Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, Diane di Prima Reading Naropa 1974

Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman

Another vintage Naropa audio, following on from this and this. This, arguably the earliest – from 1974 – Allen, Anne Waldman and Diane di Prima at the nascent Naropa Institute, July 30, 1974 – in two parts.

“Can you hear in the back? – Raise your hands if you cannot.”

First part: After introductory remarks, the reading-order and format is established. Anne Waldman: “I’m going to start, and then Allen will read and then Diane, and then I think we’ll have a short break, and then we’ll go round quickly again. First set we’ll each be reading about twenty, twenty-five minutes each, and then we’ll take a break and then we’ll all come back” – Anne begins with her poem “Bardo Corridor“, followed by “Lady Tactics”, followed by “Light and Shadow” (another, as she describes it, “list poem”). Next come “a few crazy New York City poems”, beginning with “How the Sestina (Yawn) Works“, “another New York City prose-poem”, “Brinks of Fame”, and “Summer Revolution New York” (Anne, significantly, would change the concluding line in this poem from a male to a female pronoun) – Allen can, at various times, be heard, at the conclusion of poems, off mike, muttering his approvalAnne continues with “part of a poem called “Life Notes“..” and (at, approximately twenty-five-and-half minutes in), “one more”..”a chant poem done for everyone”, a spirited rendition of her, perhaps best-known poem, “Fast Speaking Woman

Allen Ginsberg’s first set begins approximately thirty-five-and-three-quarter minutes in, beginning with “Manifesto” (“Let me say beginning I don’t believe in Soul..”). This version has a few small syntactical changes compared to the published version. He then introduces what will be a substantial proportion of the rest of the set (“What I’ve been reading from are from journals and notebooks, poems that I’ll probably type”) – “There was a news story I saw in the Denver Post ((or the) Sacramento Bee) a few days ago, saying that the Food and Drug Administration was considering banning sassafras. It was in the Denver Post, it was in yesterday’s Denver Post. This is a poem written under the effects of powdered sassafras, an intellectual poem in the sense that there is some observation of present reality [1974] but a great deal of it is just thought association” [Allen begins reading] “Is Dulles airport run computerized by Kwan-Yin?..”…”We who depart from Washington to Portland, Denver, New York, United 157, bleak passengers dressed for cloud travel neck ties wool sweaters..”…”Was it sassafras, white fruit powder I gummed in the Aztec Yankee small plane uplifted from Lexington..?”…”What plane for the planet? How can I scream at the army, scream at the police the military defense the airport freaks enthusiasts orgiastes of space of thrill, myself right now high in atmosphere above the planet’s cloud..”…”There’s only one thing better than looking out of the window and writing poetry and that’s sitting silent in meditation and indifferent to sense phenomenon..”…”6.28 p.m. flying across the continent Portland, Atlantic to Pacific..”..”same as not being high, being high, everybody agrees…” – subject-matter of the poem then shifts – “all day cross continent, Nixon’s voice transcripts in the Times, his expletives…yes!, that’s the language of the President of the U.S…same as mine!”…”one set language public, another set private, different, that causes schizophrenia – just like me and the FBI!..”…”Can Nixon save his ass?”…”And since his “peace” a year ago, 800,000 refugees, 50,000 dead since his war end, 70,000 wounded by our guns and money-machine, Food For Peace fund, $350 million stolen…”..”He spent 3 billion dollars last year South Vietnam and Indo-China war.. and only half a billion all Africa and Latin America starving combined..”…”No one can read all the papers…”..”It’ll all come out some day – too late”… “and I ride this plane United, consuming orange juice gasoline like General Westmoreland, or any airplane murderer cushioned above the clouds, dropping thought bombs across the nation, calling for its Fall…”) – A second journal-entry work (about out-door carpentry and laboring (at Kitkidizze) is titled “Energy Vampire” (“Tapping star drill into new porch foundation sill, chipping knots..”…”Who am I wandering in this forest, building a house with young men?, I who never worked with back or hand for decades in city or farms?”… “Words my seeds”.. “What a pleasure not to have to do nothing but sit virtuous and tired, glasses slipping off my blurry nose..”..”Work work work, this inspiration proves I have dreamed”). Next, “a song, written in Boulder, 1972, May 10, which some will remember, it was tear gas around this neighborhood” – [Allen accompanies himself on the harmonium onTear Gas Rag“] – (“Tear gas, tear gas, tear gas tore my throat/Can’t say my mantra/Tear gas got my goat/ Tear gas, o lord, tear gas/I can’t find my mind/Bombing North Vietnam, I’m stumbling around blind/ Tear gas in Boulder/tear gas in my heart/Frighened on College Hill by Nixon’s poisoned fart/ Tear gas here, tear gas there/Colorado and Saigon/ They’ll be dropping tear gas every time I get a hard-on!”). Then, “Returning to the Country for a Brief Visit” (“In later days, remembering this, I shall certainly go mad”) and (at approximately fifty-six minutes in) the title-poem, “Mind Breaths” (from the collection, Mind Breaths) – “Last November, with many people probably in this hall, about sixty people from the.. who were disciples of Chogyam Trungpa, who was (is) the director of the Naropa Institute, I spent three months in Teton village, Wyoming, in a cafeteria that had been remodeled into a meditation hall. We sat.. We began the three-month period by sitting, two weeks solid, ten hours a day, meditating – and the meditation was – paying attention to the breath leaving the nostrils dissolving into space, beginning, say, with the end of the nose, into the space outside, so actually a meditation out here, reminding one of the space, like returning to the breath, every third thought, or every fifth thought, or every fiftieth. So here’s a record of fifty thoughts. (“Thus crosslegged on round pillow sat in Teton Space…”…”a calm breath, a silent breath, a slow breath breathes outward from the nostrils..”)

