Student: What you were talking about before.. there was something that really unsettled me, in terms of what I feel poetry is, how it functions in getting to a point of.. well, for one, inspiration, light, expressing that which cannot be spoken, and that which, for me, in my life, in my experience, has given me a lot of learning, a lot of insight, a lot of appreciation, so that the poets that were expressing these things, I never got the feeling that they were doing it for an audience, or doing it for ego, or doing it for…
Gregory Corso: Well, fuck you anyway. Alright.
AG [to Corso]: He isn’t saying that to you.
Gregory Corso: Yeah, but I don’t care. The thing is this.. no, Rinpoche.. ninety (a hundred) people here.. Edgar Allan Poe said, “A poem should not go over a hundred lines”..you’ve got everybody here..Everybody (should give), spontaneously, (a) one-liner shot. It’s gotta be on (the) record. You’ve got these fuckers here. Go ahead. How do we start? We’ll start right with you [points to Student]
AG: Start yourself!
Gregory Corso: …and we’ll end the ball-game. Alright, I’ll start myself. Come on, Gregory.
Chogyam Rinpoche: Quick, quick, quick!
Gregory Corso: C’mon!
Chogyam Rinpoche: C’mon!
[Everyone begins shouting at once. The only words that can be distinguished are as follows – from Gregory Corso – “Allen Ginsberg”, from Allen Ginsberg – “Eternity”, from an unidentified student, “Rhinoceros”]
Gregory Corso: But louder! – You’ve got to give it.. What do you think? You think I should take it over and just say, “the end of the class” – because I taught this class more than he did [Gregory, referring here to Allen’s 1975 Naropa classes] because he was ill – these are my students, in a way. And he told them then, when we left off (and went on a hike), write a poem…
Student [female student] : Hey, Gregory, let the guy finish his question, man!
Gregory Corso: Oh no, you’re the tough guy [sic] – You see, the mistake with you is.. the mistake with you is you try to get too revolutionary and down on men
Student: Yeah, but I’d like to know what he was trying to say
Gregory Corso: Yeah, well why don’t you go outside and rap with him. We’ve got something to do. We’ve got a poem-class here. He [pointing to one participant] is taking pictures all the time, interrupting, click-click-click. He [pointing to another participant] asked a bullshit question, and you [addressing the third student] are supposed to be a top-class woman poet..
AG: I don’t treat my students this way
Gregory Corso: You don’t?
AG: I just sic Gregory on them!
Gregory Corso: Alright, I’m so embarrassed, I’m wrong. Wow!
AG: What was the question?
Student: Yes, you’re wrong.
AG: What was the question? Speak! Speak!
Chogyam Trungpa: Please. Speak.
Student: I will.
AG: Are you finished? Yeah.
Student: I felt as if I got it out. I was just talking about how poetry has struck me, and I felt a conflict between what you were saying about it being an egocentric function, just creating monuments, a way of getting stuck. I see it as a kind of flight, a way of liberation and expression that has taken me to some very deep places and has a lot of meaning for me, reading certain poets throughout time, and I feel that split very greatly in what you’re saying, and I just wanted to hear what you had to say about that in poetry, that quality of poetry.
Chogyam Trungpa: The quality of the ego in poetry?
Student: No, of the inspirational
Chogyam Trungpa: Oh, the inspirational. I think that’s a sense of complete freedom from hesitation. We’ve been talking about word and thought, that kind of thing. Your thought becomes a word. The word does not have to conflict with your expressions, and there is no problem with writing, there is no problem in the working anymore.
Gregory Corso: We don’t talk about poetry, you do it!
AG: We’re here to talk about it.
Gregory Corso: No, because it’s old. It’s older than Buddhism, it’s older than anything.
AG: Now you’re interrupting
Gregory Corso: And how! (at least I’m a “daddy”)
AG: Oh, daddy, shut up!
Gregory Corso: (Why do sons) fuck up their fathers?
Gregory Corso: Poesy is very old, it’s the old tradition, my dear, it’s the first thing that comes out.
Student: Why do you have to justify yourself with that?
Gregory Corso: Don’t ask me questions, asshole!
AG [to Corso] – You’re saying essentially what Trungpa was saying but you’re not letting him say it in a way that he’ll understand.
Gregory Corso: I want to play with Trungpa. Can I play with him?
