JIM COHN

POSTBEAT POETS

 

A late 20th, early 21st century manifestation of the "outrider"1 poetic tradition, the Postbeat poets have commonalities with the Dadaist, Surrealists, Futurists, Imagists, Objectivists, Exteriorismo, Harlem Renaissance, Blues and Talking Blues traditions, Black Mountain College, San Francisco Renaissance, Black Arts Movement, Fisk University Writers Conferences, Society of Umbra, New York School, Nuyorican Poets, Postmoderns, and the Women痴 Poetry Movement. Loosely united as a front of alternative communities, the Postbeats composed new demotic poetry that extends the cultural and political legacies of the Beat Generation.

Their central figure and fount of influence is the compassionate globe-traveling poet Allen Ginsberg whose persistent nonviolent activism against censorship, imperial politics, and persecution of the powerless gained him wide public recognition and a credibility that crossed class, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and ability differences. Although poetic affinities differ from one poet to another and vary across discreet communities, Postbeat poets are adepts in both oral and written literary traditions. They have a collective history of offsetting "yearning" and "resentment"末the always desiring what one does not have, having what one does not want末with a prodigious sense of the absurd, a mercurial flair for high jinks, a sacrosanct mischief, a laughing-at-yourself sense of mishap.

A Postbeat Time Capsule

Beat writers were avatars of a literary canon that directly countered any imperialistic sense of poetic form and content. While the Beat Generation arose out of The Great Depression, World War II, anti-communist crusades, the rise of McCarthyism and the continued effects of racial segregation, the Postbeat collective grew out of different societal disturbances, taboos, and crises. The Postbeat poets末which had the example of the Beat writers, associated schools and movements, along with the Civil Rights Movement, Sixties counterculture, and New Left to draw from末matured during or soon after the Vietnam War (1955-1975).

The Postbeats endured the proliferation and fears of the Nuclear Age, the Cold War, and the Global War on Terrorism. They experienced the squandering of American goodwill abroad, the polarization and overall loss of democratic values at home, a bankrupt laissez-faire economy, and the manifest realities of climate change. In the immediate post-September 11, 2001 decade, Postbeat poets described heightened suspicions toward foreigners, discriminatory backlashes against members of ethnic groups, world religions末particularly Islam and Tibetan Buddhism, oppression of women and girls, homosexuals, and people with disabilities. The lives of the Postbeats involved confronting a more highly complex, multicultural, globally distressed, and technologically sophisticated world than the Beats ever knew.

If the Beats can be defined by the hallmark Ginsberg observation "the best minds" of his generation were "destroyed by madness," the Postbeats may be remembered as those who walked out of the psychological abyss with a mastery of "hidden skills"末the shamanic power of ancient rhythms, connection of speech and song to the breath, and, as Kerouac wrote in The Scripture of the Golden Eternity, clarity of heart to compose sutras of liberation as 妬t was written a long time ago / in the archives of universal mind (Cornith Books, 1960, 12).

Like the Beats and Black Arts poets, who espoused a jazz-specific spontaneity to writing, the Postbeats combined multimedia spontaneity to expand awareness beyond conditioned ego or trite art. For the Postbeat, this sense of openness was a furthering of Ginsberg痴 liberation mind practice outlined in "Exercises in Poetic Candor."2 The essence of liberation is clarity beyond illusion. Postbeat poetry is the presence of oxymoric incompatibilities, clashing sentiments, and vivid "Surprise Mind" skillfulness with which to transcend conditioned phenomena.

The New Demotics

Postbeat poetics responded to social upheavals in world, regional, and local politics末from the struggles to define the Vietnam years末to dealing with twenty-first century hungry ghost American political partisanship, regardless of the administration, congress, judiciary, or party in power. The New Demotics is influenced by major contextual shifts unknown to the Beat Generation, who were so present they were ahead of their time. The New Demotics exists as a loose knit plurality of alternative networks operating in inter-lingual and multiplatform poetics medias.

Major works probe the diversity of human experience, the nature of normative delusion, political manipulation, hyper-neurotic religious warfare, mass dehumanization, and techno-cultural addiction. Only after several decades was it clear what in fact the Postbeat poets were doing末faithfully recording major spiritual, demographic, cultural, political, military, social, and economic upheavals affecting America痴 relation to itself and the world末making an honest poetic record of the era. At the confluence of outrider traditions, as Anne Waldman observed, Postbeat poetics honors 鍍he tremendous contribution of oral cultures, so-called third/fourth world cultures末multiworld cultures末and ongoing live traditions which you don稚 find originating from the western classical tradition."3

Beat to Postbeat: Transition Points

It is indeterminate when the Postbeat era began. Several possible dates mark the change. Anne Waldman has noted that the second-generation New York School poet Ted Berrigan may have been "the last beatnik."4 1960s dates in determining the beginning of the Postbeat Era include "Poetus Magnus"5 Bob Dylan going electric at the Newport Folk Festival on July 25, 1965 and the death of Jack Kerouac in St. Petersburg on October 20, 1969. A measurable 70s demarcation is the founding of the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, by the Venerable Chgyam Trungpa Rinpoche and with it, the founding of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in 1974 by co-founders Ginsberg and Waldman.

A 1980s manifestation of the Postbeat period was the growing cultural and economic power of African American Rap artists. The success of 撤lanet Rock, a 1982 song by DJ Afrika Bambaataa Aasim (aka Kevin Donovan) marked the diversification of Hip-Hop末its cultural and aesthetic innovations as well as its related technology including music videos, turntables, sampling, and electronic music. The Poetry Slam, devised in 1984 by Chicago construction worker, Marc Smith, was brought to the Nuyorican Cafe by Bob Holman in 1987. A typical Slam scenario featured competitive audience-judged poetry performances. The commercial success of rap, hip-hop, and slam poetic cultures had the effect of rejecting all forms of racial hierarchy in language.

