Ginsberg, Allen 1926–1997

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Ginsberg, Allen 1926–1997

PERSONAL: Born June 3, 1926, in Newark, NJ; died of a heart attack while suffering from liver cancer, April 5, 1997, in New York, NY; son of Louis (a poet and teacher) and Naomi (Levy) Ginsberg. Education: Columbia University, A.B., 1948. Politics: "Space Age Anarchist." Religion: "Buddhist-Jewish."

CAREER: Writer. Spot welder, Brooklyn Naval Yard, Brooklyn, NY, 1945; dishwasher, Bickford's Cafeteria, New York, NY, 1945; worked on various cargo ships, 1945–56; literary agent, reporter for New Jersey union newspaper, and copy boy for New York World Telegram, 1946; night porter, May Co., Denver, CO, 1946; book reviewer, Newsweek, New York, NY, 1950; market research consultant in New York, NY, and San Francisco, CA, 1951–53; instructor, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, 1963; founder and treasurer, Committee on Poetry Foundation, 1966–97; organizer, Gathering of the Tribes for a Human Be-In, San Francisco, 1967; cofounder, codirector, and teacher, Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, Naropa Institute, Boulder, CO, 1974–97. Gave numerous poetry readings in the United States, England, Russia, India, Peru, Chile, Poland, and Czechoslovakia; presenter at conferences. Film appearances included Pull My Daisy, 1960; Guns of the Trees, 1962; Couch, 1964; Wholly Communion, Chappaqua, and Allen for Allen, all 1965; Joan of Arc and Galaxie, both 1966; Herostratus, The Mind Alchemists, and Don't Look Back, all 1967; Me and My Brother, 1968; Dynamite Chicken, 1971; Renaldo and Clara, 1978; It Doesn't Pay to Be Honest, 1984; It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, 1987; Heavy Petting, 1988; John Bowles: The Complete Outsider and Jonas in the Desert, both 1994; and (narrator) Kaddish (TV film), 1977. Performer on recordings, including San Francisco Poets, Evergreen Records, 1958; Howl and Other Poems, Fantasy, 1959; and Holy Soul Jelly Roll: Poems and Songs, 1949–1993, Rhino/Word Beat, 1995.

MEMBER: National Institute of Arts and Letters, PEN, New York Eternal Committee for Conservation of Freedom in the Arts.

AWARDS, HONORS: Woodbury Poetry Prize; Guggenheim fellow, 1963–64; National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1966, and fellowship, 1986; National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, 1969; National Book Award for Poetry, 1974, for The Fall of America; National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Literature, 1979; Poetry Society of America gold medal, 1986; Golden Wreath, 1986; Before Columbus Foundation Award, 1990, for lifetime achievement; Harriet Monroe Poetry Award, University of Chicago, 1991; American Academy of Arts and Sciences fellowship, 1992; named chevalier, French Order of Arts and Letters, 1993.

WRITINGS:

POETRY COLLECTIONS

Howl and Other Poems, introduction by William Carlos Williams, City Lights (San Francisco, CA), 1956, revised edition, Grabhorn-Hoyem, 1971, Fortieth anniversary edition, City Lights, 1996.

Siesta in Xbalba and Return to the States, privately printed, 1956.

Kaddish and Other Poems, 1958–1960, City Lights (San Francisco, CA), 1961.

Empty Mirror: Early Poems, Corinth Books (Chevy Chase, MD), 1961, new edition, 1970.

A Strange New Cottage in Berkeley, Grabhorn Press, 1963.

Reality Sandwiches: 1953–1960, City Lights (San Francisco, CA), 1963.

The Change, Writer's Forum, 1963.

Kral Majales (title means "King of May"), Oyez (Kensington, CA), 1965.

Wichita Vortex Sutra, Housmans (London, England), 1966, Coyote Books (Brunswick, ME), 1967.

TV Baby Poems, Cape Golliard Press, 1967, Grossman, 1968.

Airplane Dreams: Compositions from Journals, House of Anansi (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1968, City Lights (San Francisco, CA), 1969.

(With Alexandra Lawrence) Ankor Wat, Fulcrum Press, 1968.

Scrap Leaves, Tasty Scribbles, Poet's Press, 1968.

Wales—A Visitation, July 29, 1967, Cape Golliard Press, 1968.

The Heart Is a Clock, Gallery Upstairs Press, 1968.

Message II, Gallery Upstairs Press, 1968.

Planet News, City Lights (San Francisco, CA), 1968.

For the Soul of the Planet Is Wakening …, Desert Review Press, 1970.

