Books

The Best Minds of My Generation

Allen Ginsberg (and others)

A unique history of the Beats, in the words of the movement's most central member, Allen Ginsberg, based on a seminal series of his lectures

In 1977, twenty years after the publication of his landmark poem 'Howl' and Jack Kerouac's On the Road, Allen Ginsberg decided it was time to teach a course on the literary history of the Beat Generation. Through this course, Ginsberg saw an opportunity to present a complete history of Beat Literature and also to record and preserve his own personal stories and memories, ones that might have otherwise been lost to history. The result was a deeply intimate, candid and illuminating set of lectures, which form the basis of this book. Compiled and edited by renowned Beat scholar Bill Morgan, and with an introduction by Anne Waldman, The Best Minds of My Generation presents the lectures in edited form, revealing the Beats as Ginsberg knew them: friends, confidantes, literary mentors, and fellow revolutionaries.

In The Best Minds of My Generation, Ginsberg gives us the convoluted origin story of the "Beat" idea, recounts anecdotes of meeting Kerouac, Burroughs, and other figures for the first time, elucidates the importance of music, and particularly jazz rhythms, to Beat writing, discusses their many influences - literary, pharmaceutical and spiritual - and paints a portrait of a group who were leading a literary revolution. A unique document that works both as historical record and unconventional memoir, The Best Minds of My Generation is a vivid, personal and eye-opening look at one of the most important literary movements of the twentieth century.

Wait Till I'm Dead

Allen Ginsberg

Rainy night on Union Square, full moon. Want more poems? Wait till I'm dead.
Allen Ginsberg, August 8, 1990, 3:30 A.M.

Allen Ginsberg wrote incessantly for more than fifty years, and many of the poems collected for the first time in this volume were scribbled in letters or sent off to obscure publications and unjustly forgotten. Containing more than a hundred previously unpublished poems, accompanied by original photographs, and spanning from the 1940s to the 1990s, Wait Till I'm Dead is the final major contribution to Ginsberg's sprawling oeuvre, a must have for Ginsberg neophytes and long-time fans alike.

The Essential Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg

Visionary poet Allen Ginsberg was one of the most influential cultural and literary figures of the 20th century, his face and political causes familiar to millions who had never even read his poetry. And yet he is a figure that remains little understood, especially how a troubled young man became one of the intellectual and artistic giants of the postwar era. He never published an autobiography or memoirs, believing that his body of work should suffice. The Essential Ginsberg attempts a more intimate and rounded portrait of this iconic poet by bringing together for the first time his most memorable poetry but also journals, music, photographs and letters, much of it never before published.

Collected Poems 1947-1997

Allen Ginsberg

This is the only volume to bring together all of Allen Ginsberg's published verse in its entirety, celebrating half a century of brilliant work from one of America's greatest poets. Presented chronologically, it sets Ginsberg's verse against the story of his extraordinary life: from his most famous landmark works 'Howl' and 'Kaddish' to the poems of White Shroud and Cosmopolitan Greetings, and on to his later writings such as the caustically funny 'Death and Fame', the provocative 'New Democracy Wish List' and the elegiac 'Things I'll Not Do (Nostalgia)'.

Ginsberg, as chief figure among the Beats, fomented a social and political revolution, yet his groundbreaking verse also changed the course of American poetry with its freewheeling spontaneity, rawness, honesty and energy. Also containing illustrations by Ginsberg's artist friends, illuminating notes to the poems, original prefaces and photographs, this is the essential record of one of the most influential voices in twentieth century poetry.

Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems

Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg was the bard of the beat generation, and Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems is a collection of his finest work published in Penguin Modern Classics, including 'Howl', whose vindication at an obscenity trial was a watershed moment in twentieth-century history.

'I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked'

Beat movement icon and visionary poet, Allen Ginsberg broke boundaries with his fearless, pyrotechnic verse. This new collection brings together the famous poems that made his name as a defining figure of the counterculture. They include the apocalyptic 'Howl', which became the subject of an obscenity trial when it was first published in 1956; the moving lament for his dead mother, 'Kaddish'; the searing indictment of his homeland, 'America'; and the confessional 'Mescaline'. Dark, ecstatic and rhapsodic, they show why Ginsberg was one of the most influential poets of the twentieth century.

Allen Ginsberg (1926-97) was an American poet, best known for the poem 'Howl' (1956), celebrating his friends of the Beat Generation and attacking what he saw as the destructive forces of materialism and conformity in the United States at the time. He was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, was awarded the medal of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture, won the National Book Award for The Fall of America and was a co-founder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute, the first accredited Buddhist college in the Western world.

If you enjoyed Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems, you might like Jack Kerouac's On the Road, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'The poem that defined a generation'
Guardian on 'Howl'

'He avoids nothing but experiences it to the hilt'
William Carlos Williams

The Yage Letters

Allen Ginsberg (and others)

William Burroughs closed his classic debut novel, Junky, by saying he had determined to search out a drug he called 'Yage' which he believed transmitted telepathic powers, a drug that could be 'the final fix'. In The Yage Letters - a mix of travel writing, satire, psychedelia and epistolary novel - he journeys through South America, writing to his friend Allen Ginsberg about his experiments with the strange drug, using it to travel through time and space, to derange his senses - the perfect drug for the author of the wild decentred books that followed. Years later, Ginsberg writes back as he follows in Burroughs' footsteps, and the drug worse and more profound than he had imagined.

Selected Poems

Allen Ginsberg

Chosen by Ginsberg himself from nearly fifty years of experimental, groundbreaking verse, this selection, in his words, ‘summarizes what I deem most honest, most penetrant of my writing’, and includes lesser known and later works which go beyond his iconic Beat Generation image. Presented chronologically, and ranging from early works such as ‘Paterson’ (1949) to selections from White Shroud (1980–85) and Cosmopolitan Greetings (1986–92), and including the classic poems Howl (1955–56) and Kaddish (1959–60) as well as songs, recent uncollected poems and notes by the author, this volume brings together the most intensely personal verse of a great American poet – incandescent explorations that expand the consciousness with their breadth of vision and depth of humanity.

Biography

Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) was an American poet, best known for his iconic Howl, one of the most widely read and translated poems of the century. He was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, was awarded the medal of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture, and won the National Book Award for The Fall of America.