[ Portrait of John Milton – (circa 1803) – by William Blake]
Allen Ginsberg’s 1980 Basic Poetics class (at Naropa) – continuing from here
AG: So, the next experiment I did (was) with Miltonics – Milton. This is my Miltonics. It was pretty sick Miltonics. Because what it is, is a total – 1949 -it’s a.. I think I was either coming or.. going to-and-fro from.. Bedlam – New York State Psychiatric Institute, and I was convinced that there was a supernatural consciousness that I had to achieve and I was not achieving it, and that I wouldn’t achieve … Read More
Robert Duncan at Novato, California, 1976, continuing from – here
AG: Well, lets now for… to move onto a few more poems from this book [Bending the Bow]. It’s the first book also in which the contemplation of the meaning of our American experience emerges very strongly and it’s nice in our solemn bicentennial year (1976 (sic) – Duncan is speaking in 1976), I haven’t got an American flag hanging in the background, But if poets came out roaring when the inequities of America appeared at full blast in that Vietnamese War, it was not because they weren’t American, it … 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
AG: [referring to an earlier Student poem] …the silence of dusk.. and.. the lights going on in the courtyard. See, it was the signal of the lights going on in the courtyard that made.. that locked it in that it was dusk. That’s why it’s pink light, that’s why these people were doing what they were doing (and then it was because the sun was going down,. the wind rising, and the steel cord was flapping against the flagpole). This is, you see, the uncanny suggestion, of, like, the whole atmosphere of … Read More
AG: Edmund Spenser is a colossus, and he’s so big that I think we’ll go around him Except, maybe, one or two, one or two little short things – the Epithalamion – a big Leviathan poem here, marriage poem. What I would suggest is that you go home and read it. It’s got a great stanza form, it’s got a great rhythmic form. So what we might do (here) is read just the first and last stanzas, just to get the stanzaic form get a taste.. Page 162 – I’m sorry..
[Kenneth Koch – Portrait of Kenneth Koch by Alex Katz]
Kenneth Koch Q & A from 1979 continues
KK: Maybe we should have some more questions. What would you like me to tell you about?
Student: What do you at Columbia?
KK: I teach three courses there. I’m a regular Professor. I teach a writing course with twelve students. It’s, I mean, in this writing course, it’s not just a poetry-writing course,
I have people writing poems and stories and plays. I even usually have them write, sometime in the year, one long lonely piece of criticism, because … Read More
[‘To live outside the law you must be honest” (Bob Dylan)]
AG: Now most people’s intelligence in poetry when they’re amateurs comes from just imitating other poems and recycling used poems, basically. There’s a possibility (like in T.S.Eliot and others) of referring back and having a pun, but most people just repeat other people’s poetry and other people’s ideas and it’s like a tape-machine of everything that was learned in grammar school, with a Romantic idea of “I want to be a big egotist, so I’ll be a poet, and I’ll repeat what I heard in … Read More
Detail? – How much detail? I was quoting Shakespeare earlier today to Francine (sic) when we were talking about the problem of what is detail, or what is accuracy, and one ideal is the Shakespeare song, “When icicles..” – on winter – “When icicles hang by the wall,/And Dick the shepherd blows his nail..”,”And Marian’s nose is red and raw” [Editorial note –
Today is T.S. Eliot’s birthday – In ’58 Allen made him an honorary “Ignu” (“Eliot probably an ignu one of the few who’s funny when he eats”) – and three years later, in “Journal Night Thoughts” – “Eliot’s voice clanging over the sky/ on upper Broadway, “Only thru Time is Time conquered”
[Allen Ginsberg’s Annotated Copy of The Waste Land]
AG: The comparison to “The Waste Land” of this (Apollinaire’s “Zone”), particularly, “You are alone the morning is almost here/The milkmen rattle their cans in the street” ( “Tu es seul le matin va venir/ Les laitiers font tinter leurs bidons dans les rues”) – does that remind you of (T.S.) Eliot? – “Wipe your hands across your mouth and laugh,/ In the vacant allotments women gathering garbage“, or something. Do you know the line? [Editorial note – Allen is quoting here, (slightly misremembering), the concluding lines from Eliot’s “Preludes” – … Read More