Monday, May 30, 2016

Peter Orlovsky Parinirvana

It's Peter Orlovsky's parinirvana again. Remembering Allen's life-time love, Peter.

Check out these earlier postings on the Allen Ginsberg Project - here and here

See also here and here  

also, noticing his passing - here

and (recommended) - Steve Silberman's touching 2010 elegy - here 

and Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's memories -  here

The New York Times & Washington Post obituaries

& Tom Clark's memory-posting - here 

Ann Charters in the English Bookshop in Stockholm in 2014 recalls, in some depth, her relationship with. and memories of, Peter, reading from Bill Morgan's book, Peter Orlovsky - A Life In Words (including a reading of Allen's "Malest Cornifici Tuo Catullo" and "Sunflower Sutra" - for their Orlovsky connection, and a reading by her husband Sam of two of (Jack) Kerouac's Mexico City Blues

Rose Feliu Pettet recalls Peter Orlovsky here  - and further video moments from St Marks Poetry Project's 2010 memorial  may be glimpsed  here

Here's the unforgettable voice of Peter singing "
You Are My Dildo" (sic)

and an odd-little-item, a Peter Orlovsky rehearsal tape (Peter making several attempts at a version of William Blake's "A Dream" (from Songs of Innocence) ("home, home, home"), as well as, (half-recognizeable), a paean to Tibetan saint, Milarepa (to that unforgettable tune of  "You Are My Dildo")

Here's Peter as a saint or holy man (or, at least playing one!), Rick Shaw (sic), in rare footage from Marc Israel's 2001 film, Frankenstein's Little Monster

More Orlovsky on the Ginsberg blog: 

Here's selections from the beautiful Ginsberg-Orlovsky letters, Straight Hearts Delight

Here's a 1975 reading with Jackson MacLow

and here's a challenging"triple X" reading

Here's Peter, continuing to be sex-positive (from Constanzo Allione's Fried Shoes And Cooked Diamonds

and more rare footage of Peter reading - here

Sunday, May 29, 2016

May 29 - Harry Smith's Birthday

Harry Smith's birthday today.  Learn more about the unclassifiable maestro and treat yourself to a viewing of his remarkable Early Abstractions - here 
 (and/or Heaven and Earth Magic - here)

"You shouldn't be looking at this as a continuity. Film frames are hieroglyphs, even when they look like actuality. You should think of the individual frame, always, as a glyph, and then you'll understand what cinema's about" 

An example of an early Harry Smith painting  (Algo Bueno,  c.1951)  

and two more recent paintings (Untitled, c.1977)

and  (Enochian Tablet, circa 1979)

and here is Untitled, from the previous year

This past year has seen the publication of the first two volumes of The Collections of Harry Smith Catalogue Raisonne  (we eagerly await more)

Volume 1 is the Paper Airplanes

Volume 2 is the String Figures

An interesting note (2016) in recent anthropology

A continuing, unsurpassable, abiding musical achievement 


Allen remembers Harry here  - and here - and here

Gerd Stern remembers Harry - here

Tarot cards (Harry and the occult)  from the Harry Smith Archive at the Getty Research Institute


Lee Bridgers Musiek and Rani Singh immortalize some (just some) of Harry's remarkable (and not-so-remarkable)  objects.

M. Henry Jones's re-creations - on Harry, the filmmaker

 &, via M.Henry Jones - and to finish off with - priceless footage of the irascible Harry himself.

David Amram - 1994 at Naropa

                                                                     [David Amram]

                                          [David Amram at Naropa, 1994 - Photo by Seth Brigham]

continues from yesterday (1994, Naropa, Allen Ginsberg celebration)

***[Audio  can be heard here, beginning at approximately thirty-two minutes in, and concluding through to the end of the tape]

DA: Not only to honour Allen, who I’ve known over forty years, but also to honor the era  that Allen and I came out of. Some of the people who aren’t here this evening to realize that..that we’d all like to thank them for what they did for all of us in this century.. Speaking of people that I was blessed to know in my life - Charlie Parker, whom I met in 1952, played with, Dizzy Gillspie, who I met in 1951 and played with until he passed away, the painter Franz Kline, who encouraged Jack (Kerouac) and Allen and all of us to stick to what we were trying to do many many years ago when no-one else was even interested, the great composer Edgard Varese, and thousands of other people along the way whose names sometimes have been forgotten but whose hearts were pure, giving and sharing, who appreciated the fact that in this country we had not only a beautiful European tradition but a tradition of indigenous ways of speech, indigenous musics, a tradition of spontaneity and improvising and overcoming and joyfulness, the genius of Native American, African-American cultures, as well as people from all over the world who came here to make this incredible polycultural continent something unique, all the people who are here this week, [a week of Naropa 20-year celebrations],  all the poets are celebrating that.

