Ginsberg-Corso continuing – 5 (Brooklyn College)

Ginsberg doodle –  via “Allen Ginsberg at Brooklyn College – Diversity Poetics Materials” –  courtesy The Museum of American Poetics in collaboration with and by permission of Stanford University, Department of Special Collections, and the Allen Ginsberg Trust

Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso in conversation, 1989, continuing from here

AG: I’ve enjoyed it.. (Editorial note – teaching at Naropa)  –  Now, I’ve learned some interesting things over in Brooklyn College because now I’m a Distinguished Professor..

GC; Oh that’s right..

AG: …and I got tenure a week ago, September 1st, last.

GC: Wow!

AG: Now I can fuck up and they can’t kick me out anymore!

GC: Well, that’s good. So how many, like.. that’s..how many days a  week?

AG: Well, let’s see, I have one workshop. I’ve got John Ashbery’s old job. John is still on the faculty but he’s on a MacArthur grant  so he asked me to take over so they said “Fine”.

GC: Great

AG: And then the president,  (Robert) Hess,  said there’s room for the both of you when he comes back.

GC: Well you’re teaching, Al.  What’ s that consist (of)? .. there you go..  because I taught one of your classes when you were ill once.

AG; Well, one workshop.

GC: I liked the black kid in there, he was always a kind of..

AG: Yes, I have a whole book by him..

GC: I don’t know about that old lady…

AG: Paul Beatty, Paul Beatty.

GC: Yeah, I don’t know about that old lady, whether she’d like any of the..

AG: She wasn’t in the class.

GC:   Oh, Okay, she wasn’t… she was just sitting in.

AG  She’s an old lady that Bill (sic) tells me comes and sits in

GC: That’s it.

AG: And then I have this term, I have about eleven or twelve people in the workshop and about seven tutorials...

GC: Are they very serious persons? Are these people serious?

AG: Some are serious, some are too serious, some are too light-hearted, some are giddy, some are sardonic. One or two..

GC: But did you have any university trouble while you attended there?

AG: No no. I’ve got one great…  David Trinidad’s in the class. Sharon Mesmer is really good (she’s a poet around New York). I like her work a lot. And there’s a lot of intelligent people

GC:  Wasn’t there some trouble though, once, about the University, the kids striking or the teachers striking?

AG Oh yeah  – they were going to raise the tuition.

GC: Tuition, right

AG: So all the schools went on strike (all the CUNY schools (City University of New York). And that was the day when Sonia Sanchez came in, among the ten African-American poets.,

GC: Oh, that’s right,she’s a poet there, black poet..

AG:   ‘..(to read in my) course that we invented called  “African-American..” lets see now, “African-American Literary Genius from Ma Rainey to Gwendolyn Brooks

GC:  Right – Oh!..

AG: .. She taught in tandem with a black professor, Marie Buncombe

GC: You read with Gwendolyn Brooks,  Allen?

AG: Yeah …

GC: I first heard of her in 1950.  This is two lines I remember very well  – “Abortions will never let you forget/the children you could have had but did not get “

AG: Uh-huh. She was actually pretty humane

GC: Yeah

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000)

Sonia Sanchez

Audre Lorde (1934-1992)

AG: She was the last of our ten readers, because we brought in ten black poets (including Sonia Sanchez ..Audre Lorde, Quincy Troupe, David Henderson (good ol’ David..

GC: Yeah, David

AG:  …remember days in Le Metro? ) – The whole thing was originally inspired by Amiri Baraka visiting for our “Living Poetics” (series).. no, “Beat Generation..”“Literary History of the Beat Generation” was an earlier course.

GC: So then LeRoi would be in that, right?

AG:  Yes, Amiri Baraka – And we also had Michael Harper

and we had Alice Childress...  and who else did we have?  – June Jordan   So we had ten readers , every class, we had the reader, the poet, (who) was helping the teacher.

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