Andrew Schelling recalls and discusses a college course, “World Poetry,” which Norman O. Brown taught at University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1974. The turbulent politics and weird, harrowing culture changes of North America set a context. Brown's class met weekly in a remote meadow ringed by second-growth redwoods. Brown developed his interest in the “law of metamorphosis,” which he thought poetry captures, and put his attention on how the human body changes, producing text as sound or performance. Using two anthologies compiled by Jerome Rothenberg, Brown drew students into a poetry that was physical, raw, multilingual, and perhaps a scriptural base for the era's counterculture. Schelling portrays Brown as a quixotic figure, Sir John Falstaff among scholars. A quick sketch of the “Santa Cruz ecosystem” brings into the mix Gregory Bateson, whose thoughts on evolution paralleled Brown's on poetry, and Jan Willis, veteran civil rights activist and scholar of Sanskrit.

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