Trungpa and Allen..and Gregory! – 7

Gregory Corso,  NYC, March 1995. Photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate

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”’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?

AG: Because…

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.

AG: Yeah

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 the first 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?

AG: Beauty

Chogyam Trungpa: 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?

AG: Seven

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]

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