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Death & Fame: Poems 1993-1997 Hardcover – March 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 116 pages
  • Publisher: Harperflamingo; 1st edition (March 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060192925
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060192921
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,418,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

There has never been an American poet as public as Ginsberg. He bared?and dared?all: as Beat, as bohemian, as gay man, as Buddhist, left-winger, East Village stroller?greeting all with messages of peace, dissent and sex. Despite his unorthodoxies, he belonged very much to a culture he helped build. Above all he was a survivor (unlike many of his compatriots), a seemingly eternal and yet contemporary voice always fresh with headlines. This volume, to be published on the second anniversary of his death, is no throwaway compendium of scattered verses. Rather, it is a perfect capstone to a noble life; the authentic, unmistakably Ginsbergian nature of its themes ("God"; "Excrement"; "Butterfly Mind") mixes effortlessly with remarkably intimate renderings of his approaching death. Though diabetes and heart problems plagued his last years, Ginsberg was not told of his metastasizing liver cancer till a week before he succumbed, during which time he worked on his last poem, "Things I'll Not Do (Nostalgias)," which poignantly lists friends and places and dreamscapes that will be forever unvisited by him. Robert Creeley's short foreword is a dissertation in abstract, reminding us of the inimitable Ginsberg cadences?"no poet more heard, more respected, more knew the intricacies of melody's patterns." It is "the last mind," says Creeley, of "the enduring friend." And no friend of Ginsberg's will be without this book; no friend of American poetry should be either.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

"If you've an ounce of strength, use it to look inside," Ginsberg says in a 1996 poem, written as his health was failing. Chronologically arranged and judiciously edited, this volume collects poems from January 1993 through March 1997. Built around Ginsberg's trademark concerns, we find explicit homosexual erotica, with parts of the body that are usually kept hidden brought to the forefront. But Ginsberg's tenderness and caring is also much in evidence, as in "New Stanzas for Amazing Grace," a song reaching out to the homeless. In 21 poems written during the final month of his life, Ginsberg captures the child's sense of enchantment, often turning to whimsical rhyme; whether it's five pages of couplets pointing out CIA involvement in drug wars or giving advice to readers in poetry slams, we're returned to a time when putting words on paper was pure enjoyment (assuming the reader can overlook extensive annotations). Every book by Ginsberg should be in most libraries, but this one is essential.?Rochelle Ratner, formerly with "Soho Weekly News," New York
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Allen Ginsberg was born in 1926 in Newark, New Jersey, a son of Naomi Ginsberg and lyric poet Louis Ginsberg. In 1956 he published his signal poem, Howl, one of the most widely read and translated poems of the century. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, awarded the medal of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French minister of culture in 1993, and co-founder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa Institute, the first accredited Buddhist college in the Western world, Allen Ginsberg died on April 5, 1997.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
Known as one of the original Beats, Allen Ginsberg (1926 -- 1997) wrote poetry for over fifty years. He wrote his best poetry including "Howl" and Kaddish" during the 1950s. Although his poetry generally declined during his latter years, it is a mistake to dismiss it. Ginsberg's last collection, "Death and Fame" consists of about 70 poems written during the last four years of his life, 1993 -- 1997. Of the six reviews of this book currently on Amazon, the most recent dates from 2002. Thus, it is appropriate with the passage of time to take a look at this last work of Ginsberg.

This is a mixed collection; but the best of these poems include a combination of playfulness, irreverence and meditation on old age, sickness, and death that make them a fitting end to a poet's life. The discovery of old age, sickness and death led to the awakening of the Buddha; and, as might be expected, there is much of Tibetan Buddhism in these poems. But Ginsberg took his Buddhism lightly and without ponderousness. Much in this collection celebrates Ginsberg's hard-won joy in his own sexuality and love of the everyday.

The poems that moved me begin with the final poem, "Things I'll not do (Nostalgias) written on March 30, 1997, within a week of Ginsberg's death. Ginsberg looks back and remembers many of the experiences of his lifetime and realizes that he will never do them again. Ginsberg recollects and bids farewell to what he has loved and approaches death with equanamity. The poem concludes.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By adead_poet@hotmail.com on January 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I thought long and hard about what to say about this final collection of Ginsberg's. As a poet, he was one of the best, and it is out of sentiment and respect that made me want to like his final poems. But in reality, they do not stand up to his former work. I almost find it hard to believe that this is the same man who wrote Howl, Kaddish, and others. It was interesting to see what Ginsberg's state of mind was at the end. It would appear that it was mostly scatological thoughts and political ravings. Not that I mind those types of poems, if they are well written. But still, it is a collection that I would recommend for your personal library, if only because it is Ginsberg's last. Though there were some good poems and interesting thoughts in this collection. We will miss Ginsberg.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Ginsberg wrote his greatest works in the fifties although moments of his power were felt later, for example the work 'White Shroud.' He did not find a subject worthy of his powers. The poet/prophet sometimes did seem to waste his insights on matters of transitory importance. Unfortunately, it was his own inpending death that did provide a powerful subject for his pen. Not every poem in this volume is up to the standards he had reached in previous work,but many can be counted among his best poems.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By RJ Riley on March 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Well, this is definitely not Ginsberg's best work, there is no question about that. I am a great admirer of his poetry, but even before this I felt his best work was done years ago with only scattered gems in the later years. I bought this book solely because i wanted the first edition of his last collection of poems. I would like to comment on the Kirkus review that appears here .... to say that the Beat writers, Ginsberg in particular, are a "sociological phenomenon (not an artistic one) that loses its bite out of its historical context" is outrageous. Perhaps the person that wrote those words never read "Kaddish" ... it is personal, beautiful, and timeless, as are a great number of his poems. His last collection may be weak but let us not trivialize the rest of his great career. Buy the first edition hardcover of this book even if you will not read it ... years from now when Ginsberg is recognized as one of this century's greatest poets your heirs will have a nice first edition of his last work.
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