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Kaddish and Other Poems
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Kaddish and Other Poems

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  6,129 ratings  ·  71 reviews
Great strange visionary poems by the author of Howl, “in the midst of the broken consciousness of mid-twentieth century . . .”

In the midst of the broken consciousness of mid-twentieth century suffering anguish of separation from my own body and its natural infinity of feeling its own self one with all self, I instinctively seeking to reconstitute that blissful union which
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Paperback, 99 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by City Lights (first published January 1st 1961)
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Catch-22 by Joseph HellerJames and the Giant Peach by Roald DahlFranny and Zooey by J.D. SalingerValley of the Dolls by Jacqueline SusannThe Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Best Books of 1961
18th out of 73 books — 52 voters
On the Road by Jack KerouacNaked Lunch by William S. BurroughsHowl and Other Poems by Allen GinsbergThe Dharma Bums by Jack KerouacA Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Beat Generation Literature
6th out of 30 books — 23 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dustin Wells
i make my kids listen to the cd. they're going to be brilliant or crazy.

Alison
In college, I was ridiculous and decided I would contrarily dislike Ginsberg--never having read anything by him--just because everybody else loved him. Then I took a class on modern American poetry in which we read this book, and THANK GOD. I read the first line:

Strange now to think of you, gone without corsets & eyes, while I walk on the sunny pavement of Greenwich Village.

...and that was that. I was saved from my own stupidity. It's possible that this book is really more of a four-star tit
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Lauren
Haunting and destroying. But Ginsberg teaches us how to pick the pieces up, even after one's soul, life, country crashes to the ground. Poet as priest; poem as prophecy hold up rather well here. Maybe it doesn't say such good things about our abilities to evolve, though, when we're given over to economic forces...
Esthër
"con tus ojos siendo arrastrada por los policías hasta una ambulancia
con tus ojos amarrada a la mesa de operaciones
con tus ojos de páncreas extirpado
con tus ojos de operación de apéndice
con tus ojos de aborto
con tus ojos de ovarios extirpados
con tus ojos de electroshock
con tus ojos de lobotomía
con tus ojos de divorcio
con tus ojos de derrame
con tus ojos sola
con tus ojos
con tus ojos
con tu Muerte llena de Flores"

Kaddish se lleva todas las estrellas del universo, son 'los otros poemas' l
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Robert
Appearances to the contrary, "Kaddish" was not a poem that commemorated a life, but one that attempts to exorcise a ghost. The spirit was Ginsberg's mother, a tortured soul who haunted the poet. Kaddish is at its heart a repudiation of a smothering mother, a feckless father, useless brother and antiquated traditions. The poem was an exercise in a kind of separation through sadomasochism.

It could be said that Ginsberg was both a product and victim of his time. A transitional figure when transgres
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Ben
"Kaddish" is considered by some to be Ginsberg's greatest poem. While a very strong, honest, and deeply personal work, I prefer the wild imagery of "Howl" and "Reality Sandwiches." The title poem is very sincere and emotionally gripping, but very, very sad, talking reflectively, painfully, and mournfully about the death and sad and tortured life of his mother, Naomi Ginsberg, a woman who really struggled with her mental health (I didn't know she had a lobotomy!). Of all the poems contained in th ...more
Aaron Eriksson
Howl will tell you about sex and drugs and the dregs of America, but Kaddish is hands down Ginsberg's greatest Poem. It's a dedication to his mother, completed three years after her death, and somehow crams more than a lifetime's worth of memories and nightmares into 30 pages, the most painful relationship of mother and son ever set to page, only for its honesty about paranoia, about sex, about the sense of loss mixed with relief and the sadness over brother and step-father already moving on wit ...more
Sevenponds
When readers discover beat poet Allen Ginsberg, they often first come across the poem “Howl“. The elegiac rhapsody was (in)famous in its time for its explicit language and an ensuing obscenity trial that, ironically, only threw Ginsberg’s work straight into national public attention. Indeed, the first time I learned of “Howl” was not in English but in History class, and not as a poem but as an important cultural artifact testing the limits of the first amendment. (Others may have watched James F ...more
Brendan
It really comes down to your opinion of the title piece. If you think it's great, the other poems won't matter. But if you don't like it, the other poems won't make up for it.