Late 20th century scholars point to the death of Allen Ginsberg (April 5, 1997) and the publication of posthumous works edited by Bill Morgan in conjunction with the Allen Ginsberg Trust. A plethora of online sites dedicated to the Beats including Literary Kicks, The Beat Page, and The Beat Museum mark a shift from creative to archival activity in the 90s. A major video and audio trove is the digitized Naropa Archive Project.6 Websites offering analysis and curation of Postbeat poetries and their roots, such as the online Museum of American Poetics (poetspath.com), established the first decade of the twenty-first century as the flowering of Postbeat poetry.

Centrality of Allen Ginsberg

The centrality of Allen Ginsberg is, in large part, based on the quality of wakefulness he manifested in body, speech, and mind. This awareness came to him in summer of 1948 Harlem apartment William Blake visions. Ginsberg stated in numerous places that these auditory visions stabilized certain convictions regarding the illusory nature of perception. Allen痴 willingness to renounce ego痴 view of the world accompanied experiences of visionary creations of the enlightened world. Alicia Ostriker suggested that it is Ginsberg痴 transformative imagination skillfulness that impacted others and magnetized others to him.7 The details of his imagery, such as the ashen sunflower seeing its true nature as 鍍he perfect lovely sunflower of existence awoke seeds of mindfulness in the Postbeats.

In his latter years, teaching at the MFA Poetics program at Brooklyn College, he encountered a more diverse population of students than he had at Naropa. At Brooklyn College, he focused on making a bridge over the alienation between the different cultural-social groups. He was deeply committed to illuminating the "interesting complementarities" of history such as the relationship between the American Beatnik and African-American struggles.

Allen looked for ways beyond ideology to address the "American Beatnik black post-Beat connection."8 Ginsberg's diversity transmission to the Postbeats, regardless of one's personal identity politics, was about getting beyond battles of class warfare and into some "practical attitude of transcendence." He would open your eyes so you could see with compassion. That was the practice. "Practical," he taught, "had to do with cleansing the doors of perception themselves; in which case middle-class notions and ego notions and everything else gets cleansed; personal identity as well as national or class or race chauvinist identity as well."9

The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics

Naropa University, known at its inception as Naropa Institute, was founded in 1974 by the exiled Tibetan tulku, Chgyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1939-1987). Trungpa Rinpoche was the eleventh in a line of Kagy School teachers and trained in the Nyingma tradition, the oldest of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Chgyam Trungpa was an adherent of the rimay nonsectarian movement that aspired to freedom from sectarian rivalry. When the Chinese Communist party took control of Tibet in 1959, the 20-year old Trungpa was forced to flee the country, leading a small party of monks on horseback and on foot over the Himalayas to India. In 1967, after a car accident left him partially paralyzed末Rinpoche gave up his monastic vows to work as a lay teacher.

Naropa holds a unique place in the history of American poesy. Chgyam Trungpa Rinpoche痴 long-held desire to present the path of meditation in secular terms led to offerings of courses in Japanese archery, calligraphy, flower arranging, tea ceremony, dance, theater, psychotherapy and poetry, among others. In his own words, he sought to bring "art to everyday life." As the first Buddhist University in North America, Naropa integrated ancient wisdom traditions that had held interest for U.S. poets since the Transcendentalist Movement of the 1840s.

Although Chgyam Trungpa痴 stewardship was not free of controversy or unorthodoxy, the enormity of his personal achievement as a Tibetan American spiritual immigrant-in-exile with disabilities brought to the Kerouac School the space for broad-spectrum diversity and cultural fluency contemplation. With a personal story based on the Chinese invasion of Tibet , loss of homeland, shifts to minority social status, and physical debilitation, Rinpoche provided a window by which suffering itself might be glimpsed and transmuted, regardless of one痴 position in society or one痴 state of existence. One need only trace the roots of the school back to Trungpa, himself a person of color, to see the energetic and compassionate strands of social innovation he invited students to engage in with one another and the world.

Naropa lent a contemplative activism to the birth of Postbeat poetry. The Kerouac School, with its courses, workshops, seminars, panels, lectures, readings, and performances by major figures of the literary avant-garde, would develop a devoted poetic community. The daughters and sons of Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman were myriad. The poetics community that grew around them was global. As Ginsberg wrote in the introduction to Talking Poetics from Naropa Institute (Shambhala, 1978), the hope was 鍍hat younger students mystified by history, ignorant of the revolutions of the Word thru recent decade generations, will be able to find their own intuitive logics. Allen believed that the Kerouac School was part of 都ome climactic event that had 鍍aken place in American poetry which will leave its imprint of frankness & wisdom on future American lyric thought.

The dynamism of the Kerouac School was astonishing. The Summer Writing Program, installed by Anne Waldman in 1974, left people thunderstruck. It quickly became a model of poetics convocation, but none could duplicate it. Visiting faculty represented various strands of the collective outrider tradition. During the school痴 first decade, the life and work of Jack Kerouac seemed a primary vortex末as with the historic July 1982 Jack Kerouac Conference that brought together many of the major voices of the Beat Generation for celebration and critique. In later decades, Waldman forged a wider discourse to embrace the nexus of activists, internationals, environmentalists, feminists, and poets of color that had taken hold of the direction poetry was going. From such diverse poetic lineages, the Postbeat was forged.

