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 – 79 (Sergei Esenin – 4)

[Sergei Esenin on his death bed]

from August 6 1981 at Naropa and Allen’s on-going Expansive Poetics (Russian Poetry) class AG: (So, I’ll continue with Sergei Esenin) today and go on to Anna Akhmatova, and then, I think, leave Russian poetry and then go on to French Surrealists, and some Spanish..  In 1922, by Esenin  [editorial note – 1921, actually]”I’m not crying, I’m not calling, I’m not complaining. Everything passes. White smoke from apple trees stricken by the golden dust of fading. I’ll no longer be young, it seems. So you shall no longer beat and tremble, my … Read More

Expansive Poetics – 78 (Sergei Esenin – 3)

Sergei Yesenin

[Sergei Esenin (1895-1925)]

AG: First thing we ought to do is get to some of his (Sergei Esenin‘s) texts, some of the poetry, before we get onto the gossip (which is kind of poetically interesting (too), I think) – “Letter To His Mother”  He’d abandoned not only the village, he’d gone out to Moscow, and (Nikolay) Klyuev got really mad because he was wandering around now in delicate shoes and top hats and evening clothes, and looking like a dandy, and collecting clothes. Then he married Isadora Duncan and collected vast wardrobes in Paris and Berlin and … Read More

Expansive Poetics – 77 (Sergei Esenin – 2)

[Sergei Esenin (1895-1925)]

.. So, Esenin broke loose from (Nikolay) Klyuev, who was very demanding (sexually, I imagine, as well as morally). He didn’t want Esenin to be running around Russia as a big intelligent poet, handsome, on his own, making out with everybody else. So there is another poetic cafe that’s described in (Gordon) McVay’s biography of Esenin – (an interesting book – Esenin – A  Life by Gordon McVay, also Ardis, Ann Arbor).
Student: Let me see the photographs. Can I see?
AG: Well, there’s lots of photographs of Esenin. I think you’ve seen some
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Expansive Poetics – 76 (Sergei Esenin – 1)

AG: I  think, first of all, to get now into (Sergei) Esenin, (we should) hear his voice. I played it last term. There’s a record I brought back from Prague, given to me by Esenin’s Czech translator in 1965. Could we hear that? The most powerful voice of all the Russians, I think, physically.


[Sergei Esenin reading from “Confession of A Hooligan”]

Не каждый умеет петь, Не каждому дано яблоком Падать к чужим ногам. Сие есть самая великая исповедь, Которой исповедуется хулиган. Я нарочно иду нечёсаным, С головой, как керосиновая лампа, на плечах. Ваших душ безлиственную
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Expansive Poetics – 75 (Nikolay Klyuev)

[Nikolay Klyuev (1884-1937)]

August 4, 1981 Naropa Institute, Allen continues his lecture(s) on Expansive Poetics

AG: Well, I thought this time to cover somebody that we had mentioned before, which (is Sergei) Esenin, and to cover Esenin, we also have to cover a little bit of (Nikolay) Klyuev. Those of you who are in Peter (Orlovsky)’s class have heard a lot of Klyuev, but a lot of you haven’t been in that class. So I just want to touch on him. He was a friend of Esenin. [to Peter Orlovsky] – can you pick up on … Read More

Expansive Poetics – 50 (Mayakovsky on Esenin)

File:Esenin Moscow 1922.jpg    

[Sergei Esenin (1895-1925)]

AG (to Ann Charters): I did want to interject this (Sergei) Esenin thing, because in that there’s also [as with Akhmatova’s “Requiem] a reference to the bronze-lidded statue Ann Charters: Yeah AG: So they’re all.. This is Mayakovsky’s elegy on the suicide of Esenin,  Mayakovsky’s comment on Esenin’s suicide Ann Charters: This is 1925 AG: (19)25, probably. Esenin, as you remember, his last line, written in blood, is “In this life, to die is nothing new. But, of course to live is nothing new either” – “In this life, to die … Read More

Expansive Poetics – 45 (Mayakovsky – 2)


File:Futurist Mayakovsky.jpg

[Vladimir Mayakovsky, 1914 – “Futurist Mayakovsky”]

Пощёчина общественному вкусу
Читающим наше Новое Первое Неожиданное. Только мы — лицо нашего Времени. Рог времени трубит нами в словесном искусстве. Прошлое тесно. Академия и Пушкин непонятнее гиероглифов. Бросить Пушкина,ДостоевскогоТолстого и проч. и проч. с парохода Современности. Кто не забудет своей первой любви, не узнает последней. Кто же, доверчивый, обратит последнюю Любовь к парфюмерному блудуБальмонта? В ней ли отражение мужественной души сегодняшнего дня? Кто же, трусливый, устрашится стащить бумажные латы с чёрного фрака воина Брюсова? Или на них зори неведомых красот? Вымойте ваши руки, прикасавшиеся к
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Expansive Poetics – 44 – (Mayakovsky – 1)


[Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930)]

July 7, 1981, Allen Ginsberg’s class on Expansive Poetics continues AG: We were on (Robert)  Duncan (“A Poem Beginning with a Line by Pindar”),  and actually I read up to Duncan’s introduction of (Walt) Whitman, and I want to leave it there. Actually, when I first read that poem it was that particular cadenza – “I always see the under side turning,/ fumes that injure the tender  landscape. From which up break/ lilac blossoms of courage in daily act/ striving to meet a natural measure” – I guess, the part two, the “litany … Read More

Mayakovsky (Allen Ginsberg’s 1975 Naropa class)

File:Mayakovsky 1910.jpg

[Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930) aged 17 – photographer unknown]

Shifting same time (19th/early 20th century) to Moscow. Or.. of the same time, the equivalent group in Russia were the Futurists, who were maybe the earliest relatives, the earliest people who broke up a sense of consciousness, or a sense of a solid consciousness that the 19th century had. It was broken up a good deal in Rimbaud with the Alchemy of the Word and the long reasoned derangement of the senses, but by the time of 1905, it had become already artistic practice, and not just a great eccentric genius … Read More