History: Take me to your poets

A quote famously attributed to Trungpa came on his first arrival in the United States:

"Where are the poets? Take me to your poets!"

During the two summer sessions—and in truth, even before they started—Trungpa had an eye toward the future. He wanted to develop a plan for Naropa beyond the first summer. He wanted a plan for a hundred years. With Ginsberg, Waldman, Cage and Diane di Prima already on hand, Trungpa asked the contemporary masters of American letters to found a poetics department.

Ginsberg recalled the intent: "It would be a way of teaching meditators about the golden mouth and educating poets about the golden mind."

He and Waldman, who roomed together that summer for the Institute, stayed up late one night discussing what they finally came to name "The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics."

"Disembodied," Waldman once explained, because "so many of our faculty would be peripatetic, and also our inspiration was from many writers long gone. Moreover, at the time we had no buildings, no desks, no blackboards, no filing cabinets, no grades, no money … only our mental commitment, our voices, our scholarship, our practice. So in the beginning, the school was truly disembodied!"

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