Anne Waldman and Postbeat Energy

Without Anne Waldman, the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics might have crashed as soon as the last of the Beats had passed on, if not earlier. Perhaps an auspicious coincidence, Waldman is the poet most associated with the energy of the Postbeats by long-term interactions cultivated at Naropa University. Her enduring vision of diversity programming, her assimilation of Buddhist practice, and its application against patriarchy, as well as her own body of experimental feminist poetics works of poetry and prose were as major a contribution to American Letters as those of Gertrude Stein末the matriot of American experimental feminist poetry.

As co-founder of the Kerouac School with Allen Ginsberg, Waldman brought to Naropa a thoroughly accomplished public poetic life of organizing, teaching, writing in ways poets had never written before, talking, orating, publishing, inventing, and performing末even though she was not yet thirty years old when the school opened. The proof of her vision can be found in 撤oint and click: Icons in the window to the ancestral manse. The piece, which appeared in Charles Hayes Tripping: An Anthology of True-life Psychedelic Adventures (Penguin Compass, 2000), offers future scholars a sense of the alchemical crosscurrents that defined Waldman as a poet, as co-founder of the Kerouac School and director of its Summer Writing Program.

In 撤oint and click, Waldman described her first LSD experience. That trip, she wrote, 田onjured an archetypal vision that illuminated both my past history and my future development. Riding the electrifying waves of inspiration generated by the 1965 Berkeley Poetry Conference, she described an 妬nteractive vision that fueled the multi-community poetry projects that would engage her entire adult life:

At the core of the trip was a very elaborate panoramic vision which inhabits and informs my genetic makeup still, a vision I return to in Buddhist practice and in dreams, which provides a kind of mental fortitude against the icy, sterile void. I visualized, witnessed, and encountered every person I'd ever known, even some with whom I壇 had only remote contact, in a sort of rainbow gathering or holy convocation that brought the various strands of my own personal world together. I was the thread through which these folk gathered, which, in turn, conjured great responsibility for me, of care, attendance and witness. I felt a duty to these sentient beings I'd been touched by or touched. The vision was not just a tableau, but interactive. When I looked at all these creatures, they returned the gaze and communicated in a new way to me.

This interactive vision of the returned gaze was the essence of Postbeat diversity. It was the energy of human interactivity that released upon Waldman the feeling of 電uty to these sentient beings she had 澱een touched by or touched. It was the desegregated, unsuppressed energy of interactivity that informed her, that 田ommunicated to her 妬n a new way. This new way was equally informed by the energy of Buddhist practice. The impact of Buddhism on her poetics can be described as mind, without hope of salvation, transformed by 電eep commitment to unsentimental honesty and work薄

In early Buddhist practice you become a refugee. You've given up all hope of salvation. Nothing out there but your own mind (which can be anywhere) is going to save you. You take a vow to perform a certain number of practices, that you will give your body, speech and mind to the endeavor. You池e also taking a vow toward egolessness, so it痴 not just 土ou up against the whole world. You take the bodhisattva vow that you will work tirelessly for the benefit of all sentient beings who were once your very own parents. This is beyond "idiot compassion, where anything goes. In fact, you must often be fierce with people, with friends, with family. It's a deep commitment to unsentimental honesty and work.

She posited the notion of Buddhist compassion, bodhicitta, as a kind of zero-sum loss, a life beyond winning and losing. No 湯you up against the whole world, Waldman suggested a contemplative diversity poetics model of egoless 杜ind (which can be anywhere) working 鍍irelessly for the benefit of all sentient beings who were once your very own parents. Looking back on the decade before Naropa was founded, she described the 菟artial blueprint or paradigm for the actions that led her to undertake the major poetic community projects she took on:

My perspective now is that my first LSD experience was a partial blueprint or paradigm for the actions and karma of my life so far. Not that I've been saintly or holier than anybody else. The inspiration from that first vision末and its fantastic and historic milieu末did much to forge my commitment to sangha, community, both Buddhist and poetic.

This has been borne out in my web of folk increasing a thousandfold through the activities of the St. Mark's Poetry Project, the Kerouac School at Naropa, through travels to Indonesia, India, Italy, Austria, and other "tours of duty," and through poetry and political events and convocations all over the world. That commitment also brought my life intimate with the activities and life of Allen Ginsberg, dear mentor and friend, also an "activity demon.

Waldman痴 田ommitment to sangha, community, both Buddhist and poetic, regardless of relative difference, resulted in the 吐antastic and historic milieu that gave rise to Postbeat poetry. This energy can be described as bodhicittathe most fundamental aspect of the mind, "brightly shining," whether or not it is realized, arising spontaneously, limitlessly, for all sentient beings, and suggests a poetry that is the falling away of the attachment to the illusion of an inherently existent self.

Kerouac School Postbeats

A partial list of Kerouac School students who worked closely with Allen Ginsberg while he was at Naropa and who pursued poetry as a calling in their own right includes Gary Allen, Lee Ann Brown, Tyler Burba, Brenda Coultas, Mark DuCharme, Kari Edwards, Eliot Katz, Denyse King (aka Denyse du Roi), Rachel Levitsky, Lesl饌 Newman, Marc Olmsted, Thomas R. Peters, Jr., Laurie Price, Sue Rhynhart, Joseph Richey, Randy Roark, Ron Rodriguez, James Ruggia, Steve Silberman, Katie Yates, and myself.

