Today, July 19, the great poet, Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky, was born in Baghdati, Georgia. We’ve featured Mayakovsky numerous times here on the Allen Ginsberg Project. For example, here and here.
The fourteen-part series, Allen’s 1981 focus (with in-class presentation by Ann Charters) begins here, and continues here, here and here (Expansive Poetry) .
[Joseph Stalin (1878-1953) & Osip Mandelstam (1891-1938)]
[Prisoners mining gold at Kolyma, the most notorious Gulag camp in extreme northeastern Siberia – from the 1934 documentary film, Kolyma, courtesy the Central Russian Film and Photo Archives]
AG: The next poem, I think I mentioned before. I’ll read you.. I have only one version here but I’ll read you another also. This is a celebrated poem which got him in trouble, when it was circulated around. It was the attack on Stalin
Мы живем, под собою не чуя страны,
Наши речи за десять шагов не слышны,
А где хватит на … Read More
[Statue of Osip Mandelstam (1891-1838) (by Lazar Gadayev (1938-2008)), erected 2008, in Voronezh, Russia]
AG: Ah, what else is here? Has anybody read through this, the (Osip) Mandelstam section (in the Expansive Poetics anthology)? I won’t go through it but I recommend you read the Unknown Soldier poem which begins it [editorial note – that is, the section of the Unknown Soldier poems that Allen has selected for his anthology]. There are parallel translations. Let’s see if there’s anything good in that. The end is interesting (as if from a soldier – but it’s him). It’s his own … Read More
Allen Ginsberg’s class, July 1980 on Expansive Poetics (Russian Expansive Poetics) continues. Today’s episode begins with some confusion with the text book, before Allen (and Peter) get down to discussing the text.
AG: (Osip) Mandelstam, then, has these texts here. For those of you who have the anthology you might move to that. He’s 1891 [the anthology was ordered in terms of the individual date of each poet’s birth] – a funny poem on the unknown soldier, which is at the beginning..
Student: (What number?)
AG: Number 362. I’m just starting at random in certain aspects with certain poems.
So … Read More
AG: Then there’s a remarkable poem, written in 1950 by somebody who was there, Georgy Ivanov – “fought in the First World War and in the Red Army and in the civil war, born in 1896. His early poetry with its cult of heroism owed much to (Nikolay) Gumilev, the Acmeist. In the mid (19)20’s, he was influenced by (Velimir) Khlebnikov and (Boris) Pasternak. Later… No, I’m sorry. Pardon me. I’m reading… I’ve got the wrong guy here! [Allen resumes with the correct information] – “1894, Georgi Ivanov, at first a … Read More
Allen’s Summer July/August 1981 Naropa class on “expansive” poetry (most especially, early twentieth-century Russian poetry) continues today with some preliminary “theoretical bullshit”
AG: (So). Going back. I want to go back and remind us of a poem that we had read which was by (Osip) Mandelstam, which is not in our (class) anthologies, and I’ll give you a version of that, and then an echo of that years later. That line, “We shall gather again in Petersburg.” [“B Петербурге мы сойдемся снова”], (because that begins to take on more poignance, when you realize that, by 1930, … Read More
AG: What else might we find here [in this Khlebnikov book]. Well, that’s it for the moment, I think. I had some others that.. I’ll need the book back if you can pass it around back. The theory of some of the sound ideas was to fuse the Slavic words together (as his commentators have noted) and try to make a universal language, which was what he was interested in. So he was interested in universal mind, universal language, poets as universal legislators of the world, [editorial note – Allen is alluding here to
AG: Another funny little poem, 1920, by (Osip) Mandelstam, who looked like this as a young man…[Allen shows photograph of Mandelstam] – Let’s see.. where am I? I’ve got these people mixed up. No, no…
Student: (Nikolay) Gumilev?
AG: (Osip) Mandelstam now. I’m interleaving them. (Mandelstam and Gumilev). This, being Mandelstam now as a young man
Student: Let’s see that picture.
AG: Very elegant, with big, big, satin cravat. Already Mandelstam had begun digging that it was going to be death to all the poets. Mandelstam himself died in a prison camp in … Read More
transcription from Allen Ginsberg’s “Expansive Poetics” Naropa Class continues
Ann Charters: So okay. And with this poem of “Lenin”,Mayakovsky (this is first read on October 18th, 1924) pledges his loyalty to the Bolsheviks with this poem eulogizing a great man – and Lenin was a great man. I mean, the camps hadn’t yet begun, and so forth. And he decided, or he said to the world in this poem,”Lenin”, that he was turning away from personal lyricism – you remember that line in “ At the Top of My Voice”..