Allen As A Teacher––Notes for Boulder Theater Premiere of Howl


As Eliot Katz pointed out in a rejected op-ed response letter to The New York Times Review of Books––Allen Ginsberg was not interested in free speech and individual freedom and uninterested in organized politics or improving government. Not many students have teachers who write speeches like “No Taxation Without Representation,” delivered by Ed Sanders & Tuli Kupferberg at Pentagon Exorcism, October 21, 1967. Allen taught by his own example. At volatile Democratic National Convention, August 1968, he chanted “Om” for seven hours. July 1978, middle of Kerouac School Summer Writing Program––with Peter Orlovsky, Daniel Ellsberg & others––he protested nuclear proliferation, performing nonviolent sitting meditation on railroad tracks blocking trains bearing plutonium and fissile materials to Rocky Flats nuclear facility. Arrested twice that summer, he found time to write “Plutonian Ode.” In 1992, production at Rocky Flats was discontinued. What teacher shuts down nuclear trigger factory? He was the kind of person you remember forever, his impact incalculable. I do not recall any adult except him telling me, “There are liars and creeps and bunglers on both sides, so the only thing you can do is not get tangled in everybody’s rationalizations, including your own.”



12 October 2010



[Published in The Groundless Ground: Poems 2010-2014.

© 2014 by Jim Cohn.]




The Groundless Ground: Poems 2010-2014
(MAP Publications, 2014)