One of the most productive and illuminating poets to emerge from the Kerouac School was Randy Roark. A prolific poet, writer, multimedia performer, editor, publisher, musicologist, and producer of dharmic audio book recordings for Sounds True, Roark came to Boulder in November 1979 to apprentice with Ginsberg as Allen assembled his Collected Poems and continued to work in various capacities with the poet until his death in 1997. Randy could say things about Ginsberg colloquia that others could not, even if they held the transcriptions in their hands. In a 2010 interview, Roark responded to a question about Allen痴 摘ight Pillars of Poetics薄

Q: It痴 well known to anyone with knowledge of Kerouac School history that you transcribed over 28,000 pages of Allen Ginsberg lectures from his years at Naropa. Recently (July 3, 2009), you were invited to give a talk at an Allen Ginsberg Memorial in which you reflected upon eight pillars of Allen痴 teachings. As the person best qualified to comment on Allen Ginsberg as a teacher, from the perspective of activist scholarship, would you elaborate on that meditation you presented?

RR: I spoke on Allen Ginsberg as a teacher, about what I called his 摘ight Pillars of Poetics. The first pillar was complete honesty. Complete honesty is something much deeper and more complex than what people usually mean by being honest擁t痴 about an uncompromising look beyond the surface of what you would like to believe is true to the deeper truth beneath it, which is usually something that you are hiding from, something that only strikes you when your defense mechanisms have broken down, usually through extreme forms of emotion, like love or grief. In order to persevere to get to that point, you have to be uncommonly dedicated to the truth, or beaten down to it.

The second pillar was a belief in the ability of poetry to transmit actual states of consciousness. In Allen痴 case, those were primarily the states of consciousness he experienced in Buddhist meditation. If you池e not aware of that aspect of Allen痴 writing, you池e missing an essential element in his poetry, especially the poems written in the second half of his life. In fact, he believed that poetry honestly written while experiencing any genuine emotion would automatically result in a text that transmitted that experience to others, mostly through the specific breathing patterns that are characteristic of certain strong emotions such as ecstasy and despair用reserved mostly through punctuation and line breaks and white space.

The third pillar was a belief in the power of spontaneous utterance葉hat the most powerful poetry was spoken in complete alignment with the emotional, physical, and intellectual experience of the moment, including an awareness of the audience and an historical sense of all that has gone before, as well as the moment痴 deepest significance and possibilities. As such it brings the whole room痴 focus into the present moment and place rather than taking it somewhere else, which is what most poetry does. It痴 not that every poem has to be that, it痴 just that that happens to be the most powerful form of utterance, and anything you say will be measured against that.

The fourth pillar was his belief that to divorce poetry from music was a big mistake, and that Zukofsky was right when he said that poetry痴 lower limit was speech and its upper limit was music. That痴 why Allen loved to play the songs of Richard Rabbit Brown and Bessie Smith in his poetry classes. In the same way he taught that much of the poetry of the past was actually written as lyrics to music that is now forgotten様ike Blake痴 Songs of Innocence and of Experience or the Child Ballads or the poems of Campion and Marlowe, or he壇 compare a Shakespeare lyric to a Dylan song without the music.

The fifth pillar was Allen痴 respect for the poetry preserved in the Norton Anthology of Poetry容specially pre-19th-century poetry. For most of his time as a poetry teacher, Allen chose to teach out of the Norton Anthology of English Poetry預nd not only that, but out of the first half of it, in order to concentrate on the craft of poetry. He taught that it was necessary to understand the history of poetry because modern poetry was written out of that tradition, and that if you don稚 know Shakespeare as thoroughly as Kerouac did you can稚 really understand Kerouac, or you would appreciate him for the wrong reasons. In the same way if you didn稚 know Shelley, you couldn稚 really appreciate Gregory Corso. Each semester he would begin with a survey of the various meters様ike the iamb and spondee and dactyl預nd then would have us write poems in our own language in classic forms like Sapphics and iambic pentameter and hendecasyllables and 12-bar blues and English hymns and ballads. What that practice does is it begins to shape your thought into musical meters and forms, and you develop an elegance of thought.

The sixth pillar was that a lot of important poetry was written in other languages and in other cultures and times, and if you池e only familiar with the poetry of your own language or era you池e missing some of the greatest poetry ever written, and the inspiration for poets such as Yeats and Eliot and Pound. When Allen put together his anthology of 摘xpansive Poetry, four-fifths of it was from other languages and cultures. And he himself occasionally wrote in forms he borrowed from other cultures and times, including Elizabethan lyrics, Tibetan, Chinese, and Japanese forms, rap lyrics, calypso, the blues of course, and some forms he learned from Australian Aborigines.

The seventh pillar was that poetry actually had a medicinal value, and that a poet could heal social and psychological ills by writing and performing poetry. He also believed that the poet had a social function as well as a literary one葉hat there was a community of poets throughout time, and this community included your elders and your peers and the next generation as well, and that you especially needed to take care of those who couldn稚 take care of themselves because they might be the most important poets of all.

The final pillar was something I re-learned when I was traveling with the percussionist Layne Redmond to Cyprus in 2009. She also brought Mary Rockford Lane, who has written books on shamanism, and Nathan Ells, the lead singer of a 都hred band called The Human Abstract, another rock and roll band with a name from William Blake. Layne was there to return ancient drumming practices to the Cypriot women, and late one night we four Americans got carried away, making plans to return the Eleusinian Mysteries to the Greeks in a cave on the island on Tinos, and the audacity of the idea was so huge that we were a little bit embarrassed, until Nathan shouted out 敵o big or go home! Living so close to Allen, I had to forget how important he was. But, looking back, I can see how he chose to 斗ive large, in both his writing and his life. And he took on the poets in the Norton anthologies and rose to their level of intensity by pitching his voice there. In a broader social and cultural sense he became one of Shelley痴 unacknowledged legislators of the human race揺e took on governments and institutions with his voice alone, and by his example moved others to live lives that were more humane and just.10

Roark痴 摘ight Pillars of Ginsbergian poetics teaching illustrates a direct mind-to-mind transmission not uncommon with Postbeats who worked closely with Allen. The underlying technique running through 摘ight Pillars is developing the capability to neutralize duality in order to point out or identify the true nature of mind末mind always remaining the same, no matter what experiences come and go. As Randy suggested, 摘ight Pillars is a poetics of awakened states.

