Ginsberg-Corso continuing – 7 – (Poetry and Rap)


GC   Well, alright. l..  what I’m building up to is this – (we have to get…  to make it clear..) is.. The poetry-and-jazz days – the poets never got into what is gotten down today, (what) is called rap music. I mean, how come the poet did not read with rhythm with his poem like the rap guys do? – “well I’m going down that street and onto the di..  di-di-di da-da-da..”  – and talk like that? How come they read their poems like people do read poetry – boringly!, like some Hollywood actor has to read the poem, you know, to make it sound like a poem!

AG:  Well because at that time those poems weren’t written in the rhymed style, for one thing.

GC: (Lawrence) Ferlinghetti  wrote for music didn’t he?. He wrote…

AG: Yeah, but he didn’t write rhymed poems much. He was, like, open-form verse, you know. We’d just had the revolution in verse, so the rap style of rhyme style (as was done in the..what? 14th? 15th? century by John SkeltonSkeltonics)

GC: John Skelton – there you go

AG: Skeltonics or fast rhyme

John Skelton (1463-1529)

GC: Can you put any one of your poems in a rap  yourself? Give me one.  Give me one.  Let me give you a poem see if you can do it in a rap, one that you know by heart, alright?  Not “The Shrouded Stranger” because that’s raw, no, “The Shrouded Stranger”..

AG: [Allen begins reciting “Little Fish Devours The Big Fish]  “When the troops get their poop in..

GC: Hey come on!

AG: Fort Bragg” It starts..

GC: “Who’ll come down and lie with me/belly to belly and knee to knee”. That’s what I’m talking about, that kind of rap sound. [Editorial note – from “The Shrouded Stranger“]

AG; “Bare skin is my wrinkled sack/ When summer sun climbs up my back. When winter racks me in these rags/ I heap my lap with burlap bags!”  [Editorial note – further quotation from “The Shrouded Stranger“]

GC; There you go

AG: That’s actually…

GC:  What kind of music is behind that, Is it a bass? or..

AG: Well if you want…Well I have that on the record but it’s way different. What we have is this ghoulish Tibetan music that sounds like the Tibetan Book of the Dead and “The Shrouded Stranger” at the end is saying, “Ghoul, come lie down in the dark with me!”

GC:  That makes more sense ok.. If they could only play it… Do you remember those Caedmon records where they had these actors..  Caedmon..actors reading poetry  (the poets were so awful and corny. It sounds like poetry, right?  Vulgar yukky poetry, (good poetry, I mean, but the sound of it, you know, is overplayed).  But the rap music, what is that but poetry?

AG: Yeah,  it’s very good poetry sometimes.

GC: Yes, but I don’t understand..They hate it .  But what’s it like…(writing)…

AG: Have you ever thought of writing rap?  little narrow straight lines..  You know who writes it, Pedro Pietri, the Nuyorican poet and there’s good rap..

Pedro Pietri (1944-2004)

GC: But I think any poems can go into rap.

AG: Well they’ve got to be rhymed and rhythmical.

GC: Shakespeare! Shakespeare could do it.

AG: Well, he’s dead.

GC:  Poe, Poe definitely  – (Gregory Corso begins “rapping” Poe’s Annabel Lee) –  “It was many and many/a year ago/In a kingdom by the sea/There lived a maiden whom you may know/By the name Annabel Lee..” [Editorial note – “That a maiden there lived whom you may know/By the name of Annabel Lee”] “I was a child,/ she was a child/escaping by the sea/ we loved with a love more than love/my and my Annabel Lee” [“I was a child and she was a child,/In this kingdom by the sea/But we loved with a love that was more than a love -/ I and my Annabel Lee”]

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

AG: I would say – “with a love” – “with a love”/”that was more”/”than a love”/”in a kingdom”/by…

GC: Ah, you’re going slower.

AG:  …the sea/ – “And we loved with a love that was more than a love”

GC: (Corso claps in accompaniment)  – ok – but you can call it – What about “The Raven”  Lets do “The Raven”?

“The Raven” via xkcd

 AG: (Allen recites and Corso joins in alongside him) – “Once upon a/midnight dreary/while I pondered weak and weary/ Over many a quaint and curious volume(s) of forgotten lore/ Suddenly I nodded nearly napping..” [While I nodded nearly napping] “suddenly there came a tapping,/ As if some one gently rapping, rapping on my chamber door/Only this and nothing more [‘suddenly there came a tapping/As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door/”Tis some visitor”, I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door- / Only this and nothing more”] –  “Ah distinctly I remember/it was on the bleak December…[in the bleak December] ..

GC:    That’s your black voice there

AG:  I made a couple of raps. At the end of White Shroud  I got a thing called “Jumping The Gun on the Sun”, which is.. which is a little rap poem. And I did a little political rap about Vietnam, “Little Fish..Big Fish”, which I recorded at one point with Elvin Jones … really .interesting.

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