Selected Poems, 1947-1995

Selected Poems, 1947-1995

by Allen Ginsberg
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Allen Ginsberg, one of America's most distinguished living poets, turned 70 this year. Selected Poems 1947-1995 commemorates his brilliant career and honors a landmark birthday. Ginsberg personally chose the selections for this handy volume and has written a retrospective Apologia that places the poems from each decade in their historical and literary context. Here… See more details below

Overview

Allen Ginsberg, one of America's most distinguished living poets, turned 70 this year. Selected Poems 1947-1995 commemorates his brilliant career and honors a landmark birthday. Ginsberg personally chose the selections for this handy volume and has written a retrospective Apologia that places the poems from each decade in their historical and literary context. Here are well-known masterpieces such as the lyric "Howl" and the narrative "Kaddish" - classic works of American literature - as well as more recent gems, the long dream poem "White Shroud," the visionary "After Lalon," and the political rock lyric "The Ballad of the Skeletons." The pieces included in Selected Poems 1947-1995, which span five decades of work, document Ginsberg's spiritual path during a life devoted to exploring the creative possibilities of the conscious mind. Ginsberg's verse is always raw-toned, often whimsical, in both style and content, and displays elegant technical variety from singable exact lyrics to Sapphics to Skeltonics to twelve-bar blues to projective open-form verse and "spontaneous bop prosody." Ginsberg takes readers on a tour of his intelligence as a poet, from the transcendent-themed early poems such as "Magic Psalm" (1960) and "T.V. Baby" fragments (1961), to the poetic realism of the later 1960s with which he confronted and challenged a nation at war, to the integration of song (rags, ballads, and blues) into his poetic repertoire in the early 1970s. Many long poems - including "The Fall of America" and "Iron Horse" - have been edited to reveal exquisite passages hitherto unnoticed by many readers. Ginsberg's immersion in Eastern thought and his hands-on practice of Tibetan Buddhism is reflected in poems throughout this collection. In contrast, readers will delight in highlights of his erotic narrative "Contest of Bards" (1977), at once baroque and idiosyncratic, which was inspired in great part by a marathon reading of William Blake's complete poetry. His most recent

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Boston Globe
Brilliantly astute.
Library Journal
"This volume," states Ginsberg in a prefatory note, "summarizes what I deem most honest, most penetrant of my writing." Roughly half the size of 1984's Collected Poems (LJ 12/84), the selection is nevertheless massive, spanning pieces written in the poet's early twenties to those written just a year or two ago on the threshold of his seventies, an avalanche of songs, rants, and chants. Never less than engaged ("I want to be the spectacle of Poesy triumphant over the trickery of the world"), Ginsberg unleashes tidal celebrations of homoeroticism, leftist politics, Eastern mysticism, and Beat camaraderie as through he were writing for his life, out to provelike his mentor Whitmanthat there is no sector of consciousness that poetry cannot encompass. His best ("Howl," "Kaddish," "Mugging") shares first-class seats with more impoverished company ("Sphincter," "Hum Bom," "Birdbrain") as if to drive home the point. And that perhaps is the most productive way to approach Ginsberg's canon: as a feverish history of one consciousness in the second half of the 20th century, articulating the moment's raunchy, mortal urgency, leaving nothing out. [For more from Ginsberg, see Illuminated Poems, a collection illustrated by Eric Drooker and recently published by Four Walls Eight Windows.-Ed.]Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060928544
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/28/1997
Edition description:
1 HARPER
Pages:
444
Product dimensions:
6.01(w) x 9.21(h) x 1.21(d)

Read an Excerpt

In Society

I walked into the cocktail party
room and found three or four queers
talking together in queertalk.
I tried to be friendly but heard
myself talking to one in hiptalk.
"I'm glad to see you," he said, and
looked away. "Hmn," I mused. The room
was small and had a double-decker
bed in it, and cooking apparatus:
icebox, cabinet, toasters, stove;
the hosts seemed to live with room
enough only for cooking and sleeping.
MY remark on this score was under-
stood but not appreciated. I was
offered refreshments, which I accepted.
I ate a sandwich of pure meat; an
enormous sandwich of human flesh,
I noticed, while I was chewing on it,
it also included a dirty asshole.

More company came, including a
fluffy female who looked like
a princess. She glared at me and
said immediately: "I don't like you,"
turned her head away, and refused
to be introduced. I said, "What!"
in outrage. "Why you shit-faced fool!"
This got everybody's attention.
"Why you narcissistic bitch! How
can you decide when you don't even
know me," I continued in a violent
and messianic voice, inspired at
last, dominating the whole room

—Dream New York-Denver, Spring 1947

What People are saying about this

Helen Vendler
"The new generation reading Ginsberg's Selected [Poems] will find...that Ginsberg's 'force field of language' still exerts a powerful imaginative pressure."

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >