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The Letters of Allen Ginsberg

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  103 ratings  ·  13 reviews
The best of poet Allen Ginsberg's correspondence with friends like Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs, edited by the author's longtime literary archivist.
ebook, 352 pages
Published September 2nd 2008 by Da Capo Press (first published January 1st 2008)
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Reading these letters solidifies the admiration I've developed for Ginsberg over the years. It also reminded me of the loss of a great tradition--written correspondence--or maybe it will be a transformation to another way of documenting our relationships to people and the world. There is so much in these letters that may or may not have been expressed if he were only keeping a blog or sending emails. Another thing that I learned from this volume was that I had summarily dismissed Ezra Pound beca ...more
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Allen Ginsberg and beat writers in general, but this book was a little heavy even for me – as with most collections of letters, it’s better suited to scholars and researchers, who can dip in and out to source references for their essays. Reading it from cover to cover took a lot of time, and I’ll confess that I had to do it over the course of a year, reading only one or two letters at a time.

Ginsberg and his pals often wrote in a sort of code, a bizarre dial
Great collection of letters. Earlier ones bring you back to a time when Ginsberg and his friends were struggling writers, trying to become published and known. These letters take you through the creation of great works like "Howl" and "Kaddish," as well as his correspondences with Kerouac and Burroughs with their works, and all the writers he helped get published; especially the City Lights Pocket Poets series where he wrote back and forth to Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
From the first letter in there
James Murphy
I admire Allen Ginsberg and his poetry. I consider him one of the most influential poets of the 20th century as well as a poet to simply enjoy for his written word. So I'd keenly anticipated reading his letters. I wasn't disappointed. Their insight into the biographical details, of course, is intriguing. But in addition, though I'd already suspected this to be true, these letters to friends, peers, lovers, and colleagues show a wide breadth of literary knowledge and an ability to transmit it in ...more
James Carmichael
Allen Ginsberg was a thoughtful, reflective, and prolific letter-writer who led a fascinating life. Even if you're not particularly interested in the Beats or his poetry, these are a good read -- both as pieces of prose in themselves, and as historical artifacts of a moment in American time.
Kris Underwood
I couldn't get through this book. It is very rare that I put a book down without finishing it. The letters were interesting to read, just to get a glimpse into Ginsberg's life and the inner workings of his rambling mind. I found much humor throughout but also a lot of self-inflicted pathos which made the it really hard to read. Kind of-Okay, that's enough of that. I'd be more interested in reading about the women of the Beat Generation-the spouses, muses, poets. That book by Brenda Knight come t ...more
Holly Foley (Procida)
I really had no idea how absolutely brilliant Allen Ginsberg was. I saw his beatnik writing as loosely flowing, when in fact the structure he explains and worked on was exhaustive.. who knew he tried so hard and made it look so easy. His letters were witty, funny, sometimes sincere to his allies and friends, but mostly sarcastic to his critics. I am always searching for more biographical information about people who were adults when I was a child. I really wanted to know more about the world tha ...more
Jack Buck
I'll stick to Allen's poetry. I was sadly disappointed by this book. I had such high hopes; I ended up finding myself disliking Allen through his letter correspondence by way of his extreme ego and pretentious east coast "hey-look-at-me" pompousness.
My published, online review of The Letters of Allen Ginsberg can be found here.

Let me know what you think.

A bit long, but worth poking through to find the good stuff; among it, Ginsberg's chastising letter to Time Magazine and correspondence around the time he was writing "Howl."
Mark Feltskog
A fascinating epistolary history of The Beats by one of its most interesting and sympathetic figures.
Very interesting to learn about the writer side of the "beat" group. I enjoyed reading this book.
If only for his description of Howl..this is a good read.
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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 Kaddish and Other Poems Collected Poems, 1947-1980 Collected Poems 1947-1997 Howl

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“I shudder, I see the love, I’m doomed, my heart melts again — can’t stand not to be in love, can’t stand not to be melting with real tenderness, childlike need sweetnesses, that’s what’s wrong with me.” 2 likes
“I don’t want to suffer any more, I have had my mind broken open over and over before, I have been isolate and loveless always. I have not slept with anyone since I saw you, not because I was faithful but because I am afraid and I know no one. I will always be afraid I will always be worthless, I will always be alone till I die and I will be tormented long after you leave me.” 0 likes
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