Some Reflections On My Semi-Poetic Youth

I cut my teeth on poetry watching Ginsberg and company perform at the “Jack Keroac School of Disembodied Poetics” in Boulder as a kid. We had three warring poetry communities back in the late seventies, one the University poets at U of Colorado, two the NAROPA poets mostly the older beat poets, and third the street poets who were mostly more intellectually oriented hippies, punks and Villon followers. I had my radio show in the middle of the night and liked to be an ambassador to all of the factions, egging them on when things got boring.

I missed the famous party where W.S. Merwin was put upon by Rimpoche’s thugs at a drunken orgy as described by Ed Sanders of the Fugs fame. Good luck finding this anywhere. It has become something of a non event…
Sanders, Ed (ed.). The Party: A Chronological Perspective on a Confrontation at a Buddhist Seminary. 1977.
Copies are available through Amazon but links for a free copy seem to have disappeared from the internet.

-Note: Trungpa Rimpoche was Tibetan Buddhist Crazy Wisdom lineage leader, rather a drunkard, but smart, who ended up in Boulder started the NAROPA Institute and some of his more famous followers from the beat scene formed the Jack Keroac poetry school.
it was a place for middle aged beat poets to rest their weary bones and teach neophyte escapees from the upper and middle classes how to be bohemian without the risk of endangering their trust funds…or getting cut off from parental support systems…(my own observations), I was a cynic and an anarchist even then. Allen gave me a burnt out stick of incense from his reading one time. I was not impressed. I was impressed with Bill Burroughs and shook his hand. That handshake must have contaminated me, I spent years under the influence.

This is an over the top version of “The Junkie’s Christmas.” Coppola was probably swept up in the eighties’ heroin chic’ thing. Ever see the movie “High Art”?

A more typical Burroughs

My favorite Burroughs “Twilight’s Last Gleamings” but there is a longer version that I remember him reading at NAROPA.

This is a youtube with both Allen Ginsberg and Trungpa Rimpoche.

Another one about a film about Trungpa and his approach, romanticized by his followers a bit.

This is Trungpa himself lecturing on Tantra in 1974, not long before the party. My girlfriend circa 1976 had been one of his lovers, or so she claimed. I stole her away to my cult at the time and lost her to my best friend… Live goes on…

I remember sitting in the back of Left Hand Books also in Boulder, where I ran a poetry series, getting drunk with Anslem Hollo and making fun of our friend Joe Shakarchi who was reading something of his. My girlfriend (new one circa 1980), who was co-host of the reading series, was getting pissed at me for being so rude and ending up taking a slug of the cheap red wine too. That was typical of the times. We partied hard and created like we were godlings…

Robert Bly said of my girlfriend and I that we were the future, this was when we met him at a Denny’s in Denver with my GF and the aforementioned Joe Shakarchi. Joe was writing his PHD thesis on Bly, it was rejected. Yet Joe got the last laugh, after a successful career teaching English and as a poet, he has retired in Thailand and lives the good life. So it goes…

Robert Bly from the way I remember him, pre-Iron John.

This is a reading of “The Ballad of Villon and Fat Madge.” Read by Tom O’Bedlam. Great name but he reading is a bit too upper crusty for the material. I think a drunken Gregory Corso reading would be better.

Corso “Marriage”

I found this performance by Dennis Hopper on the old Johnny Cash show back in the early seventies of the Kipling poem “If.” Rather sentimental, but something I would not associate with Dennis Hopper. I always liked Cash and Hopper. This doesn’t really relate to anything except my dad took me to see “Easy Rider” as a warning against the evil ways of seeking to live free, when it first came out. Had the opposite effect on my impressionable mind, I couldn’t wait to go on my own easy rides, except I was afraid to go to Mississippi and Alabama for years.

Much of this material is in my novel, but when I tried it out before the creative writing class at LBCC, (Long Beach City College) nobody seemed to like it, except the teacher and a couple of students my age, in fact most of them didn’t even know who Allen Ginsberg was…. I gave up on the book at that point. The common opinion of my drug infused youthful creativity was incomprehension at its unhealthiness…as if personal hygiene was the point. That is what frustrates. Where is the fire, the seeking after the Byronic heights, flaming of the candle at both ends…. I am getting grumpy in my senility.

I really wanted to leave my spelling of Trungpa Rimpoche as Trumpa, sort of a Buddhist Donald Trump, but for accuracies sake, I fixed it 5/12/2013. Also as the same friend pointed out, they were not really poetry wars, more like poetry rivalries…my poetic license I guess. I also modified my Joe section, he really is a good poet and we were being idiotic to tease him… Anslem is now a respected poet, and I am a reformed degenerate, so it goes… to give Vonnegut his due for the phrase. Now Karass mates, we shall perform ritual Bokononism.

Joe reading one of his poems

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