Meditation and Poetics – 34 (Reznikoff 6 – Reznikoff & Lamantia – Acknowledge The Ground)

[Charles Reznikoff (1894-1976)]


“Once a toothless woman opened her door,/chewing a slice of bacon that hung from her mouth like a tongue”  – The most hideous image in American…  and the most memorable (it’s one of the most memorable things I’ve ever read) – “Once a toothless woman opened her door,/chewing a slice of bacon that hung from her mouth like a tongue” –  You can really see it – And then his comment –  “This is where I walked night after night;/this is where I walked away many years.”  That was his [Charles Reznikoff’s] life – but … Read More

Meditation and Poetics 33 (Reznikoff – 5)


  [Charles Reznikoff (1894-1976)  – Photo by Gerard Malanga]  

AG: “Sunday Walks in the Suburbs”  [by Charles Reznikoff] –  “(2) – Scared dogs looking backwards with patient eyes – /at windows stooping old women, wrapped in shawls./ old men, wrinkled as knuckles, on the stoops” – (Okay, so if he’s going to get poetic, he’s going to get very realistically poetic – “wrinkled as knuckles”. If he’s going to make a simile, it’s going to be a really totally close-to-the-bone simile – “wrinkled as knuckles”) Student: If you.. If you read the book, you can just look at your knuckles … Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 32 (Reznikoff – 4)

[Our transcription of Allen Ginsberg on Charles Reznikoff  (from 1978) continues] AG:  Gregory Corso had never read (Charles) Reznikoff and he picked this up in my house the other day  [The Collected Poems of Charles Reznikoff] and spotted a line and said, “Who is this?”  The stanza was: “As the papers twisted and opened, tormented by fire/Darling had stood out in the writing against the flame” – And then the line that Gregory noticed – “Darling had stood out in the writing against the flame/for a moment before the ink was grey on black ash that fell apart” –

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Corso Addenda


[Gregory Corso (1930-2001)]

An addenda to our yesterday’s Gregory Corso posting. We didn’t quite finish the transcription. Here’s Gregory’s account of his prison background and his reading  and commentary on the final poem of the evening –  “Feelings on Getting Older”

“Feelings on Getting Old” – I’m fifty-one [this is 1981] and I’ve got a lot of the kid in me, man. You’d think, like, when I came out of prison, in what? 1950? – I was twenty years old – I still acted like a dopey fuck, you know – there, you’d really think that those three years there, … Read More

Gregory Corso Reading – Naropa Assembly Hall, 1981


Fourteen years ago today, Gregory Corso passed away. We salute him today with a vintage audio recording (from the Naropa Assembly Hall, November 11, 1981). Gregory reads unpublished works and poems from his recently-published New Directions book, (published just the previous month), Herald of the Autochthonic Spirit. It being Gregory (reader’s warning) there’s a lot of slang, scorn, and potentially alienating expletives. There’s also the patented Corso didacticism, (so very few, if any, poems, get a complete unadulterated reading – many lines are commented on – several he congratulates himself on, (though avoiding, as he later points out, the … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round Up – 204

Herbert Huncke Centennial Celebrations at the Beat Museum today – Laki VazakasHilary HolladayBen SchaferDennis McNally, Brenda Knight, Regina Marler and Tate Swindell look back upon and discuss Herbert Huncke’s genius.  Two weeks since the last Friday Round-Up, so a bit of catching up to do.  Here’s (talking of the Beat Museum), the meeting-up of Gerd Stern (the man erroneously accused of losing it) and Mike McQuate, the man largely responsible for saving it – tho’, as others have pointed out, Jean Spinosa should also be credited with exemplary dispersal of her … Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 31 (Reznikoff 3)


AG: Then in this book [Charles Reznikoff – Poems 1920] is the beginning of some amazing poems which are narrative poems which tell stories which have the compass of an entire short story or even a novel, but in twelve lines or twenty. The key here seems to be encompassing the trans-shiftings of time, getting one generation to another generation, the whole story of a generation (like you get in (Charles) Dickens or (William Makepeace Thackery), one or two or three generations, but all condensed into twelve lines with the active details so perfectly selected that

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Meditation and Poetics – 30 (Reznikoff 2)

AG: Now Poems 1920. Now he (Charles Reznikoff)’s really taking a look around him, New York particularly. These are (a) series. “Poems was published by Samuel Roth at the New York Poetry Book 1920” . An old friend of his, Samuel Roth, published it, a guy who’s publishing dirty books later (a literary man, I think Roth published (James Joyce’s) Ulysses in America, also)

[Allen reads from Charles Reznikoff] – “ (2) Old men and boys search the wet garbage with fingers/and slip pieces in bags./ This fat old man has found the hard end
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Meditation and Poetics – 29 – Reznikoff 1

[Portrait of An Old Woman (1563) – Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1525-1569) – oil on panel 22cm x 18cm at the Alta Pinakothek, Munich]

AG: Did I read any (Charles)  Reznikoff yet? Students: No

[Charles Reznikoff (1894-1976)]

AG: Here. Okay. so on page 14 – “(7) – On Brooklyn Bridge I saw a man drop dead/It meant no more than if he were a sparrow./ Above us rose Manhattan/below, the river spread to meet sea and sky”  – These are a series of little sketches, mostly the city. He hung around New York City, working as a … Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 28


The Meditation and Poetics class  (from July 24 1978)   continues… AG : So then for that (poetic modernism) I would recommend, if you’re interested in this, because there’s a kind of, like, unfolding of perception during the century, so it would be interesting to begin (with)…

Student: (Did you yourself study all this?)
AG: I did when I was in college, actually. I was really interested in this and (so) I read through (Robert) McAlmon (Being Geniuses Together) and read through (Ezra) Pound’s Literary Essays and letters and (William Carlos) Williams’ essays and letters when they came out, and … Read More