Expansive Poetics – 9 (The Bells and Annabel Lee)

The Bells Edgar Allan Poe birthday Then, in America, the most interesting person around (at) the same time (as Pushkin, in the nineteenth-century), born 1809 and died early, 1849, is Edgar Allan Poe. Are most of you familiar with Poe? How many here are familiar with Poe? How many here are not? [Students raise a show of hands] – Yeah. How many have read “The Bells” by Poe? And how many have not? Poe’s “..Bells”  Well, that’d be kind of interesting to do. “The Bells” was the earliest poem that I knew, and that determined my rhythmic system, probably, because my father would go … Read More

Expansive Poetics – 8 – Pushkin

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[Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) – Self-Portrait  c. 1820]

So, last session I was reading aloud some of (Percy Bysshe) Shelley as precursor to the heroic and expansive breath that we’ll try to follow for twentieth-century poetry. And there are a few other poets of the nineteenth-century that are worth noting. There’s a lot of them actually but I’m zeroing in on he ones that had a big impact on my own nervous system, which is what it boils down to. There’s a line of Antonin Artaud, the French Surrealist poet, who said that there are certain human sounds, certain sounds … Read More

Peter Orlovsky’s 1975 Naropa class (Poets Who Have Influenced Me)


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[Peter Orlovsky with mama goat (“Shiva”) and her baby, Cherry Valley Farmhouse, Cherry Valley, New York State – Photograph by Gordon Ball – Copyright Gordon Ball]  

An “unusual” transcription for this weekend. From the very early days of Naropa (August, 1975), Peter Orlovsky’s Naropa Class – “Poets Who Have Influenced Me”. He concludes, “Well, I’m sorry I wasn’t prepared. Maybe next year I’ll be better prepared”, but it is precisely the spontaneous un-prepared nature of the conversation (and the reading) that’s so interesting. If you’re listening to it on the audio, be prepared for several ponderous silences, rifling … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 156

Jack Hirschman‘s 80th birthday today! From an (undated)  interview on American Legends  Interviewer: Of the early Beats, Allen Ginsberg is the one you’re most closely identified with. Jack Hirschman: I was in touch with Allen early on for a bunch of reasons. When I was a professor [Hirschman was a Student Teaching Assistant at Indiana University, 1955-59, Instructor at Dartmouth College, 1959-61, and Assistant Professor of English at UCLA 1961-1966, before being fired, in 1966, for alleged “activities aganst the state”, at the height of the Vietnam War], I translated a book of Vladimir Mayakovsky, the Futurist … Read More

Denise Levertov



The Collected Poems of Denise Levertov are now available in a handsome one-volume edition edited by Paul A Lacey, with an introduction by Eavan Boland, published by New Directions.  Here, from her reading in Los Angeles, in 1993, for the Lannan Foundation,  are six poems, “Settling”, “Open Secret”.”Tragic Error”, “The Danger Moment”, “A Gift” and “For Those Whom the Gods Love Less”. Here, in an audio over-view from The Poetry Foundation, are recordings of several poems recorded in 1971 at the Library of Congress, “At The Justice Department, November 15, 1969″,”What My House Would

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Expansive Poetics – 7 (Adonais)

AG: I’d like to read the end of (Percy Bysshe Shelley’s)  “Adonais”. We don’t have time for the ideal thing which is to read “Adonais” from beginning to end, but it’s.. I’ve forgotten how many..fifty-five stanzas or something?..it’s a little long. I’ve done it in the open air. It’s great. It’s a lamentation in classical form for John Keats, so it’s a great subject – the death of a great poet. How many have read “Adonais”? [show of hands] Yeah. And how many have not? [further show of hands] – So that’s even more. “(Ode to the) West Read More

“I Shall Be Released” (1980’s Woodstock Jam)


Happy Traum just put this up on You Tube, and we were all uplifted and figured that, without any further ado, we just had to share. To quote his accompanying note – “This is an excerpt from a benefit concert in Woodstock, NY in the late ’80s to honor our sister city in El Salvador. Rick Danko and Happy Traum are sharing the lead singing with other members of the (extended) Woodstock music community: Artie Traum (lead guitar solo) John Herald, Allen Ginsberg, Ed Sanders, Amy Fradon, Leslie Ritter, Mark Rust, Mikhail Horowitz, David … Read More

Expansive Poetics – 6 (Ode To The West Wind)


[Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), fair copy of the first forty-two lines of his “Ode to the West Wind“ (1819), in the collection of the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, England]

Allen Ginsberg’s “Expansive Poetics” lecture continues – “Ode to the West Wind” AG: The other thing is (Shelley’s) the “Ode to the West Wind”. How many know that? How many have read that? How many have not read the “Ode to the West Wind” by Percy Bysshe Shelley? Never? Well, that’s an example, I must say of TV generation. Student: TV generation? AG: Television generation. [Allen addresses … Read More

Expansive Poetics – 5 (Shelley’s Cadence)

Student: [on Shelley’s “Hymn To Intellectual Beauty”] – The thing I had trouble with, (with) stuff like that, is wondering if I should (be), like, listening to every word, understanding what’s being said. AG: In this case.. Well, the first thing is, no, you don’t need to understand it. The most important thing to get is the most important element, which is the rhythmical cadence – the cadence – to get the amazing cadence of dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-datta-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-duh-dah. Student: Right AG: “I vowed that I would dedicate my powers/To thee and thine.” – Listen to it just as cadence. Student: Right … Read More

Allen Ginsberg and Sonia Sanchez 1990 at the Miami Book Fair

This one comes with a qualifier – “What you are about to view is live footage from the 1990 Miami Bookfair International. The quality may not be pristine but it’s a glimpse of the past. It was compiled for the Fair’s 30th anniversary in 2013″. The Miami Book Fair International was produced and presented by The Center for Literature and Theatre at Miami’s Dade College. This particular reading took place in conjunction with the Beyond Columbus Foundation   spotlighting  the 1990 winners of their American Book Awards – Allen  & Sonia Sanchez, recipients of their 1990 American Book … Read More