Naropa and "The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics"
A Dream of a School
Allen Ginsberg speaking at Naropa
I have always been a daydreamer. Kind of a Walter Mitty sort, the Danny Kaye version, much to my wifes dismay. Some of the daydreams from my Senior Year of High School were elaborate dreams of being a Freshman at Berkley, or Reed. The predominant dream of the time was the dream of sitting crosslegged on a lawn at the Naropa University Boulder Colorado listening to a lecture from Allen Ginsberg with a copy of Ezra Pound's Canto's open on my lap.
I read the catalogue so many times that year I had the curriculum and course load memorized. I wanted badly to be a part of the "Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics." I figured that my love of poetry and the fact that I felt disembodied through most of my life made the fit perfect.
My dream was never fulfilled. I have continued my life with a special interest in the organization and have watched as much film and read as much literature about the school I could obtain throughout my lifetime.
Then I fell in love with Erika and we married. Lo and behold my sister-in-law and her boyfriend graduated with degrees from Naropa in Special Education. The fit was perfect for them since they practiced Buddhism but only filled me with an even deeper longing.
An exiled Tibetan Tulku by the name of Chugyam Trungpa took his Comparative Religion Degree from Oxford and opened Naropa University in the early seventies.
In 1974 Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, John Cage, and Diane Di Prima opened "The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics."
The programs offered at the University are run on a principle called contemplative education. The program is centered around Shambhala Buddhism and some of the requirements for a degree are meditation, a knowledge of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, Tuijiquan, a knowledge of the Christian Labrynth, ikebara, and a mixture of neo-pagan rituals.
The institution requires that the students become familiar with a Body-Mind practice that includes meditation and dance.
John Cale, Anne Waldman, and Allen Ginsberg
A Curriculum Worth Wanting
Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs at Naropa
Back when I was memorizing the catalogue I noticed that the only assignment for their MFA from the "Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics" was to read Ezra Pound's "Cantos."
So I did. Thank you Naropa Institute Catalogue for introducing me to one of the greatest collections of modern poetry.
I would like to say that I read the "Selected Cantos" I bought at a used bookstore for two dollars at least three times. Over and over again I tried to figure out what he was saying.
Most of the historical references I still am unclear about, but the rhythm and the song is simply amazing. As I grow older I listen to more and more lectures about Pound and the "Cantos" and have reread them a few times. It all becomes clearer, maybe due to age.
I also have a CD of lectures from the archives of the "Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics." One of the lectures is Ginsberg talking about the poetry of William Carlos Williams, not so much the content of the poetry but about his choice of meter.
His discussion of meter goes beyond Williams and into the power of triple verse as used by the greeks.
On this same CD set there is a lecture by Anne Waldman on the motivations behind writing poetry. What sticks with me in her lecture is how she puts emphasis on research. If you have an idea for a poem do a little research open up your choices and play with different sounds.
Also Diane Di Prima gives a lecture on getting your poetry to print that is an amazing mixture of her personal anecdotes and hints to writers. .
"Fried Shoes Cooked Diamonds" Complete documentary of Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics