Allen and Louis and the Vietnam War – November 1965 Letter

A passionate letter today from 1965  (at the height of the Vietnam War), Allen, in San Francisco, on this day (November 29), writing to his father. The naivety, indeed myopia, on his father’s side exasperated Allen (the simplicity of the goad that he was a “Communist”  that the “Commies infiltrated and used guerilla tactics to ravage and despoil and murder countless peaceful S(outh) Vietnamese”, that somehow an evil manipulating Communist China was the true force behind things and that America, far from being an aggressor, was somehow welcomed there as “protector”.   “I’m not playing that game”, Allen declares .… Read More

Original Emotions/Archetypal Rhythms

Student: Would it do any good to know what these rhythms are if you don’t have the capability of voicing that feeling or that emotion that ends up being one of these.,
AG: Well, I think that these cadences and these emotions are natural, so I don’t think that anybody has the problem of feeling them, and, in private, voicing them, (either to themselves, or to another person). I think everybody..  I think they’re in the range of everybody’s emotional spectrum. You may not feel so about it but you’ve got that delicacy,  Sure. Don’t you? – … Read More

More on Metrics – 3

AG: Well, it’s not that that you need to be able to understand it [Greek prosody] to write a poem. It’s not perverting your speech to get those rhythms. Rather, it is that speech does have those rhythms, and that you can follow the cadences with those rhythms, that when we were taught in drama-school and high-school primary rhythms, it was very rare that anything was taught beyond the four variants of iamb, trochee, anapest and dactyl.  – that seemed to be the range of  the English ear, or awareness of rhythm, or American high-school awareness of rhythm, … Read More

More on Metrics – 2

[Allen Ginsberg, San Francisco, 1956 – Photograph by Harry Redl]

Allen Ginsberg continues, lecturing his Naropa students on metrics

AG: “Moloch who’s eyes….. da da-da da, da-da da da , da-da da ,da-da da-da da, da-da.. And if you have a gang of choruses going bop-pa-pa-bom, bop-pa-pa-bom, you’ve got something very powerful going on And so, in.. without knowing it, just intuitively, I was using choriambic and variations of choriambic meters, in the Moloch section of “Howl” – “Moloch-who’s-eyes-are-a-thous-and-blind-wind-ows” – (da-da da da-da da da-da da da-da) – “thousand-blind-windows”, “thousand-blind-wind..” “Moloch-who’s-eyes-are-a-thous-and-blind-wind-ows” – So it’s a combination of choriambic … Read More

More on Metrics

[Allen Ginsberg’s classroom hand-out – “A Synopsis of Metrical Systems”]
continuing from here
MORE ON METRICS
Allen’s pedagogical insistence on quantative prosody, on the minutae of classical prosody, was something he came back to again and again with his students at Naropa  (see, for example  – one of many examples – here). In transcription, it makes, perhaps, for some somewhat tedious transcript – to hear the subtle and various distinctions he’s making, it really becomes necessary to listen closely to the audio (happily, here available). Allen does employ here a somewhat unique teaching method to lighten things up – … Read More

Allen Ginsberg 1974 San Francisco tv Interview – “I Believe” – part 2

continuing from yesterday – (transcript of Allen Ginsberg and Father Mike S Riley’s 1974 conversation picks up approximately sixteen-and-a-half minutes in)

MR: What’s a nice Jewish boy like you doing with all of the Christian metaphors and analogies?. It’s just “Christ,” “Jesus, “”the Church”, “Crucifixtion”…

AG: Well, what I’ve been talking (except to the reference to St John of the Cross) has mostly been formal Buddhist dharma, which is a perception of the Universe as transient, in the sense of..    The basic.. first basic thing is – all the constituents of being are transitory. So that’s why I’ve … Read More

Ginsberg and China

[Allen Ginsberg, Yangtze River Gorge, China, 1984]

 [Allen Ginsberg: Selected Poems –1947-1997, (Chinese translation by Wen Chu-An)  (2000)]

Allen Ginsberg in China is our focus this weekend.

Allen and China – great news! -.a new (first-time!) edition of his Collected Poems is due out very soon in that country  (hopefully in November)  – translated and edited by the young Ming Hui and published by  Shanghai ’99.…..

There’s, a little Chinese background.

From our friend Jim Cohn‘s estimable web-site, The Museum of American Poetics: “In 1982, Allen Ginsberg was a member of a U.S. Writers’ Delegation that hosted … Read More

Reassembling Perception

[Pablo Picasso. Skull and Leeks 1945]

AG: So you assemble, you reassemble, all these objects and you get the sensation that you had at the time. So it’s almost like a precise science.. won’t you believe it?

Student: Well, it seems like you’re taking a real classical approach that these things that come in on you can be.. can all be put in an organized sentence, in an elegant way.

AG: Okay

Student: But after…   I mean, don’t you think a..  I mean, a McLuhan-esque term, “the mosaic thinking”,  that just sometimes just lists of images would  be more accurate … Read More

On The Composition of Haiku

[Heaven-Earth-Man Calligraphy]

continued from yesterday,   1980 Naropa classroom –  Student is refering to another student’s writing that Allen has just analyzed

Student:  For a while there, it seeemed like, like she was saying, it seemed like,  I don’t know how many syllables there were, but they seemed they were pared down, to the length of haiku,  almost

AG: The way she did it? – Yeah.  Yeah, but it didn’t work. It was sort of like awkward haiku(s) and no single one of them made a big deal except maybe, “the rhythmic twang of the steel cord slapping against the flagpole”,  … Read More

Composition and Condensation – 3 (Classroom Notation)

[“Rhythmic twang of steel cords slapping against the flagpole”]

continuing from yesterday

AG: Then, the other thing we came to, she [sic] had a poem that was a discrete series of code-word observations, one after another in a row, and it sounded, like, too choppy, or much like she was doing an exercise sketch of the ….”One lady lifts up her big leg over the…or big boot, and takes it off” – [ to Student] – What are the three images? – What’s the first one? there was…

Student: “Holding the attention”,,

AG: What?

Student: “Holding the attention..riding a bicycle, … Read More