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Allen Ginsberg

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 3 months ago

Allen Ginsberg







About Me:


I'm Allen Ginsberg, spiritual seeker, songwriter, photographer, political nuisance and a teacher and co-founder of a poetics school. I was born in Newark, New Jersey on June 23, 1926. Growing up in the roaring 20's and 30's I had different viewpoints of the counter-culture. My mother's mental health was a big concern of my family. She was a supporter of the communist party and a nudist. Seeing her like that through my whole childhood really gave me tolerance and empathy for others with mental health issues.


I applied and was accepted to Columbia University. I decided that I would do my best to help the working class. At Columbia I became good friends with William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and Jack Kerouac who would later be the leaders of the Beat Movement.


In 1954 I moved to San Francisco. I met William Carlos Williams and he became my mentor. He introduced me to important people of the San Francisco Poetry scene. He introduced me to Michael McLure, who set up "The '6' Gallery Readings" on October 7, 1955. That was where the beat generation was really born. It was where my poem Howl was first introduced.


Just after Howl and Other Poems was published in 1956 by City Lights Bookstore, it was banned for being too obscene. It went through censorship trials but overcame them, and became one of the most widely read poems of the century. It was translated into more than twenty-two languages.


In the 60's and 70's I started studying under gurus and Zen masters. I stayed politically active and spoke about my beliefs at rallies and protests. I protested the Vietnam War and spoke openly about issues such as free speech and gay rights.


In 1993, I received the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres  (the Order of Arts and Letters) from the French Minister of Culture. I also helped co-found and direct the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute in Colorado. Later in my life, I became a distinguished professor at Brooklyn College.


April 5, 1997, I died in New York City due to complications of hepatitis.




Ginsberg when he was young.




My Published Poetry





Howl and Other Poems (1956)

Kaddish and Other Poems (1961)

Reality Sandwiches (1963)

The Yage Letters (with William S. Burroughs, 1963)

Planet News (1968)

First Blues: Rags, Ballads & Harmonium Songs 1971 - 1974 (1975)

The Gates of Wrath: Rhymed Poems 1948–1951 (1972)

The Fall of America: Poems of These States (1973)

Iron Horse (1972)

Mind Breaths (1978)

Plutonian Ode: Poems 1977–1980 (1982)

Collected Poems: 1947–1980 (1984)

White Shroud Poems: 1980–1985 (1986)

Cosmopolitan Greetings Poems: 1986–1993 (1994)

Howl Annotated (1995)

Illuminated Poems (1996)

Selected Poems: 1947–1995 (1996)

Death and Fame: Poems 1993–1997 (1999)




My Prose


Deliberate Prose 1952–1995 (2000)
The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice: First Journals and Poems 1937-1952 (2006)


America why are your libraries full of tears?
America when will you send your eggs to India?
I'm sick of your insane demands.
Your machinery is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint.



Howl and Other Poems (1956)

An interpretation by Pete.
This poem was written during the late 50's when America was going through some tough times. World War 2 had recently ended and the atom bomb had recently been dropped. He says "America why are your libraries full of tears?" He's talking about our tragic past. There have been so many casualties in history. There have been so many sad events. "When will you send your eggs to India?" In that line he's talking about fixing other countries. India had been having problems so he was talking about invading them and making a new America there. The last three lines are pretty straight forward. It was during a revolutionary time and new technology was coming out. The last line refers to all of the bad things happening that made him want to do good. They made him want to do different things than the country.





  • Walt Whitman
  • Edgar Allen Poe
  • William S. Burroughs
  • Neal Cassidy
  • Jack Kerouac
  • William Blake
  • William Carlos Williams
  • Kenneth Rexroth



Sources Cited


"Allen Ginsberg." Poets.org. 31 Oct. 2007 <http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/8>.
AllenGinsberg.org. 29 Oct. 2007 <http://www.allenginsberg.org>.

 This wiki was created by Pete.







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