In this installment, Anne Waldman sings “The Garden of Love” by William Blake. Waldman, poet, editor, performer, professor, curator, cultural activist carries in her genetics the lineages of the New American Poetry, and is a considered an inheritor of the Beat (Allen Ginsberg called her his “spiritual wife”) and the New York School (Frank O’Hara told her to “work for inspiration, not money”) mantles. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts award, the Shelley prize for poetry, and has had residences at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, The Atlantic Center for the Arts and at the Christian Woman’s University in Tokyo. Directing the Poetry Project at St Mark’s Poetry Project over a decade, she co-founded the Jack Keroauc School of Disembodied Poetics with Allen Ginsberg at the Buddhist-inspired Naropa University in 1974. She currently is a Distinguished Professor and Chair of Naropa’s celebrated Summer Writing Program and is working with the Study Abroad on the Bowery project in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Author and editor of over 40 books and small press editions of poetry, she has been working for over 25 years on the epic Iovis project (two volumes published by Coffee House Press, 1993, 1997) and has published most recently Marriage: A Sentence, Coffee House Press 2000; In the Room of Never Grieve: New & Selected Poems with CD collaboration with Ambrose Bye, Coffee House Press 2003; Dark Arcana: Afterimage or Glow, with photographs by Patti Smith, Heavenbone Press 2003; and Structure of the World Compared to a Bubble, a long Buddhist poem, Penguin Poets 2004. She makes her home in New York City and Boulder, Colorado. She was awarded a residency at the Rockefeller’s Bellagio center in April of 2006.
William Blake, “The Garden of Love”
I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.
And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And “Thou shalt not” writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore;
And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be;
And Priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys and desires.