Allen Ginsberg 1985 Naropa reading

[Allen Ginsberg in 1985]

Continuing from yesterday’s Eric Mottram-Philip Whalen reading

Allen Ginsberg  (following some brief announcements of upcoming readings by Anne Waldman)

Anne Waldman introduces Allen Ginsberg:;

AW: Allen Ginsberg – Guggenheim Fellow and member of the American Institute of Arts and Letters, the author of Howl, Kaddish, Planet News, The Fall of America, Mind Breaths, Plutonian Ode, Poems 1977-1980. His Collected Poems was published in January 1985 by Harper and Row. He has recently returned from China where he has been lecturing at the invitation of the Chinese Writers Union. He’s sung with Bob Dylan and The Clash, recorded Blake songs, as well as a double-album, First Blues. He is a meditation student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. He’s co-founder, with myself, of the Poetics school at the Naropa Institute, which began, really, in the summer of 1974. He’s been a long-time faculty member and co-director of this program. He’ll be teaching… he taught the first week, and he’ll be teaching during the (William) Burroughs Conference (sic) and will also be available through the program for student consultations. He has a book coming out in (19)86 from Harper and Row entitled White Shroud. His Collected Poems is enormous. It’s a huge tome. As Kenneth Koch said, when it first came out, it “looks like something by the King of Bavaria”, a beautiful, red-covered, very elegant, regal tome.. And if that weren’t enough, he’s bringing out a new collection – Poems 1980-85, titled White Shroud. And he’s also – just found out today – he’s been invited to Russia, in November, as a delegate to a literary conference there. So, welcome our ambassador and great poet, Allen Ginsberg.

AG: I’ll read from poems since last summer, and mostly from the last six months

“How lucky we are to have windows!/. Glass is transparent!/. I saw that boy in red bathing suit/ walk down the street”. [“Surprise Mind’]

“Student Love” – (“The boys fresh faced, 18, big smile/, underwear hangs below his shorts….”….”….before years pass, leave us weeping at a hospital bedside”)

“It’s All So Brief” – (“Its all so brief./ I’ve got to give up/ Books, cheques, letters/File cabinets, apartment/pillows, bodies and skin/even the ache in my teeth”)

“In My Kitchen in New York” (for Bataan Faigao) – (“Bend knees, shift weight -, Picasso’s blue deadhead self portrait/tacked on refrigerator door…”….”..I wonder if they’ll blow/up an H Bomb? Probably not.”)

“Written in my Dream by William Carlos Williams” – in China – These following poems are written in China and I saw.. had many dreams there – (“”As Is/you’re bearing/ a common/ Truth/Commonly known/as desire/ No need/to dress/it up….”…”What began/ as desire/ will end wiser”)

“Reading  Bai Juyi” – (December (19)84). – (I) – (“I’m a traveler in a strange country/China and I’ve been to many cities…”…”freezing and breaking rocks on a roadside in Hebei” – (2) – “”Ignorant and contentious”, I spent lunch/arguing about boys making love with a student…”…”Tomorrow if I recover from bronchitis/I’ll put on a serious face and go down to the Market.”)- (3) – “Lyiing head on pillow aching/still reading poems of Tang roads…”….”..a sound outside my mind, nothing to do with my aching brow.” – (V) – “China Bronchitis” – “I sat up in bed and pondered what I’d learned/while I lay sick almost a month…”…..”That most people have thought “we’re just little men,/what can we count” since the time of Qin Shi Huang” – (VI) _ “Tho the body’s heavy meat’s sustained/on our impalpable breath…”… “Their saving grace this year’s that all the peasants are fed.” – (VII) – (seventh, and last in this series), “Transformation of Bai’s (Juyi)’s A Night in Xingyang“”, which is transliterated to New Jersey-ese, New Jersey-esque language, instead..or New Jersey-ese.. from Chinese -the proper names – (“I grew up in Paterson New Jersey and was/just a virginal kid…”…”Only the Great Falls and the Passaic river flow/noisy with mist then quietly along the brick factory sides/as they did before,”)

“Black Shroud” – (December (19)84 also)  – (“Kumming Hotel, I vomited greasy chicken sandwiched/in moldy bread..”….”I had/confessed, too late to undo confession and truth, I woke.”)

