Allen Ginsberg

~ Person


Irwin Allen Ginsberg (/ˈɡɪnzbərɡ/; 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 and was known as embodying various aspects of this counterculture, such as his views on drugs, hostility to bureaucracy and openness to Eastern religions. He was one of many influential American writers of his time known as the Beat Generation, which included famous writers such as Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs.

Ginsberg is best known for his poem "Howl", in which he denounced what he saw as the destructive forces of capitalism and conformity in the United States. In 1956, "Howl" was seized by San Francisco police and US Customs. In 1957, it attracted widespread publicity when it became the subject of an obscenity trial, as it described 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, including Peter Orlovsky, his lifelong partner. 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 was a practicing Buddhist who studied Eastern religious disciplines extensively. He lived modestly, buying his clothing in second-hand stores and residing in downscale apartments in New York’s East Village. One of his most influential teachers was the Tibetan Buddhist the Venerable Chögyam Trungpa, the founder of the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. At Trungpa's urging, Ginsberg and poet Anne Waldman started The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics there in 1974.

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."

His collection The Fall of America shared the annual U.S. National Book Award for Poetry in 1974. In 1979 he received the National Arts Club gold medal and was inducted into the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1986 he was awarded the Golden Wreath of the Struga Poetry Evenings in Struga, Macedonia. Ginsberg was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1995 for his book Cosmopolitan Greetings: Poems 1986–1992.

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Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1993 Cosmopolitan Greetings George Gruntz, Allen Ginsberg 1
1994 Holy Soul Jelly Roll: Poems and Songs 1949 - 1993 Allen Ginsberg 1
2004 Wichita Vortex Sutra Allen Ginsberg 2
2006 First Blues Allen Ginsberg 1
New York Blues: Rags, Ballads & Harmonium Songs Allen Ginsberg 1

Album + Compilation

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1986 Holy Soul and Jelly Roll Allen Ginsberg & Bob Dylan 1
2016 The Last Word on First Blues Allen Ginsberg 1

Album + Compilation + Live

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1972 Two Evenings With Allen Ginsberg Allen Ginsberg 1

Album + Live

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1983 Meditation Rock Allen Ginsberg 1


Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1983 September on Jessore Road / Grüss Aus Wien Allen Ginsberg & Het Mondriaan Quartet / Niew Hip Stilen 1

Other + Spokenword

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1959 Howl and Other Poems Allen Ginsberg 2
1993 Howls, Raps and Roars Allen Ginsberg 1
2004 Allen Ginsberg in Wuppertal: Poems and Songs 1980 Allen Ginsberg 1
The Lion for Real Allen Ginsberg 1
The Voice of the Poet Series - Allen Ginsberg Allen Ginsberg 1

Unspecified type

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1996 The Ballad of the Skeletons Allen Ginsberg 1

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