H e a r t   S o n s   &   H e a r t   D a u g h t e r s   of   A l l e n   G i n s b e r g

N a p a l m   H e a l t h   S p a :   R e p o r t   2 0 1 4 :   A r c h i v e s   E d i t i o n






Letters to David Cope (1976-1990)


[2011 Note:  this typescript transcribed by my daughter Jane Cope from printout of letters—the file they’re from long lost.  Jane asked where my letters to Allen might be; I responded, "likely in Allen’s archive at Stanford—I was young and didn’t have sense to preserve my correspondence in those pre-computerized days." The original letters and postcards from Allen are archived in the David Cope Papers at the University of Michigan Special Collections Library: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/f/findaid/findaid-idx?c=sclead&idno=umich-scl-cope. DC]



March 18, 1976


Dear David Cope: I enjoyed The Stars you sent: clear observation, humble or straight-forward attitude toward ordinary reality, spaciousness of view from asphalt under yr feet up to the sky turning blue & good humored appreciation of your own sanity. "Staring blankly … empty city" …Baseball, "old woman highway home coffee," "fisherman jerks…white belly" …Crash "hands in pockets" … Lavender sky, Three Fields tractor deer tracks [illegible] Dreaming on you —in fact just about every poem had real neat solid realistic "ordinary-mind-romantic-realistic lines …"these things are enough this morn." Yes. You're so smart! and right! Some remind me of my own Empty Mirror. Send me a dozen copies, bill me, & I'll send yr Stars to other poets like Snyder & Whalen. Thank you—Allen Ginsberg.


[side bar] I don't often receive poem books readable as yours.




Paterson NJ

April 13, 76p


[Letter responding to my request that my chapbook be sent to Charles Reznikoff:]


Ah David Cope


            Alas Reznikoff died about 2 months ago—82 years old. I'd supped with him in Lincoln Towers middleaged apartments Westside Manhattan ago—[illegible]—winter nite stars over the city + cars passing by West Side [illegible] streets 12 floors below.

            I read your poems—parts—side by side w/ Reznikoff's texts as sample of clear eyed method—Black Sparrow has vol. I Complete Rez work now out.


            Look me up if our paths ever cross—

                                                                                    Allen Ginsberg


            Thanks for the books. I'll send them to Ferlinghetti, Creeley, Rakosi, Laughlin + Bunting etc.  & Dylan. Enclosed $12 for token costs.


[Sidebar] PS. Please send me any later publications—It was such a pleasure to look thru yr clear skull in Stars.  




[left sidebar] August 28, 1976


David: I re-read The Stars & still am tickled by your simplicity + precision—Big Scream [,] Rain, Ferry's [illegible], The Ball Game, Waking Together 1 of 3, + The Wind esp. #3 sustain your clear mind's [illegible].

            I know some other young poets whose imagistic realism you might like—are you looking for matter for Big Scream [Cope's magazine], or interested in checking out other folks' stirrings?

            The rest of the work in Scream was also readable. How old are you what do you do for money? [illegible] new booklets? I sent yr Stars to James Laughlin, 333 6th Ave N. Y. who appreciated it—as well as to Rakosi + a few others. Send me more copies of The Stars, if you have them.

Love, Allen Ginsberg




October 8, 1967 [1976]


Dear David Cope:

            Thanks for the clear poem + letters. Back from Berlin + Paris, I brought The Stars & read half of it to Gregory Corso, who asked me to send him a copy, which am doing, of the 5 new ones you sent me. It's a good book; I sent one to Oppen also who read + liked it. I didn't mean to plunge you into Baudelariain Bohemia. It's just that I've seen clear + lovely work by about 10 poets in recent years, a surprising harvest, some kinda wave of new clarity + charm + energy—from diverse [illegible] such as yrself. Thanks for mind photos. ––Allen Ginsberg.


[right sidebar] I meditate on this empty sky-colored image of Buddha.




Dec. 10, 1976


Dear David Cope:

            Please send along w./ enclosed note copies of Big Scream #3 + your Stars to poet/editor Harvey Shapiro at N.Y. Times. The note's self-explanatory. That's one way of getting money.

            Touring + reading is a lot of work and I can't explain in letter how to do it—requires activity publishing, or accident, etc.

            Try to send work to Lewis McAdams S.F. State College Poetry Center, S.F. Calif, and to Ann Waldman at Naropa Institute re St. Mark's in N.Y.C.  But nobody has money for fare that distance.

            If there's any school around Grand Rapids that would be willing to pay me my "standard" fee of $1,500 (or $1000 bargain price) + fare, I'd be glad to give a reading with you + leave you with half the fee.  That should pay for some printing.  I'll probably be out reading / touring this Spring.  (I'd have to check dates with my agent Charles Rothschild 330 E. 48 St  N.Y.C. 10017 212- PL 287533).  Our manila enveloped letters crossed in the mail. Have you applied for Government Grants? Or [illegible] National Endowment? C.C.L.M etc? You can get information also from Poets + Writers, 201 W54th St. N.Y. 212-PL-71766 "Directory of Amer Poets" gives schools that have readings.

            At this point I can't exactly tell you "how to" though I'd be glad to read with you if you can arrange any readings using me as bait.