The Moments Return: A Poem, Grabhorn-Hoyem, 1970.

Ginsberg's Improvised Poetics, edited by Mark Robison, Anonym Books, 1971.

New Year Blues, Phoenix Book Shop (New York, NY), 1972.

Open Head, Sun Books (Melbourne, Australia), 1972.

Bixby Canyon Ocean Path Word Breeze, Gotham Book Mart (New York, NY), 1972.

Iron Horse, Coach House Press (Chicago, IL), 1972.

The Fall of America: Poems of These States, 1965–1971, City Lights (San Francisco, CA), 1973.

The Gates of Wrath: Rhymed Poems, 1948–1952, Grey Fox (San Francisco, CA), 1973.

Sad Dust Glories: Poems during Work Summer in Woods, 1974, Workingman's Press (Seattle, WA), 1975.

First Blues: Rags, Ballads, and Harmonium Songs, 1971–1974, Full Court Press (New York, NY), 1975.

Mind Breaths: Poems, 1972–1977, City Lights (San Francisco, CA), 1978.

Poems All over the Place: Mostly Seventies, Cherry Valley (Wheaton, MD), 1978.

Mostly Sitting Haiku, From Here Press (Fanwood, NJ), 1978, revised and expanded edition, 1979.

Careless Love: Two Rhymes, Red Ozier Press, 1978.

(With Peter Orlovsky) Straight Hearts' Delight: Love Poems and Selected Letters, Gay Sunshine Press (San Francisco, CA), 1980.

Plutonian Ode: Poems, 1977–1980, City Lights (San Francisco, CA), 1982.

Collected Poems, 1947–1980, Harper (New York, NY), 1984, expanded edition published as Collected Poems: 1947–85, Penguin (New York, NY), 1995.

Many Loves, Pequod Press, 1984.

Old Love Story, Lospecchio Press, 1986.

White Shroud, Harper (New York, NY), 1986.

Cosmopolitan Greetings: Poems, 1986–1992, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1994.

Illuminated Poems, illustrated by Eric Drooker, Four Walls Eight Windows (New York, NY), 1996.

Selected Poems, 1947–1995, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.

Death and Fame: Poems, 1993–1997, edited by Bob Rosenthal, Peter Hale, and Bill Morgan, foreword by Robert Creeley, HarperFlamingo (New York, NY), 1999.

Also author, with Kenneth Koch, of Making It Up: Poetry Composed at St. Mark's Church on May 9, 1979.

OTHER

(Author of introduction) Gregory Corso, Gasoline (poems), City Lights (San Francisco, CA), 1958.

(With William Burroughs) The Yage Letters (correspondence), City Lights (San Francisco, CA), 1963.

Prose Contribution to Cuban Revolution, Artists Workshop Press, 1966.

(Translator, with others) Nicanor Parra, Poems and Antipoems, New Directions (Newton, NJ), 1967.

(Author of introduction) John A. Wood, Orbs: A Portfolio of Nine Poems, Apollyon Press, 1968.

(Author of introduction) Louis Ginsberg, Morning in Spring (poems), Morrow (New York, NY), 1970.

(Compiler) Documents on Police Bureaucracy's Conspiracy against Human Rights of Opiate Addicts and Constitutional Rights of Medical Profession Causing Mass Breakdown of Urban Law and Order, privately printed, 1970.

(Author of commentary) Jean Genet, May Day Speech, City Lights (San Francisco, CA), 1970.

Indian Journals: March 1962–May 1963; Notebooks, Diary, Blank Pages, Writings, City Lights (San Francisco, CA), 1970, Grove Press, 1996.

Notes after an Evening with William Carlos Williams, Portents Press, 1970.

Declaration of Independence for Dr. Timothy Leary, Hermes Free Press, 1971.

(Author of introduction) William Burroughs Jr., Speed (novel), Sphere Books, 1971.

(Author of foreword) Ann Charters, Kerouac (biography), Straight Arrow Books, 1973.

The Fall of America Wins a Prize (speech), Gotham Book Mart (New York, NY), 1974.

Gay Sunshine Interview: Allen Ginsberg with Allen Young, Grey Fox (San Francisco, CA), 1974.

The Visions of the Great Rememberer (correspondence), Mulch Press (San Francisco, CA), 1974.

Allen Verbatim: Lectures on Poetry, Politics, and Consciousness, edited by Gordon Ball, McGraw (New York, NY), 1975.

Chicago Trial Testimony, City Lights (San Francisco, CA), 1975.

The Dream of Tibet, City Moon, 1976.

