Zen Poetry

Norman Fischer, Michael McClure, & Leslie Scalapino

Practioners of Reality:
Symposium on Poetry & Buddhism

(Cosponsored by the Stanford Center for Buddhist Studies,
the English Department, and the Creative Writing Program)

Thursday, May 15, 2003, 10 am-3:30 pm
Terrace Room, Building 460, Room 426, Stanford University

Edited by Peter Y. Chou

Norman Fischer

Michael McClure

Leslie Scalapino

Preface: This Workshop on Contemporary Poetry and Poetics is an interdisciplinary forum for current work in contemporary poetry and poetics, sponsored by the Stanford Humanities Center and funded by the Mellon Foundation. It was organized by Douglas Kerr and Tim Yu, two graduate students in Stanford's English Department. I was informed of this symposium by the Stanford Buddhist Studies Center. I attended a poetry workshop with Gary Snyder & Norman Fischer in 1990 at the San Jose Poetry Center, and looked forward to see Norman again as well as the other poets on the program. Doug confirmed my registration Monday and told me to pick up a reading packet for the symposium in the English Dept's office. The reading packet had around 130 pages of poetry & prose from the three poets which I didn't have time to read. My mind was still swirling around Leonardo's "Lady with an Ermine" which I saw on Tuesday in San Francisco at the Legion of Honor, which inspired a web page. It wasn't until 2 am-4 am Thursday morning that I started to read the three poets' work in preparation for the symposium. While reading Norman Fischer's 28-lines poems from Success, I was surprised to see my name mentioned in his poem of Saturday, 24 March [1990]. I found my poem written on that date and am showing both of them here.

Terrace Room, Margaret Jacks Hall, Room 426, Stanford University, May 15, 2003, 10 am:
About 40 people attended this symposium which got underway at 10:20 am after Norman's late arrival. Doug Kerr introduced the speakers— three prolific poets who are familiar with the Buddhist tradition and contemporary poetry. The term "practioners of reality" was first used by Allen Ginsberg in his 1987 lecture at the Library of Congress. The morning session covered the topics What is Buddhist Poetry? and What is a Buddhist Poem? After the lunch break, the Poetics of Composition and the Poetics of Meditation were discussed with an extended Q & A session that was both invigorating and illuminating.

Michael: Leslie's poem ended with "rose", so I'll read a poem with "rose" in the first line.
This is Poem #51 from Ghost Tantras (1967):

We are served by machines making satins
of sounds.
Each blot of sound is a bud or a star.
Body eats bouquets of the ear's vista.
Gahhhrrr boody eers noze eyes deem thou.
Nah droooooh seerch. NAH THEE!
The machines are too dull when we
are lion-poems that move & breathe.
hann dree myketoth sharoo sreee thah noh deeeeeemed ez.
Whan eecethoooze hrohh.


Norman Fischer on Meditation & Poetry

Meditation is when you sit down, let's say that, and don't do anything.
Poetry is when you get up and do something.
Somewhere we've developed the misconception that poetry is self-experession, and that meditation is going inward. Actually, poetry has nothing to do with self-expression, it is the way to be free, finally, of self-expression, to go much deeper than that. And meditation is not a form of thought or reflection, it is a looking at or an awareness of what is there, equally inside and outside, and then it doesn't make sense anymore to mention inside or outside.
— from Beneath a Single Moon: Buddhism in Contemporary American Poetry,
     Edited by Kent Johnson & Craig Paulenich, (1991), p. 66

Michael McClure on Poetry

Poetry is a muscular principle— an athletic song or whisper of flashy thought. We can be as serious as blue-black gloom or bright as a buttercup in the dawn. The spirit of poetry is loops we send out from the expanding helix of our lives. With poetry we can meet an old perception on a mountain top or in a subway, or view a new perception loping in the distance like a wolf— or glimmering like an opal in the twilight.
— Foreword to Jaguar Skies (1975)

Leslie Scalapino on Poetry

the serial poem which is itself internal debate is not a representation or imagination of what the monks are debating. The text's internal debate is the author's 'comparison' of her mind phenomena to exterior phenomena, laying these alongside each other 'actually'— such as 'the mind's comparison' to dawn, to magnolias, to color of night, 'as if' these are manifestations of mind phenomena, which they are here.
— from "Wall Hanging" in The Tango (2001)

Web Links to Norman Fischer
The Everyday Zen Foundation
  (Zoketsu Norman Fischer's Teachings Online)
Zoketsu Norman Fischer: Biography
  (The Everyday Zen Foundation)
Zen Talk: "Bewilderment"
  (Everday Zen All Day Sit, January 4, 2003)
Do You Want to Make Something Out of It?: Zen meditation and the artistic impulse
  (from Success, Singing Horse Press, 2000)
One Line Poems
  (By Zoketsu Norman Fischer)
Success, Singing Horse Press (2000)
  (Sampling of 8 poems by Zoketsu Norman Fischer)
Turn Left in Order to Go Right (1989)
  (By Norman Fischer, Excerpts, Book Review)
Wandering Around in the Diamond Sutra
  (Zazenkai, Karuna Meditation Society retreat, Vancouver, B.C., May 6, 2000)
Norman Fischer
  (Co-Abbot of San Francisco Zen Center)

