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Allen Ginsberg

Ginsberg, Allen (gĭnzˈbûrg) [key], 1926–97, American poet, b. Paterson, N.J., grad. Columbia, 1949. An outspoken member of the beat generation, Ginsberg is best known for Howl (1956), a long poem attacking American values in the 1950s. The prose of Jack Kerouac, the insights of Zen Buddhism, and the free verse of Walt Whitman were some of the sources for Ginsberg's quest to glorify everyday experience, embrace the ecstatic moment, and promote sponteneity and freedom of expression. His volumes of poetry include Kaddish and Other Poems, 1958–60 (1961), Collected Poems, 1947–1980 (1984), and White Shroud: Poems 1980–85 (1986). His Collected Poems: 1947–1997 was published in 2006. Allen Verbatim (1974) is a collection of lectures, and Deliberate Prose (2000) a selection of essays.

See his journals (5 vol., 1971–96); collected correspondence (5 vol., 1976–2001), M. Schumacher, ed., Family Business: Selected Letters between a Father and Son (2001), B. Morgan, ed., The Letters of Allen Ginsberg (2008) and The Selected Letters of Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder (2008); B. Morgan and D. Stanford, ed., Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters (2010); D. Carter, ed., Spontaneous Mind: Selected Interviews, 1958–1996 (2001); S. Greenough, Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg (2010, museum catalog); biographies by B. Miles (1989), M. Schumacher (1992), and B. Morgan (2006); studies by L. Hyde, ed. (1984), T. F. Merrill (1988), B. Miles (1993), and B. Morgan (2010); bibliographies ed. by G. Dowden (1971), M. P. Kraus (1980), and B. Morgan (1995).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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