To Eberhart from Ginsberg (correspondence), Penmaen Press (Great Barrington, MA), 1976.

Journals: Early Fifties, Early Sixties, edited by Gordon Ball, Grove (New York, NY), 1977.

(With Neal Cassady; and author of afterword) As Ever: Collected Correspondence of Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady, Creative Arts, 1977.

(Author of introduction) Anne Waldman and Marilyn Webb, editors, Talking Poetics from Naropa Insti-tute: Annals of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, Volume I, Shambhala (Boulder, CO), 1978.

Composed on the Tongue (interviews), edited by Donald Allen, Grey Fox (San Francisco, CA), 1980.

Your Reason and Blake's System, Hanuman Books, 1989.

Allen Ginsberg: Photographs, Twelvetrees Press (Pasadena, CA), 1991.

(Author of introduction) Ernesto Cardenal, Ergo! The Bumbershoot Literary Magazine, Bumbershoot, 1991.

(Author of foreword) Anne Waldman, editor, Out of This World: The Poetry Project at the St. Mark's Church in the Bowery, an Anthology, 1966–1991, Crown (New York, NY), 1991.

(Author of introduction) Andy Clausen, Without Doubt, Zeitgeist Press, 1991.

(Author of introduction) Jack Kerouac, Poems All Sizes, City Lights (San Francisco, CA), 1992.

(Author of introduction) Sharkmeat Blue, King Death: And Other Poems, Underground Forest/Selva Editions, 1992.

(Author of afterword) Louis Ginsberg, Collected Poems, edited by Michael Fournier, Northern Lights, 1992.

Snapshot Poetics: Allen Ginsberg's Photographic Memoir of the Beat Era, introduction by Michael Kohler, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 1993.

(Editor, with Peter Orlovsky) Francesco Clemente: Evening Raga 1992, Rizzoli International (New York, NY), 1993.

Honorable Courtship: From the Author's Journals, January 1-15, 1955, edited and illustrated by Dean Bornstein, Coffee House Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1994.

(Author of introduction) Edward Leffingwell, Earthly Paradise, Journey Editions, 1994.

Journals Mid-Fifties, 1954–1958, edited by Gordon Ball, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1995.

(Contributor and author of foreword) The Beat Book: Poems and Fiction of the Beat Generation, edited by Anne Waldman, Shambhala (Boston, MA), 1996.

(Author of foreword) Ko Un, Beyond Self: 108 Korean Zen Poems, Parallax Press (Berkeley, CA), 1997.

(Editor, with Eliot Katz and Andy Clausen) Poems for the Nation: A Collection of Contemporary Political Poems, Seven Stories Press (New York, NY), 1999.

Deliberate Prose: Selected Essays, 1952–1995, edited by Bill Morgan, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

Spontaneous Minds: Selected Interviews, 1958–1996, edited by David Carter, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

(With Louis Ginsberg) Family Business: Selected Letters between a Father and Son, edited by Michael Schumacher, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2001.

Contributor of essays to books, including David Solomon, editor, The Marijuana Papers, Bobbs-Merrill (New York, NY), 1966; Charles Hollander, editor, Background Papers on Student Drug Abuse, U.S. National Student Association, 1967; Donald M. Allen, editor, Robert Creeley, Contexts of Poetry: Interviews 1961–1971, Four Seasons Foundation (San Francisco, CA), 1973; Jonathan Williams, editor, Madeira and Toasts for Basil Bunting's Seventy-fifth Birthday, Jargon Society (East Haven, CT), 1977; and Nuke Chronicles, Contact Two (Bowling Green, NY), 1980. Work included in anthologies, including The Beat Generation and the Angry Young Men, edited by Gene Feldman and Max Gartenberg, Citadel Press, 1958; Bob Booker and George Foster, editors, Pardon Me, Sir, but Is My Eye Hurting Your Elbow? (plays), Geis, 1968; and The New Oxford Book of American Verse, edited by Richard Ellmann, Oxford University Press, 1976. Contributor of poetry and articles to periodicals, including Evergreen Review, Journal for the Protection of All Beings, Playboy, Nation, New Age, New Yorker, Atlantic, Partisan Review, and Times Literary Supplement. Correspondent, Evergreen Review, 1965; former contributing editor, Black Mountain Review; former advisory guru, Marijuana Review.

Ginsberg's papers are housed at Stanford University.

ADAPTATIONS: "Kaddish" was adapted as a film, with Ginsberg as narrator, National Educational Television, 1977; author's poems were adapted as a libretto for Elodie Lauten's opera Waking in New York, produced in New York, NY, 1999.

