NO-COMFORT ZONE WITH THE BEATS WEEK ENDING OCTOBER 21, 2012

Still hanging in with the ModPo course at the end of week six. This week we read and/or listened to work from The Beats. Allen Ginsberg (Howl Part 1), a series of Jack Kerouac writings , including Essentials of Spontaneous Prose and Belief & Technique for Modern Prose. We listened to Robert Creeley‘s I Know A Man (5 versions)

Robert Creeley by Elsa Dorfman. Portrait taken...

and to a discussion of it on Poem Talk.  Although we didn’t read Anne Waldman ‘s poem, Rogue State, we did watch it on YouTube. And we read Incident by Amiri Baraka.

English: Jack Kerouac by photographer Tom Palu...

It is always interesting to watch the discussion videos with Al Filreis and his TAs, as they talk about their own interpretations. Sometimes, people on the forums agree with them, other times there are new interpretations. With more than thirty thousand students, there are a lot of different readings!

Anne Waldman and Allen Ginsberg

There was some controversy (still!) over the writings and performances of the Beats: their use of language, their seemingly unconnected lines and phrases. There were still people offended by Howl. And those who found Kerouac’s spontaneous riffs really quite difficult.

There was also some outside controversy when Minnesota announced a ban on courses being offered to Minnesota students from out-of-state. But that seems to have been resolved in favour of the courses being allowed. Thank goodness!

Next week, tomorrow actually, we begin Week seven, a look at the New York School.  I see poems by Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Ted Berrigan, Kenneth Koch and Bernadette Mayer on the syllabus. And the third of four assignments.

This has been a fantastic experience, and we are told that we will have access to the course site for a year afterward, and there is a lot of interest in forming a ModPo Alumni. I wonder what I will do with so much time on my hands, though, when the ten weeks is up?

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