July 19 (Mayakovsky’s Birthday)

[Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930)]

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) .

Further posts  here (Akhmatova and Mayakovsky), here (Mayakovsky on Esenin), here (Mayakovsky and Mandelstam), here (“The Bedbug”), here (“At The Top of My Voice“), here (Mayakovsky and the Revolution), here (Mayakovsky and … Read More

Expansive Poetics – 74 – (Mandelstam And Stalin)

[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

Expansive Poetics – 73 (Mandelstam – Late Poems)

[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

Expansive Poetics – 70 ( Osip Mandelstam)

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

Expansive Poetics – 69 (Georgi Ivanov)

File:Georgy Ivanov (1921).jpg

[Georgy  Ivanov (1894-1958), aged 27]

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

Expansive Poetics- 67 (Symbolism & Imaginism)

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

Expansive Poetics – 66 (The Arrest of Osip Mandelstam)

 Allen Ginsberg’s  August, 1981 Naropa class continues 

AG: The confrontation between the extreme Dada group and the Futurists and the actual leaders of the Nazi movement, and the confrontation between the Russian poets and (Josef) Stalin and police bureaucracy in Russia are really totally dramatic situations, which we’ve never (really) had in America completely, so totally so. Dan Berrigan – and a few others – every poet in America has been arrested, at one time or another, on a peace march, or sitting down – Peter Orlovsky was arrested for lying down … Read More

More Khlebnikov – 4 (Manifesto of the Presidents of the Terrestrial Globe)


[Velimir Khlebnikov (1885-1922)]

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

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Expansive Poetics 63 (Osip Mandelstam)

Osip Mandelstam

[Osip Mandelstam (1891-1938)]

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. Tumblr_lf2pwjm7eH1qzrkvzo1_500 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

Expansive Poetics – 52 (Mayakovsky and Mandelstam)

File:Lenin CL.jpg


[Vladimir Ilych Lenin (1870-1924)]

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”..

AG: Yeah … Read More