Selected Poems, 1947-1995

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 ...

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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.

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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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060933760
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/28/2001
  • Series: Perennial Classics Series
  • Edition description: 1ST PERENN
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 991,236
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Allen Ginsberg was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1926, a son of Naomi and lyric poet Louis Ginsberg. As a student at Columbia College in the 1940s, he began a close friendship with William Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and Jack Kerouac, and he later became associated with the Beat movement and the San Francisco Renaissance in the 1950s. After jobs as a laborer, sailor, and market researcher, Ginsberg published his first volume of poetry, Howl and Other Poems, in 1956. "Howl" defeated censorship trials to become one of the most widely read poems of the century, translated into more than twenty-two languages, from Macedonian to Chinese, a model for younger generations of poets from West to East.

Ginsberg was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, was awarded the medal of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French minister of culture, was a winner of the National Book Award (for The Fall of America), and was a cofounder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute, the first accredited Buddhist college in the Western world. He died in New York City in 1997.

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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

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