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Collected Poems 1947-1980

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  6,607 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
"Ginsberg is both tragic and dynamic, a lyrical genius, con-man extraordinaire and probably the single greatest influence on American poetical voice since Walt Whitman."--Bob Dylan
Hardcover, 837 pages
Published 1985 by Harper & Row (first published 1984)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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David Self
Jan 25, 2014 David Self rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am still re-reading and savoring the book that when found in my locker in military boot camp (1965), got me called before the base commander and almost tossed out of the service. The questions: My past use of drugs and leanings toward communism. They kept the book :-( and simply gave me a stiff warning about what was American and what was not ... :-) I still love Ginsberg - I don't know what that says about my patriotism. :-)
Sep 20, 2007 R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1974-2002
My copy still retains two book marks, commemorating the era in which I read this...

1. A postcard from Skagit Valley Bulb Farm, with the message, "How about a balloon ride? I think it would be fun!"

2. A note that was left on my car that reads, "Hey baby, I think you're really cute. E-mail me at and we can get to know each other."

The postcard was written to me by a girl who thought that Bush's "Glycerine" was beautiful poetry; and the note was a joke from my friend, Rich, who had
May 16, 2011 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
When he’s not writing about big cocks and homosexual exploits while stoned out of his mind, Allen Ginsberg’s surreal poetry is as enchanting as magical cake. Cross-country traveler, all-encompassing pantheist, anti-imperialist radical, extremely eccentric metaphorical associations. Ginsberg and I come from the same planet, and it’s probably not Earth. Right now he might be my favorite poet, but I haven’t read much poetry, so that’s likely to change.

About the poems: let me say that while Howl was
Maryam Sabbaghi
یک روزی آدم های مهمی می شوند. نسلِ بیت را می گویم. یک روزی می رسد که از بستر الکل و دودی که از آن بیدار شدند، آثار فراموش نشدنی ای به جا خواهد ماند. فعلاً که براتیگان عزیز دل دارد فرضیه ام را اثبات می کند.
منتظر باشید. این ها روزی کلاسیک های آینده می شوند...
Richard Epstein
Dec 21, 2013 Richard Epstein rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Warning. This book is full of poems by Allen Ginsberg.
Jun 05, 2010 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Forget me not!

One of the first pictures I saw of Allen Ginsberg was in this red Collected Poems; it’s 1978, and he’s meditating with his companion Peter Orlovsky on the tracks in front of an oncoming train at Rocky Flats, which made the plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons, right outside Boulder, Colorado, where I grew up and currently reside. The first poetry reading I went to was at my former high school where Allen performed; I couldn’t believe it when he opened with “Sunflower Sutra,” the
May 13, 2008 Dale rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, favorites
I'm biased, so take this as you will, but Ginsberg, like his idol Whitman before him, has written some of the absolutely most ambitious poetry of the 20th century. He has the ability to capture the vibe and current surging through the immediate present while simultaneously communicating elemental truths and emotions that will remain accessible and engaging to readers of any time. He is a self-absorbed actor and an objective observer; he can flip between satirical, all-knowing insider and self-de ...more
Tyler Auton
Apr 10, 2010 Tyler Auton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What is there to really say! The book is almost a complete collection of Ginsberg. You can trace his genius from a young age to an old age: it shows the development of his mind. Overall Ginsberg is possibly the greatest spiritual yet radical poet I know of. If you haven’t read Ginsberg you should hang your head in shame. Seriously, though if you haven’t read him, you should. You could possibly like myself learn about yourself and Ginsberg simultaneously.
Aug 29, 2008 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all heads
Shelves: poetry
My off the top of my dome poem/review to Allen about his book of poems

