#beat #letters #books #beatnik #lit #literature #counterculture
#JackKerouac #ontheroad #beatnik #beatgeneration take me bk to that time #quote
Range after range of mountains
year after year after year
I am still in love
Photo by Allen Ginsberg
Ginsberg at Ed Sanders’ Peace Eye Bookstore, East 10th Street between Ave B & Ave C, New York City, June 1966. According to Bill Morgan, the bookstore became a kind of second office for Allen starting in 1964, and by the end of that year he and Ed Sanders held the first LeMar (Legalize Marijuana) meetings there. UPI Photo
|—||Allen Ginsberg, “Negative Capability: Kerouac’s Buddhist Ethic” (via kongmings)|
Irwin Allen Ginsberg ( June 3, 1926 – April 5, 1997) was an American poet and one of the leading figures of both the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the counterculture that soon would follow. He vigorously opposed militarism, economic materialism and sexual repression. Ginsberg is best known for his epic poem “Howl”, in which he denounced what he saw as the destructive forces of capitalism and conformity in the United States.
In Ginsberg’s freshman year at Columbia he met fellow undergraduate Lucien Carr, who introduced him to a number of future Beat writers, including Jack Kerouac,William S. Burroughs, and John Clellon Holmes. They bonded because they saw in one another an excitement about the potential of American youth, a potential that existed outside the strict conformist confines of post–World War II, McCarthy-era America. Ginsberg and Carr talked excitedly about a “New Vision” (a phrase adapted from Yeats’ “A Vision”), for literature and America. Carr also introduced Ginsberg to Neal Cassady, for whom Ginsberg had a long infatuation.
In 1954, in San Francisco, Ginsberg met Peter Orlovsky (1933–2010), with whom he fell in love and who remained his lifelong partner. Also in San Francisco, Ginsberg met members of the San Francisco Renaissance and other poets who would later be associated with the Beat Generation in a broader sense. Wally Hedrick — a painter and co-founder of the Six Gallery – approached Ginsberg in mid-1955 and asked him to organize a poetry reading at the Six Gallery. At first, Ginsberg refused, but once he had written a rough draft of “Howl”, he changed his “fucking mind”, as he put it. Ginsberg advertised the event as “Six Poets at the Six Gallery”. One of the most important events in Beat mythos, known simply as “The Six Gallery reading" took place on October 7, 1955. The event, in essence, brought together the East and West Coast factions of the Beat Generation. Of more personal significance to Ginsberg, the reading that night included the first public presentation of “Howl”, a poem that brought worldwide fame to Ginsberg and to many of the poets associated with him.
In 1957, “Howl” attracted widespread publicity when it became the subject of an obscenity trial, as it depicted heterosexual and homosexual sex at a time when sodomy laws made homosexual acts a crime in every U.S. state. “Howl” reflected Ginsberg’s own homosexuality and his relationships with a number of men. Judge Clayton W. Horn ruled that “Howl” was not obscene, adding, “Would there be any freedom of press or speech if one must reduce his vocabulary to vapid innocuous euphemisms?” Ginsberg claimed at one point that all of his work was an extended biography (like Kerouac’s Duluoz Legend). “Howl” is not only a biography of Ginsberg’s experiences before 1955, but also a history of the Beat Generation. Ginsberg also later claimed that at the core of “Howl” were his unresolved emotions about his schizophrenic mother. During 1962–3, Ginsberg and Orlovsky travelled extensively across India, living half a year at a time in Benaras and Calcutta.
Ginsberg formed a bridge between the beat movement of the 1950s and the hippies of the 1960s, befriending, among others, Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey, and Bob Dylan. Ginsberg was a practicing Buddhist who studied Eastern religious disciplines extensively. Ginsberg was also involved with Krishnaism. In the mid-sixties he started incorporating chanting the Hare Krishna mantra into his religious practice. After learning that A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the Hare Krishna movement in the Western world had rented a store front in New York, he befriended him, visiting him often and suggesting publishers for his books, and a fruitful relationship began. One of his most influential teachers was the Tibetan Buddhist, the Venerable Chögyam Trungpa, founder of the Naropa Institute, now Naropa University at Boulder, Colorado. Ginsberg hoped to incorporate Bhaktivedanta Swami and his chanting into the hippie movement, and agreed to take part in the Mantra-Rock Dance concert and to introduce the swami to the Haight-Ashbury hippie community.[nb 1] At the 1967 Human Be-In in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and the 1970 Black Panther rally at Yale campus Allen chanted “Om” repeatedly over a sound system for hours on end.
Ginsberg took part in decades of non-violent political protest against everything from the Vietnam War to the War on Drugs. His poem “September on Jessore Road,” calling attention to the plight of Bangladeshi refugees, exemplifies what the literary critic Helen Vendler described as Ginsberg’s tireless persistence in protesting against “imperial politics, and persecution of the powerless.”
One contribution that is often considered his most significant and most controversial was his openness about homosexuality. Ginsberg was an early proponent of freedom for gay people. In 1943, he discovered within himself “mountains of homosexuality.” He expressed this desire openly and graphically in his poetry. He also struck a note for gay marriage by listing Peter Orlovsky, his lifelong companion, as his spouse in his Who’s Who entry. Subsequent gay writers saw his frank talk about homosexuality as an opening to speak more openly and honestly about something often before only hinted at or spoken of in metaphor. In writing about sexuality in graphic detail and in his frequent use of language seen as indecent, he challenged—and ultimately changed—obscenity laws. He was a staunch supporter of others whose expression challenged obscenity laws (William S. Burroughs and Lenny Bruce, for example).
Ginsberg was a supporter and member of North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). He referred to NAMBLA “as a forum for reform of those laws on youthful sexuality which members deem oppressive, a discussion society not a sex club.” Ginsberg also talked often about drug use. Throughout the 1960s he took an active role in the demystification of LSD, and, with Timothy Leary, worked to promote its common use. He was also for many decades an advocate of marijuana legalization, and, at the same time, warned his audiences against the hazards of tobacco.
With the exception of a special guest appearance at the NYU Poetry Slam on February 20, 1997, Ginsberg gave what is thought to be his last reading at The Booksmith in San Francisco on December 16, 1996. He died April 5, 1997, surrounded by family and friends in his East Village loft in New York City, succumbing to liver cancer. He was 70 years old. Ginsberg continued to write through his final illness, with his last poem, “Things I’ll Not Do (Nostalgias)”, written on March 30.
Allen Ginsberg & Peter Orlovsky by Richard Avedon