For the remains of this first part, (beginning sixty-five minutes in) Diane Di Prima reads – “I’m going to read from one long poem that I’ve been writing for over three (sic) years, it’s called Loba the she-wolf. I’m going to start by reading the piece that opens it, part of the first sections, which sort of sets the tone, and then I’ll just skip through (Loba has two quotes beginning it, one quote is from an Indian song, and that quote is “It would be very pleasant to die with a wolf woman. It would be very pleasant”. The other quote is from the Chinese Book of Odes, “The clever man builds a city. A clever woman lays one low”)

Anne Waldman; We’ll have a ten-minute break and then come back for a short set

Allen Ginsberg: When we come back, what we’ll be doing is trading back-and-forth shorter poems, sort of skipping back-and-forth and capping each other

Second part: (begins approximately thirty seconds in) – Allen Ginsberg: We’re going to do a second set, which will be trading poems back-and-forth in the same order – Anne Waldman – Allen Ginsberg – Diane di Prima – (Allen goes on to announce also an upcoming poetry reading by Jackson MacLowand George Quasha – “Quasha travels, MacLow rarely travels, and I think this is the first time that he’s been in this part of America”, also a reading by Diane Di Prima in Denver the following night)

Anne Waldman begins – “This is a poem called “Pressure” (“When I see you climb the walls, I climb them too” – “No way out’)

At approximately six and three-quarter minutes in, Allen Ginsberg (with harmonium accompaniment) presents a loose improvised version of “Stay Away From The White House” (incorporating sex, politics, race – and a (self-directed) injunction against smoking! – “Stay away from The White House/or you’ll go to Vajra Hell”)

Eleven-and-a-half minutes in, Diane di Prima reads – “I’m going to read a couple of short poems from Revolutionary Letters. [to Allen] This was written on the day you read that May 10, 1972 poem. I was driving out of Tassajara that day to read in Santa Cruz and most of my audience was in jail, and I wrote this on the way to the reading, for them, for they were mostly not there. It’s called “San Francisco Note” because that’s where I was living then.”..(and) “one more” – “This was written the night of a benefit I was at with Allen to free the Becks and the Living Theatre, who were in jail in Brazil at the time. I went home and wrote this after a long – till two a.m. – chant – free.. some of the people are now dead, or something else, but the poem is the same. What date was that ’70? – 71? – 71 – Summer of ’71 (“Free Julian Beck, Free Us, Dance!”)

Anne Waldman – “This is a meditation written on a plane from India back to New York City – Delhi to New York City, after reading Time magazine! It echoes Diane’s poem and it’s called “Empty Speech” (“empty…”)

At twenty-two-and-a-half minutes in, Allen Ginsberg gives a rousing recitation of “Jaweh and Allah Battle”

At approximately twenty-nine minutes, Diane diPrima again: “This is a poem called “Ave”, “Ave” like in “Ave Maria”. I wrote it about a.. It was sort of prefatory to the begining of Loba’s story, I wrote it about a month before Loba began. It’s kind of a poem to all the street women in the world, sense of myself as stray-woman-with-baby-wandering-over-globe kind of poem” (ends “Ah”)

At approximately thirty-four-and-a-quarter minutes in, Allen concludes the proceedings – “I’ll end the evening with a chant, as the chant “Ah” began, and ended, the (previous) poem. (I’ll) finish with a.. This evening’s over (as life must be also) – gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha – gone gone – gate gatega.. [AW: “absolutely gone”] – ga – Sanskrit – go, ga, gone [AW: “completely utterly gone”] – completely gone – para (like parapsychology, paragon, big gone, completely gone, high gone, highly gone [AW: “highly gone” – DD: “utterly, completely gone”] – and parasamgatepara, you know the Latin, para – well, same root, Sanskrit, Indo-European – parasamsumma – completely most high gone, or completely utterly gone – parasamgate bodhi – which is mind – svaha – salutations – gate gate parasite parasamgate bodhi svaha (Allen leads chant, joined by AW and DD of the Prajnaparamita Sutra (or Heart Sutra)

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