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Allen Ginsberg’s Celestial Homework

By Harriet Staff

5-22-13_Ginsberg

We have our friends at the Paris Review blog to thank for pointing us to Open Culture where they’ve posted the celestial syllabus to Allen Ginsberg’s 1977 course at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. A bit about the class:

“Argh, you’re all amateurs in a professional universe!” roared Allen Ginsberg to a young class of aspiring poets in 1977 at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Their offense? Most of the students had failed to register for meditation instruction. The story comes to us from Steve Silberman, who was then a 19-year-old student in that classroom and a recipient of Ginsberg’s genius that summer.

[...]

[The syllabus is] a particularly Ginsberg-ian list, with a healthy mix of genres and periods, most of it poetry—by Ginsberg’s fellow beats, to be sure, but also by Melville, Dickinson, Yeats, Milton, Shelley, and several more. Sadly, it’s too late to sit at Ginsberg’s feet, but one can still find guidance from his “Celestial Homework,” and you can even listen to audio recordings from the class online too.

There’s mucho more Ginsberg over at Open Culture, so head over and check it out. We decided it might be fun to see how much our archive matches up to Ginsy’s essentials. Click through below. And please, DO register for meditation instruction!

#56 Shakespeare: sonnets… many here

#57 Gingsberg: Kaddish

#50 Poe: To — – –. Ulalume: A Ballad, Annabel Lee, The Raven.

#45 Whitman: Song of Myself: 35, Song of Myself: 36

#44 Blake: poems from Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, here.

#43 Snyder: The Bath

#36 Melville: The House-top, The Maldive Shark, The Portent, The Berg (A Dream), The Martyr, Monody

#36 T.S. Eliot: The Waste Land, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

#36 Wm. C. Williams: To Elsie, Smell!, Danse Russe, Thursday

#35 Emily Dickinson: I heard a Fly buzz, Because I could not stop for Death, Success is counted sweetest

#32 W.B. Yeats: The Second Coming

#31 Rimbaud: The Drunken Boat, Illuminations

#30 Keats: Ode on a Grecian Urn, Ode on Melancholy, Ode to a Nightingale

#28 R. Creeley: For Love

That’s a good start, and only one celestial page of the whole document!

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Posted in Poetry News on Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013 by Harriet Staff.