Of the 124 pages, 30 are "Kaddish' and another 30 are the two essays about it. "Laughing Gas" checks in at 17 pages. The other 47 pages are comprised of 14 shorter poems. Both essays are new to the 50th anniversary edition. Or were new when it was first published. Bill Morgan sheds light on Naomi's life before moving on to
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City Lights
"Alongside Howl, this book is generally regarded as a major work in the Ginsberg canon. Kaddish relates to Ginsberg's mother Naomi, she suffered severe mental illness and died in 1956. Her life and the manner of her death had a devastating impact upon a young Allen Ginsberg and he wrestled with thoughts of her all his life."
- Pauline Reeves, Beat Scene No.64, Spring 2011
Diane
Heartbreaking and beautiful book about the Jewish experience of guilt, death, and self-loathing. He really got it.
Ian
Aug 02, 2008 Ian rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
Although HOWL is his most famous poem, I think history will eventually pick this poem as his greatest work.
Sharon
"Soyez muette pour moi, Idole contemplative..."

"Be mute for me, contemplative Idol..."
adrian anderson
Coming into "Kaddish" after enjoying the phenomenal "Howl and Other Poems", a change in tone is immediatley evideant. With even more emphasis on the rhythem and beat of the poem, Ginsberg delievers his version of a traditional Jewish blessing for his deceased mother, going into her struggles with psychotic episodes and electroshock therapy as Ginsberg grows up. It's a facinating, vivid, incoherent, abstract portrait of his mother while also being a veircle for him to express his own personal phi ...more
JJ
Alike to Howl, Kaddish is another collection of two halves. Kaddish itself is a long and meandering poem, straddling the sublime and the dull, steering a long way clear of perfection in a way that only Ginsberg could manage. All of the ingredients were there: great subject matter, great passion, and a burgeoning need to write it. But the result is uneven. It often feels more like therapy for Ginsberg, revisiting his broken childhood, than something which is relatable to most other people.

The poe
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James
"Kaddish" is, like many of Ginsberg's poetry collections, very uneven, and I say this as a Ginsberg fan. The title poem, which brought me to tears and made me laugh out loud, might actually be superior to "Howl." "At Apollinaire's Grave" and "The Lion For Real" are especially good, but the last four poems, "Lysergic Acid," "Magic Psalm," "The Reply," and "The End," give the impression that they were composed under the influence of drugs, and as such aren't very coherent.

Ginsberg wrote a great d
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J Frederick
"Kaddish" itself is of course the draw here, and that poem, revolving around the life and death of Ginsberg's mother, Naomi, is the best Ginsberg poem that I have read thus far, exceeding "Howl" and "America" (my two runners up). The same structures as "Howl" are used for the most part: there are long breathless lines, multiple divisions, and sections of rhythmic repetition (fugue, the final section, is my favorite as crows 'caw' above Naomi's tombstone). The poem is gut wrenchingly personal and ...more
Mcatania21
Hoagland equates artistic temperaments to chakras in the body, and because I practice yoga religiously, I appreciate this taxonomy, but he doesn’t fully develop his theory, and it leaves me confused rather than enlightened. I don’t think a poet uses just one energy point (“genitals, belly, heart, throat, third eye”) to develop a poem; rather, creativity can come from everywhere. Is it accurate to say that Ginsberg is a poet of the genitals because his poetry is laced with sexual references? No, ...more
Kevin Hinman
Allen Ginsberg's follows up his masterpiece, Howl, with a close second. Kaddish is a stark record of Ginsberg's troubled childhood, a mourning poem for his mother, a much needed severance of the Freudian umbilical cord. The poem's opening, in which Ginsberg describes a East Village morning walk, lost in thought after a drug-fueled allnighter, is a beautiful rush to the senses, and the bulk narrative of the poem, his mother's insanity and hospitalizations, are heartbreaking and vivid.
As much of K
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Jsavett1
Kaddish is nothing else but Ginsburg's attempt to hallow, sanctify and order the chaotic life and death of his mother, Naomi. It's important to know a BIT about the Mourner's Kaddish. The "prayer" itself says nothing about death and unlike, say Psalm 23, it makes no overt attempts to provide solace or refuge for the mourner. Translated, it is simply and completely a forced recitation of God's ultimate power and unknowability. It states that the universe has order---not that it's fair or conceiva ...more
Socialbookshelves.com
In this stellar little collection of poetry spanning the years 1958-1960, you can tell that Ginsberg is tripping balls – in fact, it includes poems titled ‘Laughing Gas‘, ‘Mescaline‘ and ‘Lysergic Acid‘. The three poems that follow, completing the collection, were written “to record visions experienced after drinking Ayahuasca, an Amazon spiritual potion,” according to the author.

Howl and Other Poems is the best place to start with Ginsberg – read this next, and you’ll be a full convert.
Frank Vasquez
Kaddish is itself the embodiment of the tragic. It's visceral while still somehow managing to be intro- and retrospective. The poem is a true work of art and easily proves itself Ginsberg's best piece. Imagery with attention to form. The rest contained therein are all haunting and powerful pieces that are awesomely vivacious and vicious. There is a clarity to these poems despite the maddening pace and structures of each that is overwhelmingly beautiful.
Matt
Apr 09, 2012 Matt rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
Beginning with contemplations on the life of his mother, especially towards the end of her life, and her death, Ginsberg embarks on a thorough interrogation of the value of life, the meaning of death and non-existence, and the afterlife. These are the biggest and oldest questions, and some of the themes and phrases Ginsberg employs are olden as well; however, much of the imagery and phrasing is fresh. The questions are addressed from so many sides and so repetitively that it feels like the chipp ...more
Julia
what did i think? well, goodreads, right about now i'm about ready to get into my rant on the inherent stupidity of rating literature, especially poetry, especially allen fucking ginsberg, with meaningless stars only assigned some superfluous meaning, but. but also i think, sometimes, that ginsberg was the only one brave or desperate enough to really just open his mind and let everyone trample through it and i'm happy he did. because we're all crazy and wild, even the smallest, most self-contain ...more
Luna Miguel
Contaba Ginsberg que lloró mientras lo escribía, y ciertamente las lágrimas fluyen por estos poemas, y casi chocan contra nosotros como si fueran olas fortísimas: http://www.playgroundmag.net/musica/n...
Masonpfaff
Title poem is phenomenal.
Other poems are either average, good, or great.
Van Gogh's ear never gets old to read
Don
Jun 05, 2014 Don rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
One of the best poems, Kaddish, of the 20th century ... certainly AG's best.
Juris
"Kaddish" is a poem that is a true tale of Allen Ginsberg's mother, Naomi, and her battle with her psychological ailments. It is a powerful poem that also portrays what Allen himself went through since he was a very young child dealing with his Mother's condition. Ginsberg seems to be showing his Mother's psychological state as a state of spirituality and not just a mental condition.
I learned that the Kaddish is some type of Jewish prayer for the dead that was not read at Naomi Ginsberg's funera
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Book Child
buy it
Mike
Loved "Kaddish", but some of the rest? Meh. Good historical document to peruse.
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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
More about Allen Ginsberg...
Howl and Other Poems Collected Poems, 1947-1980 Collected Poems 1947-1997 Howl Reality Sandwiches

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“What came is gone forever every time” 10 likes
“Strange now to think of you, gone without corsets & eyes, while I walk on
the sunny pavement of Greenwich Village.
downtown Manhattan, clear winter noon, and I've been up all night, talking,
talking, reading the Kaddish aloud, listening to Ray Charles blues
shout blind on the phonograph”
9 likes
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