SIDELIGHTS: Allen Ginsberg was a controversial poet who gained a prominent place in post-World War II U.S. culture. He was born in 1926 in Newark, New Jersey, and raised in nearby Paterson, where his father worked as a high school English teacher. Ginsberg's mother, a native Russian who supported the Communist Party, suffered from mental instability and experienced repeated nervous breakdowns. Her relationship with her son served as an underlying influence in much of Ginsberg's writing, which includes the long poems "Kaddish" and "Howl" as well as numerous poetry collections.

In 1943, while studying at Columbia University, Ginsberg befriended William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac; the trio eventually became pivotal figures in what became known in the United States as the Beat movement. Ginsberg and his friends regularly experimented with drugs and indulged their enthusiasms for rambunctious behavior. On one occasion, the poet used his college room to store stolen goods acquired by an acquaintance. Faced with prosecution, he decided to plead insanity and subsequently spent several months in a mental institution.

After graduating from Columbia, Ginsberg remained in New York City and worked various jobs. In 1954, however, he abruptly moved to San Francisco, where the Beat movement was developing through the activities of such poets as Kenneth Rexroth and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Ginsberg first came to public attention in 1956 with the publication of Howl and Other Poems. "Howl," a long-line poem in the tradition of Walt Whitman, is an outcry of rage and despair against a destructive, abusive society. Kevin O'Sullivan, writing in Newsmakers, deemed "Howl" "an angry, sexually explicit poem" and added that it is "considered by many to be a revolutionary event in American poetry." The poem's raw, honest language and its "Hebraic-Melvillian bardic breath," as Ginsberg called it, stunned many traditional critics. In his American Free Verse critic Walter Sutton dubbed "Howl" "a tirade revealing an animus directed outward against those who do not share the poet's social and sexual orientation." While Sutton reflected the view of many, some critics responded more positively to Ginsberg's work, with Paul Carroll judging "Howl" "one of the milestones of the generation" in his book The Poem in Its Skin.

In addition to stunning many critics, "Howl" also stunned the San Francisco Police Department. Because of the graphic sexual language of the poem, they declared the book Howl and Other Poems obscene and arrested the publisher, poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The ensuing trial attracted national attention, as prominent literary figures such as Mark Schorer, Kenneth Rexroth, and Walter Van Tilberg Clark spoke in defense of "Howl." The testimony eventually persuaded Judge Clayton W. Horn to rule that "Howl" was not obscene.

The qualities cited in its defense helped make "Howl" the manifesto of the Beat literary movement. The Beats—popularly known as Beatniks—included novelists Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs and poets Gregory Corso, Michael McClure, Gary Snyder, and Ginsberg, all of whom wrote in the language of the street about previously forbidden and unliterary topics. The ideas and art of the Beats greatly influenced popular culture during the 1950s and 1960s.

Ginsberg followed "Howl" with Kaddish and Other Poems, 1958–60 in 1961. "Kaddish," a poem similar in style and form to "Howl," is based on the traditional Hebrew prayer for the dead and tells the life story of Ginsberg's mother, Naomi. The poet's complex feelings for his mother, colored by her struggle with mental illness, are at the heart of this long-line poem, which is considered to be one of Ginsberg's finest.

Ginsberg's early poems were greatly influenced by fellow Paterson, New Jersey, resident William Carlos Williams. Ginsberg recalled being taught at school that Williams was unsophisticated, but upon talking to Williams about his poetry, Ginsberg realized that Williams heard poetry in a different way, and upon this understanding he knew that he needed to make some changes. Ginsberg acted immediately on this sudden understanding. He adapted his prose writings by taking fragments and turning them into lines, broken up in the same way a person would actually talk it out. Williams was very impressed and asked for more just like it.

Another major influence on Ginsberg was his friend Kerouac, who wrote novels in a "spontaneous prose" style Ginsberg admired and adapted in his own work. Both Williams and Kerouac emphasized a writer's emotions and natural mode of expression over traditional literary structures; for his part Kerouac wrote some of his books by putting a roll of white paper into a typewriter and typing continuously in a "stream of consciousness." Ginsberg began writing poetry by remembering or thinking of an idea, writing it down and completing it in one sitting. He cited as historical precedents for this method the works of poet Walt Whitman, novelist Herman Melville, and writers Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

A major theme in Ginsberg's life and poetry was politics. In his American Poetry in the Twentieth Century, Kenneth Rexroth called this aspect of Ginsberg's work "an almost perfect fulfillment of the long, Whitman, Populist, social revolutionary tradition in American poetry." In a number of poems, Ginsberg refers to the union struggles of the 1930s, popular radical figures of the day, the McCarthy Era communist scare, and other leftist touchstones. In "Wichita Vortex Sutra" he attempts to end the Vietnam War through a kind of magical, poetic evocation, while in "Plutonian Ode," a similar feat—ending the dangers of nuclear power through the magic of a poet's breath—is attempted. Other poems, such as "Howl," although not expressly political in nature, have been nonetheless considered by many critics to contain strong social criticism.

