Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) was the most famous of the Beat poets of the 1950s, outliving most of his contemporaries and always staying relevant as a spokesman for the counterculture and for personal freedom.
Born in Newark, Ginsberg earned a B.A. from Columbia University in 1948. He had many odd jobs during the next eight years including working on cargo ships and as a dishwasher, a welder, and a night porter. His life changed permanently in 1956 with the publication of his most famous work, Howl, which sparked the San Francisco poetry renaissance. Shortly after its publication, Howl was banned for obscenity, a decision that was overturned soon afterwards when it was judged to contain redeeming social importance. Among Allen Ginsberg’s other writings are Kaddish, Reality Sandwiches, Planet News, and The Fall of America.
Ginsberg considered his work to be influenced by William Blake and Walt Whitman and it in turn became influential on later generations of poets. A very honest poet, he sometimes recited thoughts into a tape recorder and then simply transcribed his ideas as a finished product. On some occasions, he improvised during poetry readings on stage. Ginsberg dealt with his homosexuality, his mother’s mental problems, the difficulties of life, spirituality, and other issues that were important to him without sparing himself.
Due to his wit and soft-spoken intelligence, Ginsberg was a quiet revolutionary throughout his life. The Fantasy CD Howl features the poet reading some of his more important works including “Howl” and “Kaddish (Part 1)” and is a perfect memorial to his legacy.