Do The Meditation

We’ve been serializing these past few months (and will be continuing a little longer with) Allen’s 1978 (Naropa) lectures on Meditation and Poetics. As an amalgam of the two, what more fitting (and instructive) than his 1981 composition “Do The Meditation Rock”

Allen, in his sleeve-notes to Holy Soul, Jelly Roll, offers the genesis: “I‘d had meditation teacher training in the late ’70s, when (Chogyam) Trungpa Rinpoche OK’d me to show basic meditation in his tradition to classrooms or groups at poetry readings. I tried to codify meditation instructions in pop form, inspired by the annual New … Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 83 (Poetry Is Lamb Dust – Kerouac in Desolation Angels)

Allen Ginsberg’s Meditation and Poetics class from August (August 4, 1978, in this particular segment) continues

AG: Does anybody have any trouble with this preliminary sitting? – when I come here and start (and for the first ten minutes) sit?….Does anybody have any trouble with the sitting in terms of it as an annoyance? – or a relief? – For me, when I get in here and I don’t have to immediately plunge into whatever is going on , it’s a relief to be able to do nothing. But I’m wondering if there’s anybody here for whom it’s an irritation … Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 82 (Philip Whalen and Abstraction)

[Philip Whalen (1923-2002)]

Student: Allen, (I just wanted to read to you) from Philip Whalen’s  “Small Tantric Sermon”)

   “To say concisely/That the man in the picture. Really made it out through the roof/ Or clear through the floor, the ground itself/ Into free space beyond direction – /  Impossible gibberish no one/ Can understand, let alone believe/”
AG: Yeah
“Still, I try, I insist I can/Say it and persuade you/That the knowledge is there that the revelation/is yours.”
AG: Um-hmm. But you see, he has made this large generalized statement in such a funny (way). He’s … Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 81 (Student Poetry & Abstraction – Debating with Francine)


[A jar of hot air]

AG: So the question is, has twentieth-century poetry, in its attempt to define itself in space and time and locate itself and become down-to-earth and renew the language and renew the mind and occupy the place where it is, become too materialistic and single-leveled, monotonous, pictorial? Well, what I would say is (that) this HinayanaMahayanaVajrayana  poetry that we’re supposed to go into (the recombination of details of reality, or the weird arrangement of them) might come, in Surrealistic or Vajrayana or other – wilder – poetry, but, without some sensory

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Plutonian Ode, 1978, (The Robert Creeley Recording)


Last weekend, we featured Allen reading (from “Kaddish” and other poems) as part of the Robert Creeley audiotape collection, (now lovingly engineered and digitalized and made available on the incomparable PennSound site).   This weekend, we spotlight another one, a reading, some years later, from 1978, (in the Kiva Room at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where Creeley was then teaching, the first recipient of the chair of David Gray Professor of Poetry and Letters – he would later be promoted to the position of … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 218


[Ming Hui – translation of the opening lines of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” into Mandarin]

from a recent interview (Q & A) in the New York Times with poet and translator, Willis Barnstone, (provocatively titled “Willis Barnstone on Translating Mao and Touring Beijing With Allen Ginsberg”):

NYT: During your stay in 1984-85, Allen Ginsberg came.

WB: Yes, he came on a visit with leading American authors. He gave a talk about [fellatio]. – [n.b. New York Times’ square-brackets and Latin terminology, not ours!] – That was the end of his tour! Everyone was stone-faced. But being Allen Ginsberg and
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Meditation and Poetics – 80 (Penfield’s Homunculus)

AG: Has anyone seen Penfield’s Homunculus? – the homunculoid picture drawn on the surface of the brain according to the areas of the brain that relate to the different senses? I think (the) mouth is enormous, actually. The mouth area is enormous. (The) forehead (is) very low, because there’s not much sensation up there. The visual? – I’ve forgotten how much area the visual takes up..

Student: It’s only for touch that he did that.
AG: For touch? – Ah..
Student: There’s also motor homunculus.
AG: That’s right. The thumbs were enormous.
Student: Yeah. Thumbs and the face. As … Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 79 (Bob Dylan’s Logopoeia)

[‘To live outside the law you must be honest” (Bob Dylan)]


AG: Now most people’s intelligence in poetry when they’re amateurs comes from just imitating other poems and recycling used poems, basically. There’s a possibility (like in T.S.Eliot and others) of referring back and having a pun, but most people just repeat other people’s poetry and other people’s ideas and it’s like a tape-machine of everything that was learned in grammar school, with a Romantic idea of “I want to be a big egotist, so I’ll be a poet, and I’ll repeat what I heard in … Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 78 (Phanopoeia, Logopoeia and Melopoeia)

 [“Then nightly sings the staring owl/Tu-whoo!/Tu-whit! tu whoo!”  (William Shakespeare)]  

AG: Okay. I don’t know if we’ve gone through this, but Ezra Pound had three characteristics, or three marks of poetry. He said one was – what I’ve been talking about here – the phanopoeia– P-H-A-N-O-P…how do you spell “poeia” – P-O-E-A? dipthong? – P-O-E-I-A. Thank you. phanopoeia– “the casting of images on the mind’s eye”, the casting of clear, precise images on the mind’s eye. I think his example is a line of Catullus about a crimson curtain blown in the window (to indicate the breeze), or a crimson

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Meditation and Poetics – 77 – (A Little Focus on Detail)

[“When Dick the Shepherd blows his nail” – (from William Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, Act V Scene 2 – “Winter”) – painting by Edward Frederick Brewtnall (1846-1902), 1886 – oil on canvas (76.5 x 61.5 cm.)]

Detail? – How much detail? I was quoting Shakespeare  earlier today to Francine (sic) when we were talking about the problem of what is detail, or what is accuracy, and one ideal is the Shakespeare song, “When icicles..” – on winter – “When icicles hang by the wall,/And Dick the shepherd blows his nail..”,”And Marian’s nose is red and raw” [Editorial note –

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