Ginsberg's political activities were libertarian in nature, echoing his poetic preference for individual expression over traditional structure. In the mid-1960s he was closely associated with the hippie and antiwar movements and advocated "flower power," a strategy in which antiwar demonstrators would promote abstract values like peace and love to dramatize their opposition to the Vietnam War. The use of flowers, bells, smiles, and mantras became common among demonstrators for some time. In 1967 Ginsberg helped organize the "Gathering of the Tribes for a Human Be-In," an event modeled after the Hindu mela, a religious festival. This gathering was the first of the hippie festivals and served as an inspiration for hundreds of others. In 1969, when some antiwar activists staged an "exorcism of the Pentagon," Ginsberg composed the mantra they chanted. He also testified for the defense in the Chicago Seven conspiracy trial, in which antiwar activists were charged with "conspiracy to cross state lines to promote a riot."

Ginsberg's politics sometimes prompted reaction from law-enforcement authorities. He was arrested at an antiwar demonstration in New York City in 1967 and tear-gassed at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. In 1972 he was jailed for demonstrating against then-President Richard Nixon at the Republican National Convention in Miami. Six years later he and companion Peter Orlovsky were arrested for sitting on train tracks in order to stop a trainload of radioactive waste coming from the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant in Colorado.

Ginsberg's political activities caused him problems in other countries as well. In 1965 he visited Cuba as a correspondent for Evergreen Review. After he complained about the treatment of homosexuals at the University of Havana, the Cuban government asked Ginsberg to leave the country. In the same year the poet traveled to Czechoslovakia, where he was elected King of May by thousands of Czech citizens. The next day the Czech government requested that he leave, ostensibly because he was unkempt. Ginsberg attributed his expulsion to the Czech secret police department's embarrassement at the acclaim given to him, considering his appearance and sexual-orientation.

Another aspect of Ginsberg's poetry is the focus on the spiritual and visionary. His interest in these matters was inspired by a series of visions he had while reading nineteenth-century British writer William Blake's poetry. Ginsberg recalled hearing a voice that he was certain belonged to Blake.

Such visions prompted an interest in mysticism that led Ginsberg to experiment with various drugs, and he claimed that some of his best poetry was written under the influence of drugs: the second part of "Howl" with peyote, "Kaddish" with amphetamines, and "Wales—A Visitation" with LSD. After a journey to India in 1962, however, during which he was introduced to meditation and yoga, Ginsberg changed his mind about drugs. He became convinced that meditation and yoga were far superior to drugs in raising one's consciousness, while still maintaining that psychedelics could prove helpful in writing poetry.

Ginsberg's study of Eastern religions was spurred on by his discovery of mantras, rhythmic chants used for spiritual effects. The mantra's use of rhythm, breath, and elemental sounds seemed to him a kind of poetry. In a number of poems he incorporated mantras into the body of the text, transforming the work into a kind of poetic prayer. During poetry readings he often began by chanting a mantra in order to set the proper mood.

Ginsberg's interest in Eastern religions eventually led him to the Venerable Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, a Buddhist abbot from Tibet who had a strong influence on Ginsberg's writing. The early 1970s found the poet taking classes at Trungpa's Naropa Institute in Colorado as well as teaching poetry classes there. In 1972 Ginsberg took the Refuge and Boddhisattva vows, formally committing himself to the Buddhist faith.

A primary aspect of Trungpa's teaching is a form of meditation called shamatha in which one concentrates on one's own breathing. Ginsberg's book Mind Breaths, dedicated to Trungpa, contains several poems written with the help of shamatha meditation. In 1974 Ginsberg and fellow-poet Anne Waldman co-founded the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics as a branch of Trungpa's Naropa Institute.

