Allen Ginsberg

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Allen Ginsberg on the right, Bob Dylan on the left.

Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) was an American poet known for his political views, influence on The Beat Generation, and incendiary poetry. His best known work is Howl, but he is almost as well known for the company he kept (the beats in The Fifties, the hippies in The Sixties).

Allen Ginsberg provides examples of the following tropes:
  • Badass Bookworm: Despite his (deserved) reputation as a maverick and a bohemian, Ginsberg was an excellent, serious student (nicknamed "the Professor" as an undergrad).
  • Banned in China: Most know about the infamous obscenity trial upon the publication of "Howl". His work is still banned from many school libraries today.
  • The Beat Generation: Ur Example, along with Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs. His poetry was a big influence on the Beat Generation, and he was one of the leaders of the movement.
  • Creator Breakdown: Spent time in Bellueve Psychiatric Hospital as a young man for treatment for severe anxiety. This was where he met Carl Solomon, and got the inspiration for "Howl."
  • Crowning Poetry of Awesome: The opening lines of "Howl":
    • I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night . . .
        • The entirety of that poem is one brilliant middle-finger salute to conventionality and glorification of all things transcendent, human, and capable of making life worth living in the face of insufferable chaos. "America" and "Kaddish for Naomi Ginsberg" are other great ones.
      • "America, I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel."
  • Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: "I'm with you in Rockland."
  • Crowning Moment of Funny: The time Bob Dylan introduced him to the Beatles.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Was deeply infatuated with Neal Cassady (oh yes, that Neal Cassady, the one Kerouac based Dean Moriarty off of) when he was younger. (well to be fair, he did have homosexual relations with Neal Cassady at various points. Cassady was bisexual)
  • Granola Girl: A male version
  • The Mentor: William Carlos Williams took Ginsberg under his wing when he was a young poet.
    • He also wrote the intro to the published Howl

Hold back the edges of your gowns, Ladies, we are going through hell.

  • Refuge in Audacity:
  • Shout-Out: the dedication of "Howl" includes shout outs to Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and the other Beat gang.
  • Invisible to Gaydar
  • Walt Whitman: Ginsberg's most famous work, "Howl" is inspired by the free-form approach Whitman took to "Leaves of Grass"
    • Whitman influenced other poems as well, and gets a Shout-Out in "A Supermarket in California."
  • We Used to Be Friends: With Jack Kerouac. They were never enemies or even Vitrolic Best Buds...despite their differences...but there was a decided cooling in the relationship in later years.
    • Jack Kerouac, despite what is thought, wrote On the Road as criticism of The Beat Generation (he named it that, and did not intend it to be a compliment, but they used it anyway) and he was a conservative Catholic, whereas Ginsberg...wasn't.