Talk When You Talk, Cry When You Cry

Thoughts On My Teacher: Natalie Goldberg remembers Allen Ginsberg

Natalie Goldberg

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I STUDIED with Allen Ginsberg in 1976 at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. It was a six-week summer course in Boulder, Colorado. I was twenty-eight years old and the path of my life was set, even though I didn't fully know it. About fifteen years later I had the privilege of teaching with him in L.A. And the following year I taught a weekend course and forum with him again for Pacifica College in the same auditorium in L.A. There were six hundred students.

We each taught half the room and then switched. I gave a talk about practice. He read his poems. On the last morning we had breakfast together in the hotel. He ordered only low-cholesterol food. He said it was his doctor's orders.

I called my friend Barbara Schmitz, whom I had met in his class so many years before. "Imagine," I said, "I'm teaching with Allen Ginsberg."

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