So we’re going to celebrate that in the old tradition and you’re going to hear the members of our band. From Denver, originally from Latin America, New York City, and now gracing the Rockies with his genius and presence, one of the best musicians I met the year I lived here in (19)92,  Mr  Isidro Aybar

Playing the drums is someone else I met during that time (she’s going to be here tomorrow playing with a gamelon group, she’s a true Renaissance person in music, she plays all the beautiful world(s) musics beautifully_ – Jill Frederickson)

Someone I met in Taos in about 1981, when I was playing there, and he came down and we hung out all night and hoped to see one another, and managed to ever since (he had one of Denver’s great restaurants, he’s one of Denver’s great musicians, he’s also a drum-maker, he works counseling children in Denver to help them to overcome their problems  as a true healing person, as a musician as well. Many of you in the audience will recognize him from knowing him most of  your life, because he’s one of the greats and he’s right from twenty miles from here, Mr Jose Garcia

And for the young folks in the audience, those of you who might have seen Maynard G Krebs in Dobie Gillis, or heard about it, we can finally, as we honor Allen and open up a new library of information, take the great mis-information of Dobie Gillis and the bongos and put that in the MacIntosh trash-can forever in the great computer of Life, because the bongos are a sacred instrument from Africa, and when I did the first jazz-poetry readings in New York City with Jack Kerouac in (19)57 – (we had done that at parties constantly and..) - only those who loved and were beloved were allowed to play the bongos. And in the middle, Jose’s going to switch from the congas to the bongos to show you young folks what the bongos really are, which is a beautiful cultural instrument. So, goodbye Maynard G Krebs, goodbye Dobie Gillis, and hello reality as we enter the twentieth-century and this concert tonight and all week long can help to clean up that mistake in history. So lets forget about the stereotype and dig the music of Jose, finally coming all the way from New York City with me, one of my friends for forty-one years now since we met – in the US Army, believe it or not,  and he’s still a young man - he played with Tito Puente, Machito, the Metropolitan Opera and does just about everything – the heart and soul of our music  - Maestro Victor Venegas

                                                        [Allen Ginsberg playing bongos]

The music is spontaneous and so are the words. So for all the poets here, this is for you. I thank you for the evening in Naropa, Boulder, Montuno

[At approximately thirty-seven minutes in, the music begins - Cuban-Latino music - David Amram improvises]

"Well here we are in Boulder, Colorado on a beautiful July night . We heard Gary Snyder, the genius from the Nuyorican village [Miguel Algerin] and Allen Ginsberg out of sight. We say to the poets and the people of Boulder, Colorado, as well, if you want to write poetry, paint, play music, and you know you got a story to tell. Let those who criticize and take away your inspiration, throw it in the can as well, because if you’ve got something in your heart, it doesn’t have to be bought, it’s not something you have to sell. You can make it up like people used to do when Homer wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey so long ago. And no-one said, “Homer, there wasn’t any commas or punctuation (in )something which has no place go . Because when Jack wrote On The Road in (19)57, Gilbert Millstein gave it a great review and Allen got so bummed out he went over to Europe and the other critics didn’t know what to do. Old Truman Capote said he was typing and not writing, he got so insanely jealous, he was freaked out of his mind. And now forty years later, Jack’s books are in the coffee-houses all over the world for all of humankind. In eleven languages that fills up the hearts and souls, of everybody all over the world.  I guess it shows if you’re pure and true in your heart, your literary human flag can be unfurled. So have hope, don’t be a dope, Don’t believe what other well-meaning people tell you. Just try and check out your own feelings of reality and perhaps your own sensations of truth . As Miguel sung to you a little while ago, in the first half of the program about HIV and all those others, we want to say here tonight, in Boulder, Colorado, to all you sisters and your brothers. Be strong, stay along, tell your children to sing their song , and have the freedom to believe in spontaneity. And if we do that in the twenty-first century, finally America’s going to be the land of the free…" 
[the piece then continues - instrumental break - the individual musicians take solos, before (at approximately forty-seven-and-three-quarter minutes in), Amram returns to rapping and improvising]

