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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ginsy's Big Red Book
I just finished reading Ginsberg's complete poems, 1947-1997 -- Collected Poems, White Shroud, Cosmopolitan Greetings, and Death and Fame -- fifty years and over a thousand pages of poetry. My overall impression is that he was probably the kindest, most moral member of the beat generation. When the other beats were penniless & borrowing money, Ginsberg was the one they...
Published on February 17, 2006 by taogoat

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1.0 out of 5 stars Made me Howl in agony!
Terribly overrated. Ginsberg's prose is shocking, sure, but that whole stream of consciousness thing just lacks subsance. I'd give it no stars, if I could.
Published 8 months ago by Paco


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ginsy's Big Red Book, February 17, 2006
By 
taogoat (the mothership) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Collected Poems 1947-1980 (Paperback)
I just finished reading Ginsberg's complete poems, 1947-1997 -- Collected Poems, White Shroud, Cosmopolitan Greetings, and Death and Fame -- fifty years and over a thousand pages of poetry. My overall impression is that he was probably the kindest, most moral member of the beat generation. When the other beats were penniless & borrowing money, Ginsberg was the one they borrowed money from. Corso would steal Ginsberg's manuscripts and sell them to used book dealers to score heroin, and each time Ginsberg would walk down to the book dealer and buy back his priceless words. Where Kerouac preached his own version of buddhism and gave it up a few years later for catholic alcoholism, Ginsberg remained a dedicated student of buddhist compassion to the end of his days.

And that's what shines thru in many of these poems -- compassion, attention to the present, and the courage to be so honest about his life and his feelings. Many of these poems are raw, experimental, informal, and spontaneous, almost like journal entries. This book contains numerous classics -- Pull My Daisy (written with Kerouac & Cassady in 1949), Howl, America, Kaddish, Mescaline, Lysergic Acid, Wichita Vortex Sutra, Wales Visitation, Elegy for Neal Cassady, Memory Gardens (elegy for Jack Kerouac), and Ode to Failure, among others.

Some of the most common themes are world travel, nature, daily events, progressive politics, the US invasion of Vietnam, the peace movement, road trips, drug use, the beats, gay sex, hinduism, buddhism, death, and love. In other words, Ginsberg wrote about his life. He talks about his friends dying, his father dying, his mother's insanity and death, his loves, his joys, and whatever is pressing and interesting to him at the moment. Some of the poems are better than others, but I can't imagine there's a more honest poet out there.

Casual readers of the beats will likely want to skip around and read a poem here, a poem there, just checking out the highlights. But even for casual readers, there's no sense in buying Ginsberg's small City Lights books -- just buy this big red book so you can have it all. And don't stop here. Ginsberg's later books -- White Shroud, Cosmopolitan Greetings, and Death and Fame -- prove that Ginsy just got better with age, confronting man's inevitable decline into disease and death.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this is actualy a review of the book, not ginsberg, May 9, 2006
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This review is from: Collected Poems 1947-1980 (Paperback)
pros: This compilation is amazing. It covers almost all of his work, includes artwork found in the compilations, and has an awsome refrence section that explains era specific phrases/notes about the poems and an alphabetical directory of proper names.

Con: Its not a very preaty book tho, and is quite intimidating to hold in the hand at times if you wanted to read to people or something.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Electric Wave In An Ocean Of Complacency., May 16, 2005
By 
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This review is from: Collected Poems 1947-1980 (Paperback)
Hello, Good Lookers.

This collection of Allen Ginsberg's poetry is indeed quite electric. He was the art-form's left to the complacent's right. His writing is at times grudgingly painful, and at others, descriptively beautiful. He was a soul with a connection to his art.

Ginsberg set the course of change for a whole movement (Beat) as well as for an entire society. He was a voice when many had none. He took chances, and paid for them. In this book one can truly see him bearing his soul, his humanity.

His writing is so profound at times, that the beauty lies, not in the words, but in the life and lifestyle he led. Ginsberg was so proficient at transcending the human condition and finding something almost prophetic about it, that his poetry is a must-read for any serious student of poetry.

While some may be turned-off by Ginsberg's stuff, his art lies, again, not so much in the words, but, in himself; for Ginsberg was the art-form, and he lived a life to prove it!

Thanks for thaking the time to read my review.

