Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman Reading (Naropa, April 1977)

Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman

We’ve already featured them reading together before – from 1974 here, and from 1976, here, but here, from 1977 is vintage audio of Allen and Anne Waldman reading. Allen begins, thanking his sponsors and setting out his plans.

AG: We owe thanks to Naropa and Peter Lieberson and Meg for arranging this luxurious space for us to orate in, because, actually, it turned out to be a nice situation. I’m going to begin where I left off last summer (1976) in poetry reading with a series of poems on my father’s death – called  “Don’t Grow Old”  and then continue up through poems written in the last few months”

Allen begins reading – “Don’t Grow Old” ((1) “Old Poet, Poetry’s final subject glimmers months ahead..” (2) – “He’ll see no more Times Square” (3) “Wasted arms, feeble knees..”.. “I read my father Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey” (sic)” – (4) “Will that happen to me?/Of course, it’ll happen to thee”) – (5) “Near the Scrap Yard my Father’ll be Buried” – (6)  “What’s to be done about Death?/ Nothing, nothing..”)

He continues.  “In October 1976, I attended the Vajrayana.. the seminary (with Chogyam Trungpa in (Land O’ Lakes) Wisconsinand one of the slogans being taught (there), one of the the Mayahana slogans, was “Drive All Blames into One”, which is the title of  the (next) poem – “Blame” or “Drive All Blames Into One” – Allen reads “Drive All Blames Into One  (“It’s everybody’s fault but me/ I didn’t do it, I didn’t start the universe…”).

“In January I went to Baltimore with a young poet and  visited..and read all through William Blake’s Complete Works up through the Prophetic Books  and also visited Edgar Allan Poe‘s grave in the center of Baltimore, and also a house on Amity Street in Baltimore where Poe had lived, and enthuse and excite the young friend, I wrote a couple of Poe poems – “Poe in Dust” (“Bones groan maliciously under Baltimore sidewalk..”)  and  “Hearing Lenore Read Aloud at 203 Amity Street”

“Then I embarked on a longer poem, the commencement of a longer poem, since I’m fifty, time to write an epic, so this is the beginnng of an epic poem called “The Contest of Bards” – “The Argument” (as in longer poems with chapters so that you don’t get confused, with one paragraph brief scenario, in advance so you can follow the play” – (“THE ARGUMENT – Old bard lived in solitary stone house at ocean’s edge three decades retired from the world. Young poet arrives naked interrupting his studies & announces his own prophetic dreams to replace the old Bard’s boring verities..”)Allen then begins to read from the opening of Contest of Bards” (“And the youth free stripling bounding along the Hills of Color/And the old man bearded, wrinkled, browed in his black cave”), concluding (at approximately twenty-and-a-half minutes in  with “The Rune” (“Where the years have gone, where the clouds have flown/ Where the rainbow shone/ We vanish..”)

“I think that’s the end of the time that I have so I’ll finish with one poem following a similar vein, modelled on some rhythms in a song in (Thomas) Campion that I was teaching at Naropa” – Allen concludes with “I Lay Love on My Knee(“I nurs’d love where he lay/I let love get away/I let love lie low/I let my love go….For all time is our wealth”).

The second reader is Anne Waldman.

Starting at approximately twenty-four minutes in,  Anne Waldman reads.

AW:”The first thing I’d like to read is a piece of sympathetic magic that was written of Billy Burroughs Junior when he was sick in the hospital in Denver. It’s called “Billy Work Peyote”  (“Keep it moving Billy, Keep it moving”….”)
Approximately twenty-six-and-a-half minutes in “This is a recent walk poem, which is an experiment that we do in some of the writing classes and this is written with Jack Collom in a class in Nebraska, in a high-school in Nebraska, and the point is you walk around and then you come back and record what you’ve overheard or seen, or what you think you’ve overheard, and you also include those images that come out of sort of deja vu or association. It’s called “Walk Around Time” – Anne reads “Walk Around Time”  (“Girl bouncing red ball..”…..raising arms to stretch”), then, at approximately twenty-eight-and-a-half minutes in  “This is a poem for Rocky Flats – called “Plutonium Poem” -Unfortunately they just discovered something over there called “curium”, which is about three hundred times as bad as plutonium..well, “caesium”, but also curium – curium and caesium, I haven’t quite figured those out yet but this is plutonium” – Anne then reads “Plutonian Poem” ( “Fuck Plutonium! Love It? Hate It? ..”… “… poor, sad, monster eyeballs, reincarnated for a quarter of a million years!”)
At approximately thirty-and-a-quarter minutes in, Anne shifts to reading shorter miscellaneous works –  “I’d like to read a series of recent little letters and they’re sort of not works” – “This (first one) is “Dear Teflon” (“Dear Teflon to put a new tread on worn pneumatic tire…”, concluding, “Love, Insane Digressions”  (and) “this is “Dossier”(“I try living in the country for a change…”). The next letter is “Dear Hard-Hearted” ( “I have confidence in your ability to pay..”…”Silent Spring Equinox”)
“And these are from a sort of Journal collection, recent, just short poems – “Eyes at Rest and Equilibrium” (“I wish you my heart..”) – “This is for William Burroughs Senior, it’s called “Rogue” – and also for the Hotel Boulderado  (“In secret complicity…”)/ Then,“Thirty Lines”  (“If I can gaze at you..”), “Evening” (“Peggy Pagano lights another cigarette..”), “Allen” (“he’ll be there/ boisterous but never lie down”), Untitled (“Today you walk to post-office..”), “Portrait of Languishing” (“Behold I come weeping”), Untitled (“I have this abnormal fear..”), “Landcsape With Dream” (“Everywhere the house…”) – “Edwin lung trouble University Hospital..”, “You mean nothing to me but noise..”, and Steven” (“It’s evening soup on the stove, glamorous night..”).
She concludes (at approximately thirty-nine minutes in) with three final pieces
“This is a little prose story. It’s called “Brinks of Fame – Monologue” (“They sit eating their salad in silence..”). “This is a little poem called “Girls”, also out of New York paranoia” – “Girls” (“If you live by water, Gabrielle, you lucky person..) – “and this is a hissing poem called “Lady Tactics” (“She, not to be confused with..” – “..not to be confused with sentimental, or sly”)

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