                                                                                    Allen G


            If you could xerox a complete mss. of a book of poems by you all prepared, I'd be willing to show it to whatever publishers I run across. I'm too overloaded with work to be efficient but by accident something might come of it.

            Re Creeley

                                    400 Fargo
                                    Buffalo N.Y. 14213



            Anyone you write to, you're welcome to use my name to say I encouraged you to write, or suggested, etc.




Jan 3, 76*


Dear David Cope:


            Received your booklet Go today & read it, some firmness I've always liked in most poems and many many lines throughout the pages—as I keep saying it's always a pleasure to read your words because you're always (almost) saying some thing clear about something clearly seen.  I keep thinking there must be something I can or shd do to circulate your work or try to help you get a book published.  Harder to arrange readings for $ without a book to circulate.  I forgot, but I think I wrote you about this; I will try to get St. Mark's Church Poetry Project to sponsor a reading and will work on what I can via Naropa Institute next summer.

            "frozen wind rips at our ears"  rips is terrific.

            "Where there's sorrow let me be there" poem Reznikoff [written for memory of

            C.R.] is sharp & clear and heartfelt. Labor Day funeral cortege "the women

            covering their faces" is visible. The poem maybe the most consistently

            transparent, clear. "Just another face among so many" —OK even sorta coincident

            w/ Buddhist view. 60's war recollections are fine! Did you try the NY Times???

            "faces chew rolls…racing thru heavy traffic…Big dipper above trees" are definite

                         Birth's a well told story.

                        The Farm's solid—reminds me of my own Eclogue.
                        The Field has concentrations as in a single moment of old Haiku. Terrific

            swiftness like yr near simultaneous sun burst & shotgun blast. I really do

            appreciate your alertness & precision…I mean yr alertness & precision is

            appreciable by others, you make yr perceptions so evident.

                        TV's snowstorm's accurate decade summary again.

                                    from "hospital corridors" to velvet lavenders of paradise (like your

            "telephone poles silhouetted against lavender sky") to bleak Orion straddling sky,

            that last poem is an interesting attempt to make a complete cycle of "ordinary

            mind" vasty vision—real interesting condensation. —Thanks—



[Sidebar:] Did I send your recent pamphlet old letters to Eberhart? If not I'll send one. A.G.


*Cope notes: probably misdated. Subject matter indicates this letter was written in Jan 1977, as is the case with the letter following.




Jan 14, 76*


Dear David Cope:


            Thanks for new Big Scream—always interested to see yr progress report on the history of your space & your head In it—I think a lot of people are wondering how they "put the violence behind me." Calm wakening all thru this set of poems, curiosity about the tangled nets everyone is in—& lots of [illegible] details! (faces, [illegible] and all [illegible]).

            Oddly possible as you know, but also Peace + the others would seem [appropriate] on the op ed pages, if anyone had energy [illegible] & push yr texts there. I keep feeling I ought to try, = then [illegible] no it's (yr work) too delicious exactly as it is calm by itself (and anyway I'm a vicious busybody).

            All David Montgomery's short prose pieces were solid and full of real detail, I liked them,

            I'm enclosing a book from a friend I haven't seen in years, but like his book—different style than yours but very live and generous—Andy Clausen.




                                                            Allen Ginsberg

P.S. Please keep sending me what you print [address follows]


[*Again, the probable date for this letter is 1977—as per its contents. DC]




American Airlines

In Flight…        Jan 25, 77

Altitude…        over U.S.A.


Dear David:

            Flying for half week Buddhist meditation $ benefit UCLA and a niteclub act at Café Troubadour 2 nites w/ musicians singing Blake + Blues & reading new poems.

            I just spent 2 weeks in Baltimore woodshedding with 18 year old poet friend both of us reading 6-10 hours a day from beginning to end the Complete Poetry & Prose of William Blake, I'm up to the last mature porphyry-voiced pages of Jerusalem and it's led my mind thru inspired changes. Blake's system is not hard to understand if you read his work from beginning to end, and as it got clearer it seemed a sublime investigation + his Ambition + creation greater than any other literary poet—Jerusalem's pure gold mind & poesy & voice. Erdman's big paperback complete illustrated illuminated books in black + white, + Bloom's notes at back of Erdman—Bloom Complete text + Keynes' paperback oxford complete works in chronological order (tho over-punctuated) + S. Foster Damon's paperback Blake Dictionary are the 4 books you need to penetrate the whole panorama + locate all the characters + their symbolic function. It all boils down to 4 Principles (Zoas) [:] Reason (Urizen) Imagination (Urthona + Los) Body (Tharmas) and Emotions (Luvah) trying to dominate each other, going out of synch, thus becoming "spectres" of themselves by getting cut off from their "Emanations" or projections of feminine sympathy. So all the prophetic books are Blake's vision of them in Combat, using personal + contemporary history for scenes & exaggerating the themes in cosmic-large humor, and describing all the disrelations + their psychological consequences + historical unfoldings till the prophesied whole man "Albion" be reunited with his emanation "Jerusalem" + all four, Reason, Imagination, Emotion, + Body cooperate democratically. That's the basic theme, worked out in delicate detail—

            "Labor well the minute particulars, attend to the
                                                            Little Ones:

            And those who are in misery cannot remain so long

            If we do but our duty: labor well the teeming Earth" -

                                                                        Jerusalem plate 55 1. 51-53

Reading all that inspired me to write 25 page long line blakean poem with 2 characters [,] old letcherous bard + young chaste messenger in Poetic-erotic contest, a sort of autobiographical play-out of my own projections in symbolic form, fertile way, I never did that before—or not since 1950.

