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Collected Poems 1947-1980 Paperback – June 7, 1988
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Tortured by the paranoia and mental illness of his immigrant mother, and by his own homosexuality in a society that was homophobic, Allen Ginsberg's early work was as much a measure of his self-loathing as his detestation of social hypocrisy and injustice. His poems reached depths of humiliation and shame that presaged a mental breakdown, followed by recovery with the help of Buddhist philosophy. Ginsberg's political commitment was fired by his involvement with Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder and others in the Beat movement, a poetry of social protest that refused perceived elitist boundaries. Despite a tendency toward propaganda, Ginsberg's best poetry is infused with satiric comedy and cheerful self-parody, and is most readily appreciated when read aloud.
"Both an American publishing landmark and an immediate classic of international importance." -- -- Choice
Ginsberg, at his best, is alert, unprogrammed, free. -- The New Yorker, Helen Vendler
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CONVOLUTED BOURGEIOS BUDDHIST THINKER BUT GREAT POET
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
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.
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.