Archive for the ‘Allen Ginsberg’ Category



The weight of the world
is love.
Under the burden
of solitude,
under the burden
of dissatisfaction

the weight,
the weight we carry
is love.

Who can deny?
In dreams
it touches
the body,
in thought
a miracle,
in imagination
till born
in human—

looks out of the heart
burning with purity-
for the burden of life
is love,
but we carry the weight
and so must rest
in the arms of love
at last,
must rest in the arms
of love.

No rest
without love,
no sleep
without dreams
of love—
be mad or chill
obsessed with angels
or machines,
the final wish
is love
—cannot be bitter,
cannot deny,
cannot withhold
if denied:

the weight is too heavy

—must give
for no return
as thought
is given
in solitude
in all the excellence
of its excess.

The warm bodies
shine together
in the darkness,
the hand moves
to the center
of the flesh,
the skin trembles
in happiness
and the soul comes
joyful to the eye—

yes, yes,
that’s what
I wanted,
I always wanted,
I always wanted,
to return
to the body
where I was born.



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Recently, my cyber-friend Montucky tapped me for a ROAR award. Thank you, Terry! Now, the rules for being A Roar for Powerful Words recipient state that I must share three writing tips and pass the award on to three more bloggers worthy of recognition and esteem.

When it comes to writing, I turn to “beginner’s mind.” And really the only thing that I know for sure is this: you need a pen or pencil, a piece of paper and the mind.

While I use my iBook for blogging, I use a notebook to access the fresh and unedited part of my mind. For ten years, I have done “writing practice” a la Natalie Goldberg. She continues to be my great writing teacher and the lineage includes Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Suzuki Roshi and Danin Katagiri Roshi.

If you want to write, you need to read a lot and, oddly enough, write. And don’t get too attached to the outcome. Perhaps I should say, “practice non-attachment.” As Nike says, “Just do it!” If you’re new to “My Inner Edge” you’ll soon discover that I read a lot of poetry. I don’t write a lot of poems, yet poems inform my writing.

I like to write in different places–particularly in cafes that have just the right amount of ambient noise to occupy the judgmental part of my mind. I also like to write with a friend or a group of writers and then read aloud with “no comment.” Reading your work aloud is important and allows you to hear your own voice.

Here is one of my favorite quotes about writing–it’s from The Writing Life by Annie Dillard:

One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.

Having said what I know about writing, I bestow this award on The Dream Antilles, Bogs Darking and The Doughtie House Exchange

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Today is the birthday of the beat poet, Allen Ginsberg–informed by Rimbaud, Blake, Whitman, Ma Rainey and Vivaldi…in love with Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady and William S. Burroughs.

Fifteen years after Ginsberg wrote, “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,” I found Howl and Other Poems in the basement of the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco. My surburban upbringing; my BA in English; all my prior efforts at punctuation, capitalization and orderly thinking fell off a cliff.

Ginsberg put together meditation and writing…the capacity to penetrate “Monkey Mind” and arrive at fresh thought–first thought–and inspired Natalie Goldberg to create writing practice.

Like Jack Kerouac, he provides instructions…

I Background (Situation, Or Primary Perception)

1. “First Thought, Best Thought” — Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
2. “Take a friendly attitude toward your thoughts.” — Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
3. “The Mind must be loose.” — John Adams
4. “One perception must immediately and directly lead to a further perception.” — Charles Olson, “Projective Verse”
5. “My writing is a picture of the mind moving.” — Philip Whalen
6. Surprise Mind — Allen Ginsberg
7. “The old pond, a frog jumps in, Kerplunk!” — Basho
8. “Magic is the total delight (appreciation) of chance.” — Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
9. “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.” –– Walt Whitman
10. “…What quality went to form a man of achievement, especially in literature? … Negative capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.” — John Keats
11. “Form is never more than an extension of content. — Robert Creeley to Charles Olson
12. “Form follows function.” — Frank Lloyd Wright*
13. Ordinary Mind includes eternal perceptions. — A. G.
14. “Nothing is better for being Eternal
15. Nor so white as the white that dies of a day.” — Louis Zukofsky Notice what you notice. — A. G.
16. Catch yourself thinking. — A. G.
17. Observe what’s vivid. — A. G.
18. Vividness is self-selecting. — A. G.
19. “Spots of Time” — William Wordsworth
20. If we don’t show anyone we’re free to write anything. –– A.


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On Sunday, I’ll be teaching a day-long workshop on writing, Write Into the Present Moment. Is this because I am a great, renowned, published writer? No, it’s because I love to listen, I love to read and I love to contact the bottom of my mind through “writing practice.”

Ten years ago, I connected with Natalie Goldberg and “joined the lineage” of Zen writing practioners. I fell into love with her method of timed writing:

“Keep your hand moving; don’t cross out; be specific (not the tree; the magnolia–not the flower in the window; the geranium); use original detail; don’t think–don’t get logical; lose control; don’t worry about spelling or punctuation; go for the jugular…AND, you’re free to write the worst trash in America…start with, ‘I remember’ or ‘I don’t remember’ or ‘I’m thinking about’ or ‘I’m not thinking about’ and keep your hand moving–10 minutes, GO.”

Natalie’s great writing teachers were Katagiri Roshi and Allen Ginsberg. Katagiri Roshi taught her how to sit meditation and empty her mind in the sparse Minnesota Zen Center. At Naropa’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, Allen Ginsberg taught her that “when the mind is shapely, the writing is shapely.”

And what do you need to write? A pen, a few sheets of paper and the mind. You need to read a lot; to learn to savor different kinds of writing and different voices. AND you need to read your own work aloud to another human being.

The most levelling practice that I learned from Natalie was to listen and make no comment when someone reads aloud. The idea is that the writing is not good or bad…we simply need to let the words and images land in our consciousness. After many rounds of reading aloud, we learned to do a “recall.” To repeat exactly a phrase that caught our attention…I vividly remember a man from the mid-west describing a refrigerator as a “husky Kelvinator.” That image immediately put me in my grandmother’s 1950’s kitchen in West Pittston, Pennsylvania. It landed indelibly in my awareness.

So, wherever you are on Sunday, grab a pen and a piece of paper. Take ten minutes–take a half hour and meet us in the zendo of writing practice…remember, “keep your hand moving.”

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