Workshop Poetry Assignment – Part 1

Continuing from Allen Ginsberg’s July 25, 1982 Naropa workshop, and following up on the previous day’s writing assignment

AG: So I think what I would like to do now, if we could, would be to have a fast anthology (you each should have six poems, altogether). So I what I would like to do is run along the.. let us say, beginning on this side, over there [Allen points in one direction], run along the first row, and coming along that way, then going along that way –  each one, fast, get up and deliver their haiku. No apologies, no explanations, no side-comments, please no speeches, just so that everybody gets a chance and also speak loud. In fact it might be….

[There follows several minutes of technical difficulties, Allen wishing to effectively mic the experiment – “I don’t think we’ll have time to do it all…would it be possible to pass the microphone, do you think?..I should have thought of it before I’m sorry I didn’t prepare that..How can we organize this without confusion….] 

Student: “Floating nuclear flash sore ass sitting in the light leaving last level of consciousness/where Kerouac leaving the colors of summer and autumn on the wall air thin tired cultural shock/Where have any of us gone on a conveyer belt at the Stapleton airport?”

Student: “Mountains seem to have some eye on us t-shirted comrades/highwaying into Boulder past hot elms/ O poet flasher how bright you want to appear.”

Student: “The guru wants a flash in three lines/Shit! /and homework too.”

Student: “My drawings are my haiku/ the mouth is

AG: Can everybody hear?

Student(s): No

AG: Can you stand up.. Each one speak.. emphasizing consonants

Student: “The yellowed  walls surround/ here my body sitting up on bed/Sheeeted…”
AG: Emphasize the consonants and put a tiny space between each word.
Student: Okay. Yeah
AG: You have to learn how to speak as well
Student:  Yeah – The yellowed  walls surrounds/ here my body sitting up on bed/Sheeeted with porous gold”
AG: There has to be more space between the words.
Student: Okay

Student: “In the dead of night/ lamplight becomes me/what do I become?”

Student: “World breeze/The bee lands on the flower/my thoughts floating in me.”

Student: “The heater stands in the room/ with the proud bare ribs/ of a museum dinosaur.”
AG: Of what?
Student: “museum dinosaur”…

Student: “Moon sand and burning eyes/Third planet Boulder/ My ass is sore.”
AG: I cannot hear. Can you out there hear? – How far should you be from the microphone? – HOW FAR SHOULD YOU BE FROM THE MICROPHONE?, the mouth..?
Student: How far..?
AG: How many inches?
Student 2 (Technician):  Three inches.
Student; “Moon sand and burning…”
AG: He said three inches
Student: How’s that?
AG: In other words, pay attention to the space around you!

Student: “Moon sand and burning eyes/ Third planet Boulder/ My ass is sore.”

Student: “Everybody’s from outer space/ No disgrace/Noticed grace.”

Student: “Novice disapproval/ poets’ advice/ self -recognition – love your life.”

Student: “Can’t help but wonder why I’m here/literary heros, drugs, beer/I think for you, you dharma queer.”

AG: Just take care of the space around you.

[Allen’s increasing irritation is evident. Student (Technician): We’ve got that other mic now, if you want it, Allen? –
AG: Ok, can we use it?. Maybe someone could hand it to….]

Student: “Snoozing in the ground cloud/plopped feet-first on Glenn‘s ballroom floor/stop gazing, T.J., I’m not yet awake.”

AG: I couldn’t hear. You know, this is part of poetry, which is, majestic pronunciation, with no mumbling, and a clarity of consonants, so that people can hear you. It is part of the awareness of space around you that you be.. take into account what other people can hear! – real -(a)wake – here – so that others can hear, so that you speak into the microphone, aware of where your voice reaches, and whether or not it reaches, rather than mumbling to yourself solipsistically. Now, I could not hear what you said, so could you do it one more time, please, with the microphone three inches from your mouth, as the gentleman who was in charge suggested..You’ away. Literally, really, awareness of space. Right.

Student: “Snoozing in the ground cloud/plopped feet-first on Glenn’s ballroom floor/stop gazing, T.J., I’m not yet awake.”

AG: It also would be helpful if you would stand up, because that gives some sense of the space around when you stand up

Student: “Teeth find no subtance in these greens boiled beyond recognition/The hunger spreads/ The street below is walked by three stick figures.
AG: I couldn’t hear. Would you raise your hand if you could hear.. yeah.. is there anybody who couldn’t hear, beside me?. Okay, there’s about twelve of us who could not hear
Student: Once more?
AG: ..would you pronounce it so that we can hear more clearly. That means enunciation.
Student: “Teeth find no subtance in these greens boiled beyond recognition/The hunger spreads/ The street below is walked by three stick figures.”
AG: Street walked?
Student: “Street below is walked by..”
AG: Street below?
Student: Yes
AG: Okay. Thank you

Student: “Entranced by the curios in the museum-case/I step back bump someone/I make dumb apology to the pillar.”
Student: “Stars are surrounding us/not washed out as the town/but I miss the ground stars of the buildings.”
AG: I couldn’t hear the last line.
Student: Okay
AG: But I miss…?
Student: “But I miss the ground stars of the buildings.”
AG: The ground stars?
Student; Yes
AG: Okay.

Student: “At Naropa party one thirty a.m/ a woman danced/ her arms swimming like the arms of the sea anenome, her hair swinging like cilia.”
AG: Like cilia?
Student: Yeah

Student: “Now it’s sad Sunday Student Union/a deserted little coffee cave/Strange to think of my parents here.”
AG: That’s the comment alright.

Student: “Let us not look at each other as heroes/sitting in this auditorium/We are all one.”
AG: Well, there isn’t.. You’re quoting your thoughts, but it’s all just quoting a thought. Maybe the “auditorium” is here?

Student: “Beautiful Boulder sky/the parching dry air/A mean gulp of Pepsi.”
AG: A what gulp?
Student: “Mean”. “mean”
AG: A mean gulp of Pepsi
Student: “Mean gulp of Pepsi”, yes, ok

AG: The gentleman in the beard, did you have one?

Student: Sure. I can read something, I didn’t do anything for this (assignment)
AG: A three-liner? – that is, a brief one?
Student: Alright
AG: Three-liner, four-liner
Student: “To fight effectively, pursue imperatives which ever inspire radical solutions, liberating will to resist opposition to justice….”
AG: No, no  facts!
Student: Alright, facts, facts, facts. [he simply reads faster] – “To fight effectively, pursue imperatives…ever inspire radical solutions”

AG: No. Facts, slowly
Student: “To fight effectively, pursue imperatives…ever inspire radical…”
AG: Please! sir… Facts. Slowly.
Student: Facts, ok, too fast. Facts slowly.
AG: I cannot hear a single word.
Student: I’m sorry, I.. ok…  “To fight effectively, pursue imperatives which ever inspire radical solutions,liberating will to resist opposition to justice/Yield never to indifference since to evade issues structures means.”
AG: It’s pretty abstract!
Student: That’s what..
AG: …but you weren’t in the first class.

[Microphone difficulties, technical difficulties continue – “I don’t want to tear it up any further because it’ll make too much trouble, so maybe folks could… Is the other mic on? – ok]

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately eighteen-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately thirty-one-and-a-quarter minutes in]

One comment

  1. AG was quite the perfectionist? I guess.

    I mean it's not the students fault the mic and sound system faulty and doesn't work correctly.

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