Hold It All

Month: January, 2020

“Action Needed, Goethean Action”

Allen Ginsberg, Journals: Mid-Fifties 1954-1958, edited by Gordon Ball

During winter and spring of 1996 I went on a binge of poet Allen Ginsberg’s books: poems, letters, photos, journals (I was taking a break from Elie Wiesel dissertation preoccupations). This volume documents his inner/outer life in the period when Howl emerged and just before he created Kaddish. I took note of the following passages…

On the New York literary establishment: “There’s no room for youth and vitality in New York. It is a city full of guilty academicians.” —Gregory Corso. “Too big, too multiple, too jaded.” —Jack Kerouac. “We want everyone to know that we had to leave the Village to find fulfillment and recognition.” Ginsberg.

“And so I thought for the benefit of posterity to keep a record of everything — don’t lose any information.”

“…the best I thought I could do was just keep a record of my own changes of self-nature and perceptions — you know, intermittent perceptions, spots of time. So my notebook is thoughts, epiphanies, vivid moments of haiku, poems, but not a continuous diary of conversations like Virginia Woolf, or Anais Nin, or Boswell.”

“Exaltation (what is the precise word for the sensation of love acceptance?)”

“Creating out of myself the strength to continue in some kind of force, some kind of uncanny care — though I have nothing to give actually but a cheerful spirit now and hands for dishwashing — to give force for my own & others’ pleasure — to learn to give love without despairing of the consequences.”

“…before it drags itself out and I get lost in confusions and imagined rejections.” Read the rest of this entry »

Exciting Curiosity

Robert D. Richardson Jr., Emerson: The Mind on Fire
University of California Peress, 1995

In the summer of 2017 I had the immense pleasure of reading Richardson’s stunning biography of the U.S. sage, and noted the following passages with gratitude…

“A man is made great by concentration of motive.” 54

“The present moment is in your power but the past in inalterable, the future is inscrutable.” 58

“…all that can be done for you is nothing to what you can do for yourself.” 69

“Every moment makes me a more powerful being.” 77

“… but our virtue is in all cases determined by ourselves…. Let anyone try to spend one hour a day without spot or blemish.” 80 Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Jenny Lowe: An Appreciation of Leonard Woolf

Most educated people have read or at least heard of Virginia Woolf, the brilliant modernist writer and member of the Bloomsbury Group whose works include To the Lighthouse, Mrs. Dalloway, Orlando, and A Room of One’s Own. You may also know of her battles with mental illness and her suicide by drowning in 1941. But what do you know of her husband Leonard? Novelist, journalist, publisher, political historian, advisor to the Labour Party on international affairs, ex-civil servant, atheist, memoirist, avid gardener, and animal lover, Leonard was also a stalwart support to Virginia through her bouts of illness. Virginia’s sister and their Bloomsbury friends believed that she would not have lived long enough to produce any of her famous works had she not married Leonard.

Jenny Lowe is a librarian at Saint Louis University. She and her husband Gregory visited the Woolfs’ house – Monk’s House – in Rodmell, England in 2017, and on their return, both read Leonard’s five-volume memoir with great pleasure. Jenny has also read the 2008 biography by Victoria Glendenning and various other works about Leonard and Virginia and their lives together. Read the rest of this entry »

Notice What You Notice

At the Richmond Heights gym
She resembled Kathy Kelly, hair-wise

She walking on the treadmill
Reading Viet Thanh Nguyen’s novel, The Sympathizer

Activating the Dead

When people who know one another have lived in the same landscape for a long time, they are surrounded by reminders of the dead in one another’s faces and in the landscape itself. In such a community the dead are bound to linger on as influences, as the subjects of memories, conversations, and stories.

–Wendell Berry, Conversations with Wendell Berry


Mev Puleo; Redwoods Apartment, Oakland, CA, summer 1994

An Ashram for Modern America

Eknath Easwaran, With My Love and Blessings: The Teaching Years 1966-1999 In Photographs & His Own Word
Nilgiri Press, 2000

For Chris and Andrew

As we contemplate what an urban-rural ashram could look like, an interesting resource is this book of darshan of and appreciation for an Indian teacher by his students and devotees.

I did a meditation retreat with Sri Eknath Easwaran in January 1991 in the Bay Area. A friend of mine from my Louisville days was an ardent practitioner of his eight-point path. Back in 2013 I led a “slow-reading” group of the Bhagavad Gita, using Easwaran’s translation and three volumes of commentary. Originally from Kerala, India, Easwaran had keen insights into U.S. culture, which led to his apt and encouraging advice to his U.S. students seeking the path of self-realization. Read the rest of this entry »


In the 90s, phrases like “global village” and “global economy” were increasingly common. The technologies that have emerged since then allow us incredible possibilities of connecting and learning.

Think … besides anime, what do we as US people know about Japanese culture?
Are we so collectively refined that we don’t need examples of fūryū?

Does kenjō seem irrelevant to the greatest nation on earth?

Would we be impressed by a person who exhibits deep gyō? Read the rest of this entry »

Anne Waldman on The Art of Writing, Reading, and Sharing—Winter Class/Arco-Online 2020

Imagine you are not alone. Consort with other writers. You are in a League of Writing. You are part of a conspiracy to lift the discourse and practice of writing higher. Think of your writing as a way to alleviate the suffering of yourself and others. To make the world more beautiful and interesting.
—Anne Waldman, “Creative Writing Life”

If you writing life needs a recharge, if you want to reconnect with your writing practice and other kindred spirits, please join us in this class as we will engage the accumulated wisdom of Anne Waldman, poet, teacher, cultural activist, anthologist, and subverter of the patriarchy.

In her inspiring book, Vow to Poetry: Essays, Interviews, & Manifestos, Waldman has short chapter entitled, “Creative Writing Life.” It’s nine pages long and this will be the chief text for our class. Each week we will read, discuss, and write off of a page of Anne’s prompts–both friends who want to share via a class blog, and those who can meet up in St. Louis. We will spend our time in and outside of class experimenting, practicing, and integrating what she has to offer (I count 136 specific suggestions). Perhaps you will discover that 10 of these are really what you matter to you at this time in your life.

For Saint Louisans, outside of a 90 minute weekly class, you will need at least another 1.5 to 2 hours. Friends joining us via the class blog count on 2 to 3 hours a week. Make room in your schedule for cultivating creativity, clarity, and community.

We meet on Thursdays from January 30 to March 17, 6:45 to 8:15 p.m. at the home of Andrew Wimmer, 4400 Arco Avenue 63110. Online participants will receive an agenda on Friday mornings to direct their activities for the week.I will be frequently in touch with you, and try to connect people in the same city. The more we share, the greater our learning and expansion!

All you need are your writing materials and/or devices and, ideally, a copy of Vow to Poetry, or one of Anne’s other books, such as Fast Speaking Woman, Beats at Naropa, Civil Disobediences, or Outrider. Check out your bookstore or public library, or contact me for assistance–I have access to university libraries.

Tuition for St. Louisans, $100.
For online participants, $50.
You can send tuition to me by Paypal or by check at the first class.

For those of you who have done a class with me before and found it worth your time, please pass along this announcement to anyone you know who may be interested in this class, especially the online version.

Penny Smith, Northwest Coffee, Central West End

Start a club/”study group” around the work of a deceased writer or writers or a literary movement or a book. Meet once a month and plan to read aloud (or translate), write “off of,” and examine texts. The Sappho Club, the Niedecker/Zukovsky Salon, the H.D. Room, the Beat Trope Circle, Robert Duncan Lab, New York School Gallery, Black Arts Solarium…
–Anne Waldman, “Creative Writing Life”