GC: What do you people know zodiacally? Just the bullshit you got in the last 15 years, right? You’re all young people, and you’re brought up that the zodiac was always so – it wasn’t. In the ’50’s and the ’40’s, you didn’t hear of the zodiac. No way. It was all covered down. Right? So I think this is my last lesson I’ll give you all. Why did they call it “the Aquarian Age”?
[turns to and begins rubbing clean the blackboard]
Did you ever check it out, why it’s the Aquarian Age?
[Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Boulder, Colorado c. 1974-1975, photograph c.Rachel Homer]
Gregory Corso: I’ll tell you what I’ll do. So the class can handle itself nicely. Ask me a question? Being if I say I know all there is to know (because there ain’t too much to know!), I should be able to answer any fuckin’ question you guys lay down on me. Let’s make it Socratic. Not all at once and heavy. Take it easy with my beautiful head, but lay it nice.
Student: Have you been staying out of jail, and, if you … Read More
More vintage NAROPA transcription. The first two classes in Allen’s 1975 “History of Poetry” NAROPA course (Allen being sick) were taught/conducted by Gregory Corso. Gregory Corso – Substitute Teacher!
GC: ….It’s a virus, that’s the shot. Now the virus hits the cell, once it hits the cell, you’re fucked. You can’t see the virus. Antibiotic – you know what antibiotic means? They’ll give it to you easy and you’ll take it. In a hospital, you feel ill, you call an ambulance, right? Well, call an ambulance, you’re fucked. So they give you antibiotics now, that’s anti-life stuff they’re putting … Read More
AG: Okay to Hart Crane – another example of that genius and stupidity mixed. The reason he’s interesting to read right at this point is we went through the breakthrough in the late 19th century of the old verse forms, through Rimbaud, Whitman, and then on to the great 20th century voices, Lorca, Apollinaire, Mayakovsky (and you heard Esenin’s voice), some lesser voices, but total voice, like “Bryan, Bryan, Bryan, Bryan”[Vachel Lindsay], total vocalization. One man who tried to get it all together was Hart Crane. Hart, (a) terrific first name! – from Cleveland. His father was … Read More
[Image: Mischievous Dead, Jose Posada / Public Domain]
One final transcript from Allen’s 1975 NAROPA History of Poetry classes – this curious and lively in-class improvisation. Gregory Corso and W.S.Merwin were on hand on this occasion to add their contributions.
AG: The subject of today’s improvisation will be death. So, in answering the roll call, “Death is…”, fill it in. No reading from old books. No stumbling on your own old quotations. Death is your tongue speaking right now.
Student: Death is your obsessive angel.
AG: Death is pure obsessive anger? Is that what you said?
[Federico Garcia Lorca, in Granada, 1919, aged 21 – photo by Rogelio Robles]
“and you. Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?”
(Federico Garcia) Lorca came to New York, hung around Columbia University quite a while, wrote big poems on the Brooklyn Bridge, as Mayakovsky did on Harlem, in 1930, probably ’32, two years after Mayakovsky’s suicide. Lorca was gay and killed by jealous cops or something, by Franco’s Guardia Civile, Civil Guard. He wrote while in New York a book of Surrealist poems, and he was turned on, perhaps, by Salvador Dali, whom he
Shifting same time (19th/early 20th century) to Moscow. Or.. of the same time, the equivalent group in Russia were the Futurists, who were maybe the earliest relatives, the earliest people who broke up a sense of consciousness, or a sense of a solid consciousness that the 19th century had. It was broken up a good deal in Rimbaud with the Alchemy of the Word and the long reasoned derangement of the senses, but by the time of 1905, it had become already artistic practice, and not just a great eccentric genius … Read More
AG: How many were not here last time? Okay. Last time we went through some Whitman, some Rimbaud. The point was to show the break-up in the 19th century of the older stanzaic rhymed forms, inherited from the practice of musicking the poetry, late 19th century. It broke up in the 1870s. So samples of that were Whitman, Rimbaud (and then I played some phonograph records of the Russian poets (Vladimir) Mayakovsky and Sergei Esenin (and Ezra Pound and the Italian Futurist, Giuseppe Ungaretti)). The Mayakovsky, we didn’t have any English text.
[Allen is in the middle of discussing Rimbaud’s “Parade”]
– …interzone teacher gypsy sadist, well, there’s little elements of modernity in it, you could say, if it were called “Hell’s Angels”, it would be immediately apparent what the subject is – (a) Sideshow, (a) Parade (and romanticizing maybe, the traveling-circus). That’s a great line – “J’ai seul le clef de cette parade sauvage” – I alone have the key to the circus, parade. I alone have the key to the savage mental sideshow – “J’ai seul le clef de cette parade sauvage” [in the John Ashbery translation – “I