Steve Silberman was a teaching assistant of Allen痴 in 1977 when he was 19-years old. Steve went on to become a contributing editor at Wired magazine, a regular contributor to the Shambhala Sun, co-host of several conferences on The Well末one of the longest-lasting online communities末and wrote numerous articles pertaining to Ginsberg痴 legacy. Silberman痴 accomplishments include a gold record in 1999 for co-producing the Grateful Dead's 5-CD box set of previously unreleased recordings, So Many Roads (1965-1995). In a January 1987 interview, published in the Whole Earth Review, Steve and Allen had the following exchange that speaks of Naropa and its integrity:

Steve Silberman: Why do you think Naropa had the stability to maintain its integrity into the eighties?

Allen Ginsberg: First of all they had a central organizing motor which was meditation. So they had a workable central thesis that was not based on the ego of the leader. Secondly, they didn't have a democratic baloney grounding末they were in practice democratic, but in theory totally autocratic under the guru. If you have a sort of selfless guru who's not on a power trip末or who's on a Vajrayana power trip rather than on a personal power trip末you have a worthwhile basis for a community, based on devotion and meditation and actual awareness practice; rather than theory of getting high, or ecstatic, or... And the Buddhists after all have several thousand years' experience in organizing nontheistic intentional communities.

The Buddhist thing is bohemian, by its very nature. Or admits more bohemia. It's nonjudgmental let us say末its practice is awareness rather than rule of law and judgment like Hebrew or Christian sharper aesthetically, like the artist's mind which is the same as the meditative mind: no matter what thought you have you're interested in it, rather than rejecting it.

President Trungpa would come up with really interesting ideas, like methods of teaching poetry, methods of holding classes, methods of having assemblies末school assemblies to meditate rather than listen to a lot of yak. Methods of relating to but avoiding political animosity; relating to politics but not getting into the aggression of it.11

Ginsberg did not suggest that the study of forms and prosody had no place in the imagination. Silberman痴 interview with Allen simply suggests that any study of form can be seen as the all-pervading manifestation of mind痴 intrinsic ability for recognition, before ignorance and confusion arise, free from distinctions between mind and its objects. As poets in the world, as activists, such methods 登f relating to but avoiding political animosity; relating to politics but not getting into the aggression of it are an essential practice. This awareness practice, as a poetics transmission, is a fundamental aspect of the Postbeats.

Heart Sons: Antler, Andy Clausen, and David Cope

Postbeat poets Ginsberg championed for over two decades were Antler (aka Brad Burdick), Andy Clausen, and David Cope.12 Ginsberg saw Antler as a bearer of openly gay Whitmanic tradition. Allen saw Andy Clausen as a continuation of rapid-fire hypocrisy-exploding poetics straight from Neal Cassady and Gregory Corso. Dave Cope was seen as carrier of the Williams/Reznikoff objectivist nexus. Ginsberg invited each of these three poets to Naropa, and later, to Brooklyn College to perform and teach. Although these three heart sons did not achieve the level of fame as their mentor, their extensive works, correspondence, and interactions, revealed in the Allen Ginsberg Papers, gave credence to their individual engagement in the entire concentrated force of Postbeat intention and aspiration.

Antler is discussed in Ginsberg's "Notes on Stanford Literary Acquisition of My Archives" for "manuscripts of rare but unrecognized poets.13 Returning to Prague in 1990 for the twenty-fifth anniversary of his election as May King末an event during which Allen was incarcerated, kept incommunicado and deported, and which V當lav Havel, former President of the Czech Republic, said brought about the overthrow of Czechoslovakian Communism known as The Velvet Revolution through means of cultural, not military, revolution末Ginsberg read with Andy Clausen.14 While in China for two and a half months during the mid 1980s, Allen taught poems by David Cope alongside works by Kerouac, Corso, Snyder, and Philip Whalen to Chinese students.15

Ginsberg Appreciation for Postbeat Poets: A Few Blurbs

"Blurbs" or written endorsements, introductions, forwards or back-cover appreciations are standard fair regarding book publications. Allen supported a number of Postbeat poets with statements of support that appeared in context to specific published works of art. He was not interested so much in individual accomplishment in poetry as much as he was the tradition embodied by the poetry itself. Of his esteemed Kerouac School co-founder, Anne Waldman, Ginsberg wrote:

Anne Waldman is a poet orator, her body is an instrument for vocalization, her voice a trembling flame rising out of a strong body, her texts the accurate energetic fine notations of words with spoken music latent in mindful arrangement on the page. She is a power, an executive of vast poetry projects and mind schools in America, a rhythmic pioneer on the road of loud sound that came from Homer Sappho and leads to future epic space mouth, she's a cultivated Buddhist meditator, an international subtle Tantrika, an activist of tender brain vibrations.16

In the Foreword to David Cope痴 first book of poems, Quiet Lives, Allen wrote:

I have been much absorbed in David Cope's poetry as necessary continuation of tradition of lucid grounded sane objectivism in poetry following the visually solid practice of Charles Reznikoff & William Carlos Williams. Though the notions of "objectivism" were common for many decades among U.S. poets, there is not a great body of direct-sighted "close to the nose" examples of poems that hit a certain ideal objectivist mark末哲o ideas but in things consisting of "minute particulars" in which "the natural object is always the adequate symbol," works of language wherein "the mind is clamped down on objects," and where these "Things are symbols of themselves." The poets I named above specialized in this refined experiment, and Pound touched on the subject as did Zukofsky and Bunting, and lesser but interesting figures such as Marsden Hartley in his little known poetry, and more romantic writers such as D. H. Lawrence. In this area of phanopoeiac "focus," the sketching of particulars by which a motif is recognizably significant, David Cope has made, by the beginning of his third decade, the largest body of such work that I know of among poets of his own generation.

