Sunday, August 31, 2008

“I hate feeling stupid”

Sam Kashner was the first student of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. He studied with Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, William Burroughs, and Gregory Corso, among others. In his recent memoir of that time (mid-70s) he writes about Ginsberg’s difficulty with a non-Beat poet:

Allen Ginsberg “took out Rivers and Mountains by John Ashbery. He turned to a longish poem called ‘The Skaters.’

“’Now tell me,’ Allen asked, almost pleading at his desk. ‘What does this mean? I can’t understand it. I want to know what it means, what is happening in this poem. Why does he have to be so mysterious about everything?’”

Added Ginsberg, “’I hate feeling stupid, I hate not getting the idea.’”

At this point Kashner was not only the first but the only student of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. (Not long after Ginsberg fussed about not getting Ashbery, Anne Waldman recommended ‘The Skaters’ to Kashner; a great poem, she said.)

source: When I Was Cool: my life at the Jack Kerouac School by Sam Kashner. HarperCollins, New York. 2004.

No comments: