Naropa Archives (New Weathers)

The audio archives of Naropa (initially Naropa Institute, now Naropa University), the vast trove of now-digitalized recordings from the Summer program of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics (originally established, back in 1974, by Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman), over 3,000 tapes, (and counting!), covering an extraordinary range – readings, lectures, performances, seminars, panels and workshops – is a remarkable, breathtaking, utterly vital resource (not just for poetics, but, as the editors of this new anthology (Anne Waldman and Emma Gomis) point out, as a signpost for “how poetics might embolden deeper engagements with the world – issues of gender and race-based injustice, the global climate crisis, and our possible extinction.”)

The aforementioned anthology, New Weathers, (due out this coming Tuesday, November 8), is conveniently divided into five sections – “Sanctuary and Apocalypse”, “Ecopoetic Attentions”, “Communal Action”, “Identity in the Capitalocene”, and “Against Atrocity”.  “Taken from panel titles held throughout the years of the Summer Writing Program, the(se) headings”, the editors write, “represent some of the tentacles that weave through our poetic community, some of the conversations we are having, some of the topics we are facing with these new weathers. They are not meant to categorize our thinking, but rather serve as points of convergence and divergence..”

Allen’s 1989 lecture – “On Contemplative Poetics – A Practice For Saving The World” is among them but that, along with contributions by William Burroughs (“Writers Block”), Amiri Baraka (“Poetry, Politics , and the Real World”), Ed Sanders (“Time Tithing”), Alice Notley (“Dreams Again”) and Anne Waldman (two contributions – “Feminafesto – Torques
of Tongue and Archive and Anthropocene” and, in collaboration with Cecilia Vicuna, “The Question is the Beginning of the Healing” – on “Ritual and Performance”), Robin Blaser, Jack Collom, Andrew Schelling, Peter Lamborn Wilson, and more (from “the old guard”, the early teachers) register only a fraction of the book’s over 450 pages.

Particularly valuable is the preponderance of later, younger (and particularly inspiring given the perceived sexist slant of the old Beat aesthetic, female voices – Lisa Jarnot, Tonya Foster, Hoa Nguyen, Renee Gladman, Eleni Sikelianos, Ariana Reines, to name just a few.
Eileen Myles leads off the “Communal Action” section with a piece from 2013 – “Let’s Start Stopping – A Commencement Address”
The great pioneering activist Margaret Randall contributes, intriguingly, a piece from 2021, entitled “Homunculus”
Akilah Oliver (much-missed) provides notes on “Eros and Ethos”

So many thought-provoking pieces!

Pioneering eco-activist Peter Warshall (1940-2013) is responsible for two pieces – “A Poetics of Natural Light” ( a lecture delivered in 1996) and a haunting yet optimistic letter addressed to Anne (post-chemo) from 2011
Steven Taylor provides an edited transcript of Harry Smith‘s legendary 1990 Naropa lecture on Native American Cosmologies

Forgive us, if we don’t list here all 48 contributors!

Transcription – We have drawn from it innumerable times here on The Allen Ginsberg Project (and will continue to do so).

On Transcription – Waldman and Gomis provocatively write:
“The audio recorder records words but also preserves intonation, pauses, gestures. When someone speaks, something more takes place that is not registered on paper. It then transmutes as you catch the word and put it down. The transmission is first delivered orally and then, through transcription, takes on a new form, presents a new way of processing the information, becomes a new text you can study.  By study we mean a practice that extends beyond the classroom, a practice of rereading and carrying words with us…”


New Weathers, it should be noted, is not the first of Anne’s invaluable gatherings from the archives, starting with the two-volume Talking Poetics from Naropa Institute – Annals of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, compiled for Shambhala in 1978  (with Marilyn Webb).

A third volume, Disembodied Poetics –  Annals of the Jack Kerouac School (with Andrew Schelling) appeared in 1993 from the University of New Mexico Press.

Two further collections appeared from Coffee House Press  – Civil Disobediences – Poetics and Politics in Action, from 2004 (with Lisa Birman) and Cross Worlds – Transcultural Poetics, the most recent, from 2014 (with Laura Wright)

So, the Naropa archives, yes, see here

– and don’t miss this wonderful collection!

There will be a celebratory Zoom event – an evening of reading and discussion with Anne Waldman and Emma Gomis, joined by Alan Gilbert, Cedar Sigo, and Eleni Sikelianos, at City Lights, Thursday November 10th (6 PM PST) – see here 

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