            I read aloud most of Paradise Lost (first time I read it thru) late last year also—that helped get a fix on Blake, both his sound and his revision of Biblic-Miltonic symbolism. I think I'll go on this year + read all Shelley chronologically, & Fairy Queen of Spencer, & Byron & Wordsworth's Prelude + Excursion, etc. things I put off impatient but now I'm fifty and those works are fascinating to me for the first time.  Epic poetry's not impossible to create now.  Also in Baltimore read Shakespeare's Sonnets thru (relating to my own love themes) & Poe's poetry while visiting his grave & tiny brick house—great rhythm + really interesting aesthetic of Beauty, some actual Eidolon not to be despised, tho obsessive.

            All last year I read + taught Williams, Reznikoff, & associated naturalist-imagists Marsden Hartley's poems (Dig those! rare book, Holt 1945 (?)); Lawrence's poems, Keroauc poems; some Rakosi; Blythe's 4 vols. Haiku—and for Naropa classes taught + sang Elizabethan ballads + Campion + Nash’s lyrics out of various standard anthologies —and lots of Wordsworth + Shelley standard pieces with my dying father—who said of W.W.'s Immortality's "…we come from God who is our home" "that's beautiful, but it's not true." I also read him Bryant's Thanatopsis which he'd always taught in high school-a little motheaten but not bad mood. This kid poet friend is an imperious maniac reader who keeps pushing me to read poesy + stop being a poetry businessman. So we went off together to read Blake==& every few days in Johns Hopkins library consulted the Trianon Press facsimile editions of Blake's colored plates of each book—all available now in libraries. If you've never seen his Jerusalem in printed facsimile you've got a sublime brilliant surprise for your eyeballs to eat. Odd you asked me what I've been reading of late because I've been really immersed in prophetic readings, just came home yesterday, + flying off today with Collected Blake to finish over L.A. on jetplane before I land.

            Yes keep sending me poems, they always are a satisfaction to read + sustain my pleasure at knowing your mind + eyes + presence. If I'm slow at answering don't mind I get into busy jags—now isolate on plane there's some time.

            I'll be in Naropa Boulder June 1 to Aug 23—there is plenty room in my apartment you can stay at all you like, use my room. Peter Orlovsky will be at Naropa probably, so the house will be almost empty––his girlfriend Denise Felin [check name] will be there in and out—address is 437 E 12 st. Apt. 23, no bell downstairs, yell up at front window or phone from around the corner 212-777-6786.

            Larry Fagin + others Rochelle Kraut [inserted after others] who work at St. Marks live in the same building. I think they are trying to arrange some reading for you at St. Marks—Larry has your books—maybe I'll be able to find out more when I return early January. In any case you have a place to stay + eat here. The apt. is between Ave. A + First Ave, 3 block from St. Marks Church—where I'll read with Robert Lowell Jan 23. Or pass by Naropa Boulder in Summer. I once read a lot of Baudelaire + my Angel kid has read every translation-apparently, If you don't know french (I do) you have to read all the translations to get a good idea. Penguin might have a prose tr.   Duncan's Opening of the Field turned me on, as a leaved book, esp his line of Pindar poem referring to Whitman. I'll be reading with Duncan April 7 in Colorado, after 2 weeks teaching at Naropa Boulder. I love Clausen's phrasings—


                        "I had just come back

                        from the enemy must be killed" etc.


And some of his extravagant-realistic conceptions like "the derelict women poets are coming," it's a great humor often really intelligent + surprisingly individual, original self-mind. The poem about "The Star" is great, as story + phrasing—quite serious + sad, I've cried over its truthfulness, reading it to sneering dumb untruthful students sometimes. Clausen's "dumb" but he's a dumb genius in a way, with godly insights—his compassion's real—"are they death's children?"—the bums he means. His domestic idealism is unusual and delightful.

            Any answer from Harvey Shapiro N.Y. Times? New Rose equally good as others in Go book [Cope's chapbook after Stars]—you ask for criticism, The first section's o.k. but not as true in detail as marvelous dreamed stream—because the generalizations aren't nailed down enuf—"prophesies of doom" [illegible] no more gas or protein crisis or greenhouse effect smog maybe—some specific doom—"robot politicians" isn't gleaming enough lacking more grisly specificity—"attend to the little ones." From a thousand Turks buried alive thru Israel it gets better into more accurate therefore funny-serious focus. So 4 lines—"prophesies of doom" "angry governors etc" "population doubles, etc" and "wars + rumors etc" could be enlivened as the [illegible] + cows are more live. For the rest it's almost totally delicate. "Production number" that one lives is a little weaker than the rest of that section which ends solid + specific in its lines.  OK.  See you sooner or later—Best wishes—Allen (Ginsberg).




[Xerox of June 7, 1977 letter to Allen from James Laughlin, granting permission that poems about Allen's father appear first in Ferlinghetti's book and saying he hasn't yet located Cope's pamphlet, also glad that "Gregory will be there under your wing." Handwritten message for Cope is at end: "Xerox for" … etc.]