Ginsberg went on to add:

Cope's out there in the provinces writing about America where it is He creates tiny movie pictures in your mind the only younger poet I know who has that rare special geniusso simple, it's deceptive. There's no romantic fireworks. It's just straight reality.17

For Antler's Factory, Ginsberg wrote the following in-depth statement in the form of a letter to the book痴 author:

Factory inspired me to laughter near tears, I think it's the most enlightening & magnanimous American poem I've seen since 滴owl of my own generation, and I haven't been as thrilled by any single giant work by anyone of 60's & 70's decades as I was by your continuing inventions and visionary transparency. [...] Nakedness honesty beautified by your self-confidence & self-regard & healthy exuberance, that exuberance a sign of genius, Bodhisattva wit ... seems you have developed your sincerity & natural truth & come through to eternal poetic ground, unquestionable & clear. [...] More fineness than I thought probable to see again in my lifetime from younger solitary unknown self-inspirer U.S. poet末I guess it's so beautiful to see because it appears inevitable as death, that breakthrough of beauty you've allowed yrself & me.18

For an Introduction to Andy Clausen's Without Doubt, Ginsberg wrote on March 4, 1991:

Andy Clausen's character voice is heroic, a vox populi of the democratic unconscious, a "divine average" thinking workman persona. As "one of the rough," a Whitmanic laborer, precisely a union hodcarrier longstanding, his bardic populism's grounded on long years painful sturdy experience earning family bread by the sweat of his brow. His comments on the enthusiastic sixties, defensive seventies, unjust eighties, and bullying nineties present a genuine authority in American not voiced much in little magazine print, less in newspapers of record, never in political theatrics through Oval Office airwaves. The expensive bullshit of Government TV poetics suffers diminution of credibility placed side by side with Mr. Clausen's direct information and sad raw insight. Would he were, I壇 take my chance on a President Clausen!

As Clausen's experience of American Hope & Greed's authentic, so swift language is the second marvel of his verse. Some kind of native exuberance, an inventiveness of word-play juxtaposition and concept construction's always struck me (and poet familiars Gregory Corso and Philip Whalen, Sensei) as hitting the telepathic nail on the head. [...]

A third speciality of his poetry is the run-on extended breath mental word riff (got from Kerouac, Cassady & minstrel Dylan, the 田hains of flashing images). [...]

A fourth charm & highlight ... is the self contained anecdotal vignette. [...] When he gets going in improvisation, the frank friendly extravagance of his metaphor & word-connection gives Andy Clausen痴 poetry a reading interest rare in poetry of any generation.

Hardly a primitive, though; he壇 inherited some of Neal Cassady's optimistic energy through direct contact, had spent years in literary streets and coffeehouses, Bay Area, Austin, Northwest, and New York atmospheres; hosted and intermingled with many elder poets; taught at Naropa Institute's Poetics School during long residence in Boulder with family末even more recently's gone around the world, expanded the horizon of his work through Alaskan oilspill labors, Himalayan mantrayan contacts, and mitteleuropean post-cold-war sophistications to include audience with Czech President-Philosopher Havel before returning to the union bricks and coffeehouses of the Bay Area.

His forebears? Walt Whitman, Jack London and Jack Kerouac of course, but also Gregory Corso's tailored high style word paradox; also Mayakovsky's epic and Velimir Khlebnikov's big sound Zaum, and American worksong. Oddly enough this Americanist archetype is also solid Belgium born, and that nativity flavors the genius of his tongue.

His poems enjoyable energies flash wise. [...]19

Ginsberg Appreciation for Postbeats: from an interview

As with blurbs, another way Ginsberg offered appreciation for younger poets was in interviews. Interviews, of which he gave many, were a snapshot of what he was thinking at any given moment. In 1996, with less than a year to live, Gloria G. Brame asked Ginsberg, "Which younger poets do you believe are doing the most promising work? Are there any with whom you feel a strong literary kinship?" Ginsberg responded:

There are quite a few whom I like and with whom I feel a great deal of empathy. All of these poets at one time or another passed through Naropa. Since I'm 69 now, I'll list them, ranging in descending order of age. First Antler, who is in his 40s. He has published Factory (City Lights) and Last Words (Available Press/Ballantine). Antler lives in Milwaukee. His specialty is ecology and nature, and he goes up into the Wisconsin woods alone for weeks at a time. There's a working man poet named Andy Clausen who has a couple of pamphlets from Zeitgeist Press (Berkeley). He met Neal Cassidy before he died and has some of his energy. Clausen's a Kerouac fan and has that same love of language. I've read with him a number of times There's a poet called Eliot Katz who lives in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He is a social worker and also has a lot of experience with the disempowerment of the working class. His family comes from Germany and most of them were wiped out in the concentration camps Sapphire, a young student of mine at Brooklyn College She's a black lesbian. Paul Beatty is another former student of mine: he is a rapper with a literary, be-bop sound. He was a winner of the Nuyorican Poetry slam and got a book out of it. And, finally, Anne Waldman, Ed Sanders, Eileen Myles are more established poets with whom I feel an affinity.20

