Commentary, Non-Fiction

Death Day – A Tribute to Allen Ginsberg

Celebrating the life of Allen Ginsberg – Easter Sunday

On April 5, 1997, Allen Ginsberg, esteemed American poet who spanned influence over multiple generations, died from a combination of liver cancer and hepatitis. At the eve of his death, close friends, family and old lovers spent the night with him at his apartment in the East Village in New York City. Once he passed, Buddhist chants filled the air for hours until his they believed his spirit fully left his body.

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Allen Ginsberg, a true activist, mentor and poet.

“Poetry is the one place where people can speak their original human mind. It is the outlet for people to say in public what is known in private.” – Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg was paramount to the Beat movement as a voice against militarism and political oppression. He was part of the counterculture publicly speaking out for the sexually and politically oppressed.

He is most known for exercising his freedom of speech in his poem “Howl” that spoke on homosexual relationships and the times of the American generation.

He studied at Colombia University where he made friends that shared his “new vision” and embarked on the epic journey of the poetic, beatific, buddhist life that still influences generations of artists today.

Favorite Quotes:

“I really believe, or want to believe, really I am nuts, otherwise I’ll never be sane.”

“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.”

Incomplete list of suggested reading:

  • Howl & Other Poems (1956)
  • Empty Mirror: Early Poems (1961)
  • The Yage Letters (1963)
  • The Fall of America: Poems of These States (1973)*
  • Illuminated Poems (1996)

*National Book Award for Poetry Winner

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“America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.” – Ginsberg

Interesting Fact:

Ginsberg and Anne Waldman helped found the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, which was started by Ginsberg’s biggest spiritual mentor, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

 

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