Spontaneous Poetics – 68 (William Carlos Williams 12)

[William Carlos Williams  (1883-1963)]
[Allen Ginsberg on Spontaneous Poetics at Naropa Institute continues – from June 30 1976]

AG: [recalling the previous class] We had gone through syllables, accents, vowel-lengths, some breath-stop, units of phrasing. How much of that did we get?

Student: You gave some examples and out of Williams, you got so far as the details…

AG:  Okay. Units of phrasing, consisting in units of vocalized phrasing, Not mental phrasing, but vocalized phrasing, and so I’m making that distinction. The aesthetic would be – clinical study of spoken American-ese. And  a close attention to the … Read More

Spontaneous Poetics – 67 (William Carlos Williams 11)

[William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) – Photograph by Jonathan Williams – from “A Palpable Elysium: Portraits of Genius and Solitude]

(Continuing with Allen Ginsberg’s class on “Spontaneous Poetics” at Naropa Institute, from June 28 1976)

AG: Breath-stop is the next measuring concept. In (William Carlos) Williams case, and in Robert Creeley‘s case, and in my case, and in Charles Olson’s case, and in the practice of many modern poets, one way they divide the line when they’re doing free verse is.. (because these are all the elements, still, in open-form verse, (that) I’m talking about, saying there’s a … Read More

Text and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll

The recent publication of Simon Warner‘s quaintly-titled, monumental (500+ pages) tome, Text and Drugs and Rock ‘N’ Roll, had us thinking again about lineage and connections and those issues – “Was rock culture the natural heir to the activities of the Beats? Were the hippies the Beats of the 1960s? What attitude did the Beat writers have towards musical forms and particularly rock music? How did literary works shape the consciousness of leading rock music-makers and their followers? Why did Beat literature retain its cultural potency with later rock musicians who rejected hippie values? How did rock musicians … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round Up – 123

[Allen Ginsberg, San Francisco 1994 – photograph by Chris Felver (from the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library]

Belatedly noting the passing (he died April 11, aged 86) of the noted free-speech lawyer, Edward De Grazia, “one of the country’s foremost advocates of the First Amendment, championing the causes of writers, publishers, film-makers and others who challenged legal and moral conventions” (as his Washington Post’s obituary-note succinctly puts it). De Grazia was the author of the wonderfully-titled, (and wonderfully-comprehensive), Girls Lean Back Everywhere -The Laws of Obscenity and the Assault on Genius (the source of that … Read More

Spontaneous Poetics – 66 (William Carlos Williams 10 – Williams’ Prosody)

[William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)]

AG: I’ve been thinking of what are the different considerations of mindful open-verse forms. And I made a very brief list (composed of elements we’ve already discussed) just as academic reference-points. If one were to analyze (William Carlos) Williams‘ versification, what are the different inclinations he has in mind when he’s putting the words down on the page, or re-arranging them on the page?

First, we had consciousness of syllables and syllable count, as he practiced, and his friend Marianne Moore practiced. That is to say, arranging phrasings on the page with four syllables, … Read More

Spontaneous Poetics – 65 (William Carlos Williams 9)

Student: Allen, I’ve heard a lot about that poem of Williams about a cat walking on a fence. Do you think you could find that one?

AG: A poem about a cat walking on a fence?

Student: Yeah.

AG: I could find it somewhere but it would take a while and I would spend so much time looking over it that everybody would get bored and think I was a drag.

Student: (Then) don’t.

AG: I think it ends with the cat putting his feet into a flower-pot, stepping carefully off. Just like the same mindfulness (of) the sparrow Read More

Spontaneous Poetics – 64 (William Carlos Williams 8)

[William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)]

Ginsberg on Williams continues:

AG: There’s lots of short poems (of Williams) that might be looked at. What does he do (for example) when he gets into a violent scene, where all perceptions are jarred? [Allen proceeds to read William Carlos Williams’ poem, “The Last Turn” – “Then see it! in distressing / detail – from behind a red light/at 53rd and 8th/ of a November evening, the jazz/ of the cross lights echoing the/crazy weave of the breaking mind:/ splash of half purple, half/ naked woman’s body whose jeweled/ guts the cars drag up

Read More

1,000th Posting

If we’ve got the maths right…

1,000 postings!

What an incredible resource The  Allen Ginsberg Project is! – On this momentous occasion, we’d ask you all a favor – Can you use our Comments section more? !  (we want to elicit and host some healthy debate – we don’t want to be “telling you things” all the time). Also, please, please, given the monumental numbers of links on this site (hyper-text and all that)  and the vagaries (out of our control) of the Internet, can you please write us (back-channel, we guess) of any links that have gone down and … Read More

Spontaneous Poetics – 63 (William Carlos Williams 7)


[William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)]

Ginsberg on Williams (from June 1976 at Naropa) continues:

AG:  So it’s a question of the whole problem of the structure of the universe then, (that it) depends on our own perception of it, naturally And here we’ve got a man (Williams) working on his perceptions directly, and using the language as a way to recognize and refine his perceptions and to define his perception or first thought as the material for his work  – very manly work, in a sense (though it’s just purely aesthetic). He’s got a poem (called), “The Men” –  big … Read More

Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, Chogyam Trungpa & William Burroughs Reading, Boulder, 1976

Last weekend’s 1976 Ginsberg-McClure reading was warmly received. Here’s another one, again recorded at Naropa in 1976, (a couple of months later), and featuring, in addition to Allen, Anne Waldman, Chogyam Trungpa (English translations read by David Rome) and – William S Burroughs! Philip Whalen provides the spare but informative introductions. The tape begins with him introducing Allen (some amusement from the audience – it’s early days -when he announces Allen’s been singing)

PW: Mr Allen Ginsberg’s latest book is called First Blues, a lot of which is in the process right now of being recorded with … Read More