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I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg
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I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  616 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of Howl, the first full biography of Allen Ginsberg—from birth to death

Allen Ginsberg was America’s most influential poet since World War II, a figure who was in the vanguard of every popular movement of that time, from the emergence of the Beat generation to the countercultural revolution to the interest in Eastern spi
Hardcover, 720 pages
Published October 5th 2006 by Viking Adult (first published 2006)
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Dec 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A This bio of Ginsberg by his bibliographer is just terrific--it includes people I know (Steven Taylor, Rose, Anne, amongst others) and is just fascinating! I couldn't put it down and I love Allen so much more than I did before. I was so sad when he wrote about Allen's death.
Oct 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Allen Ginsberg wanted to be a Great Poet,a Rock'n'Roll Star and a Saint...on the evidence in this exhaustive but very interesting biography he only succeeded at Sainthood... his incredible kindness,generosity and unfailing devotion to his friends are made manifest on every page...while I enjoy some of his poems("Father Death Blues" and "Kaddish",for example)my taste runs more to Eliot(First Thought is NOT neccessarily Best Thought)but as a Human Being he was with Kerouac,Burroughs ...more
James Murphy
As Ginsberg's bibliographer and archivist for almost 20 years, Bill Morgan became quite close to him. His familiarity with his subject makes it fitting he should write the life, or a life. I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg is the story he tells. The use of the word is deliberate. Fred Anderson, in a recent review, wrote of distinguishing history as studies or stories. I suppose it could apply to biography as well. This is the story of Ginsberg's life rather than a s ...more
Gregory Frye
Nov 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I read this biography in tandem with the collected poems '47-'97, the works and their pages numbers are annotated along side the text in Bill Morgan's thorough book. So to have read all Ginsberg in biographical context is an extraordinary gift to me, and I don't think I would have been able to appreciate his work so much without the biography.

Needless to say, the reading was a massive study that took a long time. I just finished and am still trying to process everything. If you're a fan of free
Jan 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I didn't know much about Ginsberg, except that he wrote Howl, so I read this thorough, kind, and generous biography with interest; it's immediately clear by his tone that the biographer truly respects and admires his subject. Ginsberg traveled widely, lived on very little, and wrote constantly. He was generous with friends and single-handedly promoted and launched the careers of many of the Beats. I enjoyed reading about someone with his passion and commitment to his craft. An especially nice to ...more
Richard Wise
Aug 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I liked it! I have read several biographies of Jack Kerouac and The Beat Generation but most of those just touched on the life of Allen Ginsberg.

Morgan pulls few punches, we get the good with the bad. We find out who Ginsberg admired, who he emulated and who he blew.

I guess when discussing the life and loves of a heterosexual or a homosexual it is important to know which of his/her relationships were sexual in nature though I don't believe it is necessary to go into graphic detail as Morgan does
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2008
Anyone who cares about Allen Ginsberg need to read this bio. It is the closest to a bio by Ginsberg himself that anyone will ever get. Not only does it quote heavily from Ginsberg's personal journals that he kept throughout his life, but it also offers cross referencing with the Collected Poems of Ginsberg, So when an event coincides with a poem in the CP, he references the page.

Genius! I never thought I would have such an intimate understanding of Ginsberg. I loved this book, and recommend it
Sep 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Written by a 20 year associate and archivist of Ginsberg, warts and all, I found it to be a fascinating study of an American original. Without Ginsberg's tireless advocacy for the Beats, Kerouac, Burroughs, Corso and others may never have been published or might have been decades before being published. His fight against censorship kept the work of all the Beats in the public eye, as unsettling or shocking that work may have been to some. Today, many of these writers are icons of American liter ...more
Roger Stephens
Jan 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A true "blow by blow" description of Allen Ginsberg's life. It is written by Ginsberg's archivist and is a truly amazingly and at times, excruciating, account of Ginsberg's charmed life. It made me want to listen to his poems, which I feel he felt were best "heard" rather than "read" which makes him really part of the beginning of "new media" while he continued the tradition of Walt Whitman and all of American poetry. This is a fascinating read.
Jun 28, 2009 rated it liked it
This bioraphy is interesting but the inlusion unecessary gritty details of Ginsbergs specific sexual encounters is puzzling and distracting. Such detail may appeal to those with purient interest, but are not essential to understanding the man and I fail to see why they were included. We know he was homosexual and this fact is fine - the specifics are not needed thank you Mr. Morgan.
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed every minute of this gigantic biography. A.G. had the most amazing life. Reading about his travels in India and Mexico was, for me, the best part. It seemed like an honest and accurate account; I never felt that the writer was biased. Very entertaining, and I also learned a lot about the Beat movement and its effect on American sub-culture.
Subhankar Das
Shocked to notice all those misinformations about India, Calcutta.Nobody bothers to recheck informations before writing a book these days. For Example Hare Krishna chant becomes Hari Krishna.

