Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Some dream advice from Allen Ginsberg

"Your poems / must contain / at least / three words / of inexplicable / origin or / they won't / be poems / at all"

[Addendum: Some ambiguity has arisen as to this post, so a little clarification is required: the above is not a quote from the published works of Mr G, but something the 'poet' 'told me' in a recent dream, along with some other stuff which I can't remember.  The phrase seemed to have a resonance beyond the usual silliness that dream language throws up, offering a kind of micro-manifesto for compositional methodology.  It doesn't feel like an apologia for Surrealism or automatic writing, but simply reiterates the Romantic ideal that some component - some, not all - of the poem should arise from somewhere beyond ourselves.  Homer called it the Muse, Jack Spicer thought in terms of radio dictation, but it's all the same pre-linguistic music in the end.  I also liked the fact that the advice could also be seen as an inexplicable poem in its own right, too.  Hope that clears things up.  For those who are interested, Allen Ginsberg is the only the second ever literary figure to appear in my dreams, the first being James Joyce.  Public figures do crop up quite a lot, but they're usually from fields other than my own.  Here's a quick rundown of the most memorable:

Many of the Pythons: Michael Palin, John Cleese (playing Moses), and Eric Idle;
George W. Bush;
Bill Oddie;
Julian Barratt;
Pixies (the band, not the folkloric creature of woodland glades);
Metallica (that's another band, youngsters: they did an album once called Load that lived up to its name); 
Batman (he's popped up quite a few times);
Spiderman (ditto);
Christian Bale;
Bart Simpson;
Vincent Price;
Henry Rollins.

There: a pretty good indication of my mental map.  Welcome to my nightmare!  S.T.]


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