Web Links to Michael McClure
Michael McClure Home Page
  (Poems, Essays, Considerations, 1975 Margins Symposium, Into a New Millenium)
Michael McClure Biography
  (About Michael McClure by Ray Manzarek)
The Poetry of Michael McClure: A Scientist's View
  (By Francis Crick, First published in the 1975 Margins Symposium)
The Beat Page: Michael McClure
  (RookNet Project: McClure's biography & poems)
Michael McClure: Bio & Links
  (Texts from Levi Asher, Bibliography of McClure's Works)
An Anthology of Poems by Michael McClure— Selected by the Author
  (Hymn to St. Geryon, Dark Brown, The New Book/A Book of Torture, Little Odes, The Beard, Rare Angel, Star, On Organism, September Blackberries, Jaguar Skies, Antechamber, Fragments of Perseus, Rebel Lions, Simple Eyes)
  (21 poems selected by Michael McClure)

Web Links to Leslie Scalapino
Leslie Scalapino: Onine Works
  (Poems, Writings, About the Author)
Leslie Scalapino: Electronic Poetry Review
  (EPR#2: The Wedge— Chapter 5 of Secret Autobiography)
Leslie Scalapino: New York State Writers Institute
  (SUNY-Albany, March 11, 1999)
Other Books by Leslie Scalapino
  (New Time, Return of Painting, Green and Black, How Phenomena Appear To Unfold)
Leslie Scalapino: poetics@
  (God, Zen, spiritual authorities)

Philip Whalen Web Links
Reading Philip Whalen
  (Dale Smith, Jacket #5, 1998)
Philip Whalen passed away the morning of June 26, 2002
  (Beat Generation News, July 2002)
The Beat Page: Philip Whalen
  (The Memory Of, Dilemma of the Occasion Is, Expensive Life, Imperfect Sonnet)
  [20th.October 1923 (Portland, Oregon) 26th.June 2002 (San Francisco, CA)]
Obituary: Philip Whalen, 78; Zen Priest, Mentor Among Beat Poets
  (By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times, June 28, 2002)
Obituary: Philip Whalen, an Original Beat Poet, 78, Dies
  (NY Times, July 2, 2002)
Obituary: Philip Whalen— co-founder of Beat poetry
  (By Heidi Benson, San Francisco Chronicle, June 27, 2002)

Poetry Books by Norman Fischer: (at Amazon.com)
Taking Our Places : The Buddhist Path to Truly Growing Up
Harper SanFrancisco, (2003)
Opening to You: Zen-Inspired Translations of the Psalms
Penguin USA, NY, (2003)
Benedict's Dharma: Buddhists Reflect on the Rule of Saint Benedict
Riverhead Books, Penguin-Putnam, NY (2001)
Singing Horse Press, Philadelphia (2000)
The Narrow Roads Of Japan
Small Press Distribution (1998)
Jerusalem Moonlight
Clear Glass Pubications (1995)
Precisely the Point Being Made: A Book of Poems
O Books, Oakland & Chax Press, Minneapolis (1993)
Turn Left in Order to Go Right
O Books, Oakland (1989)
On Whether or Not to Believe in Your Mind
Figures (1987)
The Devices
Potes & Poets Press, Elmwood, Connecticut (1987)
Why People Lack Confidence in Chairs: A Poem
Coffee House Press, West Branch, Iowa (1984)

Poetry Books by Michael McClure: (at Amazon.com)
Touching the Edge: Dharma Devotions from the Hummingbird Sangha
Shambhala Publications (1999)
Rain Mirror: New Poems
New Directions, NY (1999)
Huge Dreams: San Francisco and Beat Poems
Penguin USA (1999)
The Beat Generation: Galleries and Beyond
John Natsoulas Gallery (1996)
Scratching the Beat Surface: Essays on New Vision from Blake to Kerouac
Penguin USA (1994)
Simple Eyes and Other Poems
New Directions, NY (1994)
Lighting the Corners: On Art, Nature, and the Visionary: Essays and Interviews
University of New Mexico Press (1993)

Poetry Books by Leslie Scalapino: (at Amazon.com)
It's Go In/Quiet Illumined Grass/Land
The Post-Apollo Press, Sausalito, CA (2002)
Defoe (long fiction or prose poem)
Green Integer Books (2002)
The Tango (serial poem with paintings like Buddhist tankas)
Granary Books (2001)
New Time (Wesleyan Poetry Series)
Wesleyan Univ Press, Hanover, NH (1999)
The Public World / Syntactically Impermanence
Wesleyan Univ Press, Hanover, NH (1999)
The Return of Painting, the Pearl, and Orion: A Trilogy
Talisman House Publishing (1997)

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P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: peter@wisdomportal.com (5-15-2003)