“Even if they played the music in the 1950s, don’t let it make you feel any older, don’t ever feel bad about yourself, don’t weep on anyone’s shoulder, don’t let bad vibes discourage you and make (them) feel colder. Just remember you’re here tonight to celebrate Allen and Jack (right live in Boulder). So we rejoice with all of you, and we say before the song is through/we’re so glad to be (here) to be back, and also come one more time through, So for all you poets and painters and writers here in the evening tonight, being in this celebration for this week is truly out-of-sigh . It means we’re honoring our people before they’re retired or expired. We’re taking in the club and putting it down and making it like to be lighter/So we’re going to take it tonight and thank you all for being here because the music comes from the heart and soul that makes it out-of-sight..."

Thank you. Thank you. Jack used to call that spontaneous prose and we emptied out many a loft and many a party and the second shift came in and they left too. We kept on wailin’ So we hope that all of you will, and tell your children and grandchildren to do that too because having fun is not that complicated..

                                            [Jack Kerouac takes over the drums - undated photograph]

[At approximately fifty-an-a-half minutes in, the set continues]
We would like now to bring out three wonderful  musicians to do another song . As you know, Allen came from Newark, New Jersey, the East Coast. I came from Feasterville, Pennsylvania, population two-hundred, brought up on a farm on the East Coast, and Jack came from Lowell, Massachusetts, which was then a much smaller town, also in the East Coast.  All of us dreamed of the West, of the Rockies, of Colorado, as a place we thought, maybe, we’d get to some day, even if only in our dreams, and, for all of us, it’s been a very very beautiful experience. I came when I was fourteen years old the first time, played with big bands, hitch-hiked out during World War II (it was one of the great experiences of my life just to be here then) Jack and Allen, of course, felt the same way and that’s all been documented. Some of the most beautiful music in the world comes from this part of the country, and this is the song we’re going to play. It uses the frame-drum, it uses the Šiyótȟaŋka, the recording flute, the Lakota-Sioux recording flute, the rattle, and the voice. This melody was taught to me by Floyd Red Crow Westerman (and many of you have seen him in the movie Dances With Wolves and other films, but I’ve been playing with him for twenty-four years and long before there was a Hollywood, long before there was a Philadelphia Orchestra, for which I used this melody that I’m going to play for you in a piece I wrote called “Trail of Beauty, long before there was a Europe, there was, is, and always will be a Native American culture. We’d like to honor that  (something Jack always talked about because in French-Canadian roots in his family, there were native people (and he searched and tried to find that, and he never did, but in his heart he knew it was there – so we’re honoring Jack’s memory too with that, and all the native people’s memories who have made this such a beautiful continent for us boat-people to come over and be fortunate enough to live in and bring our families up in and have a better life than we ever did in the old country. So it’s for that, that we want to welcome three wonderful people.

From Minnesota, now living in Mill Valley, California, (he) drove all the way here with his friend Deidre to be part of this festival. He has rock-gardens he’s designed all over the country. He’s a singer, an actor, a poet, a designer, (he) went to law-school in Boulder. He’s a pretty incredible person, and he’s from the Lakota people  - Mr Geoffrey Carpentier

and two young people who were brought up reading Jack’s books, Allen’s poetry, Gary Snyder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti,  Ken Kesey, all  the people that were here this week  (in fact, my daughter was wearing a Charlie Parker t-shirt this afternoon), they’re fourteen and ten – and they’ve been blessed to know some of the people I was blessed to know, I want them to come up and play on this song too – and, parents, if you’ve got kids, as soon as they’re born, they’re old enough to be musicians – Alana and Adam Amram

[Amram and company, at approximately fifty-three-and-three-quarters in, perform  mastincala wacipi, or Rabbit Dance Song]. 

