daily Mail) - "It's a close call, especially for anyone who hasn't read the book, but I'd say going to see On The Road is still worth the effort".

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Trungpa and Allen..and Gregory! - 8 (conclusion)


[Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, Tail of the Tiger (Karmê Chöling), VT  ca 1970]


























Gregory Corso [to Chogyam Rinpoche] - I still think the years mean something. I'm your elder.

AG: He was reincarnated, so he goes back thousands of years maybe.

Gregory Corso - But I never died. Top that!

AG: Oh, you never died?

Gregory Corso: Right. I'm saying I didn't come back, I'm here. I really think your reincarnation sucks! (just like with the Egyptians - they wear beetles, you know, scarabs, it means re-incarnation, you gotta die to come back as something else - but I got the vulture and the vulture's immortality, and it's a sacred bird, and it holds the infinity stick, and I don't have to die to come back). I don't believe in death. I've always thought it was a big gimmick, one of the biggest cons laid on people.

Chogyam Trungpa: How about birth?

Gregory Corso: Birth? I don't know mine.

Chogyam Trungpa: You don't?

Gregory Corso: See. Here's the ball-game. Where's the fuckin' belly-button?

AG: That can't be heard on the record(ing) [Allen explains for posterity]. You did a parlor trick. What time is it?

Chogyam Trungpa: It's just about time.

AG: So.. we have a poetry reading coming up..Joanne Kyger, Lewis MacAdams, and Anne Waldman. So I guess we'll close this (too) [gestures to Trungpa] with a reading.

Chogyam Trungpa: With just one reading?

AG: Yes

Chogyam Trungpa: Because I don't have my poems or anything like that (on me)

AG: Do you have your (notes)?

Choggyam Trungpa: Yeah

Gregory Corso: That'd be good, that'd be nice. I love talking, Allen. I just love it. Sometimes I get scared, though. I figure I'll make a mistake. And then we go "ooh-ooh"..

AG: Yes, son.

Gregory Corso: ..and I get so embarrasssed.

AG: Yes, son.

Gregory Corso: Son? - shit! (although you are older than me)

[Allen and Trungpa talk quietly amongst themselves, obviously discussing the reading to follow]

Gregory Corso; He's gonna do it. He's picking 'em out. But, while he's doing that, we'll talk. You are older than I am, Allen, but you didn't make a baby yet. [turning to Trungpa] - So, before you read, can you loan me a hundred dollars? I just want to borrow some money. I don't have much money here while I'm here but I'm getting some.

Chogyam Trungpa: I didn't bring my wallet.

Gregory Corso: But when you have a chance, do you think you could lend me some?

Chogyam Trungpa: Sure.

Gregory Corso: Alright.

Chogyam Trungpa: With interest!

[An audience-member asks Corso for a cigarette]

Gregory Corso: Sure. Take it. And cut out. No, you can't smoke (here). Fuck 'em! - He [pointing to Trungpa] has been nasty to me, trying to be too.. more intelligent than I am. Fuck 'em! - It's bad for you.

Student: I've got a question.

AG: Yes.

Student: You've talked a lot about the Beatnik movement and a sort of cultural rebirth with that whole Beatnik movement, and I want to know how you feel it originated, and what spontaneous things it went through in order to, like, bring about where it's at now. Like, I'm especially curious about Neal Cassady, and  a lot of Jack Kerouac stuff, and Ken Kesey stuff, whether you think  that Neal Cassady is a bodhisattva

AG: I'm going to be dealing with later in class... and (it's) too complicated to say any more than our own inspiration was a kind of tenderness, and awareness that we were going to die (which could be taken up later in class..)

Chogyam Trungpa: Okay, I'm reading [to David Rome, his secretary] (Are) you gonna read? - I'd like to read some samples, examples or samples, whatever, of three types of categories of poetry that I've done, and one is (a) traditional pattern, which is translated from the Tibetan and written in Tibetan in a very traditional sense, and that is maybe the first starting-point. And I'm not very good at reading, and David has been working with me all the time, and I don't regard my poetry as my child, particularly. And, forget it, anyway. So we can read.