AG: This is a poetry class.
Chogyam Trungpa: Poor guy.
Gregory Corso: This is a poetry class?
Chogyam Trungpa: Poor thing.
Gregory Corso: I think, then, you and I, Rinpoche, should talk. It’s an oral tradition, it’s the first sound.
What’s the first sound in Buddhism?
Chogyam Trungpa: No sound
Gregory Corso: No sound. What’s the second sound?
Chogyam Trungpa: Somebody says “no sound”
Gregory Corso: Somebody says “no sound”? that’s the second? – but there’s got to be “aum” and your “ah” and your “hum”
Chogyam Trungpa: That comes much later
Gregory Corso: Alight. So. Thought is poesy.
Chogya Trungpa: Uh-huh
Gregory Corso: That woman, that dyke there [sic], who tried to interrupt me when I interrupted him [turning to Allen] Did you get anything out of his question?
That’s what I want to know.
Gregory Corso [exasperated] You’re sweet on (Richard) Nixon!
AG: Actually, what I thought was happening was that you have mis-understood what he said, what Trungpa said..
Gregory Corso: Yeah, me too, I think…
AG: ..when Trungpa said, “to create a monument”, remember? You thought that the monument was necessarily a perjoratively used word, or an egocentric thing. When I asked that also, he said, “Buddha was a great monument”. So the monument wasn’t necessarily a drag on consciousness, it was maybe a dharmachakra monument, or a teaching monument, or a turn-on
Gregory Corso: Now I’m going to interrupt again.
AG: I’m going to interrupt again
Chogyam Trungpa: That’s right.
Gregory Corso: Buddha was a monument. He had a big belly. He was big and fat. Poesy can be…
Chogyam Trungpa: You’ve got the wrong Buddha.
Gregory Corso: Poetry can say “Brightnesse falls from the ayre”
Chogyam Trungpa: I think you’ve got the wrong Buddha
Gregory Corso: Right
Chogyam Trungpa: No
AG: You’ve got the wrong Buddha
Gregory Corso: Well, Buddha was like that.
Chogyam Trungpa: That’s the Chinese saint
Gregory Corso: That’s the Chinese saint?
Chogyam Trungpa: Yeah
Gregory Corso: What, was the Indian one thinner?
Chogyam Trunga: Very thin. And handsome.
AG: And handsome.
Gregory Corso: “Brightnesse falls from the ayre” is thin.
AG [to Trungpa] – Do you know that line?
Chogyam Trungpa: What?
AG: “Brightnesse falls from the ayre/ Queenes have died yong and faire/..I am sick, I must dye/ Lord have mercy on me..” – it was a poem we were reading in class..in the first session..by Thomas Nashe..
Gregory Corso: And I used it in the aerial plane [sic] – this faggot – I didn’t know he was a faggot – was sitting next to me, so I said, “Do you want to hear a great poem? – “Brightnesse falls from the ayre/ Queenes have died yong and faire” – and he got scared, ’cause he was a queen and we were in the air!
AG: The full stanza was “Beauty is but a flowre..”
Chogyam Trungpa: What is?
Chogyam Trungpa: ..is but a flower.
AG: “(Beauty) is but a flowre Which wrinckles will devoure/ Brightnesse falls from the ayre/ Queenes have died young and fair/ Dust hath closde Helen’s eye./ I am sick, I must dye/ Lord have mercy on us.” – Thomas Nashe – Did they teach you that at Oxford?
Chogyam Trungpa: I think they did but I forgot all about that
Gregory Corso: We read at Oxford. Do you know when we read at Oxford? When did we do that, Al? – Fifty-eight?
Chogyam Trungpa: You did a reading at Oxford?
Gregory Corso: Fifty-seven
AG: Fifty-seven, yes. Gregory wrote a big poem about the bomb.
Gregory Corso: About the poem.., and they threw a shoe at me! – a great English… no, it wasn’t even a good English shoe… ’cause then I loved the bomb. I thought that was the way to kill it, not to give it hate.
AG: Do you remember the lines?
Gregory Corso [to Trungpa]: – I’m glad we made up, Rinpoche. I don’t think we (could) ever (really disagree)
AG: Are you sure about that?
Gregory Corso: I don’t see why it can’t be up to me to… [tape ends here]