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Allen Ginsberg, The Naropa Sessions: Regarding Measurement

This is one in a series of ten lectures given by Allen Ginsberg at the Naropa Institute in Boulder Colorado, in the summer of 1975.

Using the work of William Carlos Williams, Ginsberg explores prosody and meter in poetry. He challenges his students to theorize on the intent of a line break and other notations which demand the reader to pause when reading a poem. Is the line break intentional? Spontaneous? A symptom of neurosis? What higher philosophical values is the poet trying to convey through the rhythm of a poem? Can speech be measured in different ways? How does the writer translate this measurement? In this segment, Ginsberg plays a recording of Williams reading his own work and asks the students to analyze the function of poetic meter. The dialog that follows between Ginsberg and his students about Williams' poetry is a rare snapshot of the author in the classroom and absent from previous recordings.

The Naropa Institute was founded by Chögyam Trungpa, an exiled Tibetan tuku, in 1974. This liberal arts school initially offered MFA's in the visual arts, dance, theater, and poetry; as well as undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Buddhist Studies. It was founded with the intent of creating a dialog between the “world's wisdom traditions.” Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, and John Cage were among the faculty, who together formed the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poets.


Historic Audio from the Archives of Charles Ruas


An unparalleled collection of recovered and restored programs from the seventies produced by Charles Ruas, and featuring Allen Ginsberg, John Giorno, Anaïs Nin, William Boroughs, Buckminster Fuller, Sylvia Plath, Pablo Neruda, and Jorge Luis Borges, among numerous others.