Postbeat Literary Sources

An introduction to Postbeat poetry as selected by Allen Ginsberg can be found in various literary sources. See City Lights Journal (4) and New Directions Anthology (37), both published with Ginsberg "choices" in 1978, as well as the "Obscure Genius" issue of FRICTION (5/6) he guest-edited in 1984.21 During the last eighteen months of his life, Ginsberg was collecting materials for an anthology of contemporary multicultural political poetry. This collection, which included many Postbeat poets, was completed by co-editors Andy Clausen and Eliot Katz after Ginsberg's death and published as Poems for the Nation (Seven Stories Press, 2000), with an introduction co-written by Katz, and Bob Rosenthal of the Allen Ginsberg Trust. Mainstay journals containing Postbeats include Long Shot,22 Big Scream,23 Napalm Health Spa,24 and Big Bridge25 to name only a few. In 1988, David Cope edited an anthology of Postbeat poets entitled Nada Poems (Nada Press). For a chronology of Postbeat Poets and their major works, see 鄭 Postbeat Chronology: 1962-2010.26

The most extensive late twentieth century collection of Postbeat poets was The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry末a vast compendium of countercultural poets末edited by Alan Kaufman and S.A. Griffin and published by Thunder Mouth Press in 1999. Wildflowers: A Woodstock Mountain Poetry Anthology, a multi-volume collection edited by Shiv Mirabito and published by his Shivastan Publishing press, was another excellent source of Postbeat poetry. The first twenty-first century anthology compiling Postbeats was Poems From Penny Lane (farfalla press/McMillan & Parrish, 2003). Edited by Gary Parrish, Jr. and LeAnn Bifoss, the Poems From Penny Lane anthology was a result of the longest running community-based poetry series in the United States, the "So, You池e A Poet!" reading series in Boulder, Colorado, coordinated by Master of Ceremonies, Thomas R. Peters, Jr., author of 100 missed train stations (farfalla press, 2002).

In 2006, the Paterson Literary Review (35), edited by Maria Mazziotti Gillan, featured Postbeat poets Antler, Andy Clausen, Jim Cohn, David Cope, Eliot Katz, Marc Olmsted, Jeff Poniewaz, and others in an issue dedicated to Allen Ginsberg. Postbeat literary scholarship was also undertaken by poet, musician, and scholar Vernon Frazer末see his "Extending The Age Of Spontaneity To A New Era: Post-Beat Poets In America"27 and his Selected Poems of Post-Beat Poets, an anthology published in 2007.28 In 2010, M.L. Liebler edited an extensive demotic anthology, Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out the Jams (Coffee House Press), that contextualized the Postbeats within a diverse collective of nineteenth through twenty-first century working class literature.

Postbeat Archives

The Allen Ginsberg Papers were purchased by Stanford University and are accessible through the Department of Special Collections, Green Library. A "Guide to the Allen Ginsberg Papers" can be viewed online.29 Papers are arranged in nineteen series. Correspondence, manuscripts, audiotape, and video, as well as other items, may be found relating to Postbeat Poets Miguel Algarn, Antler, Andy Clausen, Andrei Codrescu, Jim Cohn, David Cope, Eliot Katz, Hedwig Gorski, Eileen Myles, Marc Olmsted, Thomas R. Peters, Jr., Pedro Pietri, Jeff Poniewaz, Joe Richey, Randy Roark, Edward Sanders, and Anne Waldman, among many others.

The archived papers of poets Anne Waldman and David Cope may be found at the University of Michigan Special Collections Library. These collections contain writings, journals and notebooks, editing and publishing projects, Naropa course materials, personal histories, art, audiovisual recordings as well as vast correspondences between the poets and their respective Postbeat peers. A celebration of the opening of the Anne Waldman Papers was held March 1315, 2002 and is documented on video and transcript.30 Whereas the Waldman collection best represents the Kerouac School and its relation to the Postbeats, the Cope collection provides the best evidence of the Postbeat poets and their writings.

Ed Sanders末a bridge between Charles Olson and the Modernists, Allen Ginsberg and the Beats, New York School, and the Kerouac School末is another key figure in the Postbeat period. For a better understanding of the context of Postbeat writing as it evolved through the 1960s and Vietnam War protests, the Ed Sanders Papers are housed at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, Storrs, CT. Collection materials reflect Sanders' literary and publishing work, affinities, political organizing activities, and interests, including his pacifism, opposition to nuclear weapons, and advocacy for sexual freedom, legalization of marijuana, and freedom of expression.31

For an understanding of the Naropa/Boulder nexus, 1980s-1996, the Richard Wilmarth Papers are housed at University of Rhode Island, University Libraries, Special Collections, and feature correspondence with many Postbeat poets.32 A growing catalog of Postbeat poets and their works and scholarship about them can also be found at the Museum of American Poetics website.

8 January 2008, Revised 2 September - 21 December 2010.

Notes

1. Waldman, Anne. "The Outrider Legacy." Vow to Poetry. Coffee House Press, 2001. 166.

2. Ginsberg, Allen. Deliberate Prose. Bill Morgan, ed. HarperCollins, 2000. 272-274.

3. Waldman, Anne. "The Outrider Legacy." Vow to Poetry. Coffee House Press, 2001. 166.

4. Waldman, Anne. "The Outrider Legacy." Vow to Poetry. Coffee House Press, 2001. 160.

5. Allen Ginsberg described Bob Dylan (1941-), as a "Poetus Magnuslong unobstructed ecstatic breathgenius of ethic metaphor. A literary heir of early -century black lyric minstrels, white Bardic rebels of the 1950s." In The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. Alan Kaufman & S.A. Griffin, eds. Thunder's Mouth Press, 146.

