Beat movement icon and visionary poet, Allen Ginsberg broke boundaries with his fearless, pyrotechnic verse. This volume brings together the poems that made his name as a defining figure of the counter-culture. The apocalyptic 'Howl' became the subject of an obscenity trial when it was first published in 1956. Dark, ecstatic and rhapsodic, it shows why Ginsberg was one of the most influential poets of the twentieth century.
About The Author
Allen Ginsberg was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1926, the
son of Naomi Ginsberg and the well-known lyric poet/teacher Louis
Ginsberg. As a Columbia College student in the 1940s he began close
friendships with William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso and
Jack Kerouac. He became associated with the Beat movement and the 1950s
San Francisco Renaissance poets Gary Snyder and Michael McClure. After
jobs as a labourer, market researcher and sailor, Ginsberg published
his first volume, Howl and Other Poems, in 1956. Howl overcame
censorship trials to become one of the most widely read poems of the
century, translated into twenty-eight languages. In 1965 Ginsberg was,
in a matter of weeks, crowned Prague May King, expelled by the Czech
police and placed on the FBI's Dangerous Security list. Though he
travelled widely, teaching in India, China, and Western and Eastern
Europe, his home for most of his life was New York's Lower East Side.
A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Allen Ginsberg
was awarded the medal of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres by
the French Minister of Culture in 1993, honoured as Harvard Phi Beta
Kappa Poet 1994 and co-founded the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied
Poetics at the Naropa Institute, the first accredited Buddhist college
in the western world.
Ginsberg died in New York on 5 April 1997, eight days after being
diagnosed seriously ill. He continued to write until the last few days
of his life and died surrounded by his friends and family. One of the
last of the 'Beats', he embodied the surprising, experimental and
sometimes lunatic spirit of the artistic and literary scene he was so
much a part of. On his death James Campbell wrote of him in the
Guardian, 'Allen Ginsberg was the exemplary avant-garde figure of the
post-war world. In verse, in politics, in his own intimate life - there
was no room for a 'private life' - Ginsberg resisted and disdained the
orthodox, the social lie. Few people have done as much to make
non-conformism respectable in our time as he did.'
Alan Ginsberg's other books include the annotated Howl, White
Shroud: Poems 1980-1985, Cosmopolitan Greetings, Journals Mid-Fifties:
1954-1958 and Selected Poems 1947-1995. Rhino Records issued his
four-CD box Holy Soul Jelly Roll: Poems & Songs 1949-1993.