[David Rome then reads Trungpa's poem, "Silk Road" -  "Traveling, listening to the whistling wind, crossing thousands of ridges and still not seeing the end of the earth. Irritated by the gossip of the brooks, crossing thousands of rivers but still not seeing the end of the sky. Never reaching the goal of the black tint in the distance. It is too tiring for the horses and mules. Better to pitch our tent where pasture, fuel and water are plentiful."

Chogyam Trungpa: There are some things written in Tibetan, but also free-style. And my particular poetry with the Tibetan language is.. particularly after the Chinese invasion, that people got very scattered, basically, and their languages tremendously reshuffled, that people from all provinces (began) speaking a mixed dialect, and all kinds of things, but (no longer) pure literature. And what I'm trying to do here, what I have done, is (a) free-style poetry (which is never done in Tibetan) but it has the classical terms in Tibetan, and, also, using a certain modern idiom, (the two) working together, so that it makes sense and makes good literature out of it. (So) you might see something of that here, but (much will be lost, I fear) in the process of translation. I have done the translation myself (so) hopefully something (may) still (be) preserved.

David Rome: "Cynical Letter"

Student(s): Louder!

David Rome: Yeah, okay.

AG: Boldly and clearly.

David Rome: Thank you, Allen. Okay. Now I can do anything!
[David Rome reads Trungpa's poem, "Cynical Letter" - "Licking honey from a razor blade, eyes of the learned gouged out by books, the beauty of maidens worn by display, the warrior dead from lack of fear, it is ironical to see the dharma of samsara.  Celebrities deafened by fame, the hand of the artist crippled by rheumatism, the moth flew into the oil lamp, the blind man walks with a torch, the cripple runs in his wheelchair, a fool's rhetoric is deep and learned, the poet laughed himself to death. The religious spin circles in accordance with religion. If they had not practiced their religion they could not spin. The sinner cannot spin, according to religion. He spins according to now knowing how to spin. The yogis spin by practicing yoga. Chogyam is spinning, watching the spinning samsara. If there is no samsara spinning, there is no Chogyam.

Chogyam Trungpa: The last one is actually a spontaneous poem that I dictated to David Rome and it was done in English of course, and in a very social kind of mood, frenzy, maybe, somewhat. It was written last year, I think.

[David Rome reads Trungpa's poem, "In the land of promises..."]
"In the land of promises, one flea bite occurred. In the midst of continental hoo-hah, one bubble occurred in a tall lager-and-lime glass. 'Midst a spacious sand dune, sand swarmed. Lover with sweat primordial egg dropped from the sky and hit Genghis Khan's head in the middle of the Gobi desert. Horny camels huffed and puffed to the nearest water. Desert seagulls pushed their trips to gain another food. Suzanne, with her jellyfish, volleyed back and forth by badminton rackets. Oh this desert is so dusty, one never gains an inch, not a drop of water, so sunny, almost thirsty, very thirsty, fabulously thirsty, terribly. Oh, it's killing me this desert, this sand, preventing me from making love, preventing me from eating delicious supper with all-pervasive crunch of sand. I wish I could go to the mountains, eat snowflakes, feel the cool breeze. I wouldn't mind chewing icicles, making the delicious cracking sound as I step on the prematurely frozen pond, making the satisfying sound of deep hollowness as I step on the well-matured frozen pond, making the undoubtedly solid and secure sound on a fully-matured frozen pond. Suzanne would love that because she is the punisher in the desert and she is the companion when we skate across this large fully-frozen pond. Let's fly across the ice, let's beat the drum of our hearts, lets blow the bagpipe of our lungs, let's jingle the bells of icicles, let's be cool and crispy. Suzanne, join us. What is gained in the hot deserty wretched sweaty claustrophobic sandy skull-crunching dusty world of Gobi? Who cares? Come to the mountains, Suzanne, oh, Suzanne."

Chogyam Trungpa: I think we're over.

AG: I think we're over and I hope to see you at the poetry reading.

[Class ("Trungpa and Allen..and Gregory!') and tape ends here]

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Trungpa and Allen..and Gregory! - 7

[Gregory Corso,  NYC, March 1995. Photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]
























Student: What you were talking about before.. there was something that really unsettled me, in terms of what I feel poetry is, how it functions in getting to a point of.. well, for one, inspiration, light, expressing that which cannot be spoken, and that which, for me, in my life, in my experience, has given me a lot of learning, a lot of insight, a lot of appreciation, so that the poets that were expressing these things, I never got the feeling that they were doing it for an audience, or doing it for ego, or doing it for...

