1975 Naropa Class Proposal

Walt Whitman – detail from photograph by Mathew Bradey c.1866

Still following Allen’s 1975 History of Poetry classes. Whitman tomorrow – but, first, Allen sets up a template for the days ahead:

“We’ll move from that time (William Blake’s time) to a breaking open of those stricter verse forms that we’ve been dealing with and get on with Walt Whitman for about ten minutes because I’ll take up Walt Whiman later during next week.
Beginning today, I’ll start with a little Whitman and maybe come back to him later. From Whitman, an open form, a more open voice, the voice of declamation, inspiration.

So today I bought along the only recordings extant of the Russian poet, Vladimir Mayakovsky, and the only recording extant of the Russian poet, Sergei Esenin, both of whom were big wild rhetorical declamators. (I’ll) cover that a little (for whatever time we have), and then go on to, or maybe after Whitman, a little (Arthur) Rimbaud, and from Rimbaud to a 17-year-old imitator of Rimbaud in Fairlawn, New Jersey, last week, who sent a letter and a poem.

I want to cover a couple of texts of (Federico Garcia) Lorca, a couple of texts of Guillaume Apollinaire, so I’ll do it more or less in chronological order. Apollinaire, the French inventor of modern style, both “cut-up”, juxtaposition, and, at the same time, run-on mind thought associations, Mayakovsky, around the same time 1905, Futurist, Esenin, a little later (a crazy poet, somewhat like (Gregory) Corso – in fact, shot and killed himself and wrote his last poem in his own blood!). Rimbaud, a little earlier, quit poetry to go sell guns and run slaves in Africa. All those are preparation for American style, later American style”.

(Audio of these remarks (following a reading/performance of William Blake’s “The Schoolboy”) may be found at the very beginning of this recording, here. More from this class to follow.)

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