Friday, June 6, 2008

Allen Ginsberg

I had to a poet study, and now I have been fascinated with Allen Ginsberg. I picked him because, whenever I watched documentaries on the 60s or Hippies/counterculture, his name always came up. It even came up when I watched a Bob Dylan documentary. I knew this guy was something special at this point.

What I learned on my journey is that he coined the term "flower power," as aforementioned in a different post. He acted as the voice for both the Beatniks and the Hippies, writing poems about the concept of a Lost America, lost from war, consumerism, materialism, destruction of the enviornment, and also of his homosexuality, drugs, and later his spiritual side. They are all loaded poems with deeper meanings and symbols, and his structure almost reflects prose, so it is easy to read. Most of his poems are long, but don't be frightened--they're worth it.

From reading a lot of his poetry, especially in an illustrated book called Illuminated Poems, he is very forward on his beliefs and issues. He really uses his voice to exclaim his political and social views with America's problems. They are so, so interesting. The book I mentioned is ever-so-amazing because the artist who paints from Ginsberg's poems are so dead-on. They are so talented, creative that the meaning of the poem goes to a whole other level. It's astounding.

What I love about Ginsberg is just that he is so in your face. He will talk about controversial issues in an open way that makes you understand that he doesn't care if you disagree. He is so open about his sexuality, in poems and photographs, which is inspiring for the homosexual community. Even his appearance is in your face. Everyone had to know he was a part of this counterculture by his clothing, his long beard, and crazy clothes. This man had a great life.

I will leave you with those comments. I will now post a poem I loved to analyze by Ginsberg called "A Supermarket in California." Listen to him actually read it aloud here.

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked
down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking
at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon
fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at
night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!
--and you, GarcĂ­a Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking
among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops?
What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you,
and followed in my imagination by the store detective.
We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy
tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the

Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in a hour.
Which way does your beard point tonight?
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and
feel absurd.)
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade
to shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be lonely.
Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automo-
biles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America
did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a
smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of

What do you think of Allen Ginsberg? What are some of your favorite poems by him? Least favorite? Likes/dislikes?

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