Dear Dispatches,

A few weeks ago I was having dinner with Lewis and Sophia Warsh in Boulder. Lewis was in town to teach at Naropa. During dinner Lewis told me that Anne Waldman had just told him that Lisa Jarnot was coming to town at the last minute to fill in for someone who had to cancel for health reasons. I contacted Lisa to see if this was the case, and she told me that it was. We made arrangements for me to pick her up at Union Station in Denver (she traveled from NYC to Denver via Amtrak) on June 24. We had a very good talk on the way to Boulder. She told me she was going to teach a class in part on poetry and magic, and asked if I’d sit in on a session and co-teach with her. I told her I would, but I needed a couple of days to gather material and put a packet together for the students. We made plans for me to sit in on Friday (6/29). I put together a dozen or so pages from various texts to illustrate a kind of psycho-spiritual trajectory that looks something like this:

Magic – Nature Worship – Goddess

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Plant Intelligence – Entheogens

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Consciousness Expansion – Questioning Current Consensus Reality

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Thinking In Gestalts / Wholeness – An End To A Dominator Mentality

I used passages from these texts:

The Magical Calendar: A Synthesis Of Magical Symbolism From The Seventeenth-Century Renaissance Of Medieval Occultism – Translated by Adam McLean

Witches: Trhe Investigation Of An Ancient Religion Involving The Worship Of Diana – The Witch Cult – Laying As Much Stress On The Consorts Of The Goddess As On The Lady Herself – By T.C. Lethbridge

Out Of This World: Otherworldly Journeys From Gilgamesh To Einstein – By I.P. Couliano

The Adventure Of Self-Discovery: Dimensions Of Consciousness And New Perspectives In Psychotherapy And Inner Exploration – By Stanislav Grof

The Occult Experience: Magic In The New Age – By Nevill Drury

The Kybalion – By Three Initiates

The class went really well and the students seemed very receptive to the material that was shared.
For a long time I swore off placing myself in a classroom setting. But I’ve now had two opportunities to sit in on classes, and am now more confident in my ability to engage with students.

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I was a very precocious / bookish kid and was drawn to poetry at an early age. In my early teens (in the early 90s) a large bookstore opened close to where I lived. I was just old enough to drive, and would go up to the bookstore by myself and spend hours sitting and reading / writing. Back then, even chain bookstores like Borders had huge poetry sections. They also carried newspapers from all around the world. And they had an enormous music selection. A whole room of jazz, a whole room of classical, etc. For a queer introverted youth it was heaven.

I brought that up in part to say how much I was influenced by serendipitous discovery. Bookstore as oracle / bookstore as portal. I was seeing titles by New Directions, City Lights, University of California, etc. One new discovery would lead me to others. This was before the internet / pre-Google. Everything was new and thrilling. This was material I was not getting in school. I really just immersed myself in poetry and “figured things out” myself. I’m now 38 and have spent my adult life pursuing the craft. But only in the last few years have I really begun to see how things fit together / to see The Work in a larger global / cosmic context. I’ve always been fascinated with the mythic aspects of poetry; I read The White Goddess when I was 20 and it really set me on a path. But more and more I am coming to see the sacred nature of poetry. And to see poets as mediators of different realms of knowledge / awareness. As I continue on my journey I see that poetry and poets are responsible for furthering the evolution of human consciousness.

It’s really only now that I feel like I have something to say about my work / The Work. I’ve never been good at explicating poetry or reading a poem out of an anthology and then “explaining” that poem to a group of people. I know people who are brilliant at that. I think for me, the idea of teaching has more to do with carrying forth the gnosis. Poetry’s ability to expand consciousness / to reveal the divinity and interconnectedness of all living things. Talking about poetry not from a scholarly position but from the position of a practitioner. Being very open and honest and talking about the spiritual nature of poetry, which I think goes unmentioned in many academic settings.

For the past year or so I’ve been working on an essay called “The Poetics Of Reincarnation,” which is a kind of summation of my aesthetic and world view. I’ve been showing it to friends and am nearing “completion” of it. Once it’s ready I’ll pass it along for publication on Dispatches.

Warmest, Whit 7.7.18