BAFS/TAZ 2014 Poetry Camp Afterword
Well, we had such an incredible two weeks that I needed a week off just to wrap my head around it. First off, commendations to the Love Shovel Ranch crew behind the scenes making sure everyone got fed and found the necessary creature comforts. Next, I’ll say thanks to the instructors, who took the time to develop their material, haul their asses up the mountain (an hour+ trip for the Denver folk), and deliver programs of a quality that exceeded what is capable in academia. For Free. It is my belief that the extreme removal from institutionalized concepts such as hierarchical classrooms and aggressive tuition fostered the Socratic circles that occurred during the Poetry Camp.
Then there were the folk who came to participate in the workshops. They came from the street and from academia, from as far as Kentucky and California and Denver to as near as our own back yard. Each entered the TAZ as an individual, and respected as such the daily community grew intimate and we wrote our asses off. I produced as much writing per week as I average in a month. At the end of each day minds were saturated with creative juices and esoteric musings, and in the mornings the sun and fresh mountain air reinvigorated us for the next day. Every class was held out in the grove unless rain became overwhelming (I moved my laptop under the table and taught from there during an indecisive spatter) with the lilacs in bloom and the creek trickling through. Many prompts requested a stroll through the wilderness to remember just which planet we are on and what does it Mean to communicate.
What really happened at the Camp? There are no coincidences at Love Shovel. Max summoned the fog. I reabsorbed the Wraith (again). A ghost came home, others were banished. The TAZ occurred without rulers, often spontaneously without even direction. The Drunken Haiku Contests were raucous & hilarious beyond even the LSR norm (& one took place in Ned under psychedelic circumstances on the 4th of July). People looked each other in the eye every moment. Authentic communication was the natural state of respect among a group of diverse backgrounds & demeanors. We did our job as poets, we all Spoke the Truth, for two weeks straight. Try that at home sometime.
I salute the humility, honesty, and bravery of the sovereign individuals who joined us this summer for our very !First! Poetry Camp. You have set the tone. Namaste.
TAZ-Ned 2014: Revolutionary Thought
At the rate our world is declining into entertainment clones and brain-bending advertising, nothing less that Revolutionary Thinking can hope to alter our downward spiral towards mediocrity and eventually extinction. In the hopes of averting that end, Love Shovel Ranch in Nederland, CO will be hosting a Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ) dedicated to teaching and sharing the tools necessary to create Individualized Voices and Radical Speech that will cut through the bullshit of the modern human’s micro attention span. This will be an opportunity to gather with other response-able heroes and learn what it takes to “Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow”, as George Clinton proclaimed.
Under the aegis of the Beyond Academia Free Skool, such well known Front Range writer/poet/performers as Seth Walker, Nancy Stohlman, Jonathan Montgomery, Roseanna Frechette, Marcus If, Caitlan Mitchell, and others (including Bil Brown from LA) will gather for lectures, workshops, and panels to dialogue with You in an atmosphere of personal integrity and environmental responsibility.
For two weeks after the Naropa Summer Writing Program (as well as various optional activities during) we will be offering week-long live-in intensive workshop sessions. Expect to have blisters on your fingers as you will be doing more writing than a semester in academia. Stay tuned for updates on who will be teaching and what the curriculum will look like. If you have something to present yourself, please contact Marcus before the end of April.
Proposal to Naropa’s 40th Anniversary Disembodied Poetics Conference
By Bil Brown & Marcus If
ONTOLOGICAL ENGINEERING: THE DESIGN OF MEANING IN A MEANINGLESS WORLD
A quick, honest, assessment of Self and Other and our circumstantial relationship to the world-at-large reveals what Buddhists refer to as Samsara, or from a Western perspective, most literally Hell. The curious, almost baffling, ontological opportunities presented in this fantastic illusion are where the poet resides. Whether withering in traditional academia or as part of what the New York Times Book Review has described as “The Rebel Establishment,” we must admit we aren’t getting very far in making the world “safe for poetry”. This discussion will explore how our preconceived ideas about existence interfere with our ability to live in it as an integrated part of the whole. We will investigate the creation of poetry, or any art for that matter, from the initial inspiration through the editorial process and the terrifying distribution miasma found in today’s socio-political environment of truths that are hidden in plain sight. What response is appropriate to the wily dangers of the current catch-phrases “curation” and “Big Data” in online distribution networks? Can we find usable truths in a vastly meaningless barrage of senseless information? How do we respond to oddities on the electronic landscape such as “Likes” and “Followers” when our work may or may not have popular relevance? Shall we look to other art forms and cultural trends that also spend intense effort to create inherent meaning, while providing little more than an increasing gap between economic and social classes? We must work under the premise that it is vital to unearth our influences on and from society in order to understand our own role in it. Drawing from such varied traditions as Allen Ginsberg’s populist-aesthetics, the Every-Minute Zen of Shunryu Suzuki, the Ontological Anarchy of Hakim Bey, the Pragmatism of William James, the Condensed Experience Complex of Stanislav Grof, the Projective Verse of Charles Olson, and the Ideogrammatic Method of Ezra Pound, to the latest findings in Quantum Mechanics and social media theory, we will examine the basic precept of the contemplative condition as it relates to consensus reality: “With our thoughts we create the world.” The moderators, Bil Brown and Marcus If, alumni of NaropaUniversity and participants at the 20th anniversary of TKS in 1994, will lead this panel from the perspective of working writers and artists engaged in the world-as-it-is. We invite other TKS alumni, current students, and esteemed faculty to join the panel and attempt to describe how the future will ride.
