The Tradition of Reznikoff & Williams

[Allen continues with his 1981 Naropa class, drawing distinctions between the poetry of  David Cope and that of  William Carlos Williams, placing him closer to Charles Reznikoff’s work]

AG:… that Williams was still preoccupied by some kind of modernism, some kind of Cubist abstraction, whereas Cope was really direct, (writing) just simply directly, writing out of his… ( – Allen is distracted – is that gone around all the way, this paper?)….whereas Cope was directly writing out of his eyesight and his… I think he’s more close too … Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 65 – (Whitman 8)


Ginsberg on Whitman continues AG: I’m extending this discussion so far because, when considered this way, it does bring up the problem, then, (of), has he [Whitman] given up his self, or is he actually trying to find a way to fit himself in, without sacrificing self? He’s not giving up love at all, he’s not giving up his private parts. And from that point of view, there are a few poems that he wrote in old age that are, like, a funny commentary on this idealism. In “Sands at Seventy” (on page three-hundred-and-ninety-four of the Modern
Read More

Expansive Poetics – 83 (Anna Akhmatova – 4 – A Poem Without A Hero)


Allen continues his survey of the works of Anna Akhmatova AG: And the later, even more complicated poem. “A Poem Without A Hero”, including herself, in other words, a poem in which even she is not the hero because the devastation is so total, and so devastating. I don’t think that’s been published in Russia yet (1981) but it’s published in English. And the “..Poem Without A Hero” is her summary of everything we’ve been studying, actually, of the Russian poets. It was begun in August in Leningrad under siege. There’s only one translation of it into English … Read More

Stay Away From The White House

“Stay Away From The White House”, a new (videotaped) version (with Dutch sub-titles) has emerged, from 1980, taken off Dutch television. The original is from the San Francisco State University Poetry Archives, and was recorded in 1974. The song was composed on Christmas Day (December 25) 1973  It might be interesting to compare this with the official recorded version on First Blues    (and, indeed, with another version, recorded later that summer at Naropa – see here)


“Stay away from the White House/ Stay away I wish you well/Stay away from the White House/Or you’ll go to Vajra Read More

Investigative Poetics – 5 – (Drugs – 2)

Allen on “Investigative Poetics” continues AG: Well all this is simply to say that there was some kind of vast and large-scale weird conspiracy to interfere with people’s lives, to interfere with the doctor-patient relationship, to tell niggers (sic) to stop smoking grass, or tell white people to stop (emulating) the niggers smoking grass, for whatever reason. It entered into the poetry because there’s this old tradition of Theophile Gautier and the Club of the Hashashins (Club des Hashisihins), or Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine, French poets of the 1870’s taking hashish, (Charles) Baudelaire’s writings on hashish, (Samuel Read More