Studs Terkel 1959 Radio Interview – part 3 (Poem Rocket)

Allen Ginsberg – “Poem Rocket” (original ms – first page)

Studs Terkel’s 1959 Chicago radio interview with Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and Peter Orlovsky – transcription continues. For the first two segments – see here and here

[Audio provided courtesy of PennSound]

AG: See the’s got a weird title… see, because I’ve made a picture of a rocket too
ST: I see
GC: So the poem is a rocket
AG:  (Guillaume) Apollinaire used to do funny things like that. He was a French poet.
ST: I see.
GC: You know what he said in a poem there (“Death To Van Gogh’s Ear“) – “Now is the time of prophecy without death as a consequence”…

ST:  Ah!  – Allen, you’re going to read…
AG: yes, I’m going to read a poem.
ST: A poem called “Rocket”?
AG: Well, “Poem Rocket

ST:  “Poem Rocket”
AG: Sure . Yes. And it’s got an epigraph by (Gregory) Corso – Okay,, now a big serious poem – about the universe  – “Moon no longer old, my eyes are new…

[Beginning at approximately twelve-and-three-quarter minutes in, through to  approximately sixteen-and-three-quarter minutes in, Allen reads, in its entirety, his poem, “Poem –  Rocket”  (“Moon no longer old moon…”….. “in my dark bed on earth”]

ST: Wow! Strangely enough, that makes sense.

AG: Of course it makes sense.
ST: But I haven’t quite figured out in what way.
AG: And I didn’t even need twelve million dollars!
GC: …to make sense
ST: You said something earlier, and Orlovsky, I’m sorry, Peter. Peter Orlovsky, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, just to sort of recap, recount the cast of characters (characters, not in quote-unquotes)
You speak of yourselves as individuals. Now we live in a world is pretty hectic, isn’t it? Do you think you are participants or do you withdraw from it? I understand the ”Angry Young Men” of Britain participate, you know.

GC: (No)  We make fun of each other. We love each other. We never put each other down. They’re always putting each other down
AG (to GC) : Well, you were putting me down five minutes ago
GC: Oh no, five minutes ago, I was just saying about the Beat thing, the way he was talking about it, sounded to me not Shelley-an, that’s all. You know Shelley wouldn’t put up with that…
AG; Yeah, He made it sound.. It wasn’t beautiful at all
GC: See, it would have to be very airy, ethereal for me, then I would like that.
ST: Oh, you love beauty – Truth is beauty, Beauty, truth – Keats [Editorial note “beauty is truth, truth beauty” –  from Keats’ Ode to A Grecian Urn]
GC: No, no, no. Sometimes truth…  No, I like even lies. In fact, yeah, I prefer lies.
ST: You prefer lies?
GC: Yes.
ST: But if lies are beautiful, if they’re fanciful enough….
GC: All lies are beautiful to make man lie.. There must be a beautiful gesture, you know  will conform to truth but will not conform to lies
ST: Oh, let’s come back then..
AG: What does that mean?

Gregory Corso

ST: Well let’s come back to..I had no idea what..  You’re a colleague of Gregory Corso’s, Allen..
AG: Oh yes, sure, I admire his poetry.
ST: What did he say just then?
AG: “O for that.. infinite solitude where illusion spoke Truth’s divine dialect” [Editorial note – Allen quotes from Corso’s  “Ode to Coit Tower”]
ST: Lets come back, if we may,
AG: Is that clear?
ST: I’m sort of a groundling here, an earthling here, at the moment. Lets see if I can just
AG: What he was saying, I imagine, is “O for that visionary fantasy moment where, through ransacking the imagination you finally come on the golden key , and you open the trunk and out pours a great ocean of light..
ST: So it’s…
GC: In other words, I’ve been to the (moon). I don’t need a rocket to get there, I am there.

ST: You’re flying now?
GC: Yes. The rocket. I’ve been there, with my own personal self..
ST:  Imagination then should fly freely?

GC: Yes, it’s a great rocket. And that’s what scientists are offering man but they have to give man the actual steel, the metal, to get there.

ST: I see.. I never expect answers to the questions I’m asking but now and then I might hit pay dirt. I’m looking.. For example, what about this matter of..
AG: No, I answered you very directly about you asked me about what Beat was and I told you this is the circumstances
GC: Then he asked us if we participated in the world
ST: But that was a question.
AG: Yes yes,  and we just came to Chicago…
GC:  And we were sitting on a bus and these old  ladies, when we got off, said would we be  hurt when we got off, and we said no, everything is alright. So we felt proud and great..
AG: Yeah, we’re just participating, I guess…
GC:  We certainly are!
AG: the extent that the world exists..
GC: We made the people on the bus laugh
AG: Like, for instance..
GC: We made the people on the bus laugh, and..
AG: One person at a time, otherwise we confuse the microphone.
ST:  That’s  true, yeah.  No, the microphone is here, the microphone is solid. It’s just the listeners I’m worried about.
AG: Well the microphone has a very strange sentience of its own.
GC: What do you think the listeners feel? that they feel awkward or something?
AG: (What do they feel)

Audio for the above can be heard here beginning at approximately twelve-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately nineteen-and-three-quarter minutes in – 2018 update – audio no longer available] 

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