6. See http://www.archive.org/details/naropa.

7. Ostriker, Alicia. 釘lake, Ginsberg, Madness, and the Prophet as Shaman. In William Blake and the Moderns. Robert J. Bertholf, Annette S. Levitt, eds. State University of New York Press. 1983. 111-114.

8. Ginsberg, Allen. Interview with Josef Jarab. New York City. 5/17-18/1989. In Allen Ginsberg: Spontaneous Mind. David Carter, ed. Perennial/HarperCollins, 2001. 512.

9. Ginsberg, Allen. Interview with Josef Jarab. New York City. 5/17-18/1989. In Allen Ginsberg: Spontaneous Mind. David Carter, ed. Perennial/HarperCollins, 2001. 515.

10. Cohn, Jim. Interview by Randy Roark. March 2009. Originally published in Napalm Health Spa: Report 2010. See https://www.poetspath.com/napalm/nhs10/index.html.

11. Ginsberg, Allen. Interview by Steve Silberman. 哲o More Bagels: An Interview with Allen Ginsberg. In Whole Earth Review. September 1987. See http://www.stevesilberman.com/ginsberg /wer/index.html.

12. Ginsberg, Allen. Interview by Josef Jarab. In Allen Ginsberg: Spontaneous Mind. David Carter, ed. Perennial/HarperCollins, 2001. 501.

13. Ginsberg, Allen. Deliberate Prose: Selected Essays: 1952-1995. Bill Morgan, ed. HarperCollins, 2000. 214.

14. Ginsberg, Allen. Interview with Clint Frakes. In Allen Ginsberg: Spontaneous Mind. David Carter, ed. HarperCollins, 2001. 532.

15. Ginsberg, Allen. Interview with Josef Jarab. In Allen Ginsberg: Spontaneous Mind. David Carter, ed. Perennial/HarperCollins, 2001. 510-511.

16. Ginsberg, Allen. Book endorsement for Anne Waldman痴 Makeup on Empty Space. Toothpaste Press, 1984.

17. Ginsberg, Allen. Book endorsement for David Cope痴 Quiet Lives. Humana Press, 1983.

18. Ginsberg, Allen. Book endorsement for Antler痴 Factory. City Lights, 1980.

19. Ginsberg, Allen. Book endorsement for Andy Clausen痴 Without Doubt. Zeitgeist Press, 1991.

20. Brame, Gloria G. 鄭llen Ginsberg Interview. Originally appeared in ELF: Eclectic Literary Forum. 1996. Accessed at http://gloria-brame.com/glory/ginsberg.htm.

21. See http://www.randyroark.com/friction.htm. Cover photo by Sharon Guynap, includes the poets Antler, Jeff Poniewaz, Andy Clausen, David Cope and Allen Ginsberg, among others, and was taken in Allen Ginsberg's kitchen, New York, early 1980s.

22. Long Shot (Long Shot Productions), was established in 1982 by editors/poets Danny Shot and Eliot Katz. See http://www.longshot.org/.

23. Big Scream, founded and edited by David Cope (Nada Press), has been in continuous publication since 1974. Available in print version only. For a selection of Big Scream and Nada Press cover art, see exhibit of 哲ada Press/Big Scream Selected Covers at http://www.poetspath.com/Dave_Cope/

24. Napalm Health Spa, founded and edited by Jim Cohn. Annual publication began in 1990. Current online issue and online archive from 1998 found at http://www.poetspath.com.

25. Big Bridge Magazine, founded and edited by Michael Rothenberg. Current online issue and archive found at http://www.bigbridge.org.

26. Cohn, Jim. 鄭 Postbeat Chronology: 1962-2010. See https://www.poetspath.com/Scholarship_Project/Postbeat Poets Chronology of Major Works.htm.

27. Frazier, Vernon. 摘xtending The Age Of Spontaneity To A New Era: Post-Beat Poets In America. See http://www.poetspath.com/Scholarship_Project/frazer.html.

28. Frazier, Vernon, ed. Selected Poems of Post-Beat Poets. In Big Bridge 14. 2009. http://www.bigbridge.org/BB14/toc.htm.

29. Ginsberg, Allen. Guide to the Allen Ginsberg Papers. Stanford University, Department of Special Collections. http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf5c6004hb/.

30. To access the guide to the Anne Waldman Papers, see http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/f/findaid/findaid-idx?c=sclead&idno=umich-scl-waldman. To access the guide to the David Cope Papers, see http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/f/findaid/findaid-idx?c=sclead&idno=umich-scl-cope. For online video of the Anne Waldman Celebration, see the Museum of American Poetics, "American poet Greats" exhibit: http://www.poetspath.com/apg/apgls02_03.html. For transcript of talks at the Anne Waldman Celebration, see Jacket 27, April 2005. http://jacketmagazine.com/27/ index.shtml.

31. Ed Sanders Papers. Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. See http://www.lib.uconn.edu/online/research/speclib/ASC/findaids/sanders/MSS19780002.html.

32. Richard Wilmarth (1949-2003) attended the Naropa Institute, where he worked with Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman. Publisher of Dead Metaphor Press, he received an M.F.A. in Writing and Poetics in 1994 and was an active member of the Boulder poetics community. To view Richard Wilmarth Papers, see http://www.uri.edu/library/special_collections/registers/manuscripts/wilmarth/seriesIV.html for a guide to the Wilmarth papers.


[Jim Cohn. "Postbeat Poets." Originally published at Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. January 8, 2008. This revised version published in Sutras & Bardos: Essays and Interviews on Allen Ginsberg, The Kerouac School, Anne Waldman, Postbeat Poets and The New Demotics. Museum of American Poetics Publications, 2011.]