Hold It All

Category: Beats




Written in the Margins of Ginsberg’s “Why I Meditate”

There are 10,000 reasons
to meditate (at least)

There are 10,000 beings
to save (for starters)

There are 10,000 demented states of consciousness
to purify (carpe diem)

There are 10,000 dreams
to snap out of (thank Buddha)

There are 10,000 ways
to befriend ourselves (go slowly)

There are 10,000 opportunities in 24 hours
to wake up (let’s do it) Read the rest of this entry »

Writing to Wake Up 2020: A Winter Course in Creativity and Community

Writing is essential to my life, like breathing. I can live without a husband but I cannot live without writing. By writing I become one with the world and with myself.
—Nawal El Saadawi

What I discovered that autumn at Stinson Beach was that each morning, after the routines of dressing and feeding the kids, and eating breakfast, I would simply and without forethought find myself at the window looking out at that small garden and writing [my play]. So that it simplemindedly dawned on me over time that maybe that was all there was to it: maybe, just maybe, a writer was nothing more than someone who wrote. Gratuitously, and sometimes aimlessly, sat down and wrote—often without design.
—Diane di Prima

So I try to write during those ‘naked moments’ of epiphany the illumination that comes every day a little bit. Some moment every day, in the bathroom, in bed, in the middle of sex, in the middle of walking down the street, in my head, or not at all. So if it doesn’t come at all, that’s the illumination . . . . So I try to pay attention all the time. The writing itself, the sacred act of writing, when you do anything of this nature, is like prayer. The act of writing being done sacramentally, if pursued over a few minutes, becomes like a meditation experience, which brings on a recall of detailed consciousness that is an approximation of high consciousness. High epiphanous mind.
—Allen Ginsberg

I just want to continue to do what I’ve always done, which is to write, to think about these things. I’m searching for an understanding. Not for my readers, for myself. It’s a process of exploration. It has to further my understanding of the ways things work. So in a way it’s a selfish journey, too. It’s a way of pushing myself further and deeper into looking at the society in which I live.
—Arundhati Roy

Write in recollection and amazement for yourself.
— Jack Kerouac

Even with all our sophisticated technologies and modes of communication, who feels as though there is enough time? And yet, especially this year, we need time, as community activist Grace Lee Boggs has said, to “grow our souls”: Time to think, to explore, to share, to listen; time to be, and, as Thich Nhat Hanh would say, to inter-be with ourselves, each other, and the world.
Read the rest of this entry »

L. K.Lapinski

She’s Had a Pretty Good Nocturnal Run

At Dunkin’ Donuts
She said matter-of-factly

“I haven’t had a nightmare
In 17 years”

She’s 22



Share the Wealth with Laura Katherine Lapinski: The Films of Wes Anderson

Laura Lapinski, a graduate student in psychology at SIUE, is doing her Share the Wealth on film director Wes Anderson this Saturday. For those interested in joining us, here’s some background from Laura…

Wes Anderson is an American film writer and director. I find him truly unique and remarkable. His individual style is exclusive for a few reasons. One main difference is the cinematography style Anderson uses. To move from scene to scene, he transitions by actually moving the camera directly into the next scene. Its a simple thing yet so original. Wes Anderson movies are aggressively quirky. This is my one of my favorite things about them. The aesthetic involved in each film is similar and unmistakable. The films somehow give off a vintage and modern vibe at the same time. Read the rest of this entry »

Blasts from the Past



Hold It All

It must have been 1983, springtime: I asked former classmate Ray Pruitt what he’d been reading. “Last night, Kierkegaard, Proust, and Phil Berrigan.”


Read the rest of this entry »

The Way It Looked in 1969

Now the age of 101, Lawrence Ferlinghetti has composed poetical works about most U.S. presidents since the administrations of Eisenhower in the 1950s. I recall with appreciation his poem “Tale Tale of the Tall Cowboy” during the Reagan years (published in Harper’s), as friends and I were working in the Sanctuary Movement (for Salvadoran refugees), on the Pledge of Resistance (to end US support of terrorism against the people of Nicaragua), as well as Witness for Peace delegations in Nicaragua.

I was the age of nine in 1969 when New Directions published his short book, Tyrannus Nix? At that early stage of Nixon’s presidency, the prophetic Ferlinghetti zeroed in on the man who would soon be known for the bombing of Cambodia, the Enemies List, and the Watergate scandal.

Ferlinghetti is seriously playful in this cultural intervention, and I happily share the following themes and excerpts to give you a glimpse of political skewering from more than fifty years ago.

Direct speech—I’ve got to hand it to you old family friend… why don’t you open the Doors of Perception … will you ever invite the Living Theater to your House…and probably all the time longing to be loved by the same people who loved and hated Kennedys…

Political critique—Nixon Nixon I’m singing you this baseball Diamond Sutra from way out there in New Left Filed in the International League… the Vietnam albatross…Are you Machiavelli smiling… DDT is killing the pelicans and their eco-system is our own…War is good business Invest your son … look Fidel Castro in the eye and tell him without the benefit of electronic aides that your government does not believe his truths while a lizard crawled out of your eye Read the rest of this entry »

Gleanings and Connections

Anne Waldman and Laura Wright, editors,  Cross Worlds: Transcultural Poetics—An Anthology

Dear Layla: “modernist textual montage/collage of a wide-ranging array mixing the personal and the historical”

Dear Layla: “Ezra Pound’s Cantos gave me a way to collage many texts and voices into poems, using material from a range of historical records.”

Dear Layla: “Reznikoff, like many poets, often focuses on the micro to make real the macro.”

Dear Layla: a multitude of voices within the narrative

Cross Worlds: “speaking on what happens both between and across spaces, locations, languages, genres and media.”

Cid Corman: “the main thing is to stay open to others, to listen, that’s the secret, and to look around you.”

“Rap is a black person’s CNN, according to Chuck D.” Read the rest of this entry »

“It’s the Old Thoreau Tradition”

This morning I was reading a 1972 interview with poet Allen Ginsberg and came across the following exchange…

YLP: I was surprised to see the importance young Americans grant now to the Do It Yourself thing.
Ginsberg: It’s the old Thoreau tradition. The reason for that is that if you don’t do it yourself you are a prisoner of the robot state, the electric company the transportation company, the food monopolies and the chain stores. You live in a suspended state where you don’t even know where your power comes from, you leave the faucets running and the lights on all night just because you don’t even know that the water supplies are slowly diminishing and maybe we have only another twenty or thirty years of clean water before it all goes away. You live in a situation where you let people dump your garbage out in the Atlantic Ocean so that in the last twenty years 40 percent of the life of the oceans has been destroyed…. Read the rest of this entry »

“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 »

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”

Note to a Friend on Back of Ginsberg’s 1977 poem, Grim Skeleton

Beginning 23rd year proffing this past week
Turned 59, Ginsberg 51 when he “Grim Skeleton” sounded off
Ah, what to do with disasters near and far,
Dave Chappelle should be prez,
Laughter good for soul,
Poetry too,
Taking care of oneself and the beloveds is planetary responsibility,
If only we could be as free as Allen chanting Hare Krishna to Bill Buckley on Firing Line!

Om Sri Andrew Jai Andrew!