Ginsberg lived a kind of literary "rags to riches"—from his early days as the feared and criticized poet to his later position as what some critics would call one of the most influential poets of his generation. In the words of James F. Mersmann in his Out of the Vietnam Vortex, "a great figure in the history of poetry." According to Times Literary Supplement contributor James Campbell, "No one has made his poetry speak for the whole man, without inhibition of any kind, more than Ginsberg." Because of his rise to influence and his staying power as a figure in American art and culture, Ginsberg's work continued to remain the object of much scholarly attention throughout his lifetime. A documentary directed by Jerry Aronson, The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg, was released in 1994. The same year, Stanford University spent a large amount of money to acquire the poet's personal archives. New poems and collections of Ginsberg's previous works continued to be published regularly, while his letters, journals, and even his photographs of fellow Beats provided critics and scholars new insights into his life and work.

Journals Mid-Fifties, 1954–1958, published in 1995, is one example of the continuous supply of new information available on Ginsberg in his later years. Jim Krusoe, writing in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, maintained that this book "provides plenty of food for thought about genius in general and about Ginsberg's development in particular." For some reviewers, however, these journals shed less light on the poet than previous works. Alexander Theroux commented in Chicago's Tribune Books, "Sadly these pages are often remarkably dull and rarely original and insightful." According to Guy Mannes-Abbott in the New Statesman, these journals "have interest but lack the vitality of earlier and later journals, or the generosity of his letters from this time." A reviewer for the Economist recognized the shortcomings of Ginsberg's personal writings, but also saw their merits. "Though maddeningly interested in his most banal reactions," the reviewer noted that Ginsberg "is at least open about his self-fascination…. In most writers self-preoccupation is usually mortal. But Mr. Ginsberg has the balancing gifts of promiscuous curiosity and an almost sappy, American optimism." For Krusoe, in the end, "the brilliance of these journals is exactly the brilliant persistence of a man who will not quit until his dream life, his love life and his poems are melded into a single whole."

In the spring of 1997, plagued with diabetes and chronic hepatitis, Ginsberg was diagnosed with liver cancer. After learning of this illness, he promptly produced twelve brief poems; the next day he suffered a stroke and lapsed into a coma, and died two days later. In the New York Times, Ginsberg was remembered by William Burroughs as "a great person with worldwide influence."

Ginsberg's final poems were collected in Death and Fame: Poems, 1993–1997. A Publishers Weekly reviewer, who acknowledged that "there has never been an American poet as public as Ginsberg," described Death and Fame as "a perfect capstone to a noble life." Ray Olson and Jack Helberg, writing in Booklist, found Ginsberg's poetry "polished if not constrained," while Rochelle Ratner, in a Library Journal assessment, observed that "Ginsberg's tenderness and caring is … very much in evidence."

Another of Ginsberg's posthumous publications, Deliberate Prose: Selected Essays, 1952–1995, presents more than 150 essays on such subjects as nuclear weapons; the Vietnam War; censorship; poets such as Walt Whitman and Beat figure Gregory Corso; and other cultural luminaries, including musician John Lennon and photographer Robert Frank. A Publishers Weekly critic appraised Deliberate Prose as "sometimes lovely, sometimes slapdash" and added that the book is "sure to appeal" to the late poet's "broad contingent of fans." However, David Adox, in his New York Times Book Review assessment, declared that "Ginsberg's pieces on writers read like a series of insipid thank-you notes." Booklist reviewer Ray Olson, meanwhile, found Ginsberg's essays "more immediately approachable than much of his verse," and Library Journal critic William Gargan affirmed that the book serves as "a good overview of [Ginsberg's] life and art." Still another reviewer, James Gartner, wrote in National Review that Deliberate Prose constitutes "a window into a slice of American social and literary history, the creative process, and the soul of a beautiful man."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Carroll, Paul, The Poem in Its Skin, Follett, 1968.

Charters, Ann, Scenes along the Road, Gotham Book Mart (New York, NY), 1971.

Charters, Ann, Kerouac, Straight Arrow Books, 1973.

Charters, Samuel, Some Poems/Poets: Studies in American Underground Poetry since 1945, Oyez, 1971.

Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography: 1941–1968, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1987.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 1, 1973, Volume 2, 1974, Volume 3, 1975, Volume 4, 1975, Volume 6, 1976, Volume 13, 1980, Volume 36, 1986, Volume 69, 1992.

Contemporary Poets, sixth edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.

Cook, Bruce, The Beat Generation, Scribner (New York, NY), 1971.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 5: American Poets since World War II, 1980, Volume 16: The Beats: Literary Bohemians in Postwar America, 1983, Volume 169: American Poets since World War II, Fifth Series, 1996.

Erlich, J. W., editor, Howl of the Censor, Nourse Publishing, 1961.

Faas, Ekbert, editor, Toward a New American Poetics: Essays and Interviews, Black Sparrow Press (Santa Barbara, CA), 1978.