New Directions Publishing Corporation
333 Sixth Avenue
New York City  10014

AL 5-0230  CableNewbooks
June 7, 1977


Mr. Allen Ginsberg
c/o Naropa Institute
1111 Pearl Street

Boulder, Colorado  80302


Dear Allen:

            Many thanks for your letter written from City Lights not long ago.

            I don't mind if the sequence of poems about your father appears in Ferlinghetti's book before our annual. It would be of significance to me to use those poems about your father because I liked him so much.

            I wonder if I ever received the pamphlet from David Cope. The poetry books are all pretty well alphabetized, and it doesn't turn up where it should, if I had it.

[sidebar, in Allen's hand:] Tell Cope to send pamphlets.

            Fred [inserted, in Allen's hand: MARTIN] has been collecting your various sendings to him, but I haven't seen them yet, and I doubt if we can get anything more into "ND36," as my last page count was right up to the top of the barrel.  But there is always another one following on half a year later.

            I didn't know that Shig had left City Lights. The place can't be the same without him.

            I hope Naropa will have a great summer, and give my best to the poets. I am glad that Gregory will be there under your wing.

            Very best, as ever,

                                                James Laughlin

                                                                        [in AG's hand:] Xerox for David Cope

                                                                                                c/o NADA Press/ B Scream

                                                                                                696 48th ST. S.E.

                                                                                                Grand Rapids, Mich  49508




[Undated] Naropa Inst. 1111 Pearl St. Boulder Colo. 80302


Dear David—

            I left all three yr pamphlets with Ferlinghetti who may or may not appreciate them as I do, and who lacks money for new books, tho he is considering publishing a new City Lites Journal or a book of 3 poets I recommended. But he's unsure.

            James Laughlin compiling poems for New Directions semi-annual anthology, writes (from 333 6th Ave. N.Y.C. 10014) "I wonder if I ever received the pamphlet from David Cope. The poetry books are all pretty well alphabetized, and it doesn't turn up where it should, if I had it." He's forgotten he wrote me a nice note about Stars a year ago—getting' old.  Anyway, please send him all 3 pamphlets anew with note I said to re-supply him. OK  Allen Ginsberg.




Ginsberg + Ferlinghetti  July 11, 77


Dear David—did I send you the enclosed already? Please send them copy of your books. Also send Ferlinghetti who read my copies of all 3 books.  Also can you send copies of Go + later book to Naropa Library (they have Stars) 111 Pearl St. Boulder Colo.  Did Roof write you? Bill me for all this above. In haste

                                                                        Love             Ginsberg







c/o Naropa Institute
1111 Pearl St.

Boulder, Colo. 80302

[Handwritten:] Dictated


Dear David Cope


I got both your pamphlets (i.e. mimeo and typewritten)   I read both will reply more later; no Ferlinghetti is not tired of publishing; just keep him and Fred Martin at New Directions supplied with your work and each time to N.D. remind Martin that Ginsberg requested your work be shown to Laughlin.  What was name of last eight by twelve booklet you sent me before True Love with Mae West Angel cover?  [Handwritten:] I left it w/ Ferlinghetti, + he hasn't returned it yet.






May 27, 78

Dear David—

                        Nice to meet you + family.  —leaving for Naropa June 6—then a month retreat in Calif—back to N.Y. October—If you need be you can reach me in Boulder or via City Lights—Have a weird summer!—






c/o Naropa 1111 Pearl Street Boulder Colo. 80302 A. Ginsberg Feb. 18, 1980


Dear David: To clarify matters a little—since I working remote-control so to speak, thru Jim Cohn who's been industrious—What I'm trying to do is 1.) Assemble all your work I dig most as gems, solid hard  2.) Cut and edit + retype for your consideration a few major or minor poems which seem otherwise flawed but could be reduced to hard elements.  All this as a first stage to preparing a giant (so it seems) mss. from which to choose 48 pps. from the City Lights Books of 3 poets 48 pps. each.  It looks like you have a lot more material than that. I've done first editing, Jim C. does retyping + advice. Antler's withdrawn his mss. but it can't fit on page properly, + Ferlinghetti does not want to go beyond what he, somewhat doubtfully offered—a book of 3 poets. I've asked Robert Meyers if he has a mss. Your own book looks so big + good maybe we should try out Black Sparrow or N.Y. for a big whole book? I don't know. I want to do good but am overwhelmed with high blood pressure this year from being too ambitious in plans + dreams + frustrated in working them out—2 [illegible] words fine.


[right sidebar:] P.S. Feb. 19 I've gone thru half the mss. now, zeroing in on poems or workable parts to think best with work we've done already—OK Allen. I have to digest + integrate yr letter.




c/o Naropa Institute

1111 Pearl Street
Boulder Colorado

80302—March 1, 1980


[Recommendation letter, first paragraph of which became Foreword to Quiet Lives, my first book. DC]


To Whom it May Concern:


            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—"No 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 phanapoeiac "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.