Gregory Corso:  Well, fuck you anyway. Alright.

AG [to Corso]:   He isn't saying that to you.

Gregory Corso: Yeah, but I don't care. The thing is this.. no, Rinpoche.. ninety (a hundred) people here.. Edgar Allan Poe said, "A poem should not go over a hundred lines"..you've got everybody here..Everybody (should give), spontaneously, (a) one-liner shot. It's gotta be on (the) record. You've got these fuckers here. Go ahead. How do we start? We'll start right with you [points to student].

AG: Start yourself!

Gregory Corso: ...and we'll end the ball-game. Alright, I'll start myself. Come on, Gregory.

Chogyam Rinpoche: Quick, quick, quick!

Gregory Corso: C'mon!

Chogyam Rinpoche: C'mon!

[Everyone begins shouting at once. The only words that can be distinguished are as follows - from Gregory Corso - "Allen Ginsberg", from Allen Ginsberg - "Eternity", from an unidentified student,
"Rhinoceros"]

Gregory Corso: But louder! - You've got to give it..  What do you think? You think I should take it over and just say, "the end of the class" - because I taught this class more than he did [Gregory, referring here to Allen's 1975 Naropa classes] because he was ill  - these are my students, in a way. And he told them then, when we left off (and went on a hike), write a poem....

Student [female student] : Hey, Gregory, let the guy finish his question, man!

Gregory Corso: Oh no, you're the tough guy [sic] - You see, the mistake with you is.. the mistake with you is you try to get too revolutionary and down on men

Student: Yeah, but I'd like to know what he was trying to say

Gregory Corso: Yeah, well why don't you go outside and rap with him. We've got something to do. We've got a poem-class here. He  [pointing to one participant] is taking pictures all the time, interrupting, click-click-click. He [pointing to another participant] asked a bullshit question, and you [addressing the third student] are supposed to be a top-class woman poet..

AG: I don't treat my students this way

Gregory Corso: You don't?

AG: I just sic Gregory on them!

Gregory Corso: Alright, I'm so embarrassed, I'm wrong. Wow!

AG: What was the question?

Student: Yes, you're wrong.

AG: What was the question? Speak! Speak!

Chogyam Trungpa: Please. Speak.

Student: I will.

AG: Are you finished? Yeah.

Student: I felt as if I got it out. I was just talking about how poetry has struck me, and I felt a conflict between what you were saying about it being an egocentric function, just creating monuments, a way of getting stuck. I see it as a kind of flight, a way of liberation and expression that has taken me to some very deep places and has a lot of meaning for me, reading certain poets throughout time, and I feel that split very greatly in what you're saying, and I just wanted to hear what you had to say about that in poetry, that quality of poetry.

Chogyam Trungpa: The quality of the ego in poetry?

Student: No, of the inspirational

Chogyam Trungpa: Oh, the inspirational. I think that's a sense of complete freedom from hesitation. We've been talking about word and thought, that kind of thing. Your thought becomes a word. The word does not have to conflict with your expressions, and there is no problem with writing, there is no problem in the working anymore.

Gregory Corso: We don't talk about poetry, you do it!

AG: We're here to talk about it.

Gregory Corso: No, because it's old. It's older than Buddhism, it's older than anything.

AG: Now you're interrupting

Gregory Corso: And how! (at least I'm a "daddy")

AG: Oh, daddy, shut up!

Gregory Corso: (Why do sons) fuck up their fathers?

AG: Because...

Gregory Corso: Poesy is very old, it's the old tradition, my dear, it's the first thing that comes out.

Student: Why do you have to justify yourself with that?

Gregory Corso: Don't ask me questions, asshole!

AG [to Corso] - You're saying essentially what Trungpa was saying but you're not letting him say it in a way that he'll understand.

Gregory Corso: I want to play with Trungpa. Can I play with him?

AG: This is a poetry class.

Chogyam Trungpa: Poor guy.

