Allen Ginsberg


Father breath once more farewell
Birth you gave was no thing ill
My heart is still, as time will tell.


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 1948.

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 Beat Poet 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 WhitmanA 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 Buddhist funeral.

America I've given you all and now I'm nothing.
America two dollars and twentyseven cents January 17, 1956.
I cant' stand on my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb.

From America

Allen Ginsberg






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