            I have corresponded with him for years and in the last half year have helped edit a selection which City Lights plans to anthologize in a book of three poets (Cope, Andy Clausen & Robert Meyers—each young, unpublished and touched with some original genius in my opinion.) After eliminating dross, there remains a book of 130 pages, of which City Lights can publish only a 40 page selection. I suggested to David Cope that he send his work out more widely for publication, and offered to write a short introductory note for that purpose, which this page serves.


                                                            Sincerely yours,

                                                            Allen Ginsberg




Frankfurt  December 14 [or 17] 1980


Dear David:

            Peter + I + young guitarist been travelling in Europe the last 2 months—Jugoslavia + Hungary, Austria Germany Switzerland Amsterdam + doubling back down the Rhine before flying home tomorrow. Here's Mad King Ludwig's Bavarian New Swan castle.  Communist Bureaucrats a drag, Capitalist violent exploitation a drag, Innocent Anarchism lacks protection (like also John Lennon.)  Where to go? —Hope you're well. Ferlinghetti said before I left he was doubtful he'd have the money to do our book.  What did you think of my choices? I'll be in N.Y. till March [illegible] for readings/travel.

As ever, Allen Ginsberg. 




Dec. 30, 1980


[Stamped from NYC, on Lamar Hotel Stationary, Houston]     


Dear David—

            Back from Hungary + Europe _ Houston. Red Bureaucracy a drag, got yr letter, "Don't mourn one who could give his heart away" is OK. on Lennon.

            Too much paper I'm fatigued, can't write better. Just to say Happy New Year this scribble.

            "Bitter Angry" young poets, I get lotsa that electric, over decades. Lennon took a bit himself.

            I got the New Blood magThe Landlady + Abandoned Hotel perfect.  Lelia I liked, but couldn't figure exactly what "the news" was, she kicked the bucket? Thanksgiving less sharp, tho a unified theme.

                                    No heart for letters.

                                    Regards to Ken Mikolowski.


When I get some strength I'll try to work on publisher for yr book again.  Try Fred Martin New Directions?




Jan 16, 1981


Dear David—

            Why don't you enter this? Send me a xerox a choice of a dozen poems packaged up and I'll send them on to Grace Schulman whom I've seen recently.

            Otherwise it's a sorta dreary poesy center.

                                                As ever


I think Nation might like some of the boat people Vietnam poems. or whatever—

            Did you apply for NEA grant—? Deadline Feb 15. Do it!




June 1981


Dear David––

            Back from months in Europe.  I liked Fresh Blood, Landlady & Abandoned Hotel, & also Lelia, though in the latter, but there's something missing (some clue)—she died? Not sure? Of what? I don't know—something left out?

            Up late (1:40 AM) answering piles of mail.  Antler's book's out.  Ferlinghetti fudged on the book with you + Clausen + Meyers.  How's he responding to your charms now?

            Have you tried Black Sparrow, and Blue Wind Press? And Jeffrey Miller of Cadmus Ed. Box 4725 Santa Barbara, Calif. 93130?

            Happy New Year. I'm exhausted for the moment. Regards to Suzie.     

                                                                                    As ever


                                                                                    Keep it up!

A Quiet Life—Thanks, plenty nice poems there. For Politics—"American Protest" is the sharpest.




December 9, 1981


 [Note: Asked by Time reporter about the future of poetry, Allen responded with names of several younger poets to watch. Time reported my name inaccurately, and Allen wrote the letter below to correct the error; it was not published. DC]


            Allen Ginsberg

            P.O. Box 582

            Stuyvesant Station

            New York, New York 10009



Time & Life Building

Rockefeller Center

New York, New York, 10020

Dear Sirs,


            I was happy to mention several unpublished young poets for your readers' notice in your reportage of my reading of "Howl" (and new poems and songs) at McMillin Theatre (Dec. 7,  '81).  I'm glad to see you name-dropped at least one: David Cope, 2782 Dixie SW., Grandville, Michigan, 49418, editor of "Big Scream"/ Nada Press. However, you referred to him as "David Pope in Grand Rapids."  Some brilliant avant-garde publisher among your readers may find this correction useful and seek out Mr. Cope.  He or she might also print the powerful unpublished poems of Andy Clausen, R.D. 2, Cherry Valley, N.Y. 13320.


                        Allen Ginsberg


You have permission to print this letter without changes. If any changes are useful, please consult me in advance.


C.C.       William A Henry III

                  David Cope




Jan 7, 81  7 AM


Dear David

                                                            Thos Lanigan

                                    Humana Press Inc

                                                Crescent Manor

                                                            POB 2148 Clifton, N.J.


            Up all night answering letters, aching back. Been working a little with Clash, a british rock group, improving lyrics + singing basso, one cut.

            Plutonian Ode's out, Poems 1977-80.

            I don't have Oppen's #—

                        Geo Oppen

                        2811 Polk St. S. F. Cal. 9419


             I love your poetry as ever. Sorry the (your) name got fucked up in Time or was it People mag. I was trying + tried again in present Amer. Book Review to refer publishers to your poems C+ you.)

            Going to Nicaragua for 1 week, late January. Travelling a lot. Clausen is on Committee on Poetry Farm, RD 2 Cherry Valley, N.Y.  Keep sending me your mimeo pamphlets, I read them the day I get them + am always pleased in fact moved delighted knocked out when you hit a solid ball clear visible          out of the park into the what was it trees or darkness outside?
            Have you sent poems ever to Robt Creeley

                                                            Eng Dept

                                                            SUNY AB
                                                            Buffalo, N.Y.?
            Peter'll aprreciate yr word, encouragement.



