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
BOBBIE LOUISE HAWKINS
Portrait of Anne Waldman by Bobbie Louise Hawkins.
Early on Allen often did readings with his father, Gregory would sometimes sit in the audience
and if he couldn’t hold himself back, would yell at Mr. Ginsberg, “Get off the stage, you old fart. We
aren’t here to listen to you!! Let Allen read!”
Allen told him he wasn’t allowed to come to his readings unless he behaved himself.
Gregory stopped yelling, but after every reading he would say, “I was good tonight, wasn’t I,
And Allen would say, “Yes, Gregory. You were good tonight.”
In Amsterdam a group of us were en-route to a park where there was a statue of a famous dead
Dutch poet. Our plan was to mildly celebrate Michael and Joanna McClure’s anniversary by sitting in the
shadow of the statue, drinking wine in paper cups.
I heard Gregory say, “…the missing noses of Greece.”
I said, “The missing noses of Greece, Gregory?”
He said, “Yeah. I’ve been to Greece. I saw all those statues. No noses. I was not prepared for
At the statue Gregory said to Michael, “I can draw a seven pointed star without taking the pen off
the paper. You want to see it?”
Michael said he did.
I had a notebook and handed it over.
Gregory slowly and carefully traced out a star with seven points.
Michael said, “I can draw a twelve pointed star.”
Gregory was excited by the possibility, said, “Do it.”
Michael put the pen to the paper and without any kind of scheme zigzagged a twelve-pointed star
onto the page.
Gregory was freaking. “Not like that! That’s not the way to do it!”
Michael just grinned and said, “You want to see a twenty point star?”
Bob and I were fighting in Buffalo so I took off to stay a few days with Ellie Dorfman in
Cambridge. Allen was to read that night at Harvard. He came by in the afternoon and Ellie fed him. She
The next day Gregory arrived unexpectedly, late in the afternoon, fairly drunk, with a lady
friend. The four of us, Ellie, Gregory, the lady friend, and I, went walking and found ourselves at a
meeting of the Harvard Poetry Society, a group of ten or so young men, well dressed, discussing poetry.
Gregory attacked them. “So who do you like and can you quote them? Have you got them in your
head?” And he began to quote Shelley, pages of non-stop Shelley, delivered like a Gatling-Gun.
Imagine being a (probably) well brought up young man, in a room where you felt (probably)
secure, engaging in “culture”, and finding yourself invaded by this rampant maniac bullying you with
All afternoon there had been a problem: Gregory wanted to stay the night at Ellie’s. She told him,
more than once, that there wasn’t room because I was already in her guest room.
Gregory thought we could solve the bed shortage by having a small orgy. Just the four of us.
No, that really didn’t work for Ellie and me.
Then Gregory told Ellie, “Allen said I could stay here. He said you’d put us up.”
I thought, “Uh Oh!”
Long pause, and Ellie said, “Well, it was very wrong of Allen to say that to you.” Gregory said,
Ellie said, “It was very wrong of Allen to tell you you could stay in my house.” An
act of courage. I was so impressed. Still am.
Gregory and his lady friend left, grumbling, to go back to New York.
When Basil Bunting read at the YMHA in New York he sat onstage at a small table for his books
and papers, and with a nubile young woman from the audience on a cushion at his feet, to pour his wine.
Afterwards there was a party, the host hovered in front of the refrigerator to be sure we all stayed
with only the wine and food that was laid out.
I was on the couch with Basil who was talking to a half-circle of people in chairs. Gregory was
pacing behind them. He would walk the length of the half-circle in one direction, his eyes on Basil, then
wheel and walk the other way, his eyes on Basil. This lasted a while.
Basil was talking in measured tones, an elegant man.
Gregory, as always, was very like an Italian thug. Finally, he sat on the arm of the couch to my
right, leaned around me, and said, “Mr. Bunting, if you want to know what I’ve been doing for the last five
years, well, I haven’t been just fucking off.”
He said he had solved the Missing Link.
“There are all these apes, and all they do is eat, just wander around, going eat-eat-eat. And there
are all these plants, in those days there weren’t any boy plants or girl plants, no seeds, no pollen, every
plant fucked itself. Botanists will bear me out on this. Then the plants started to have seeds and pollen, and
here come the apes. They hit the seeds and pollen and Boom! High apes. That’s the missing link! High
At Max’s Kansas City, someone rushed past calling to a woman who was just leaving, “Annuncia!
Annuncia!”, and Gregory said, “That’s my middle name, Annuncio. Gregorio Annuncio Corso. The
Messenger, The Proclamation, The Way.”
I said, “Wow. That’s too much.”
He said, sadly, “Yeah. It’s too much.”