Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ginsberg's Howl

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"I saw the greatest minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,"
                                                                                                      -Howl, Allen Ginsberg 

Allen Ginsberg is my favorite poet, he is actually the first poet I ever truly connected with. Growing up, I hated poetry that came in any form other than Dr. Seuss. I didn't understand what the point of making sentences rhyme (or not rhyme) to make some bigger meaning and I hated studying the types of poems. A required poetry class in undergrad completely changed my mind about poetry, at least in particular those poets from the Beat Generation.

"America, why are your libraries full of tears?"
                                -America, Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg had a rough life growing up. His mother was in and out of mental hospitals his whole life until she passed away. He went to Columbia University in New York where he met some of the other "beats"; Jack Kerouac, William S.Burroughs, and Neal Cassady to name a few. These young poets all wrote about the corruption of the world, in particular against the government after the second world war. This group also experimented with a lot of drugs and free love, and also advocated for gay rights as well. (I did a little research for the biographical information because I only remembered bits and pieces from class! So here are links to the two articles I used: one, two.)

"In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!"
                                                                 -A Supermarket in California, Allen Ginsberg

Now, you may be wondering, "why do you like Ginsberg so much?". I personally do not do drugs or believe that promiscuous sex is okay, but I am very much for equal rights for the gay community. I love Ginsberg's poetry because it is so vivid and raw and shocking, even by today's standards. He allowed himself to feel and express all of his disdain or hope or distress. He wasn't afraid to stand up and say what he really felt, and he was even taken to court for it. His poem Howl was considered obscene (you can freely find the poem online, I'd rather not post the most obscene lines here), but he won his court case and the judge allowed for his work to remain on the market.

Do you enjoy poetry? Who or what are some of your favorites?

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