Gregory Corso: This is a poetry class?

Chogyam Trungpa: Poor thing.

Gregory Corso: I think, then, you and I, Rinpoche, should talk. It's an oral tradition, it's the first sound.
What's the first sound in Buddhism?

Chogyam Trungpa: No sound

Gregory Corso: No sound. What's the second sound?

Chogyam Trungpa: Somebody says "no sound"

Gregory Corso: Somebody says "no sound"? that's the second? - but there's got to be "aum" and your "ah" and your "hum"

Chogyam Trungpa: That comes much later

Gregory Corso: Alight. So. Thought is poesy.

Chogya Trungpa: Uh-huh

Gregory Corso: That woman, that dyke there [sic], who tried to interrupt me when I interrupted him [turning to Allen] Did you get anything out of his question?
That's what I want to know.

AG: Yeah

Gregory Corso [exasperated] You're sweet on (Richard) Nixon!

AG: Actually, what I thought was happening was that you have mis-understood what he said, what Trungpa said..

Gregory Corso: Yeah, me too, I think...

AG: ..when Trungpa said, "to create a monument", remember?  You thought that the monument was necessarily a perjoratively used word, or an egocentric thing. When I asked that also, he said, "Buddha was a great monument". So the monument wasn't necessarily a drag on consciousness, it was maybe a dharmachakra monument, or a teaching monument, or a turn-on

Gregory Corso: Now I'm going to interrupt again.

AG: I'm going to interrupt again

Chogyam Trungpa: That's right.

Gregory Corso: Buddha was a monument. He had a big belly. He was big and fat. Poesy can be...,

Chogyam Trungpa: You've got the wrong Buddha.

Gregory Corso: Poetry can say "Brightnesse falls from the ayre"

Chogyam Trungpa: I think you've got the wrong Buddha

Gregory Corso: Right

Chogyam Trungpa: No

AG: You've got the wrong Buddha

Gregory Corso: Well, Buddha was like that.

Chogyam Trungpa: That's the Chinese saint

Gregory Corso: That's the Chinese saint?

Chogyam Trungpa: Yeah

Gregory Corso: What, was the Indian one thinner?

Chogyam Trunga: Very thin. And handsome.

AG: And handsome.

Gregory Corso: "Brightnesse falls from the ayre" is thin.

AG [to Trungpa] - Do you know that line?

Chogyam Trungpa: What?

AG: "Brightnesse falls from the ayre/ Queenes have died yong and faire/..I am sick, I must dye/ Lord have mercy on me.." - it was a poem we were reading in class..in the first session..by Thomas Nashe..

Gregory Corso: And I used it in the aerial plane [sic] -  this faggot - I didn't know he was a faggot - was sitting next to me, so I said, "Do you want to hear a great poem? - "Brightnesse falls from the ayre/ Queenes have died yong and faire" - and he got scared, 'cause he was a queen and we were in the air!

AG: The full stanza was "Beauty is but a flowre.."

Chogyam Trungpa: What is?

AG: Beauty

Chogyam Trungpa: ..is but a flower.

AG: "(Beauty) is but a flowre Which wrinckles will devoure/ Brightnesse falls from the ayre/ Queenes have died young and fair/ Dust hath closde Helen's eye./ I am sick, I must dye/ Lord have mercy on us." - Thomas Nashe - Did they teach you that at Oxford?

Chogyam Trungpa: I think they did but I forgot all about that

Gregory Corso: We read at Oxford. Do you know when we read at Oxford? When did we do that, Al?
Fifty-eight?

AG: Seven

Chogyam Trungpa: You did a reading at Oxford?

Gregory Corso: Fifty-seven

AG: Fifty-seven, yes.  Gregory wrote a big poem about the bomb.

Gregory Corso: About the poem.., and they threw a shoe at me! - a great English... no, it wasn't even a good English shoe... 'cause then I loved the bomb. I thought that was the way to kill it, not to give it hate.

AG: Do you remember the lines?

Gregory Corso [to Trungpa]: - I'm glad we made up, Rinpoche. I don't think we (could) ever (really disagree)

AG: Are you sure about that?

Gregory Corso:  I don't see why it can't be up to me to...  [tape ends here]