Poetic Preservation

For her newest work, visionary poet Anne Waldman was inspired by the urgency of preserving art. The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University, which Waldman co-founded, and where she now teaches, is in the process of transferring its vast collection of fragile tapes featuring the work of artists like John Cage, Allen Ginsberg, Diane di Prima and many more to an online archive.

Gossamurmur, Waldman’s book-length poem, does battle with those Deciders and Impostors, as she calls them, who pose a threat to the archive in the science-fiction world of the poem. “They see poetry as too powerful or too unnecessary,” says Waldman. “They don’t see the artistic value of poetry, as they might see the value of Buddhist or spiritual teachings, as it has no ‘authoritative’ coinage.” Traveling from the gossamer wings of a butterfly to the rings of Saturn and other places, the poem uses sci-fi themes and the trope of the doppelgänger to meditate on the power of preserving our poetic heritage for generations to come. “I want people of the future to know — if there are some left — that some of us in these times were not just slaughtering one another,” says Waldman. “It’s an archive against the repression of historical memory.”

The acclaimed poet will read from Gossamurmur and sign books tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover, 2526 East Colfax Avenue. For more information on this free event, visit tatteredcover.com; for more on the Naropa University Archive Project, go to archive.org/details/naropa.
Wed., Aug. 7, 7:30 p.m., 2013


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