                        Regards to family + Happy New Year




November 7, 1982


Dear David:
            Enclosed typed note useful re readings.

            Randy Roark at Poetics dept. will contact you for a bloc of poetry for a little scream we're editing here. I'll leave Dec. 3 for NY> Paris etc. Scandinavia.

                                                                                    in haste as usual

                                                                                                Allen Ginsberg




November 1982

Boulder, Co.


Dear David,

            I would like to give readings with you but have no date in the Midwest now, only the East and South. Will be free some weeks in March-April 1983 if you can set up any readings with me near your territory. I'll be glad to give you one third of my fee, as my fee is under $2000—that's a bit of money.

            However, itinerary and fees have to be arranged with my agent Charles Rothschild (3330 E. 48 St., New York City, 10017, 212-752-8753).  He can also supply precis biography and photos a la professional agent. I'll send him a note. Secretary Maxine will handle.


            This is in haste—off to Europe Dec. 3 from N.Y. till February. This note gives you the o.k. to arrange readings for us—    

                                                Love  Allen




Charleville, Dec 21, 82

Dear David—Finally  came to Poetic Holyland, Rimbaud's home town--staying 2 nites in his old apartment—listening to incomprehensible French lectures on Rimbaud + alchemy. How sad his dark old wooden steep stairway, + the toilet in his old flat! —Love  Allen G.




[illegible] June 8, 83


Dear David—I don't have the Follett address, or editor—Anthology sounds good, I'm working with Randy Roark at Naropa on similar Friction (his) magazine project, similar + small.

            Amiri Baraka—808 South 10th St. Newark N.J. 07003. David Henderson might            help—I don't have his address here. After I got copies of Quiet Lives [illegible]—I sent one off to Gordon Ball in [illegible] student—and one is in the Naropa Library.  I'm in [illegible] few days, thence to W. Virginia for reading, thence to Boulder + Rocky Mt. Dharma Center for monthlong retreat—thence July 13-Aug. 15 to work            a week each with Snyder + Creeley—then NY Aug 20-Sept 2—then Naropa thru Fall to Dec—then come back to N.Y. + stay home a year, work on papers—write operas—stare at the moon—


                                                                        Love Allen

P.S. Steve Kowit of San Diego is an interesting poet—don't know his face only a book.

            Gregory Corso here [illegible]




Naropa 2130 Arapahoe Boulder Colo. 80302

10/30/83  1:30 AM


Dear David: Vajadhatu Sun printed only 1/2 my essay. The meatier stuff is in book.  Trungpa wrote long narrative autbiog (w. English lady help) "Born in Tibet" which gives adventures + trek across Himalaya. I eliminated the theoretic stuff in book essay, which bored you (+ me) in Sun version.

            Send Rixon chapbook or anything else you print. I'm working on 6 page Dream Vision of my mother a sort of epilogue to Kaddish 25 years later—White Shroud, this month. But nothing new published.

            Do you have Birdbrain single record? I also made tape of Jessore Road with [illegible] string quarter Jan 2 1983 Amsterdam, Steven Taylor conducting his score, me singing. Now I'm reading + teaching Poe, [illegible] poems, Emily D. + Walt W. —Allen Ginsberg.


[left sidebar:] White Shroud came from reading E. A. Poe complete poesy.




11/16/83 Naropa 2130 Arapahoe Boulder 80302


Dear David:

            Rick McMonagle an interesting poet ex-student was here for tea so I loaned him the new Big Scream + Rixon's fine pamphlet to read + show around. I've been in touch with Rixon before but not read his writing till you sent it. Jessore Road tape I'm still working on but it's not done.

            Oy Govolt! What if they go on to invade Nicaragua! Emerson ode 1846 "Behold the famous states/ Harrowing Mexico/ with rifle and with knife." Now I'm reading through Emily Dickinson. Just back from weekend w/ Kesey _ Tibetan lama in Eugene Oregon + reading with "Gregor Samsa" a rock band at Reed College.  Guillen's work I don't know well. An older man now wasn't helpful to young Cubans pushed around by Socialist bureaucracy—caught in the middle—Do you know the Portugese turn of century extravagant poet Fernando Pessoa?

                                                            —As ever—Allen Ginsberg




April Fools Day 84


Dear David—

            I wish Randy R. had sense to put twice as many of your poems (which I'd pulled out in the huge fields of empty paper where your (+ Bobby Meyers) poems occupied only the top of the page. Well I wasn't on the spot. He worked so hard I haven't heart to complain tho it [illegible] down the anthology unnecessarily.

            You sound happily energetic—I'm frantic with unfinished work w Collected Poems + Collected Existence as well.

