|Irwin Allen Ginsberg is commemorated with
a marker in the B'Nai Israel
Cemetery, Newark, Essex County, New Jersey, USA. (The marker lies
next to his father's grave.)
Photograph by Shawn Bernard
In 1945 Ginsberg
was expelled from New York's Columbia University for writing an
obscenity on the window and for sleeping with a fellow (male)
student. However, he returned to complete his degree in
In 1950 he spent eight months in a psychiatric hospital in order
to avoid going to prison on a charge of receiving stolen goods.
Howl - which is dedicated to Carl Solomon - was published
in 1956 by fellow
Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The poem was subsequently seized upon by the
San Francisco Police Department and Ferlinghetti was charged with
obscenity. A long trial ensued, with many poets and professors
defending the poem. Ferlinghetti was finally acquitted and Ginsberg
became a household name.
Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg
at the grave of Jack Kerouac.
Ginsberg's poetry was heavily influenced by the free verse style
of Walt Whitman. A Supermarket in
California is addressed to Whitman.
Ginsberg - an iconic figure of the US counter culture -
vociferously opposed the Vietnam war. He was also a leading gay
activist and took part in the Stonewall rebellion. He was even
credited with coining the term 'Flower Power'.
Ginsberg identified with many marginalised sections of American
society such as Trotskyites, Hell's Angels, LGBT and drug addicts.
He died on the 5th April 1997 of liver cancer. He was given a