A n n e W a l d m a n : K e e p i n g T h e W o r l d S a f e F o r P o e t r y
N a p a l m H e a l t h S p a : R e p o r t 2 0 1 5 : S p e c i a l E d i t i o n
Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics co-founders
Anne Waldman & Allen Ginsberg, 1979.
Photo by Cynthia MacAdams.
Introduction to a Reading by Anne Waldman
Allen Ginsberg: Some of the audience are students from Naropa and some are old friends
from Denver and some are strangers. So for the strangers and old friends from Denver,
some background here. Actually, all three of us, Anne Waldman, Kenneth Koch, and
myself, were in England just a couple of weeks ago and we all read together at
Cambridge. And I was coming from a tour of the Continent with Peter Orlovsky––Italy,
France––and Anne Waldman and Kenneth Koch went on to Glasgow and Durham and
read. So, actually, we've been wandering around reading, and just got back in the United
States a week or two ago, and Anne and I, the day after tomorrow, are taking off and
flying to Rome [Castelporziano] to give a big reading with William Burroughs and
Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gregory Corso and about fifty other poets, sponsored by the
Communist commune government elected in Rome, who were interested in having an
international poetry conference. So, in between all these flights and European fantasies,
we're having this little reading here. And some of you know Anne Waldman and some of
you don't, so I'll introduce her.
She is the co-director of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa
Institute, a Buddhist meditation center in Boulder. She's had a number of books
published––one by City Lights, called Fast Speaking Woman––and she has a book of
Journals andDreams, and a long poem called "Shaman" about Bob Dylan, (whom she
knows quite well, because she traveled with the Rolling Thunder Revue, and was
featured in the movie Renaldo and Clara, which probably passed through here, like a
flittering ghost, within the year––I think it showed here, but nobody went to see it and it
got really attacked, viciously attacked, in the Denver Post).
So, Anne was, for many years, the director of the St. Mark's Poetry Project in New York
in the Lower East Side, (for) almost a decade. She was born in the Lower East Side. Born
in Greenwich Village in a classic... Macdougal Street in Greenwich Village... and grew
up, and saw Gregory Corso when she was a young lady (going to high school, I guess).
She saw Corso on the street and she grew up with all the bohemians as neighbors in
Greenwich Village, and some, actually... she knows the literary scene... down... totally...
(It) comes in her family [sic]. She was a great executrix editor of Angel Hair books and
the coordinator of the Poetry Project in New York (as she's been up here). And she's also
the editor of a really interesting compilation of lectures made in Naropa called Talking
Poetics, where John Cage, Robert Duncan, myself, Ted Berrigan, many many others who
visited over the last few years––we recorded what they had to say to the students and
published it as a book this year called Talking Poetics, and Anne edited that. She's
also a very great orator (which is to say, given the right mood, and the right text, and the
right situation, she certainly can swing and the wind comes through her bones with great
subtlety and violence. So, Anne Waldman, poet.
[This introduction by Allen Ginsberg was provided by Peter Hale of the Estate of Allen Ginsberg. Based upon a transcription made from audiotape, it originally appeared in The Allen Ginsberg Project blog on Sunday, September 27, 2015 under the title “Ginsberg-Koch-Waldman part 2 – (Anne Waldman), http://ginsbergblog.blogspot.com/2015/09/ginsberg-koch-waldman-part-2-anne.html. Reprinted by permission of the Estate of Allen Ginsberg.]