Spiritual Poetics 8

[Sappho (c.630-612BC – c.570BC) – “portrait of a young woman” from the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli]

Because it’s too much to say, you gotta pay attention – you can’t do that, you just get self-conscious, so, it’s more remembering what caught your attention when you weren’t trying to pay attention. So it’s slightly subliminal in that sense. So with the normal waking mind, we don’t generally remember what we.. well, except once in a while, everybody does, and then tells his friend, his best friend, “You know what I saw today, walking down the street – a weird scene … Read More

Spiritual Poetics 7

AG: Just writing down whatever you want to write down, what would you come up with? What’s the quality that I’m promoting, that I’m peddling? What’s the feeling of that kind of writing? Well, someone gave me a little pamphlet of poems that were very good samples. I don’t know how they were written but they felt sincere and interesting – “It’s not a death-wish/It’s giving up when your muscles hurt/and that I’m afraid of life”. I had been doing some building-work, and, actually, it’s.. that’s.. a real accurate note. It’s something that’s very personal, and yet everyone knows that … Read More

Allen in Jerusalem

[Allen’s Ashes At Har Hazeitim – photo by Bob Rosenthal]

Bob Rosenthal, poet, teacher, long-time secretary for Allen, and Trustee of the Allen Ginsberg Trust, recently back from visiting Israel, writes with a delightful piece of news:

“When Allen died”, he tells us,” an old friend of his, Steven Bornstein, suggested that I take a pinch of his ashes to the Mount of Olives (in Israel). I neither promised to (do so) nor not to do (so). But I did, in fact, sequester a smidgen of Allen’s ashes with the intention of bringing him to Jerusalem some day. This

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Diane Di Prima’s birthday

[Dianne Di Prima, Boulder Colorado, July 1987. Photo. c. Allen Ginsberg Estate. licensing via Corbis]

Poet, priestess, teacher, unrepentant activist and role-model, one of the key figures of the original “Beats” (and one of the few women in that confessedly overly white male circle), Diane di Prima, the remarkable Diane di Prima, is 77 years old today. Happy Birthday Diane!

One place we can immediately direct you to is the Fora tv recording of her October 2010 reading in New York City, at the CUNY Graduate Center (this, on the occasion of the publication of two … Read More

Spiritual Poetics 6

Student: It encourages me that India has had this experience of yoga and meditation for a millennia, tho’ I don’t get the sense that Hindus write poetry like yours.
AG: They sure do!
Student: They write the Vedas and the write the hymns to the deities, but they don’t write things about suicide-notes and they don’t subject you to the garbage of the mind
AG: If you think the mind is.. I don’t know if I want to buy that “garbage” phrase, I mean, the mind is the mind.
Student: You don’t have to buy…
AG: Well, first of all, … Read More

Spiritual Poetics 5

[Pablo Neruda – (1904-1973)]
Student: Do you find that even just transcribing down straight thoughts tends to focus your attachment to your thoughts sometimes? I found that…

AG: Focus your attachment? What do you mean?

Student: Yeah, with journals. I found that keeping journals, I got so attached to thoughts, so aware of thoughts that I would, I think, actually, subtly manufacture more to make a more pleasing journal.

AG: Well, yeah, there’s a certain amount of baroque elegance that can be indulged in, playfulness. If it’s playful enough, it’s alright. Sometimes. Because that’s just sheer abundance and playfulness, but … Read More

Spiritual Poetics 4

Student: Does it always have to do with what you choose to use?, whether you’re typing, or writing, or (using a) tape-recorder (amassing) amounts of material in that way?

AG: Right. Very much so. Yeah. I want to go into that, actually, in about four sentences. I just want to get to the nub of “selection”, because that used to be a big academic argument – the principle of selectivity, and “beatnik” writers being un-selective, and that selection was so important, that you really had to make fine intellectual distinctions between different kinds of thoughts, and only choose the (most) … Read More

Spiritual Poetics 3


[seed syllable AH, (in fact an A) – Calligraphy by Chogyum Trungpa. Source:< "Calligraphies by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, 1980, Los Angeles"]

The title of the course is “Spiritual Poetics”, which was just a spontaneous title arrived at when we had to have a title, but it might as well be used. And we’re beginning with considerations of breath, considerations of vowel, and the relationship between vowel and intelligence, vowel and soul, I’ll try to define more clearly the words I’m using.

Vowel and intelligence and vowel and soul, as they are etymologically connected as breath and soul have been connected, as with Chogyam (Trungpa)’s teaching – … Read More

Spiritual Poetics 2

I began the class somewhat thoughtlessly, crudely, with vocalizing, so we’re all vocalizing together with some spirit. And, in a way.. there’s no reason that poetry.. or, there are reasons, but it would be ideal if the poetry we arrive at, writing, could involve us enough, joyfully or liv-li-ly enough, involve us enough that we could recite our own poetry with the same kind of spirit (as) that we sing, the same kind of abandon, dig it as much, actually dig our own utterances as much as we could our own non-sensical chanting. It’s a state that I’ve sort of … Read More