GC: I’ll tell you what I’ll do with you guys, and I’ve got some goodies in this class (at least I know I’ve got one goodie (I told you it, I entrusted you with it), so I’m going to work out a poem for you. I will show you how, a poem I’ll read tonight, how I’ll work on it – alright?, how I would take it from my notebook and make it, tailoring, that’s what it’s called, “tailoring”. I would tailor the poem to be a brick mews house, you see? – I’ll give you that goodie, I’ll take it at random – something I wrote in my notebook [shuffles through notebook] – aw, geomancy, I don’t wanna do geomancy here..(The) poem I (wrote) the other night.. is right near me now. I’ll work on the poem.. I’ll work on my new poem that I will read tonight, because, with that and the oldies..I can read the oldies, and the oldies I know will make it for me. I can be funny with my oldies or I can be serious with my oldies. I know they will past the shot. But what I want to do is do a new number, and see if it works, alright?, and see how I can break it down. So what I’m going to do is to read to you, and, while I’m reading, while doing that, I’ll cross things out (I just can’t do it on the blackboard). Here we go. This would be the poem that I would read as a new poem this eve.. “Daybreak and the night goes on”…” [Gregory begins reading at this point from his long, unpublished poem “The Day After Humankind”, to begin with, abruptly pausing after the first four lines] – Shut your ass, man, I’m reading a fuckin’ poem!.. – Ah, now you get that one that I’m talking about? You’ve gotta catch this very clear, and I don’t think that you can get a poem that’s read to you on the first shot. I think it has to be given to you three times to get it. Therefore, poetry-readings, to me, suck. I like it that the poetry’s on the page, and you sit in your library and you look at the page, then you get it. This fast is fast.. Here’s a poem.. Watch how fast it goes.. [Gregory resumes reading] – “Daybreak and the night goes on..” – “while a mob of polar (bears) makes a hot circle around him” – I got that one, I got that old sea-lion, right? – so then you’re caught? so alright, so then it’s the first hit.. alright? [Gregory continues] -“The human being when young headed towards the dogs”… “My poem began like the first sight of the sun I cannot remember”… – Any of you guys, any of you women, remember when you first saw the sun?…
But one thing is good here, I’ll ask somebody a question and watch what happens – and I know I can break it, watch this shot. There’s the question.. now, somebody.. I’ll take you because you wanted to talk, here you go. What’s your first memory?
GC: How old were you? (watch this shot, William [Merwin], who’s attending the class] it’s a goodie, it’s a.. hiatus)
Student: Nursery school.
GC: Nursery school. How old were you at Nursery school?
GC: Four years old. When did you remember that?
Student: When did I remember it?
GC: When you were four.
Student: Just now.
GC: There you go!
There it is..what a fuckin’ goodie. We’re alive. You know how many years that jumps out at you?
GC: That’s 17, 18, no, 19 years, 19 years, am I right? My mathematics? Alright. Yeah. That’s a good shot, don’t you think, tho’? When you remember, the first thing that you remember is later on in years. Therefore the dream that you might have (you wake up but you don’t remember), it’s like you never dreamt at all! So that brings you back to a great goodie – the source – the source is in its recall – like the occurrence is in the remembrance (and if you don”t remember it, it didn’t occur at all!) – This is some simple shit! Wow!
I.. ok, I’ll give you the rest of my poem. Let me work on it with you – ok, so I can get it done [Gregory resumes reading] – “My poem began like the first sight of the sun I cannot remember”…”The art of mutation shall knoweth me when death befalls the body” – see there’s my change, I had “The art of mutation shall knoweth me when death befalls my body” – not “my body”, “the body”, “The art of mutation shall knoweth me when death befalls the body – (this fucker’s going to go, this meat! (will die)) – “I deny the big lie/en-truthed by ages of morality” – and that’s a toughie, I gotta work on that – “..deny the big lie”.. un-truth or en truth? – Now “en-truth” could mean that you’re filling the lie with truth, that the lie would be truthful, and I didn’t want that, so, so “un-truthing” a lie gets rid of the lie as being truthful. It’s a tough word to create..[turns again to W.S.Merwin] how would you do it, my Poet-Man?
W.S. Merwin: It’s your poem, Gregory
GC: I know what it is..it’s a word, it’s not in the dictionary.
W.S.Merwin: Say the line again.
W.S.Merwin: The whole line.
GC: “I deny the big lie/ entruthed by agents of morality”. It means “added to”, entruthed” would mean “in addition”, right? – I’m sorry, (but) I’m working on this new poem, it’s a new poem for me and I’m working on it. So that’s what I did the class to show the Poet-Man working on his poem. So, between “en” or “un”, doesn’t make a fuckin’ bit of difference to me really, there you go.. “I deny the big lie/entruthed by agents of morality…”.. “The book said to be written before the creation of the world..” – You people remember last class when I said that I didn’t wanna mention Gilgamesh, because I thought there might be somebody here who would say there’s a book before it? What’s the book that was written before the creation of the world?
Well, the Jews say they got it, they got the Torah. You see, I don’t go for that shit..I would say here, Gilgamesh gives me something practical. I’ll show you why I hit on that [resumes reading] – ” I deny the Torah its mystery, the partitioning of the Red Sea…”..”Wisdom is knowing this, not to be obtained by Faith” – “Humankind told me I have to die/and I don’t trust humankind…”.. “..its monsters now forever constellated” – (the zodiac) – “..while below the last of the blue whale swims…” – there you go, while the blue whale is being wiped out, you fuckers are putting up these monsters in the sky (“why, there’s a scorpion there, a goat-footed one there..”).
Okay, this is how I end the baby [concludes the poem] – “I am of the Earth mind as a tree is of the forest/ I am Earth personified, a unit of being, apart from Nature..”…”O, to be a matinee idol on Mars, not a driver of spiffy cars, nor a rock ‘n roll Dillinger, a Bob Dylan doppleganger, but a Gregory singing songs of reality in the cinema halls of memory, bringing back heirlooms of the future..”… “…while the producer from Tibet-Jerusalem shall say my role as a pulsar/shall win me an Oscar!”
– So the poetry’s over, the whole rig’s over, so I go back and repeat this?
Allen taught me a great lesson – “don’t explain the explanations!”
The audio for this can be heard at:
beginning at approximately thirty-four-and-a-half minutes in and concluding at approximately forty-eight-and-a-half minutes in (featuring/including< Gregory reading from his poetry)