Selected Poems, 1947-1995

Selected Poems, 1947-1995

by Allen Ginsberg
     
 

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Assembled by Allen Ginsberg, Selected Poems 1947-1995 is the definitive collection of the best works of one of the most influential and revolutionary poets of the twentieth century.

Allen Ginsberg, famous for helping catalyze the Beat Generation, wrote poetry for more than fifty years. His innovative verse and provocative attitudes of spiritual, political,

Overview

Assembled by Allen Ginsberg, Selected Poems 1947-1995 is the definitive collection of the best works of one of the most influential and revolutionary poets of the twentieth century.

Allen Ginsberg, famous for helping catalyze the Beat Generation, wrote poetry for more than fifty years. His innovative verse and provocative attitudes of spiritual, political, and sexual liberation inspired countless poets, musicians, and visual and performance artists worldwide, and helped shape several generations' views of the world.

Selected Poems 1947-1995 commemorates Ginsberg's brilliant career as one of America's most distinguished poets. 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, including the long dream poem "White Shroud," the visionary "After Lalon," and the political rock lyric "The Ballad of the Skeletons," a song he recorded in 1996 with a stellar band that included Philip Glass, Lenny Kaye, and Paul McCartney.

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:
9780060933760
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
04/28/2001
Series:
Perennial Classics Series
Edition description:
1ST PERENN
Pages:
480
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.20(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."

Meet the Author

Allen Ginsberg was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters as well as a winner of the National Book Award for Poetry. He was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1926, and died in New York City in 1997.

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