                                                                    [Lakota Cedar Flute

Following that, at approximately fifty-six-and-a-half minutes in, Amram declares:]
We’re going to do a piece now that.. just before Geoff (Carpentier) comes back to read a poem – we did this afternoon for the dedication of the library, dedicated to Allen and to a whole era of people who  helped so much to give us something to put in that library. It’s music from the Khyber Pass, where Pakistan and Afghanistan meets. This afternoon I did it with the two flutes from the Khyber Pass. I’m going to do it with the three flutes as well because that’s very commonplace there. Some of the beautiful music I learned in the mountains there when I was on a concert tour a long long time ago  and wanted to bring back home to share with all of you here. So from the mountains of the Khyber Pass to the beautiful hills in Boulder, Colorado, for all of you, two flutes and then three flutes from the Khyber Pass
[This piece begins at approximately fifty-seven-and-quarter minutes in and concludes at approximately sixty minutes in]
Thank you thank you so much

                      [David Amram in New York at The Five Spot in 1957 - Photograph by Burt Glinn]

Back in the Spring of 1957, poets from San Francisco, Philip Lamantia and Howard Hart got together with me. Cecil Taylor and I (who will be here later this week) and opened up the Five Spot at the end of 1956, beginning of 1957. Jack used to come down all the time and Philip and Howard would talk to him and he decided that he would like to  join them in the first jazz-poetry reading ever in New York City  (of course, we had many many of them at people’s houses, parties. There were also people who, hopefully, the literary historians and the ethnofunkologists will begin to recognize, like the great Lord Buckley, jazz poet supreme (I wrote a saxophone concerto called “Ode to Lord Buckley” and his wife wrote back and eventually a book’ll be written about him and he’ll be discovered forty, forty-five years later too, and be just as good, because he was beautiful and beauty never fades but, Lord Buckley, King Pleasure, the calypso singer The Mighty Sparrow, and Homer, of course, who wrote The Iliad and The Odyssey, accompanied by a lyre, were all outstanding jazz-poets) but, this was the first time we’d ever done it in New York City, officially, we did it at the Brata Art Gallery on East 10th Street – the place was jammed, and we did some more ar Circle in the Square Theater, and then it became written up in Time magazine, and suddenly those that did it were shocked at what it was supposed to be and dropped out of the picture because that wasn’t what we were doing in the first place. But history has a strange way of riding the boat so. Geoff Carpentier is going to come out and read two of Jack’s poems and we’re going to back him up in two exquisite passages from On The Road, one of which has some beautiful  writing about Colorado, we’re all so happy to be this week with all of you -  Geoff Carpentier - Jack Kerouac’s poetry -  
[Geoff Carpentier, joins David Amram and reads from "On The Road"] -  “And here I am in Colorado! I kept thinking gleefully. Damn! damn damn, I’m making it!…."…"I stumbled along with the most wicked grin of joy in the world among the old cowboys and Beat bums of Larimer Street".
“So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievably  huge bulge over to the West Coast"…."I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty, the father we never found. I think of Dean Moriarty."

        [Larry Rivers, Jack Kerouac, David Amram, Allen Ginsberg (& Gregory Corso with back to the camera]

"We have time for just about one more piece, because they do have to end so we’re going to do a very short one (we had a lot of music to play for you, but, one of the famous Zen sayings is “Less is more”. So we’re going to end with a short version..thank you for coming.. this is music for a film that was done as a home-movie, little did we realize that thirty-five years later, it would be examined by archaeologists, historians, philosophers, cinematastes and just regular down-home folks, as an example of the culture of the 1950’s (or lack of culture of the 1950’s, depending on your point of view!)  ) . It was really just fun and Allen, Gregory (Corso), Peter Orlovsky, Larry Rivers, myself, a lot of other people who never were actors and proved it by their non-performances  got together to hang out in Alfred Leslies loft and the genius of Robert Frank’s filming, and Jack’s spontaneous narration, which he refused to alter, and I hope some of the music that I wrote made it look like we really had planned something. They’re going to show it here on Tuesday and we really hope you can come and see it. It’s a lot of fun, and this is the song from it, we’re going to end with this song, doing the long unexpurgated spontaneous rap Boulder version (and if you like to get this one, you can get it - we have our records out front, there’s one called Live At Music Fest” [sic] that we did spontaneously, that actually came out pretty well, (and) some of my symphony records, instead, if you want to get those, based on Native American and folk musics of the world - if not, turn on your tape-recorders and bootleg this one yourself, because everyone else has, for the last thirty-five years!, and we’re not upset about it, because we all have jobs, and are going to survive anyway!)  So, we hope that you enjoy it. We thank you for having us here."

[David Amram returns to spontaneous rap-rhymes]
"About three or four months ago, my daughter said,”Daddy, you’re a sap,/ you sit around talking about Jack Kerouac and all those others and you never even listen to MTV and rap/ Well I said, “I listen to Arrested Development and all those other cats and I really think they’re pretty groovy, really pretty cool/ I mean, they’re so hip in their own presentation they could even get a gig teaching at the Naropa school.
But I think that rapping probably went back a long long way. In fact know very well that it did./ So we’re going to hear a little bit of the ol’ primeval rap, we’re going to take
the 1950’s and lift off the lid./ You’re going to hear a little music that we used to do spontaneously long ago, with the words in the very beginning/ by Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady who really did a winning/ combination of the eclectic, the European, the African, the Asian, the Native American and the slang/ They upset all the critics back in the 1950s when they thought we should all suffer a big bang/ and be blown away and have to stay another day/ and never come back to bother anybody other/ 
and we should tell every sister, every aunt, every uncle, every mother, every brother/ just to stay away and get a day-job and stop writing poetry, stop writing music, stop having so much fun/ and realize that life is just a  struggle and a Republican battle in which you can never be lost or won/. Well, fortunately, the times have changed/, and here, home on the range, in Boulder, Naropa, this afternoon, and this evening as well,/ we’re going to have a final story and listen to ol’ Pull My Daisy, what a story to tell!" – and here we go now…
[piano melody introduces Amram singing] - "Pull My Daisy/ tip my cup/all my doors are open/ Have my heart / for coconuts /all my eggs are broken/ Hop my heart /harp my lights/seraphs hold me steady/ Hip my angel/ harp my lights,/ lay it on the needy/Hop my heart /harp my lights/seraphs hold me steady/Hip my angel/ harp my lights,/ lay it on the needy."

"Well, when Jack and Neal and Allen and I wrote this song back in 1959, we never thought we’d be in Boulder tonight/, and seeing a sold-0ut house thirty-five years later is truly out-of-sight/ and Jack is somehow here, celebrating from Heaven and down to earth a spontaneous cheer/ and Neal’s digging the story as well because he’s the one who always had the stories to tell./ And so we’re glad that all of you could show up and share a sup from freedom’s cup/ Because "Pull My Daisy" doesn’t mean that you’re crazy, it only means that you know what’s down and up,/ so here in Colorado, on this beautiful night, we hope we’ve given inspiration to some,/ make you want to pursue your own dream, go where you come from./ We’re so glad to all be here and share with Allen Ginsberg the cheer,/ something that has a lot of cheek/ is called Allen Ginsberg Week/ Because he deserves it, oh so much/ and where are those critics in their lunch,/ while they’re at it, criticizing their bunch (they’ve got a job to do)./ So we say for everybody here tonight/good luck, don’t ever despair, it’s never wrong or rough on luck/ Because the sails of liberty are unfurled, you could become unwhorled/, and here at Naropa that’s all that you curl/– Glad that you can have it today./There’s not too much more to say,/ since “less is more”is the wayThere’s only one thing to keep us away./ Let’s listen to Isidro Aybar play…"
[Isidro Aybar and the musicians take instrumental solos before Amram returns with:]
 "Pull My Daisy/ tip my cup/all my doors are open/ Have my heart / for coconuts /all my eggs are broken/ Hop my heart /harp my lights/seraphs hold me steady/ Hip my angel, harp my lights,/ lay it on the needy/Hop my heart /harp my lights/seraphs hold me steady/Hip my angel/ harp my lights,/ lay it on the needy." - [song ends in mid-scat, just a few moments from the end]

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately thirty-two minutes in and concluding at the end of the tape]

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Gary Snyder - 1994 at Naropa

[A section from "Mountains and Rivers Without End" - Lu Yuan (China, Qing dynasty, late 17th Century - handscroll ink on paper - from the Freer/Sackler Smithsonian Museums of Asian Art, Washington DC] 

