Synopses & Reviews
Here, for the first time, is a volume that gathers the published verse of Allen Ginsberg in its entirety, a half century of brilliant work from one of America's great poets. The chief figure among the Beats, Ginsberg changed the course of American poetry, liberating it from closed academic forms with the creation of open, vocal, spontaneous, and energetic postmodern verse in the tradition of Walt Whitman, Guillaume Apollinaire, Hart Crane, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams. Ginsberg's classics Howl
, Reality Sandwiches
, Planet News
, and The Fall of America
led American (and international) poetry toward uncensored vernacular, explicit candor, the ecstatic, the rhapsodic, and the sincere all leavened by an attractive and pervasive streak of common sense. Ginsberg's raw tones and attitudes of spiritual liberation also helped catalyze a psychological revolution that has become a permanent part of our cultural heritage, profoundly influencing not only poetry and popular song and speech, but also our view of the world.
The uninterrupted energy of Ginsberg's remarkable career is clearly revealed in this collection. Seen in order of composition, the poems reflect on one another; they are not only works but also a work. Included here are all the poems from the earlier volume Collected Poems 19471980, and from Ginsberg's subsequent and final three books of new poetry: White Shroud, Cosmopolitan Greetings, and Death & Fame. Enriching this book are illustrations by Ginsberg's artist friends; unusual and illuminating notes to the poems, inimitably prepared by the poet himself; extensive indexes; as well as prefaces and various other materials that accompanied the original publications.
"As iconic a cultural presence as James Dean or Bob Dylan...he reintroduced a Whitmanic energy that continues to flourish..."
"Taken all together, Ginsberg's poems are X-rays of a considerable part of American society during the last four decades." The New Yorker
"The mammoth new Collected Poems, 1947-1997 places Ginsberg firmly among the most prolific poets of the age." Washington Post Book World
"The Collected Poems are the ultimate statement on Ginsberg's art." Chicago Tribune
"Sooner or later, anyone interested in American poetry must embrace Allen Ginsberg." Houston Chronicle
"A...brilliant volume that shows Ginsberg...to be not only a legendary protest writer but also a lyric poet." New York Times
"If you want to read Ginsberg's poetry, you should go straight to the source. Collected Poems 1947-1997 gathers everything." Los Angeles Times
"[H]e wrote any number of splendid, singular poems that no other American poet of our age was capable of penning..." San Diego Union-Tribune
"The volume gathers for the first time all the published verse of...poet Ginsberg...A history...of a turbulent time." Salt Lake City Tribune
"Essential...Collected Poems...is easily the best of the bunch...Some 50 years later, Ginsberg's talent still glows on paper."
The Post and Courier
"Ginsberg's poems are reminders that those who face a culture's disapproval can approve themselves." The Progressive
"There's a lot to like...the current volume testifies to the poet's scope and indefatigable energy." Chicago Sun-Times
About 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.