Books by Allen Ginsberg

THE BEST MINDS OF MY GENERATION by Allen Ginsberg
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: April 4, 2017

"A rich sourcebook for literary historians and fans of the passionate, iconoclastic Beats."
The Beat generation, as seen by its central figure. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: June 15, 2015

"A good primer to convince readers who have not experienced the work of Ferlinghetti and Ginsberg to give them a try."
Literary archivist Morgan (Beat Atlas: A State by State Guide to the Beat Generation in America, 2011, etc.) collects the correspondence of Ferlinghetti (Blasts Cries Laughter, 2014, etc.) and Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997), beginning with Ginsberg's first publication Howl and Other Poems (1955). Read full book review >
THE ESSENTIAL GINSBERG by Allen Ginsberg
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 26, 2015

"Except for brief introductions to the journal entries, Schumacher allows the selections to stand alone as testimony to an often outrageous, groundbreaking poet and tireless social activist."
A representative sampling from an iconic American poet. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

"An eloquent, affecting collection that offers lessons in poetry, in love, and in family."
A surprisingly poignant selection of letters between Beat Generation poet-guru Allen Ginsberg and his father, Louis, a career English teacher and an accomplished poet himself. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: April 1, 2001

"A valuable and extensive collection, intelligently edited."
Ginsberg, voluble when not downright loquacious, gave hundreds of interviews over his 40-year career; Carter has chosen generously for this new gathering, including many previously uncollected. Read full book review >
DELIBERATE PROSE by Allen Ginsberg
NONFICTION
Released: March 2, 2000

A comprehensive, well-organized collection of uneven prose by the late Beat Poet (Journals Mid-Fifties, 1995; Death and Fame, 1999). The essays, articles, and letters here were first printed in magazines like Evergreen Review, Rolling Stone, small presses, religiously affiliated publications or (a score) nowhere at all. Many blurbs and puff pieces of unknowns collected in the "Writers' section here should not have been reprinted either. But essays on Ginsberg's intellectual love, Walt Whitman, and one of his physical loves, Peter Orlovsky, add much to the literary and biographical worth of the anthology. In the seven other sections, at least two or three works are essential for the Ginsberg freak or anyone researching pre-revolution Amerika of 30 to 50 years ago. In "Politics and Prophecies," Ginsberg takes on Vietnam, nukes, Un-American Activities, and most government agencies. He supports the Hell's Angels and has the chutzpah to write that "to be a junky in America is like having been a Jew in Nazi Germany." And this isn't even in the section devoted to "Drug Culture," where, testifying at a Senate hearing, he compares mind-expanding LSD to the ritual taking of peyote. In "Mindfulness and Spirituality," the bard lectures in Emerson's old pulpit and intones mantras over the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Ginsberg outted homosexuality itself, but few will defend the pro-pederasty defense of NAMBLA which appears in the "Censorship and Sex Laws" section. Admirers of Kerouac, Burroughs, and Blake will most appreciate "\Literary Technique and the Beat Generation" and the following section, especially the essays on the making of "Howl" and "Kaddish." Finally, in "Further Applications," Ginsberg proclaims that with John Lennon and Bob Dylan we see that "poetry has returned through music back to the human body." Except for historians and fans of the Beats, nothing to howl about. Read full book review >
JOURNALS MID-FIFTIES (1954-1958) by Allen Ginsberg
NONFICTION
Released: April 1, 1995

Ball has shaped these raw, revealing "journals" — gleaned from a dozen sources, including pocket notebooks and a large 1954 desk calendar bearing Ginsberg's random jottings — into the essential record of the questing, wild-eyed, lustful young poet's sexual, spiritual, and literary odyssey. The entries embrace the period from Ginsberg's early San Francisco days to the bittersweet arrival of the Beat Movement as a media curiosity. As early as the summer of 1954, when he was still lusting after Neal Cassady and before his romance with Peter Orlovsky, Ginsberg had "recognitions...crucial to the writing of Howl." These writings and poetic ramblings are peppered with "Howl"-like phrasings: "drunken naked apartments"; "bursts of tropic artichoke energy." He records his dreams, usually frank and frustrated sexual encounters, in detail. He also confesses real sexual episodes with Cassady, Orlovsky, women. Of more interest, perhaps, are his ruminations on poetry and process, his copious reading lists, his comments on friends such as William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, Gregory Corso, and others. He marks the day in October 1955 when he debuted "Howl, Part 1" at the Six Gallery as the day when "the San Francisco Renaissance and a new American poetry were born." His early West Coast days and his sojourns to Mexico and Morocco have received ample attention. But manifest in his 1957-58 ramblings through Paris, Venice, and London is his profound sense of alienation, his cultivation of the notion of poet-as-expatriate, so evident in his work. On his return to the US and the media circus stirred up by Kerouac, he notes that his journal writing has "become too unspontaneous" and resolves to focus more on writing "loose poems," which fill hundreds of pages. "Only poetry," he notes, "will save America." Ball has illuminated and brought cohesion to the fragmented and often hallucinatory ruminations and ravings of a mad, genius poet. An important document has been added to the Beat canon. Read full book review >
JOURNALS by Allen Ginsberg
HISTORY
Released: Sept. 7, 1977

In New York, Mexico, Berkeley, and around the Mediterranean, in spurts between 1952 and 1962, Howler Ginsberg filled eighteen notebooks with poems, recorded and fabricated dreams, notes on visits and conversations, political ravings, and metaphysical ponders: "This lone/scribble in the margin of my days." From that bulk of scrawl, editor Ball has chosen the passages of "greatest general or literary interest" and furnishes footnotes to elucidate the references to books, movies, and the crowd of writers with whom Ginsberg shared peyote, philosophy, and feverish talk—William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Carl Solomon, Peter Orlovsky. Much of the prose is as telegraphic and leap-frogging as the poetry, though it sometimes settles down to business ("My first novel will be a local work—Paterson Revisited. . ." "Nathaniel West wrote true surrealist novels—must read the sources, Cocteau") or reduces itself to elastic one-liners: "Timelessness seen as infinite extensiveness of one moment's room." But the expected Ginsberg themes dominate—anti-establishment rage, drug-enflamed struggles between "phantasy" and the "real sensation"—and the churning mixture of real names and places with Ginsbergian imaginings should satisfy both underground scholars and those harboring a bizarre nostalgia for a singular milieu. "I think I'll be unamerican a few minutes/See how it feels like—eek! Read full book review >
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: Jan. 1, 1974

Ball has found a most benign use for his Sony — eavesdropping on Allen Ginsberg's 1971 cross-country college lecture tour at UC Davis, Wisconsin State, Wyoming, St. Louis and, of course, Kent State. No one is better on his feet than Ginsberg, our only poet who has achieved international celebrity status through his crowd-pulling hypnotic readings, and the thrall in which he holds his audience is powerful even in transcription. The material here on the politics of drugs — comprising twenty years research on our Draconian policies toward addicts (like friends William Burroughs and Herbert Huncke) — was first given in a seminar at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington. The poet relates his own experience of gnostic consciousness and Zen presence to prosody . . . . But by far the most valuable sections are the conversations with Robert Duncan on recent twentieth-century poetry in which Ginsberg recalls his own evolution as a poet (reading some surprisingly insipid poems written in the '40's), the influence of Williams' colloquial voice, his love affair with Cassady. An appendix includes one new poem and a handful of Blake's songs as musically adapted by Ginsberg. This intimate exposition of personality and creativity is the most vivid understanding we have of the major contemporary poet. Read full book review >