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DELIBERATE PROSE by Allen Ginsberg


Selected Essays 1951-1995

by Allen Ginsberg & edited by Bill Morgan

Pub Date: March 2nd, 2000
ISBN: 0-06-019294-1
Publisher: HarperCollins

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.