Fielder, Leslie A., Waiting for the End, Stein & Day (Briarcliff Manor, NY), 1964.

Gay and Lesbian Biography, St. James Press (New York, NY), 1997.

Gay and Lesbian Literature, St. James Press (New York, NY), 1994.

Gay Sunshine Interview: Allen Ginsberg with Allen Young, Grey Fox Press (San Francisco, CA), 1974.

Gross, Theodore L., editor, Representative Men, Free Press (New York, NY), 1970.

Kramer, Jane, Allen Ginsberg in America, Random House (New York, NY), 1969, new edition, Fromm International Publishing, 1997.

Kraus, Michelle P., Allen Ginsberg: An Annotated Bibliography, 1969–1977, Scarecrow (Metuchen, NJ), 1980.

Lipton, Lawrence, The Holy Barbarians, Messner (New York, NY), 1959.

McNally, Dennis, Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, the Beats, and America, Random House (New York, NY), 1979.

Merrill, Thomas F., Allen Ginsberg, Twayne (New York, NY), 1969.

Mersmann, James F., Out of the Vietnam Vortex: A Study of Poets and Poetry against the War, University Press of Kansas, 1974.

Miles, Barry, Two Lectures on the Work of Allen Ginsberg, Contemporary Research Press (Dallas, TX), 1993.

Morgan, Bill, The Works of Allen Ginsberg, 1941–1994: A Descriptive Bibliography, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1995.

Morgan, Bill, The Response to Allen Ginsberg, 1926–1994: A Bibliography of Secondary Sources, foreword by Ginsberg, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1996.

Mottram, Eric, Allen Ginsberg in the Sixties, Unicorn Bookshop, 1972.

Parkinson, Thomas F., A Casebook on the Beats, Crowell (New York, NY), 1961.

Poetry Criticism, Volume 4, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992.

Portuges, Paul, The Visionary Poetics of Allen Ginsberg, Ross-Erikson (Santa Barbara, CA), 1978.

Rather, Lois, Bohemians to Hippies: Waves of Rebellion, Rather Press (Oakland, CA), 1977.

Reference Guide to American Literature, third edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1994.

Rexroth, Kenneth, American Poetry in the Twentieth Century, Herder, 1971.

Rosenthal, Mocha L., The Modern Poets: A Critical Introduction, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1960.

Rosenthal, Mocha L., The New Poets: American and British Poetry since World War II, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1967.

Roszak, Theodore, The Making of a Counter Culture, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1969.

Schumacher, Michael, Dharma Lion, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1994.

Shaw, Robert B., editor, American Poetry since 1960: Some Critical Perspectives, Dufour (Chester Springs, PA), 1974.

Simpson, Louis, A Revolution in Taste, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1978.

Stepanchev, Stephen, American Poetry since 1945, Harper (New York, NY), 1965.

Sutton, Walter, American Free Verse: The Modern Revolution in Poetry, New Directions (New York, NY), 1973.

Tyrell, John, Naked Angels, McGraw (New York, NY), 1976.

Widmer, Kingsley, The Fifties: Fiction, Poetry, Drama, Everett/Edwards (DeLand, FL), 1970.

PERIODICALS

Advocate, February 22, 1994.

American Poetry Review, September, 1977.

Antioch Review, spring, 1994, p. 374.

Ariel, October, 1993, pp. 21-32.

Art Press, number 188, 1994, pp. E24-E26.

Atlanta Journal and Constitution, November 19, 1994, p. WL23.

Best Sellers, December 15, 1974.

Black Mountain Review, autumn, 1957.

Bloomsbury Review, March, 1993, p. 5.

Booklist, April 15, 1994, p. 1503; April 15, 1995, p. 1468; February 1, 1999, Ray Olson and Jack Heilbig, review of Death and Fame: Poems, 1993–1997, p. 959; February 15, 2000, Ray Olson, review of Deliberate Prose: Selected Essays, 1952–1995.

Book World, May 25, 1969.

Bulletin of Bibliography, December, 1993, pp. 279-293.

Carolina Quarterly, spring-summer, 1975.

Chicago Review, summer, 1975.

Denver Post, July 20, 1975.

Detroit News, April 18, 1997.

Dionysos, winter, 1993, pp. 30-42.

East West Journal, February, 1978.

Economist, November 11, 1995, p. 8.

Encounter, February, 1970.

Entertainment Weekly, October 11, 1996, p. 92.

Esquire, April, 1973.

Evergreen Review, July-August, 1961.

Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), February 23, 1985.

Harper's, October, 1966.

Hudson Review, autumn, 1973.

Interview, June, 1994, p. 16.