A mantra represents a historical time and place of a society and it just cannot be ignored as a typo.
Feb 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
I loved the insight this biography provided into the culture of the Beats, along with the surrounding political events and what was going on during Ginsberg's travels. The writing style is clear and flows well, compensating for the length of the book.
Yuliyana Todorova
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An excellent and thorough account of the life, origin, work, outlook, values and beliefs of a genius beat-generation poet. I do cherish some hopes to be able to translate Bill Morgan's biography into my native Bulgarian tongue some day.
Jan 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book that takes a very vivid glance at Allen Ginsberg's entire life. It's over 600 pages but filled with great information that will help you to better understand his poetry. The man did more in a couple of years of his life than most do with all of theirs!
Erik Steevens
Apr 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
what a fantastic work, Allen Ginsberg deserves a statue ( of alternative liberty )
also a wonderful picture of American history
James Penido
Dec 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The biography of one the man the men who forged the counterculture and so,most of what the west is today in matters of freedom.
Jun 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
very detailed account of his life - had read Neal Cassidy's bio a few years ago, and it's interesting to see what was happening on the other side :)
Feb 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The pontificating gasbag in total. How can you not be interested in this.
Michael Avery
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My second Ginsberg biography. As fascinating as the first.
Dec 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic biography. Definitely one of the best and most moving biographies I have ever read. Ginsberg led such a full life! He fulfilled his dream of becoming a successful poet, partly fulfilled his dream of becoming a rock star, along with Burroughs, Kerouac and others, spearheaded the beat movement which had a huge impact on a global scale and whose ripples can still be felt today, tried almost every drug you have ever heard of and more, slept with a large number of both men and women (yeah s ...more
May 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Morgan does a very thorough job in this readable but lengthy biography. Those interested in Ginsburg's upbringing and ascendancy to the pantheon of 20th century American poets (if that is not too much of an oxymoron) will especially enjoy it as it lingers particularly on his early years. Those seeking analysis of Ginsburg's poetry or horizontal connections to other poets may be a little disappointed, as this is a biography, not a literary biography. Yes, the influence of Kerouac and Ginsburg's r ...more
Apr 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Ginsberg fans
Allen Ginsberg is by far my favorite poet, and the one who most keenly got me interested in the form. I've read Howl more then any other poem to my memory and even wrote an essay about it for a University class. Biography is also a genre of non-fiction I have been thinking of reading more. There's something a bit, I'm not sure, God-like about reading someone's life all laid out for you to see.
Since I can't really know the life of Allen Ginsberg nor do I have the skills to I can't say how good a
Mike Rot
Apr 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
An exhaustive and (but?) fascinating read of a life that helped define a generation. The stories of Ginsberg play at times like a real-life Forrest Gump, always there at the pivotal moment of history (participated in the Kinsey sex study, the first LSD study, part of the Merry Pranksters, hanging out with Dylan and the Beatles, slumming through Vietnam, Cuba, Russia, all at the peak of the Cold War, testified at the trial of Chicago 8, etc.). Particularly love that the chapters are divided by ye ...more
Jan 13, 2011 rated it liked it
The book in exhausting detail lays out the life of Allen Ginsberg but despite the overload, the story of this poet is fascinating and was very helpful to me as a writer wanting to know some specifics. It is not a literary critique. Also the biographer, who was a friend and colleague of Ginsberg, allows his own opinion to pepper the work. One thing that was made very clear was that Ginsberg's 40-year partner was not a successful love story. The two probably stayed together because of their family ...more
Mar 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
It is a very, very, VERY detailed biography. It's a huge book. But Allen Ginsberg is one of my favorite poets and one of my favorite people ever to have lived so I found it fulfilling. I would recommend getting a feel for Ginsberg's poetry and a broad understanding of the other Beat poets before embarking on this. If you are already a slightly-obsessive fan of the Beats, this will only deepen your infatuation with them and make you want to get a dingy warehouse apartment in NYC with four or five ...more
Natalie Conway
Jun 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Read this book a few years ago during a period of my life that was kind of messy and I didn't know what I wanted out of life. Great book for the people who don't mind looking inside while simultaneously learning about of the of best contemporary poets during the 50's, 60's, and 70's. Ginsberg's talent and unique background are woven together seamlessly. Definitely recommend!
Adam Korolev
Nov 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
The beats were insane. I enjoy some of Ginsberg's poetry, but I enjoy reading about his travels, family history and struggle with sexuality more than his poetry. The beats were breaking social barriers when other men their age were playing catch in their frontyard with their sons, Beaver and Wally. They were semi-perverted, high as hell, curious, but tasteful.
Pat Rolston
Mar 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Bill Morgan rivals Ted Morgan's biography, "Literary Outlaw," about the life of William Biuroughs. The linkage and depiction of the main characters of the Beat Generation is wonderfully defined with Ginsberg as ground zero. Morgan captures just about all you can imagine and more as pertaining to Ginsberg's motivations and psyche. Overall great research and writing.
Peter Salva
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An excellent companion to the Collected Poems of Allen Ginsberg. I have a greater appreciation for his poems from the understanding of his life that this biography provided. There is much inspiration to be had from both of these great books.
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I celebrate myself 3 8 Jan 17, 2012 07:28AM  
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Bill Morgan is a painter and archival consultant working in New York City. His previous publications include The Works of Allen Ginsberg 1941-1994: A Descriptive Bibliography and Lawrence Ferlinghetti: a Comprehensive Bibliography. He has worked as an archivist for Allen Ginsberg, Abbie Hoffman, and Timothy Leary.
More about Bill Morgan...