                                                Short of ink—Allen Ginsberg




1/18/84 1 AM


[letter inscribed among words of invitation]


Dear David—Enclosed postcard typescript corrected

one line added to explain West Lake (Park)—


I'll send you a copy of my collected poems



from Harper + Row this week—photo show

been a pleasure—yes Creeley Mirrors poems

JANUARY 4-26, 1985


in China at a dozen universities—No new typescripts

tho I wrote lots in China —Happy New Year—

Holly Solomon Gallery



I'll be reading in Detroit (Institute of Arts) c/o Geo Tysh on

Feb 14 + at Flint C.S. Mott College Feb. 15––Love Allen


[next page:  postcard from China transcribed by me; I sent it back to Allen as poem needing his corrections, which he made; poem was later published in Big Scream (either issue #21 or #22—I no longer have, sold out—possibly in U of Michigan files)  It hasn't appeared in Allen's books, but is excellent late example of Allen's use of objectivist focus & a favorite of mine, containing ecological & community health observations, Chinese government thought control bureaucrats, landscape appreciation, older famous man's envy of freer hippies, travelogue & completion of life circle dream of Han-Shan with Gary Snyder. Please note that in mss. you may refer to both #30 and #31—the first [#30] my typewritten transcription with Allen's emendations for poesy publication, the second (#31) the actual script of the postcard.]




November 11, 1984 Sunday afternoon


                        Dear David: hazy in steamer lounge

                        3'd day down Yangtze River, yesterday

                        passed vast mountain gorges and hairpin

                        river-bends, mist sun and cement Factory

                        soft Coal dust everywhere, all China

                        got a big allergic cold. Literary dele-

                        gation homebound after 3 weeks, now I'm

                        travelling separate like I used to--except

                        everywhere omnipresent kindly Chinese

                        Bureaucracy meets me at airports & boats

                        & takes me to tourist hotels & orders meals. I'm

                        trying to figure a way out--envious of 2

                        bearded hippies travelling 4th class in

                        steerage eating Tangerines & bananas--

                        sleepers in passageways on mats, Chinese

                        voyagers playing checkers.  Saw Beijing,

                        Great Wall, tombs & palaces, Suchow's

                        Tang Gardens, Handchow's West Lake walkway

                        dyke to hold the giant water in the years of drought

                        built by governors of Tsu-Tung-Po and Po-Chu-I.

                        Saw Cold Mt. Temple w/ Snyder who'd

                        heard its bell echo across years.

                                    Love Allen Ginsberg




2/4/86  6 AM


[Computer poemscripts enclosed with this letter: Written in My Dream by W.C. Williams, It's All So Brief, No Longer. See next letter—Allen had to withdraw the first of these from Big Scream because Poetry ( Chicago) had accepted the poem on condition that it be unpublished.]


Dear David,

            Here are 3 poems—finished mss. of White Shroud Poems 80-85, —from latter mss. My agent probably sent them elsewhere but no harm if you print them first in tiny big scream.

            Also enclosed 2 poems I received in mail from one Chris Ide an odd kid (20? 18?) been writing me from East Lansing. The writing seems straightforward.

            Back from Nicaragua—Marxist one party state halfway, but cheerful + grim, faced w/ U.S.A. thugs—at least freer + more diverse + pluralist than El Salvador where Deathsquads hit the journalists instead of censors

                                                                                    As ever


Up working all nite trying to answer mail—Ah! ugh! Help!




Feb. 14, 1986


Dear David:

            My agent sent the Williams dream poem to Poetry mag, Chicago, where I've never published a poem + they took it but sent form saying it can't have been published in any form before. So don't print that one in Big Scream, use the other 2 short poems I sent. I did send 3 (incl. WCW yes? I'd phone you for swiftness but lack your phone number. Forgive the self-referential postcard [photo of Allen], I just got a dozen from Mary Beach [photographer]. How you doing? I've finished "White Shroud" poems 1980-85 in which those poems will be put, working on line-by-line & finished w/ Part I [illegible] Annotated Howl.

                        Love as ever Allen

Re Naropa yes I'll do what I can but Anne Waldman's the boss—write to her.





Dear David: of course you can use the photo—I only wish there were one in which we're both standing up straight without a flashbulb (it looks like)—Antler's book is great looking, amazing! —congratulations on yours—Allen




4/7/86  1:30 AM  N.Y.C.


Deard David—

            I did send you 3 poems did you get them? Re yr card 3 March—I've been away so didn't read it till now.

            Yes Steven set several Horace songs, but not recorded them. He's working w/ Sanders (Ed) on Star Peace opera, + with Kenward Elmslie, and me, + others. How's yr book coming. Did you contact Anne for Naropa? Did you see Antler's Last Words (Ballantine?)


Love Allen G.


[right sidebar:] Just read your Feb. 86 letter I've been away—will answer later. —railroad roundhouse / wears a wreath of fog  is classic.




4/18/86 N.Y.C.


