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About the book
  • Published: 1 April 2009
  • ISBN: 9780141190167
  • Imprint: Peng. Mod. Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 128
  • RRP: $19.99

Howl, Kaddish And Other Poems


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Allen Ginsberg was the bard of the beat generation, and Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems is a collection of his finest work published in Penguin Modern Classics, including 'Howl', whose vindication at an obscenity trial was a watershed moment in twentieth-century history.
'I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked'
Beat movement icon and visionary poet, Allen Ginsberg broke boundaries with his fearless, pyrotechnic verse. This new collection brings together the famous poems that made his name as a defining figure of the counterculture. They include the apocalyptic 'Howl', which became the subject of an obscenity trial when it was first published in 1956; the moving lament for his dead mother, 'Kaddish'; the searing indictment of his homeland, 'America'; and the confessional 'Mescaline'. Dark, ecstatic and rhapsodic, they show why Ginsberg was one of the most influential poets of the twentieth century.
Allen Ginsberg (1926-97) was an American poet, best known for the poem 'Howl' (1956), celebrating his friends of the Beat Generation and attacking what he saw as the destructive forces of materialism and conformity in the United States at the time. He was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, was awarded the medal of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture, won the National Book Award for The Fall of America and was a co-founder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute, the first accredited Buddhist college in the Western world.
If you enjoyed Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems, you might like Jack Kerouac's On the Road, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.
'The poem that defined a generation'
Guardian on 'Howl'
'He avoids nothing but experiences it to the hilt'
William Carlos Williams

  • Pub date: 1 April 2009
  • ISBN: 9780141190167
  • Imprint: Peng. Mod. Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 128
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1926, the son of Naomi Ginsberg and the well-known lyric poet/teacher Louis Ginsberg. As a Columbia College student in the 1940s he began close friendships with William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso and Jack Kerouac. He became associated with the Beat movement and the 1950s San Francisco Renaissance poets Gary Snyder and Michael McClure. After jobs as a labourer, market researcher and sailor, Ginsberg published his first volume, Howl and Other Poems, in 1956. Howl overcame censorship trials to become one of the most widely read poems of the century, translated into twenty-eight languages. In 1965 Ginsberg was, in a matter of weeks, crowned Prague May King, expelled by the Czech police and placed on the FBI's Dangerous Security list. Though he travelled widely, teaching in India, China, and Western and Eastern Europe, his home for most of his life was New York's Lower East Side.

A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Allen Ginsberg was awarded the medal of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French Minister of Culture in 1993, honoured as Harvard Phi Beta Kappa Poet 1994 and co-founded the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute, the first accredited Buddhist college in the western world.

Ginsberg died in New York on 5 April 1997, eight days after being diagnosed seriously ill. He continued to write until the last few days of his life and died surrounded by his friends and family. One of the last of the 'Beats', he embodied the surprising, experimental and sometimes lunatic spirit of the artistic and literary scene he was so much a part of. On his death James Campbell wrote of him in the Guardian, 'Allen Ginsberg was the exemplary avant-garde figure of the post-war world. In verse, in politics, in his own intimate life - there was no room for a 'private life' - Ginsberg resisted and disdained the orthodox, the social lie. Few people have done as much to make non-conformism respectable in our time as he did.'

Alan Ginsberg's other books include the annotated Howl, White Shroud: Poems 1980-1985, Cosmopolitan Greetings, Journals Mid-Fifties: 1954-1958 and Selected Poems 1947-1995. Rhino Records issued his four-CD box Holy Soul Jelly Roll: Poems & Songs 1949-1993.

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