Meditation and Poetics – 19 (William Carlos Williams’ Good Night)

AG: There are two things I wanted to do today.  One is go through some more (William Carlos) Williams, to extend from his breath out into the room, to see how he observed the room itself, things going on in the room. I’ve run over some of these poems before in previous years, for those of you who were in the class.  It’s not too many, I guess, now.  So….“Good Night”

Student:  What page?
AG:  Page 145, Collected Earlier Poems.  “To him who wants it.”  The title of this book was Al Que Quiere – “to whoever who wants it.”  Early. 
Nobody understood why he was writing about standing
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Meditation and Poetics – 18 (William Carlos Williams and Vipassana)

[Two Kittens in Silhouette –  a snapshot circa 1926,  by, presumably, William Carlos Williams (included in his papers at the Yale Collection of American Literature Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library]

AG:  The next stage, classically, in Buddhist thought, in Buddhist structure, is Vipassina.  Does everybody know what that is?  From Samatha to Vipassina.  Raise your hand if you do. Raise them.  Come on.  If you don’t, raise your hand.  Okay.  So the majority don’t know that Samatha-Vipassana philosophy distinction, which is like a great subtle, very interesting shot.Vipassina means insight. Samatha means quietening. Vipassana means insight. So what’s the relation?

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Meditation and Poetics – 17 (William Carlos Williams and Samatha)

             [William Carlos Williams holding two kittens – undated (c.1928?) – included in the William Carlos Williams Collection, at the Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library]AG: We started on breath last time. We started on one poem which I’ll re-read now since some of you have had a little bit more experience with your breath. (William Carlos Williams‘) “Thursday” – I’m re-reading this for those who drifted in and out, who weren’t paying attention, didn’t get it the first time, who weren’t here the first time – … Read More

Vintage Beat Generation Footage

More vintage Beat Generation footage this weekend. Both of these we’ve featured before – in fact, if you turn to our column on the right-hand side of the page, you will find a whole list of  “streaming videos”. These two early film clips stand out, however. The first comes with an additional mystery – who shot it?  Robert Frank was one informed and plausible guess, but he denies it. Whoever it is behind the camera is comfortable, relaxed, scrupulous, attentive, seemingly part of “the gang”. This precious footage, (there’s really nothing quite like it – unless we cite the “rehearsed … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 200

The anniversary today of  the suicide of Vachel Lindsay1931 -Eighty-three years ago..His doctors at the time discretely reported his death as having been the result of heart failure, but it was actually suicide – from drinking, in manic despair, an almost-full bottle of domestic cleaner, Lysol His famous last words? –  “I got them before they could get me”Allen’s 1958 poem  To LindsayVachel, the stars are out dusk has fallen in the Colorado Roada car crawls slowly across the plainin the dim light the radio blares its jazzthe heartbroken saleasman lights another cigaretteIn another city 27 years agoI see your shadow on the … Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 16

 [“Rarely, Rarely, Comest Thou Spirit of Delight (Portrait of Keats and Shelley)”- Gregory Corso, c.1994, (31 1/2″ x 35″), oil on canvas board; (originally collection of Allen Ginsberg)]AG: Those who studied with me before or who have worked with me before, this may be repeating some matter.  Has anybody here read Shelley’s “Adonais”?  Can you raise your hand?  Has anybody here not ever heard of it?  Raise your hand if you haven’t.  Come on, you never heard of it there.  So raise (your hand).  You never heard of it, did you?  Okay.  So you can raise your hand safely, then.  It’s safe to raise your hand if you … Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 15

[Sri Ramakrishna  (1836-1886]AG: More breath would be in (Percy Bysshe) Shelley.  See, now, spirit.. divagating a little.. the reason that’s interesting (meditation poetics) is poetry is vocalized.  The vocalization is out on the breath.  So, in any case, we’re going to be dealing with the out-breath, one kind of out-breath or another – whether a silent out-breath or an out-breath full of vowels and consonants.  An out-breath full of vibrations or (whatever)  We’ve still got to recognize the breath as the ultimate spirit of poetry and breath is spirit.  Spirit – spiritus.  Latin.  What is spiritus?

Student:  (Latin?)… Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 14 (Thomas Greaves)

AG: (However,) I wanted to read a couple (of poems))  I want to stay with the breath for a moment.  Back to the breath.
Thomas Greaves – 1604.  You can find this in an Elizabethan Songbook edited by Noah Greenburg, Doubleday, 1955:
“What is beauty but a breath?  Fancy’s …” 
Is somebody making noise here? –  Okay –
 “What is beauty …” – I’ll start again.
What is beauty but a breath?/Fancies twin at birth & death./  The color of a damask rose/ That fadeth when the north wind blowes/ ‘tis such that though all sorts do crave … Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 13

Allen Ginsberg’s Meditation and Poetics class continues

AG:          Yes?
Student:  I just wanted to speak to the connection, the connection between the type of poetry you’re talking about and sitting, which to me seems that the poem is there and if you’re sitting properly you’ll be able to be aware of it, and it’ll go through you and you write it down, great, otherwise you’re there.
AG:  Well, okay.  We haven’t figured out … a poem is words, I guess.  Well, there’s the conception and then there’s the words for the conception.  There may be some extra little art … Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 12

Continuing this week with Allen’s 1978 lectures on Meditation and Poetics 

Student:  Allen, when the thought comes, as I won’t try to categorize it, to purport the possibility that one pushes poetry, or one actually receives it, but, like, they do pass.. it.. Now, (so), as it comes, they have a responsibility to, perhaps, the nature of the thought to..(so)..

AG:  Who has…?  Who (What) are you talking about?
Student:  As, say, in a philosophical sense, the body as the receptacle for thought, does it … its responsibility (then) is to project that (thought)
AG:  Responsibility?  No, I don’t think … Read More