Every so often, we’ll beg your indulgence with a fragment of transcript that’s pretty incidental, but kind of fun. Here’s Allen, at the very end of his 1980 “Basic Poetics” Naropa lectures (the penultimate one, we’ll be concluding it next week), making arrangements (including arrangements for assistance in moving a piano)
AG: I thought finish maybe with singing one (song)… finish it now.. finish with some song..(since this is the end of the.. (1980 Summer session).. where’s that Blake again?, I forgot.. yeah….. so, from what you’ve got (here) in your book – Oh, we’ve got two things to ask … Read More
[On May 4, 1970, four unarmed students at Vietnam War protests at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, were killed by National Guardsmen – the iconic image here shows, on the ground, one of the deceased, Jeffrey Miller, shortly after the shooting – Student Protest – “After Kent State, after Kent State, people got really scared” (Allen Ginsberg, 1976, to Robert Goodman and Barry Farber on the Barry Farber show)]
A passionate letter today from 1965 (at the height of the Vietnam War), Allen, in San Francisco, on this day (November 29), writing to his father. The naivety, indeed myopia, on his father’s side exasperated Allen (the simplicity of the goad that he was a “Communist” that the “Commies infiltrated and used guerilla tactics to ravage and despoil and murder countless peaceful S(outh) Vietnamese”, that somehow an evil manipulating Communist China was the true force behind things and that America, far from being an aggressor, was somehow welcomed there as “protector”. “I’m not playing that game”, Allen declares .… Read More
Student: Would it do any good to know what these rhythms are if you don’t have the capability of voicing thatfeeling or that emotion that ends up being one of these.,
AG: Well, I think that these cadences and these emotions are natural, so I don’t think that anybody has the problem of feeling them, and, in private, voicing them, (either to themselves, or to another person). I think everybody.. I think they’re in the range of everybody’s emotional spectrum. You may not feel so about itbut you’ve got that delicacy, Sure. Don’t you? – … Read More
AG: Well, it’s not that that you need to be able to understand it [Greek prosody] to write a poem. It’s not perverting your speech to get those rhythms. Rather, it is that speech does have those rhythms, and that you can follow the cadences with those rhythms, that when we were taught in drama-school and high-school primary rhythms, it was very rare that anything was taught beyond the four variants of iamb, trochee, anapest and dactyl. – that seemed to be the range of the English ear, or awareness of rhythm, or American high-school awareness of rhythm, … Read More
[Allen Ginsberg, San Francisco, 1956 – Photograph by Harry Redl]
Allen Ginsberg continues, lecturing his Naropa students on metrics
AG: “Moloch who’s eyes….. da da-da da, da-da da da , da-da da ,da-da da-da da, da-da.. And if you have a gang of choruses going bop-pa-pa-bom, bop-pa-pa-bom, you’ve got something very powerful going on And so, in.. without knowing it, just intuitively, I was using choriambic and variations of choriambic meters, in the Moloch section of “Howl” – “Moloch-who’s-eyes-are-a-thous-and-blind-wind-ows” – (da-da da da-da da da-da da da-da) – “thousand-blind-windows”, “thousand-blind-wind..” “Moloch-who’s-eyes-are-a-thous-and-blind-wind-ows” – So it’s a combination of choriambic … Read More
Allen’s pedagogical insistence on quantative prosody, on the minutae of classical prosody, was something he came back to again and again with his students at Naropa (see, for example – one of many examples – here). In transcription, it makes, perhaps, for some somewhat tedious transcript – to hear the subtle and various distinctions he’s making, it really becomes necessary to listen closely to the audio (happily, here available). Allen does employ here a somewhat unique teaching method to lighten things up – … Read More
MR: What’s a nice Jewish boy like you doing with all of the Christian metaphors and analogies?. It’s just “Christ,” “Jesus, “”the Church”, “Crucifixtion”…
AG: Well, what I’ve been talking (except to the reference to St John of the Cross) has mostly been formal Buddhist dharma, which is a perception of the Universe as transient, in the sense of.. The basic.. first basic thing is – all the constituents of being are transitory. So that’s why I’ve … Read More
Allen Ginsberg in China is our focus this weekend.
Allen and China – great news! -.a new (first-time!) edition of his Collected Poems is due out very soon in that country (hopefully in November) – translated and edited by the young Ming Hui and published by Shanghai ’99.…..