Monday, October 23, 2006

"Sunflower Sutra" by Allen Ginsberg

We've read and listened to Sunflower Sutra by Allen Ginsberg.

The poem was conceived while the writer and Kerouac were sitting by a San Francisco canal full of litter and Ginsberg discovered a dead, grime-covered sunflower.
In an answer* to a previous letter written to him by his friend Stella Sampas, Kerouac paraphrases Ginsberg’s poem to comfort Stella; “the grime isnt ours, the grime is man-made”.

Students imagined and wrote Stella’s letter.

*Kerouac: Selected Letters (1940-1956) edited by Ann Charters; Viking, Penguin Books, 1995; page 528

Stella's letter by Santiago R.

Dear Jack,
You are my last hope. I have never felt like this before in my life. The smile that my face once wore is now gone forever. Everything has changed. My kindness is slowly turning into bitterness and hostility towards people. I have lost the capacity to forgive and be forgiven. Life is all around me and yet I can not see it. I feel exhausted. My body is bruised. I can not find peace even when I sleep. Night after nigh I keep having the most horrible dreams. A black shadow haunts me and chases me until I fall into a deep well. I never hit bottom. I just continue falling. Then I wake up and everything seems to be covered by a painful mantle. I can not go on. My heart won’t resist another night. However, I don’t think anybody would mourn after me. Not for what I have become. Death is after me and I am not afraid anymore. That’s why I need your help Jack. You are the only one who can save me. Help me to get up again. I need to feel alive again or else… everything will be over for me. I believe there’s still chance. Come and help me Jack. But O Jack, hurry! Hurry before it’s too late!
I am looking forward to seeing you.


Stella's letter by Victoria A.

Dear Jack,
I’m so glad to receive news from you, and hearing that you are doing so well; I would love to say the same thing about me, and write to you a letter full of joy and positive ness, but I must admit that I can’t. I feel hopeless, everything around is surely beautiful, people are great, everyday I can only get out of bed because of them; but I feel so sorry for them, all that beauty they have, and all that bright they hold in their souls is covered by the shadow of this world; wars everywhere, evil everywhere, money all around us, and controlling all we do, and shutting us down…and we do nothing about it! I can’t believe I’m doing nothing about it, I feel horrible whit myself, I stand still watching life go by, and though I’m completely aware of all the injustice that is upon every single one of us, I do nothing. It disheartens me so to think about this reality, that I end up shutting my eyes and walking through life accepting things as they are, as if it were inevitable, and as it nothing could be done to accomplish a positive change. And that’s not true, everyone can do something to change this world, is this stillness we are all victims of, that lets injustice continue to be in our lives.
I’m so sorry I’ve made you listen this, my grieves…It’s just that I can’t think of anything else.
I hope we can get together soon, I can’t wait to see you, and maybe we can talk about this face to face.

The texts published here have been written by secondary school students from "Colegio Paideia" (Buenos Aires, Argentina). They have been uploaded without the teacher's corrections.

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