This proposal was rejected by Naropa.
the Temporary Autonomous Zone
The social experiment that is Love Shovel Ranch has its roots in anarchist theory, but instead of just talking about it we actually try to practice what we preach. Generally speaking, our group efforts are conceived in a meritocratic environment where all of our members have input so that what is decided by the group has run through the thought process of every person before execution. An easy example of this is meals. Each of us is certainly capable of cooking, but certain individuals are better at creating a particular dish than others. So, for instance, while I am the acknowledged master of pasta sauce, I am absolutely banned from cooking eggs, and someone else will cover that meal. Additionally, while the cooks are required to clean up after themselves (to encourage less sloppiness), everyone else who eats is required to wash dishes, cut veggies, and otherwise assist in any way needed. We practice the ancient art of TANSTAAFL, because There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. If you don’t live at the Ranch and are invited to share a meal with us, it is because you have other merits that you bring to our community. This is a noteworthy point, because we have zero tolerance for free-loaders. Anarchy, from the Greek “anarchos” means “without rulers”, not “without rules”. This is an important distinction, and leads us towards an understanding of the Temporary Autonomous Zone, or TAZ. A TAZ is an anarchist gathering, usually for some previously expressed purpose, and it could easily include many other definitions born out of its artful chaos. But what a TAZ is not is easier to define, as it does not function under a “mob mentality” of reactionary mindlessness. Autonomy means individual responsibility for your choices AND their consequences. You are a sovereign living organism (at least, we hope so) and are accorded all rights applicable to such in a TAZ environment. If you want to get naked that is your option, just don’t wag your junk in someone’s face who isn’t interested. And this is the primary point: in a TAZ environment you are Free to Be as long as you accord everyone else the same right. The basic Buddhist precept of Do No Harm is also the basic rule of successful anarchy. Once you begin to infringe on the sovereign rights of others (including by such ‘victimless’ crimes as littering) you become unworthy of the title Autonomous, and you are now relegated to the class of Enemy. But a truly Autonomous person soon finds that the joy of self-responsibility is sharable, and then the creations may begin…
If you’d like to learn more about TAZs from the fellow who invented the term, check out our links page under Ontological Anarchy.
Do MORE for Free
Welcome to Love Shovel Ranch and the first Tyrant’s Blog. First off you are probably wondering just what is the Love Shovel Ranch, is it a place, a group, a concept, what? While it is in fact all three, what is important to understand at the beginning is that Love Shovel Ranch (LSR) is the lagrange point between Hell and Heaven, between selfishness and stewardship, between a permanent adolescence and a boundless Freedom. It is not a purgatory to rest on laurels or laziness, it is a place to work diligently, to give freely. Typical adherents are poets, writers, painters, musicians, and artists of many flavors who come to LSR to be inspired by each other’s work, and to get their own styles solidified in a place where economics is not the highest priority. We come together to share radical views and evocative energy.
Our motto here is “Do More for Free”, meaning our highest goal is to give ourselves out to the community at large and shovel some love for somebody else with no reward in mind or need. Love Shoveling is different than community volunteerism, it is not something to add to a resume or claim as a personal accolade. Shoveling is much more akin to “helping the old woman cross the street” as some parents used to teach, not because she will reward you but because the ‘reward’ was to be given to her in the first place: she will eventually forget, you will forget, but by your efforts the world was, for a moment, a better and easier place. This is how we change the world from the Politics of Greed to the next step of the evolution of human society: the End of Poverty & Classism. LSR trains heroes, not volunteers; the person who conquers their own desires becomes invincible. Are you willing to become response-able?