Allen Ginsberg Collection
Acclaimed poet Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) was born in Newark, N.J. and was raised in Paterson, N.J., where his father, Louis Ginsberg, himself a poet, taught high school English. Allen Ginsberg's mother was confined for years in a mental hospital. He mourned for her in his long poem titled Kaddish (1961). In 1943, while attending Columbia University, Ginsberg befriended Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, who later established themselves as significant contributors to the Beat Movement. After leaving Columbia in 1948, Mr. Ginsberg traveled widely and worked at a number of jobs, including cafeteria floor mopper to market researcher.
In 1956, Allen Ginsberg's first published book of poetry, Howl and Other Poems, lamented what he believed to have been the destruction by insanity of the "best minds of [his] generation." Expressive and raw with honesty, the poem revealed Ginsberg's opinions on homosexuality, drug addiction, Buddhism, and his revulsion from what he saw as the materialism and insensitivity of post-World War II America.
Ginsberg began a life of ceaseless travel, reading his poetry at campuses and coffee bars, traveling abroad, and engaging in left-wing political activities. Empty Mirror, Kaddish and Other Poems and Reality Sandwiches were all published in the early 1960s. He became an influential guru of the American youth counterculture in the late 1960s. He acquired a deeper knowledge of Buddhism, and increasingly a religious element of love for all sentient beings entered his work.
His later volumes of poetry included Planet News (1968); The Fall of America: Poems of These States, 1965-1971 (1972), which won the National Book Award and White Shroud: Poems 1980-1985 (1986).
Allen Ginsberg died of a heart attack while suffering from liver cancer on April 5, 1997 in New York City.
Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica Online and the Gale Literary Database
Allen Ginsberg 4/20/73