Hold It All

Tag: Allen Ginsberg

Writing Our Own Histories: A Spring/Summer Class

“First We Read, Then We Write”
–title of Robert D. Richardson’s study on Emerson’s creative life

“Something that you feel will find its own form”
–Jack Kerouac, U.S. novelist and poet

“You have to write your own history, nobody’s going to do it for you. “
—Allen Ginsberg, bard, activist, professor

This class invites you to experiment with several creative forms that I have found engaging, energizing, and intriguing. The practice of imitation can lead to fresh inspiration for embarking on new work or for reclaiming work we’ve been putting off.

During class sessions we will examine the structure of works by Alice Walker, Svetlana Alexievich, Eduardo Galeano, and Joe Brainard. We will cover each book in two sessions. We will do relevant writing practices in and outside of class, for example, getting in touch with our vast storehouse of memories (Brainard). Also, by the end of each session we will make plans for writing on our own in the week ahead. Possible areas for exploration are personal and collective memoir and autobiography. Participants will be encouraged to connect during the week, and share how the writing and reading processes inter-are. I will be happy to meet up, listen, and share when it is convenient for you. Read the rest of this entry »

Milosz’s ABC’s

Milosz’s ABC’s
Translated from the Polish by Madeline G. Levine

Listening  last night to Natalie Long talking about Poland and mentioning Czeslaw Milosz  reminded  me of reading his ABC’s back in 2001.  Around  that time I had been reading the Cuban Reinaldo Arenas and the Uruguayan Eduardo Galeano.  I was searching for a “form” to put together my scattered and varied materials pertaining to life with Mev Puleo.  All three of them provided encouragement to synthesize a form of collage/mosaic for the  telling of that story.

Turning back  now to those ABC’s, here are the alphabetical entries that fill his 313-page book.




Adam and Eve




After All




Alik Protasewicz




“What splendor!  What poverty!  What humanity! What inhumanity!  What mutual goodwill!  What individual isolation!  What loyalty to the ideal! What hypocrisy!  What a triumph of conscience!  What perversity!  The America of contradictions can, not must, reveal itself to immigrants who have made it here.  Those who have not made it will see only its brutality.” 25

American Poetry—

“Of American poets, I will always have the greatest affinity with Walt Whitman.”

American Visa


Angelic Sexuality 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 »

Three Working Epigraphs for Forthcoming Book

Everybody too intransigent. Everybody too mean.
—Allen Ginsberg

Appreciation is the sacrament.
—Allen Ginsberg

You have to write your own history, nobody’s going to do it for you.
—Allen Ginsberg



Hedy Epstein

“Holy the Supernatural Extra Brilliant Intelligent Kindness of the Soul!”

Sri Anandamayi Ma

The title comes from Allen Ginsberg’s poem, Howl

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!

Note to a Friend alongside Copy of Ginsberg’s 1973 Poem “Yes and It’s Hopeless”

And so, if it’s (still) hopeless,
all the more reason
to cultivate garden,
play with Dominic,
work on yr Italian pronunciation,
sing aloud Carole King songs,
have CTSA reunions,
host STN skull sessions,
seek us first the Kingdom of Appreciation,
and another miraculous day may be given unto us,
so hallelujah,
om shanti shanti shanti,
make time to play Duke Ellington,
“Take the ‘A’ Train”

Take Your Pick


Do not be angry, not even at a dog or an insect. Strive to give whatever actual help you can. If you cannot help, then think and say: May this sentient being or troublemaker quickly be rid of pain and enjoy happiness. May he or she come to attain Buddhahood.

–Jamgon Kongtrul, The Great Path of Awakening: A Commentary on the Mahayana Teaching of the Seven Points of Mind Training



“Well” (sigh) “as for me, I’m just going to go on being Alvah Goldbook and to hell with all this Buddhist bullshit.”

–Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
[Alvah Goldbook approximates Allen Ginsberg]


Arousing Enthusiasm: Allen the Talker

for Laura Lapinski,
who makes me laugh while lunching at Medina Grill,
walking around the CWE, and hanging out in Left Bank Books

There’s 15 to 20 Allen Ginsberg poems I’ve loved, and shared with friends over the years. Examples: Cosmopolitan Greetings, War Profit Litany, Yiddishe Kopf, Yes and It’s Hopeless. Sure, I acknowledge that Ginsberg’s poetic influence has been world-wide, and I do reread Howl from time to time. But I esteem him even more for being a talker! This is principally because of one book, Spontaneous Mind: Selected Interviews 1958-1996. What follows are some excerpts which have informed, encouraged, challenged, and delighted me.

On Cuba: The Marxist-oriented people said ‘Oh, you shouldn’t be complaining – look at the advances the revolution has made.’ This was true and I said, yes there have been certain advances here, and I’m on your side and that’s why I’m complaining – don’t fuck up your revolution. 535

People are beginning to see, like household, as a tea ceremony. People begin to do kitchen yoga when they’re washing dishes. People begin to sacramentalizing all relationships, because the purpose of art is to sacramentalize life, I think. That’s a reasonable statement that I heard Swami Bhaktivedanta say recently. He said he thought the purpose of art was to bless and make sacred everything, so that people could see it that way. That is, to reveal the feeling in things, so they become more of a ball. 75

An artist by very definition means penetrating into the heart of the universe, i.e., your own heart, going beyond depression or exuberance. 446

[Since the 60s ] [t]here is a permanent change in civilized consciousness so that it includes the notion of one world, fresh planet, the awareness of the fragility of the planet as an ecological unity, the absorption of psychedelic styles in dress and music into the body politic, the sexual liberation movement, the black liberation movement, the women’s liberation movement, all of those slight, affirmative, permanent alterations in all lifestyles. 462

On meditation: you’re aware of your thoughts and you just observe them: acknowledging them, taking a friendly attitude toward them, not participating, just letting them go by. That tends to lead to a kind of equanimity or peacefulness and, at the same time, some sense of observation of the situation around you in a kind of nonjudgmental peacefulness. 482 Read the rest of this entry »