“World Karma” –  World Karma” – (“China be China, B.C. Clay armies underground the First Han Emperor’s/ improvement/on burying his armies alive..”…..”Let them run the world after Hi Tech’s annihilated all other species &/genetic strains/ from whale to donkey sperm”)

[“Prophecy”.] –  (“As I’m no longer young in life..’…”throw away old useless/ties and pants that don’t fit”)

“Memory Cousins”.  – (March (19)85) –  Memory. Cousins. – (“After Long Absence, I returned from the land of the dead…”…”…Here are their living eyes./here’s the end of the Immortal Dream”)

“Moral Majority’ (“Something evil about you Mr Viguerie, Mr Falwell…” ….”then come back happy, laughing, generous/big mouth full of good cheer, not money/honey”)

[The reading continues on a second tape]

{“After Antipater“] – “I’ve climbed the Great Wall, out of breath, on its stone steep/and sat on white marble columns broken at Acropolis’ skirt…”…” But when you lay on my bed, white sheet covering your loins, your eyes on mine/I forgot these marvels, my heart breathed open, I saw life’s glory look back at me naked.”

“Sincerity Rap” – [“Jumping the Gun on the Sun'[ – (“Sincerity/is the key/to living/in Eternity – “”If you love/Heav’n above/Hold your ground….”….”Sincerity/is the key/to bliss/in this/ Eternity “)

Allen concludes with a reading from his journal (July 21.1985)”

In our class, we were discussing the notebook methods of writing, and I was explaining I keep a notebook. So this is today’s entry, today’s poem:

“Dawn. A mastiff howls on the porch across the street in the for-sale signed fence. Chatter chirp chirp Chatter cheer cheer cheer cheer. Some birdie tweetles in a tree-branch top. A maple? Twerp. I wake. What bird’s that?  What kind of dog moan so? What flowers and weeds and ferns are those in the back yard?. Is that a maple or an oak? This,  Mapleton Street? – What car goes by – a whoosh – a Pontiac? – swoosh up the street?  a Chevy?  Ford? a Pinto? a Camaro? a four-wheel-drive GM?  What star was it I saw tonight when clouds lifted and Orion’s belt glittered gold on blue (or was that amber on azure?) as my eye followed his arrow past the North Star through the void.  Was that a galaxy? Where’s Sagittarius? Which way is the black hole at the center of the spiral nebula? Where’s Sahel?,  where a million children starve? Where’s that.Libya, where Wilson of the CIA trained terrorists? How many times this century have the marines landed on Nicaragua’s dirty flag? Who killed Roque Dalton? What’s the size of the U.S. National Debt and how much interest do we pay each year till the end of the (19)80’s?Now the birds quiet, and the dog bark down. What’s the population of Argentina?  Indo- China? Czechoslovakia?  What’s “differential calculus“:? How do you fix the wires on the electric light socket? I used to know the name of minerals. I do remember pectolite gave you, like, asbestos splinters. How do people get used to driving cars? What keeps an aeroplane up in the air above the clouds?  Are bird bones hollow? Didn’t I once know the look of a grackle, scarlet tanager, and one or two others? Cirrus or Cumulus, which cloud produces thunder, lightning and the rain? What makes the electricity  in  a battery? How does my wind-charger friction become electric? When water pours into a hydraulic dam, what makes it. squirt uphill when the valve closes and the pressure chamber.. Is that it? Something like that? What are the twelve pictures in the Conditioned Co-existence-Emergence chain? – blind man, potter, monkey-tree, boat-world, house-with-seven-windows, what comes next before the man-with-the-arrow-in-his-eye? What about banks? – what’s “common stock” and what’s “preferred“? What’s a “futures“? How do you hang a door?  frame a window? hold a light chain-saw? How fix a broken leg? ease a heart-attack? deliver a baby? breathe in the mouth of a dying man at the oceanside?  What kind of government ever worked? Who wrote English choriambics? (this isn’t trivia – how play that? -this is my life) . I can’t remember the name of the lawyer my fellow student,  friends with me in college forty years ago? How make a living if I couldn’t write poetry?”

AW:  Thank you all for coming. Again, there are tapes available at the back. Please come back again and hear William Burroughs next Sunday, and I’m available if there are any questions abut the Summer Writing Program (along with Randy Roark over here), Thank you.

[Audio for the above may be heard here, starting at approximately sixty minutes in and concluding to the end – continuing here, and continuing to the end of the tape]   

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