I know that
in between time life and space
you are a genius and all
So I hope you're open to this mortal's note
Poems are not novels
and novels are not Poems.
Poems should be brief like kisses
Making heads wanna feel more
But still, thanks for the wild trip
Its been one Bro.
Tyler Midkiff
Jan 09, 2013 Tyler Midkiff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful. One of the best poets in the modern age. This is the best collection of his work I have yet to see. If anyone is beginning to get into Ginsberg, this is the book for you!
May 17, 2011 Rabishu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Prefer his very early and "Howl" period poetry to his other stuff. Has a few themes and images that he hammers to death in a way I'd be afraid to do, but he makes it work.
Dec 08, 2007 Deborah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I was really into the Beat writers at this point. It was my junior year of high school, I wore black clothes, a black beret, heavy black eyeliner, and almost-black lipstick called Vamp. I carried a notebook everywhere. This was the year that Denise, Erica and I started the Poetry Club at San Mateo High; it was the year I dropped math for good and joined the school newspaper instead; the year I learned to drive; the year of my first boyfriend; the year of Radiohead's album "The Bends"; in other w ...more
Sep 12, 2008 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
He signed my copy while at Village Green Bookstore on Monroe Ave. I remember the staff hurrying him along with his signing. He didn't acknowledge me much because of the hurrying, or was it the boy behind me in line was much more interesting, I am not sure. He signed his name under his printed name and dated it 5/24/96. I really like that I have this book with his signature. (The only other books that I have signed are by Lois Lowry) During his visit to Rochester at this time, I saw him speak at ...more
Allan Cronin
May 28, 2012 Allan Cronin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
I have withstood criticism from more conservative acquaintances over my respect of much of so called "beat" literature but reading this virtually complete collection of Allen Ginsberg's poetry provides a perspective. Sure there are poems which are dated having ties to cultural trends no longer in vogue but reading this collection leaves me with a feeling of vindication for my critical eye. In the final analysis I think that history will affirm that Ginsberg produced some of the most innovative a ...more
Jan 09, 2014 Haley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am FINALLY finished with this monster. The worst poetry I've ever read, but I finished it. I can mark it off the list of 1001 books to read before I die. And trust me, it almost killed me to read it. His poetry is vulgar to the point of perversion, and I have a pretty perverted mind myself. Most of them just make no sense at all. I'm not a political person by any means, and so that's partially why they are over my head, and I didn't grow up in his era I guess, but I just didn't get them.
Nov 14, 2013 Doug rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ginsberg can be very serious, yes, but he's also very comedic. "C'mon Jack" is a miss, quite bad as a poem, but that's about the worst of his work. "America" is classic Lenny-Bruce-type observation, funny and with many a social point thrown in. "Howl" is of course here, a poem everyone should read for its force and humor and rolling jeremiad lines on the beat and beat-down of the human soul. My favorite is "Kaddish", however. Poignant like none other.
Jun 30, 2010 Corey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though I did not read it all I read lots of day-to-day rambles, with occasional brightness. I guess that should be expected from a entire collection of one poet's work. I simply like more carefully self-edited and thought-restricted poetry rather than free verse/free association types. The mind throws out much incoherent, and I believe insignificant, noise that is not always fit for the page.
Nov 26, 2007 Guillermo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book off an on whenever I get the urge and need to learn more about the world. I'm not sure why I love it so much, but it's there upon my shelf. Normally I don't buy collections because I like to own smaller books (and I do mean normal size, not tiny easy to read books), but for this book, I needed for a class that I took.
Feb 04, 2008 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's a lot of crap that pads out Ginsberg's oeuvre but the crap gives a human trajectory to the man, and as Peter Golub says, don't think of poetry like a capitalist; poetry doesn't have to do anything.

Otherwise, it's nice to have America, Howl, Kaddish -- the 3 masterpieces -- in one volume.

And the 2nd rate poems are nice.
Flavio Borges
Jan 31, 2008 Flavio Borges rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although Ginsberg is best known for his strong criticism on American and Western society, I like the sense of holiness he gives to us humans. The 'Sulflower Sutra' and 'Footnote to Howl' are some of his best pieces in my opinion.
Nov 26, 2011 Luca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably the most important american poet of the second half of the last century.Howl&Kaddish(with my special affection for Message and Aunt Rose)Plutonian Ode, Fall of America, Cosmopolitan Greetings(read Personal Ad and Mayday)will stay forever in our heart and mind
M. Newman
Feb 25, 2011 M. Newman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
The poems of Allen Ginsberg are electric and I don't refer only to his two most famous works: "Howl" and "Kaddish." Other pieces, like "Wichita Vortex Sutra" and "Hadda Be Playing on the Jukebox" are just as great. Ginsberg was not just a great Beat poet but a great American poet.
Rachelsville Hunter
I carried this heavy book in my backpack all through my teenage years. My copy of this book is so tattered and ragged. It's pages are filled with doodles and the bad poems written by a 15 year-old Rachel.
Tanya Hallam
Jul 05, 2014 Tanya Hallam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish I could give this 10 stars. This has been my "go to" book for poetic enjoyment since my teen years. Side note: I am fortunate to now have an autographed copy as my ex-husband met him when he visited Loyola.
Meh, most of Ginsberg's poetry that you haven't heard of, is unheard of because it is terrible.

Stick to his major famous poems, stay away from the rest. I'd rather remember him for his fantastic poetry, not this depressingly bad dribble.
Brenda Greene
Mar 20, 2012 Brenda Greene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: unique and curious people
Recommended to Brenda by: A teacher
Wonderful collection. A true poet.
Melissa W
May 18, 2008 Melissa W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book as part of course I took on modern American lit and while I haven't read through the book, it is an amazing collection of Ginsberg's best poetry and shows a wide range of his work.
Joshua Buchin
Jan 20, 2008 Joshua Buchin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even though it's uneven, there's so much here that you're almost guaranteed to find something that you like, and probably more than once.
Sep 23, 2011 Shelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i'm reading the poems in chronological order. sometimes i have no idea what he's talking about, but thats ok, because theres always another gem around the corner waiting to be found!
Jan 07, 2009 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Allen didn't necessarily improve with age...
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Irwin Allen Ginsberg was the son of Louis and Naomi Ginsberg, two Jewish members of the New York literary counter-culture of the 1920s. Ginsberg was raised among several progressive political perspectives. A supporter of the Communist party, Ginsberg's mother was a nudist whose mental health was a concern throughout the poet's childhood. According to biographer Barry Miles, "Naomi's illness gave A ...more
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“who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism” 16 likes
“..I'm not sorry (America)” 0 likes
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