Gary Snyder in 1994, reading at Naropa  - 

We featured a few weeks back a reading by Allen and Miguel Algarin from 1994 celebrating (among other things) the dedication of the Allen Ginsberg Library and the twentieth anniversary at Naropa ("Beats and Rebel Angels"). 
We continue today, with the second half of that reading, featuring Gary Snyder
(and - tomorrow - David Amram

Andrew Schelling: Welcome back. I’d like to first thank all the volunteers who ‘ve worked hard tonight to make this evening possible and to remind you that this is just the beginning of a month of poetry readings. The Naropa Institute would like to invite everybody here to come to the great show tomorrow night, on the front-range, the lawns, back of Naropa, about eight-thirty, we get to watch for Independence Day, the flowers blooming in the void, the city of Boulder’s fireworks, There are also after the fireworks, down at Boulder Theatre, Ken Kesey’s troupe performing “Twister", at ten o’clock, and various other readings throughout the week and throughout the month.
This afternoon at the opening of the Allen Ginsberg Library, I sat underneath one of the two largest sycamore trees in Boulder County and discovered I was sitting next to Gary Snyder, who looked up, as the thunderclouds rolled over, and said, “Looks like we might be rained out”, and I paused a moment and thought, “This is a man with whom you can really discuss the weather!” – and from there move on to geological landforms, watersheds, trees and flowers and their names, wildlife, and from there on to anthropology, Oriental languages, American poetry..  Back in the Paleolithic, our ancestors were talking seriously about the weather. One of the things about Gary’s poetry is that it returns you, again and again, in this economically predatory and media-dazzled world, to the things that humans have always talked about – love. work, play, poetry, friendship, community. I’ve seen many of you wandering around with his books under your arms or in secret libraries, books like Earth House Hold and The Back Country or No Nature or The Practice of The Wild, carrying them like secret documents of a society of the future . 
So, instead of enumerating his various achievements and books and awards and prizes, I’d like to say something to the residents of Colorado – For the last twenty years, Gary has stood the front lines against a steel-bellied, lock-jawed, beast known as the US economy, as it was set on carving up the landforms of California. That beast has slowly shifted its gaze and moved away from California and has descended here on us in the Rocky Mountains. We need to be on the front lines. This is a man who’s had a great deal of experience and his words are a call to vigilance there. Please welcome this ecological vigilante and poetic activist, our elder, Gary Snyder. 

Gary Snyder: I guess Andrew is talking about the Californication of Colorado that I hear about from time to time. Well, tonight, you know, there’s also a talk being given here in town on “Sacred Prostitutes”! – well, shoot, here we are! - us poets! – And I’m very pleased to be able to be part of this twentieth-year celebration for Naropa for the Jack Kerouac School and to do.. to be a friend, again, to Jack, to Allen, to be present, old comradely spirit, old memory of work together, delightful thought of a few more grey-haired years of work and play to do. Twenty years of Naropa. This coming year, a year from now, 1995, it will be forty years since I first met Allen in a cottage in Berkeley and forty years since the Six Gallery reading in San Francisco’s Marina where Allen first read “Howl”, and some of our little spirit got launched in the world, maybe not moving it, as Anne Waldman so graciously and optimistically says, for miles – but, give me a millimeter that’s real, you know, and I’m pleased with it.

Tonight I’m going to be reading from my present project, which is finishing up my long-time side-track, Mountains and Rivers Without End. This is also something that I started forty years ago . In fact, it was on the eighth of April. I came across this in my notes just a couple of days ago. The eighth of April, 1956, the Japanese painter Saburo Hasegawa, a friend of Alan Watts invited me to have tea with him in his apartment in San Francisco, and we drank tea and talked most of the afternoon about Chinese and Japanese landscape paintings, and in particular the great Zen monk and Japanese landscape painter – Sesshu (Toyo), who I was fascinated with at the time. Hasegawa gave me some marvelous insights into the mind of the Chinese and Japanese painters over a thousand years who had done that extraordinary landscape painting, and that is in my notes, where I first got the idea for a poem on landscapes, and landscapes of the world, and our mind as landscape, titled “Mountains and Rivers Without End”. All of the other poetry I’ve written through the years, in different forms and in different directions, has been a great pleasure to me, but my sweet secret project was to return, from time to time, as it came to me, and as it grew on me, to this other work, which I am now finishing up, and which is not, in many ways, like most of the poetry that I’ve done that you’re acquainted with.