Rock On, Kids,

Dr. Of Style
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, March 27, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Collected Poems 1947-1980 (Paperback)
Ginsberg's startling, erratic genius is on display in this alternately inspiring and exasperating volume. I give it 5 stars because Ginsberg MUST be read and appreciated; the man changed the face of poetry, as well as pop culture, holding enormous influence over Bob Dylan, who would reinvent rock and roll and help inspire a cultural revolution. Why Ginsberg was not awarded a Nobel is astonishing to me.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A vast and great compendium of Ginsberg's writing, September 18, 2006
By 
David Alston (Chapel Hill, NC, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Collected Poems 1947-1980 (Paperback)
This might be the first life-changing book I encountered (Warhol, Borges and Nabokov would come later) - I actually (astonishingly, in retrospect) stumbled across both Ginsberg - this collection - and Ferlinghetti in the library of a North Carolina high school in 1986. I kept this book checked out for most of the school year, gradually committing vast chunks of it to memory.

Ginsberg was raw, real, more than willing to be a mess in life and in literature, which is exceptionally humanizing, and the poems are, and always will be this vast something from the depths of the collective American unconscious - "Howl" and "Kaddish" most famously, but in less well-known, but no less wonderful pieces like "Wichita Vortex Sutra" as well.

Fans of Ginsberg (or of the beat movement in general) will already know much of this, but this collection is much more than that - some of the most vital American writing of the 20th century.

-David Alston
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive coverage of the enfant terrible., May 14, 2003
By 
"spanishjohnny" (Sydney, Australia.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Collected Poems 1947-1980 (Paperback)
A bizarre mixture of Blake, Whitman and Williams, Allen Ginsbergs poetry has at the same time lampooned as the scribings of a mentally unstable homosexual and praised as the musings of an American genius. Whatever the take, Ginsberg is certainly enagaging. Chronicling everything from his own psycholgical frailty to the evils of capitalism, the trials of Judaism to buddhist meditation, "sprawling" hardly begins to describe the breadth of Ginsbergs work. Indeed, he represents such a wide sphere of American consciousness and American society, that it is impossible not to be impressed by something in this volume that covers 33 years of his work. At the very least he is erratic.Most of the time, he's just down right crazy.And that's a big part of the charm.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Made me Howl in agony!, December 23, 2013
Terribly overrated. Ginsberg's prose is shocking, sure, but that whole stream of consciousness thing just lacks subsance. I'd give it no stars, if I could.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest American poet, July 2, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Collected Poems 1947-1980 (Paperback)
Sure Ginsberg wasn't as revolutionary or academic as TS Eliot or John Ashbery, but Ginsberg successfully intertwined his personal experiences with societies experiences in a way rarely achieved. His most famous poems, "Kaddish" and "Howl," are landmark works, as full of frustration as "The Wasteland," but in a smoother and more beautiful form of poetics. Some of his lesser known later poems like "Kral Majales" again blur the lines between major world happenings and personal experience. Although some of his poetry of the 1970's is a bit too political and unpersonal for my taste, this collection of essential poetry is the most important collection of poetry since Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass." Ginsberg was handed the torch by Blake and Whitman, and formed a poetics that changed America forever.
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12 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ginsberg is the ultimate, November 29, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Collected Poems 1947-1980 (Paperback)
I checked this book out at the library thinking that I would like one or two poems in it besides Howl. After I had read it cover to cover and was completely amazed at Ginsberg's style and complete passion, I didn't want to return it. To bad that the librarian thought differently.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Words, not howls., March 18, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Collected Poems 1947-1980 (Paperback)
This is the third and probably final poetry review from Wolfie and Kansas, the boonie dogs from Toto, Guam. (We've previously reviewed "Unleashed: Poems by Writer's Dogs" and "O Holy Cow!: The Selected Verse of Phil [Scooter] Rizzuto", but we'll be switching over to prose soon.) We pawed this book off the shelf because we heard it featured a poem entitled "Howl". We thought that it might be like some of the poems we've composed, and that perhaps the collection might include related poems, like "Bark", "Growl", "Whine" and "Yelp". However, "Howl" and all the other poems in this volume are composed merely of human words, not real howls. Also, this book is well over 800 pages, including notes and index, making it difficult for anyone smaller than a Great Dane to carry it around in their mouth. Still, in any collection this long, anyone is bound to find some poems they like. We did. Also, the feature poem, "Howl", does have sort of a howling tempo. Much of this poem concerns the antics and adventures of stray humans. Given the way that boonie dogs like us are routinely "put to sleep" and "fixed" at "shelters", we like the references to the use of lobotomies, electricity and hydrotherapy for stray humans at the human pounds. On the whole, we would recommend this book to any species that has the two hands needed to lug it around
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Collected Poems 1947-1980
Collected Poems 1947-1980 by Allen Ginsberg (Paperback - June 7, 1988)
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