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Source: EIZIE

"Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an
hour. Which way does your beard point tonight?"

Allen Ginsberg, "A Supermarket in California," 1956

With his death today (April 5, 1997), we have lost probably the most provocative poetic voice of the second half of the twentieth century. Ginsberg was a satirist, a humorist, and an idealist; he cared passionately for these United States. Like the sweeping vision, lyricism, and embrace of his chief inspiration, Walt Whitman, Ginsberg attacked the formalism of the post WWII conventions to create works which gave voice to the disenfranchised, the ostracized, and the suppressed. A modern transcendentalist, Ginsberg, in his life and his writings, personified non-conformity, self-reliance, and an endless search for the meaning and purpose of life.

Primary Works

Howl and Other Poems, 1956; Kaddish and Other Poems 1958-60, 1961; Reality Sandwiches: 1953-1960, 1963; Wichita Verses Sutra, 1967; Planet News, 1968; Iron Horse, 1972; The Fall of America: Poems of These States, 1965-1971, 1973 (National Book Award); Mind Breaths: Poems, 1972-1977; Collected Poems 1947-1980, 1984; White Shroud, Poems 1980-1985, 1986; On the Poetry of Allen Ginsberg (ed. Lewis Hyde), 1984; Cosmopolitan Greetings: Poems 1986-1992, 1995 ( Pulitzer Prize Finalist).

Death & Fame: Last Poems 1993-1997. Eds. Bob Rosenthal, Peter Hale, and Bill Morgan. NY: HarperFlamingo, 1999.

The Yage Letters: Redux. Harris, Oliver. ed. San Francisco: City Lights, 2006. (Burroughs, William S. and Ginsberg, Allen)

The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice: First Journals and Poems, 1937-1952. Liebermann-Plimpton, Juanita and Morgan, Bill. eds. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo, 2006.

The Letters of Allen Ginsberg. Morgan, Bill. ed. NY: Da Capo, 2008.

Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters. Morgan, Bill. ed. NY: Viking; 2010.

Selected Bibliography 1980-Present

Allen, Donald. ed. Composed on the Tongue: Allen Ginsberg. 1980.

Bartlett, Lee. The Beats: essays in criticism. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1981. PS228.B6 B48

Davies, Catherine A. Whitman's Queer Children: America's Homosexual Epics. NY: Continuum, 2012.

Kraus, Michelle P. Allen Ginsberg, An Annotated Bibliography 1969-1977. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1980. Z8342.5 .K7.

Mead-Brewer, Katherine C. The Trickster in Ginsberg: A Critical Reading. Jefferson, NC: McFarland; 2013.

Miles, Barry. Allen Ginsberg: A Biography. 1989.

Morgan, Bill, and Allen Ginsberg. The Response to Allen Ginsberg, 1926-1994: A Bibliography of Secondary Sources. Westport: Greenwood, 1998.

Morgan, Bill. Beat Atlas: A State by State Guide to the Beat Generation in America. San Francisco, CA: City Lights, 2011.

Raskin, Jonah. American Scream: Allen Ginsberg's Howl and the Making of the Beat Generation. Berkeley: U of California P, 2004.

Schumacher, Michael. Dharma Lion: a critical biography of Allen Ginsberg. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992. PS3513 .I74 Z86 1992

Shreiber, Maeera. Singing in a Strange Land: A Jewish American Poetics. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2007.

Sterritt, David. Screening the Beats: Media Culture and the Beat Sensibility. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2004.

Weaver, Helen. The Awakener: A Memoir of Kerouac and the Fifties. San Francisco. CA: City Lights, 2009.

Whitmer, Peter O. Aquarius revisited: seven who created the sixties counterculture that changed America: William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey, Timothy Leary, Norman Mailer, Tom Robbins, Hunter S. Thompson. NY: Macmillan, 1987. E169.12 .W48 1987

Study Questions

1. Allen Ginsberg's use of long lines was a deliberate experiment for him, the "long clanky statement" that permits "not the way you would say it, a thought, but the way you would think it-i.e., we think rapidly in visual images as well as words, and if each successive thought were transcribed in its confusion . . . you get a slightly different prosody than if you were talking slowly." Read Howl and other anthologized poems, paying particular attention to Ginsberg's use of the long line.

MLA Style Citation of this Web Page

Reuben, Paul P. "Chapter 10: Allen Ginsberg." PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. URL: http://www.paulreuben.website/pal/chap10/ginsberg.html (provide page date or date of your login).

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