Dogen Zenji once said, ”Who ever told people  that mind is opinions, thoughts, ideas, consciousness?”. “No”, he said, “mind is roof-tiles, fence-posts, tire-wheels, carriages, rocks, water, clouds”. Starting from there.
So with Saburo Hasegawas help and instruction, I went searching in some of the great museums in the United States, and later in Asia, for a type of landscape painting called “a handscroll”, or in Japanese a “makimono”. These are not the hanging paintings, but the paintings that unroll sideways. A series of such paintings have been done over the centuries, all with the same title. The title of all of these scrolls is  “Mountains and Rivers Without End”.  And so this is a poem, opening this series, about the earliest of those hand-scrolls, which is called “Endless Streams and Mountains” – (This scroll shows up in Jiangxi Province, when it was under the Jin Tartars. Even then the painter was unknown. It was just one of many handscrolls with that name. “At the end of the painting, the poem and the seals begin, it unrolls”. The owners of landscape scrolls put their own seal at the end of the scroll and then would write a poem. And each subsequent owner would write another poem and put another seal on it. And then, different owners would invite their friends to come look at it and they would spread it out for an afternoon and have tea. And then their friends, if they felt like it, would write another poem on it. And so new pieces of silk might be added onto the mounting at the end of the scroll, for as long as was needed, poem after poem. Discussing the scroll and appreciating it would go on through time.

“At the end of the painting, the poem and the seals begin, it unrolls./"- Wang Wen-wei saw this at the mayor's house in Ho-tung/town, year 1205./ He wrote at the end of it,/"The Fashioner of Things has no original intentions/Mountains and rivers are spirit condensed"/"..Who come up with/these miraculous forests and springs?/Pale ink/on fine white silk - Later that same month, someone named Li Hui added/ "...Most people can get along with the noise of dogs/ and chickens./ Everybody cheerful in these peaceful times/ But I - why are my tastes so odd?/I love the company of streams and boulders"/ - T'ien Hsieh of Wei-lo, no date, next wrote/"..The water holds up the mountains/The mountains go down into the water"/ - In 1332 Chih-shun added,/"…This is truly a painting worth careful keeping/And it has poem-colophons from the Sung and the/Chin dynasties. That it survived dangers of fire and/war makes it even rarer"/ - In the mid-seventeenth century one Wang To had a look at it, he wrote/"My brother's relative by marriage, Wen-sun, is learned and/ has good taste. He writes good prose and poetry. My broth/-er brought over this painting of his to show me"/ - The great Ch'ing dynasty collector Liang Ch'ing piao did not write on it or cover it with seals/Then it went into the Imperial collection/and stayed there down to the twentieth-century./ Chang Ta-ch'ien sold it in 1949/At the moment it's at the Cleveland Art Museum/on a bluff overlooking the steely waters of Lake Erie.     
I saw it in the 1970’s/Clearing the mind and sliding in/to that created space,/ the whole world a web of waters streaming over rocks/sky misty but not raining/I'm out on a lake/ or a river/coasting by/The trail enters the cliff from a stretch of gentler lands/wildlife and birds in hiding/must be mid-day/woods thin and trimmed/pine, some hard woods/brushy on the peaks/no farms but tiny cottages shelters gateways rest-stops, roofed but open work space/a warm and humid climate/set between cliffs/a flurry of temple roofs like clustered flowers/ a trail of climbing stair-steps curves back to the hills/five streams coming down from higher hills and basins back behind/big ranges behind these rugged little front hills/ pulses of low ground rocky uplifts/layered pinnacles aslant/A man sitting on a log hunched over/another, standing over him, raises a staff/a third, carrying a roll of mats, looks on/Just off-shore, two men in a tiny boat/A mile or so along, someome is fishing/They made fine bridges/A man with a shoulder load walks up a grade/Horsemen and walkers travel together/The trail ends at the edge of an inlet by a stream./Two moored boats and a boatman,/hills rise beyond the stream but no sign of further trails or dwellings/The beginning of the wild/The drifting boat has floated off the page./Brush, soft but dry, mooist but not misty./Step back and look at the whole scroll/It rises and falls/Stamp the foot, walk with it, clap, turn/The creek comes in/Ah, strain through boulders/Mountains walking on the water/Mountains, water ripples every hill/I step out of the museum./Low gray clouds over the lake/chill March breeze/old ghost ranges/sunken rivers come again/stand by the wall and tell their tale/Walk the path, slip the reigns, grind the ink, wet the brush, unroll the broad white space/lean out and tip the moist black line". [Editorial note - this early draft differs in some minor respects from the final version published by Counterpoint Press in 2008]  