Journal of American Culture, fall, 1993, pp. 81-88.

Journal of Popular Culture, winter, 1969.

Lambda Book Report, July, 1993, p. 42; July, 1994, p. 47; September, 1994, p. 34.

Library Journal, June 15, 1958; February 1, 1987; May 1, 1994; August, 1995, p. 79; January, 1999, Rochelle Ratner, review of Death and Fame, p. 103; March 15, 2000, William Gargan, review of Deliberate Prose.

Life, May 27, 1966.

Los Angeles Times, April 18, 1985; February 16, 1994, p. F1; February 17, 1994, p. F3.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, January 2, 1994, p. 12; May 29, 1994, p. 8; September 3, 1995, p. 4.

Michigan Quarterly Review, spring, 1994, pp. 350-359.

Nation, February 25, 1957; November 11, 1961; November 12, 1977; May 20, 1991.

National Observer, December 9, 1968.

National Review, September 12, 1959; May 19, 1997, p. 54; May 22, 2000, James Gartner, "Manic Mensch."

National Screw, June, 1977.

New Age, April, 1976.

New Republic, July 25, 1970; October 12, 1974; October 22, 1977.

New Statesman, May 12, 1995, p. 38; October 27, 1995, p. 47.

New Times, February 20, 1978.

New Yorker, August 17, 1968; August 24, 1968; May 28, 1979.

New York Times, February 6, 1972; May 21, 1994, p. A13; September 20, 1994, p. C15; September 25, 1994, sec. 2, p. 34; October 29, 1994, p. A19; September 29, 1995, p. C18.

New York Times Book Review, September 2, 1956; May 11, 1969; August 31, 1969; April 15, 1973; March 2, 1975; October 23, 1977; March 19, 1978; May 29, 1994, p. 14; March 26, 2000, David Adox, review of Deliberate Prose.

New York Times Magazine, July 11, 1965.

Observer (London, England), June 11, 1995, p. 16.

Parnassus, spring-summer, 1974.

Partisan Review, number 2, 1959; number 3, 1967; number 3, 1971; number 2, 1974.

People, July 3, 1978; November 25, 1996, p. 27.

Philadelphia Bulletin, May 19, 1974.

Playboy, April, 1969; January, 1995, p. 24.

Plays and Players, April, 1972.

Poetry, September, 1957; July, 1969; September, 1969.

Progressive, May, 1994, p. 48; August, 1994, pp. 34-39.

Publishers Weekly, January 25, 1999, review of Death and Fame; January 31, 2000, review of Deliberate Prose.

Salmagundi, spring-summer, 1973.

San Francisco Oracle, February, 1967.

Saturday Review, October 5, 1957.

Small Press Review, July-August, 1977.

Stand, autumn, 1995, p. 77.

Thoth, winter, 1967.

Time, February 9, 1959; November 18, 1974; March 5, 1979.

Times Literary Supplement, July 7, 1978; September 1, 1995, p. 22.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), June 11, 1995, p. 5.

Unmuzzled Ox, Volume 3, number 2, 1975.

USA Today, July, 1995, p. 96.

Vanity Fair, March, 1994, p. 186.

Village Voice, April 18, 1974.

Washington Post, March 17, 1985.

Washington Post Book World, March 20, 1994, p. 12.

Western American Literature, spring, 1995, pp. 3-28.

Whole Earth Review, fall, 1995, p. 90.

World Literature Today, winter, 1995, p. 146.

ONLINE

Allen Ginsberg Trust Web Site, http://allenginsberg.org/ (April 20, 2004).

OTHER

The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg (film), First Run Features, 1994.

OBITUARIES:

BOOKS

Newsmakers, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1997, pp. 493-495.

PERIODICALS

Detroit News, April 6, 1997.

Economist, April 12, 1997, p. 87.

Entertainment Weekly, April 18, 1997, p. 18.

Los Angeles Times, April 6, 1997, p. A1.

Maclean's, April 14, 1997, p. 11.

Nation, April 28, 1997, p. 8.

National Review, May 5, 1997.

Newsweek, April 14, 1997, p. 60.

New York Times, April 7, 1997, pp. A1, A42; April 8, 1997, p. B10.

Observer, April 6, 1997, p. 4.

People, April 21, 1997, p. 169.

Progressive, May, 1997, p. 10.

Rolling Stone, May 29, 1997, p. 34.

Time, April 14, 1997, p. 31.

Times (London, England), April 7, 1997.

Washington Post, April 6, 1997, p. B8.

About this article

Ginsberg, Allen 1926–1997

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