Composed on The Tongue

AG: (It’s a collection of) ..spontaneous writings, at different times. And some of the stuff is (from quite (recent), here,) at Naropa (The last piece from (19)74-(19)75, and some interviews done here around (19)75. And then a long conversation with Michael Aldrich, Edward Kissam & Nancy Blecker, (in Cherry Valley) ,”Improvised Poetics” { editorial note – subsequently reprinted in Spontaneous Mind] …..done in 1968.  And then, 1967, about twenty-five pages– twenty pages – of conversations, laconic conversations, with Ezra Pound about the Cantos and about what he thought about life – All this has been published in Loka or City Lights Journal or small editions. So if you want to see what I’ve been babbling about heretofore ten years, (19)67 (to) (19)77, I don’t know if its around in town but..

Student: It’s in the library.

AGL Pardon me?

Student: It’s in the Naropa library.

AG: Yes, I sent one over. There’s a copy in the library. I don’t know if it’s in the bookstores yet.

That’s a free…free..what do you call it? … (free) commercial for it.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at the beginning of the tape and concluding at approximately one-and-a-half minutes in]

Allen’s  volume, Composed On The Tongue was published by Donald Allen’s Grey Fox Press in 1980, and, despite his subsequent  (October 1983) letter (part of  which is reproduced here)  requesting changes, remained unrevised.

“Composed on Tongue also needs index. What would that cost to make? I’d be glad to use up future royalties on that. Needs Date of  Pub. Somewhere Title Page Grey Fox….”

In his two-page note, Allen suggests an updated biographical sketch, a small bibliography and,  “the only extra thing I wd like noticed is the First Blues phono. album as listed under poetry (might best be listed separately under recording”). I still have to read thru Composd On Tongue to make chapter headings”.

He also  goes on to suggest that a section of the  Airplane Dreams  be included in this revision, “

“P 11-33 Airplane Drerams Contains the Poem Discussed in Improvised Poetics Chap.18-63 but the text is O(ut) (of) P(rint). I once inquired whether or not we could include it in  (an) expanded Composed. It seemed then too big. Would it be possible to  reprint the sections footnoted or discussed in excerpts  otherwise the discussion (bulk of Composed) has no home reference and gets to be groundless and a bit impractical – dead end”.

A post script references, Allen’s secretary, Bob Rosenthal –  “Did you get some note on Title logo from Rosenthal in New York that was previously prepared and sent you, I thought..”  

He signs off –  “OK Allen” – . Accompanying  this letter were  four pages of typescript photocopy pages of the new chapter headings he was proposing (each consisting of long paragraphs), alongside two pages of corrections he requested for the copyright and contents pages. Since there was no second edition, none of these have seen the light of day.


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