The Essential Ginsberg

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Featuring the legendary and groundbreaking poem “Howl,” this remarkable volume showcases a selection of Allen Ginsberg’s poems, songs, essays, letters, journals, and interviews and contains sixteen pages of his personal photographs.

One of the Beat Generation’s most renowned poets and writers, Allen Ginsberg became internationally famous not only for his published works but for his actions as a human rights activist who championed the sexual revolution, human rights, gay liberation, Buddhism and eastern religion, and the confrontation of societal norms—all before it became fashionable to do so. He was also the dynamic leader of war protesters, artists, Flower Power hippies, musicians, punks, and political radicals.

The Essential Ginsberg collects a mosaic of materials that displays the full range of Ginsberg’s mental landscape. His most important poems, songs, essays, letters, journals, and interviews are displayed in chronological order. His poetic masterpieces, “Howl” and “Kaddish,” are presented here along with lesser-known and difficult to find songs and prose. Personal correspondence with William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac is included as well as photographs—shot and captioned by Ginsberg himself—of his friends and fellow rogues William Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and more.

Through his essays, journals, interviews, and letters, this definitive volume will inspire readers to delve deeper into a body of work that remains one of the most impressive literary canons in American history.

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About the author

Allen Ginsberg was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters as well as a winner of the National Book Award for Poetry. He was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1926, and died in New York City in 1997.

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Additional Information

Publisher
HarperCollins
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Published on
May 26, 2015
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Pages
448
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ISBN
9780062362292
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Collections / American / General
Literary Collections / Essays
Literary Collections / Letters
Poetry / American / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Here, for the first time, is a volume that gathers the published verse of Allen Ginsberg in its entirety, a half century of brilliant work from one of America's great poets. The chief figure among the Beats, Ginsberg changed the course of American poetry, liberating it from closed academic forms with the creation of open, vocal, spontaneous, and energetic postmodern verse in the tradition of Walt Whitman, Guillaume Apollinaire, Hart Crane, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams. Ginsberg's classics Howl, Reality Sandwiches, Kaddish, Planet News, and The Fall of America led American (and international) poetry toward uncensored vernacular, explicit candor, the ecstatic, the rhapsodic, and the sincere—all leavened by an attractive and pervasive streak of common sense. Ginsberg's raw tones and attitudes of spiritual liberation also helped catalyze a psychological revolution that has become a permanent part of our cultural heritage, profoundly influencing not only poetry and popular song and speech, but also our view of the world.

The uninterrupted energy of Ginsberg's remarkable career is clearly revealed in this collection. Seen in order of composition, the poems reflect on one another; they are not only works but also a work. Included here are all the poems from the earlier volume Collected Poems 1947-1980, and from Ginsberg's subsequent and final three books of new poetry: White Shroud, Cosmopolitan Greetings, and Death & Fame. Enriching this book are illustrations by Ginsberg's artist friends; unusual and illuminating notes to the poems, inimitably prepared by the poet himself; extensive indexes; as well as prefaces and various other materials that accompanied the original publications.

Rikers Island is the centerpiece of the New York City Department of Corrections, a sprawling prison city of concrete and steel with housing for more than 16,000 inmates. Early in 1995, it was also the temporary home of legendary rapper and actor Tupac Shakur, incarcerated for a crime he swore he did not commit. And it was there that Angela Ardis, acting on a late-night wager among her friends and coworkers, sent a letter, along with a photo and her phone number. To her utter delight and amazement, Angela's phone rang a short while later. Tupac Shakur was on the line.

Over the next several months, Angela and Tupac shared a near-daily exchange of letters, poems and phone calls, and their the relationship quickly grew into something neither of them could quite define, a kinship of souls that touched each in unexpected ways. Those original poems and letters, many of them written after Tupac's transfer from Rikers to Dannemora State Prison, are presented here, along with the increasingly passionate and personal phone calls that touched on every subject imaginable. Far from the media spotlight, Tupac was by turns playful, sensual and serious, offering sharp observations on prison, music and the uncertainties of life. His letters to Angela reflect how he felt about being shot five times and left for dead one terrible night in New York in 1994, and his heartfelt verse encapsulates his dreams for the future--a future that would be so tragically cut short just over eighteen months after their correspondence began.

Tupac Shakur was shot on September 7th, 1996 and died a week later from his injuries. His murder remains unsolved, an ending as enigmatic as his life. But while Tupac may be gone, his words live on here, giving every fan a rare glimpse inside the mind and unbroken spirit of a passionate and unpredictable musical icon.

Angela Ardis is an author, screenwriter, actress and model.
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