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Allen Ginsberg, The Naropa Sessions: Subjective Babbling

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.

“You are not ordered to write a mystical poem for the ear of God, but something that anyone could understand. It can include your feelings.”

In this session, Allen Ginsberg encourages his students to imitate a selection of literary geniuses, including; Williams Thomas Williams, DH Lawrence, and Charles Reznicoff. He isolates these writers because they were known to have approached writing like one might touch an object. They were objectivists and activists, in their own right. They were writers that embraced visual culture in the same way that a painter or filmmaker might. The things that they wrote were more or less studies of human perceptions. He claimed that a trap that many young writers fall into is one where they compose poems that read more like subjective babbling. By studying the objectivists, they might lean to stray away from convoluted prose.

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.