What are these mountains and rivers on the earth? – The rivers are all just part of the water cycle, the water cycle being of course the rising of waters from lakes and oceans back into clouds, moving around over the planet as part of the climate system, precipitating down again as snow or water, and from the highest peaks on downward again, joining the streams, the watersheds, cutting the land, eroding the landscape, carrying sediment back out to sea, in a continual cycle. The cycle, it is said, is on a two-million-year scale, that is to say, all of the atoms of water in all of the oceans and seas are up, out, and around, once every two million years, excluding water that is locked up in glaciers in the Poles and in the mountains. Mountains, on the other hand, are generated by subduction, the grinding of plates against each other, the conflict of one plate against another giving uplift, or volcanic activity. And the subduction cycle is once every two-hundred-million years, roughly, that is to say, mountains will be back down under the water and back out again, or land will be down and out every two-hundred-million years. So we’re playing a two-million year cycle against a two-hundred-million year cycle here, dancing its way around. The old Buddhist images are mountains as ascetic energy and yogic detatchment and waters as giving compassion and giving it all away. So that Avalokitevara is the image of.. is tied to the metaphor of waters iconographically and Vairocana Buddha and his emanation
Chandamaharoshana  and a number of other Buddha emanations are associated with cliffs, rocks, mountains and asceticism – (and fire, also – volcanic fire) 

Here’s a poem for the water cycle [Editorial note - continuing, from "Mountains and Rivers…" - ""The Flowing"]  called  “Falls”  . This poem was written on a magical occasion at the base of Yosemite Falls in California – (Falls – “Over stone lip/ the creek leaps out as one/, divides in spray and streamers,/lets it all  go..”…..”I stand drenched in crashing spray and mist/ and pray.”

Grey eyes – the  eyes of Greek goddesses are often grey like grey-eyed Athena – Grey-green is the color of the Great Basin. The great presence, the great comrade, the great population of the Great Basin is Great Basin sagebrush. What a marvelous plant!  So firm! So clear! Stretching so far! – So this is a poem for sagebrush, and for the Great Basin. It’s called “Earrings Dangling and Miles of Desert “ [likewise, continuing, as all Snyder reads here, from Mountains and Rivers…]  - "Sagebrush (artemisia) is of the sunflower family or compositae. It is not related to sage,  salvia, which is in the family of mint. The Great Basin sagebrush, our biggest artemesia, Artemesia tridentata…"….. "“Farewell, Artemesia,/ aromatic in the rain,/ I will think of you in my other poems.”  

“Reeds" ("With This Flesh")  – “Why should we cherish all sentient beings?/ Because sentient beings/ are the roots of the tree-of-awakening/The Bodhisattvas and the Buddhas are the flowers and fruits/ Compassion is the water for the roots”  (that’s from the Avatamsaka Sutra) " I -  “A Beach in Baja –"... on the twenty-eighth day of September, 1539, the very excellent Senor Francisco de Ulloa, lieutenant of the Governer and captain of the armada by grace of the most illustrious Senor Marques de Valle de Oaxaca, took possession of the bay of San Andres and the Bermeja Sea….."….. “… - I, Pedro Palenzia, notary Republic of this armada, write what happened before me”  - "II - "Senora Maria Leree is ninety-eight years old/ rests in a dark cool room at full noon…"…." Where we breathe, we bow." - "III - (Eat yourself) -  "The bulls of Iberia - Europa loves the Father…"
... “with this meat  I thee feed/with this flesh I thee wed” 

And I’m finishing with this little epigraph..
"The Bear Mother" – She veils herself/ to speak of eating salmon/ teases me with/ " What do you know of my ways?"/ and kisses me through the mountain./ Through and under is layers, its/gullies, its folds:/Her mouth full of blueberries,/ We share.”       

Thank you.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at the beginning of the tape, and
continuing until approximately thirty-two minutes in]