Dear David: Yes I'll be in Boulder July 13-17 and if I have a class you can teach it and I'll pay you. I got more fine poems from Chris Ide. Got Antler Ballantine; can't seem to get any help for Clausen, maybe his mss. needs an unmessy editor. —well, soon—Allen


[right sidebar:] Tell Humana to send new book to Amer. Academy c/o Lydia Karin [uncertain; check name]




N.Y.C. 2/4/87


Dear David—On [The] Bridge arrived, not yet time to read thru. Kinnell 432 Hudson St. N.Y. N.Y. 10014.  Sent you 2 books Shroud + Howl. Bklyn College term began yesterday, I'm buried under mountain of paper—mail, photos, mss. untyped, I'll shut up awhile. Yours as ever

                                    Allen Ginsberg


[right sidebar:] Sky spread stars interesting mind-mix




[Joint undated letter from Chris Funkhouser, Chris Ide, and Allen:]


Hi Dave walked to the top o' the cape w/ Steve Silberman last week, now with Chris Ide & Allen in N.Y.C. Lots of fun in recording studio w Fugs & in [illegible] Park & Brooklyn. Will write more soon—Funkster


Hello Dave—will be in N.Y. till Sat., then to E. Lansing, Grand Rapids, will phone—N.Y. is nuts but I'm sober & soakin it up. All ya love—Chris


Boys are ok here; Peter is silent & on the fence, can't tell what'll happen. Chris Ide read thru 1000 pages Antler Boy [illegible] mss. I'm still limping from Boulder fall. No new poems. Saw Dali w/ big bomber joint in dream. —Allen Ginsberg






[Allen's response to my request to re-publish his early essay, "Poetry, Violence and the Trembling Lambs."]


Dear David—I'll see if I can xerox the essay (originally S.F. Chronicle) + send you. Outdated therein last paragraph perhaps. Jackie Gens asked if you could stay in my Varsity apartment a week while you're there I said OK, & OK to have people over. I have other people coming in and out to stay with me other weeks—assuming Peter Orlovsky doesn't come to Naropa in which case he'll need the room all summer + we'll have to make other arrangements. Trungpa died 7:05 this last Saturday.

                                                                        As ever—Allen






[This letter and the next prepping me for my visit to NYC to speak at Brooklyn College in Living Poets Series. When I actually arrived, Allen & I were both exhausted from our respective busy lives—at one point we slept 20 hours straight, walking together every few hours for tea or to talk, then falling asleep again. A high point of the trip was our dinner at Christine's, where we had light meals & big German chocolate cake together as Allen signed autographs for excited children of Danish visitors to U.S.A. who sat across the restaurant & recognized him. DC]


Dear David—The class of 20 or so are undergrads not writing students. You can stay on past 4:30 to join me in 5:30-8:00 workshop but they bring new poems in each week and I improvise.

                        Hope your leg improves.

            I think I sent you reading poster + syllabus by now for lecture class we'll do

            together on living poets.


                        Just back from Israel


Rc'd Big Scream w Peter Hale photo—I think charming—any problems?






Dear David—

            Did you receive syllabus & reading poster? That gives you outline what's being taught + in what sequence—yet teach your own poetry + the poetry that you feel akin to by taste + historical circumstance, especially yr predecessors + friends as indicated. The class folk are often intelligent but not widely read, this is an intro to poetry not a superscholarly one, but at least a live class.  I'm not sure who in class of 20 or so have "Real future scholarly intentions," there might be a few, if you ask, but they may be too young to decide—it's not like the gang of spiritual desperadoes at Naropa.

            Yes that's fine April 16-19. I leave for a week at Naropa Tues the 9th, also. I do like that Big Scream cover too.

            OK thanks—received your pamphlet of poems also—





[Cope's annotation: 4/2/90]


                        Dear David—

                                    Got your new

                        book, thanks, excellent

                                    These poems were in a sheaf handed to me in

                        a theater in L.A.—kind of nice—can return to sender if you

                        don't want the clutter—As ever

                                    Been seeing Czbech [check spelling] "Plastic

                        People" associates here—going to Prague April 25—

                        May 5 with Sasaki Nanao

                                                                        Allen Ginsberg




Notes from David Cope for Barry Miles [1995]


These transcriptions were originally done for Barry Miles, who wanted Allen’s letters to me for a project he was considering at the time. My notes here are explanations of the idiosyncrasies of my notation [2011].


1. Allen has underlined some titles and neglected to do so with others; in some letters, this causes a problem if the reader is not familiar with my work or the work being discussed. Often he would name the title and follow it with a brief quotation from the poem or comment on it. I have put them all in italics—easier to make sense of what he's doing in the letter if one knows some words are parts of titles while others are quoted material from those poems.

2. Explanatory notes, as needed, are placed in brackets either before or after the letter each explains.

3. Some of my xerox copies of letters are barely legible, either because Allen's handwriting is too difficult to decode or the copies themselves are faint; I have deciphered whatever I could, placing "illegible" in brackets where I couldn't make the word or words out. You will have to contact U of M for more legible copies; if you need someone present in Ann Arbor, you might ask if someone at Jewel Heart Center there might do errand.



David Cope regarding Ginsberg Correspondence: I wrote the following note in 1995 to explain why the correspondence slackened after 1990. 


After 1990, my correspondence with Allen, now more rare—the lessons learned & my turn to pass them on having come, both of us too busy—has been on the telephone; I continue to receive mss. by younger & promising poets from him on occasion. We meet at his readings or workings together at Naropa—sitting quietly together for an hour, as after his landmark reading of "Kaddish" at Ann Arbor Feb. 95, or dinner with Allen & Steve Silberman in Boulder cafe, Summer 94. No longer any need on my part to voice enthusiasms & excitements or query for connections, nor on Allen's part to promote my work & drive himself crazy doing it: now the pleasure is just sitting.



[Originally published in NHS 2011, http://www.poetspath.com/napalm/nhs11/.]