General Question

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

With which book should I begin reading Allen Ginsberg?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (25799 points ) December 5th, 2012

I have not read his poetry and wish to start. The question is where.

What do you believe is a good place to begin?

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7 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Howl. It was his first real work to be made public.

gailcalled's avatar

How’s your tolerance for pain? You might be howling after several pages. It’s like Finnigan’s Wake…fun to have said you have read it; less fun in the reading.

bookish1's avatar

Dude, I have met Ginsberg in dreams.
PLANET NEWS is my favorite one by him. Published in 1968.

It’s got epic lysergic meditations (“Television was a baby crawling toward that deathchamber”), and short snippets (“This form of life needs sex”). A good mix.

My favorites in there are Kral Majales
“And the Communists have nothing to offer but fat cheeks and eyeglasses and lying policemen
and the Capitalists proffer Napalm and money in green suitcases to the naked…”

and Who Be Kind To
“Be kind to yourself, it is only one
and perishable of many on this planet…”

I agree with @gailcalled about Howl. Don’t start with that.

Cridaria's avatar

A good place to start is to familiarize yourself with his work as much as you can using online resources (free is always good). Then you will be more likely to choose something that intrigues you.

Here is the link to his estate:
http://www.allenginsberg.org

Here is the Wikipedia link (never to be underestimated as a starting point):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allen_Ginsberg

Amazon link (link to most of his published, mainstream stuff):
http://www.amazon.com/Allen-Ginsberg/e/B000AQ3D6W

You need to begin the journey yourself. After a bit of slogging and looking at the sights along the way, you will be able to ask yourself “What do I want to read?” and you will hear your own voice answer.

And it will be a more appropriate answer than anyone else will give you.

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dabbler's avatar

See if you can find recordings of Ginsberg delivering some of his works. His writing seems intended to be delivered in surging waves of exalting expositions.
So if you’re reading it, I think it can help to read it aloud, or imagine it being read aloud.

Jeruba's avatar

Hmmm…I would have said “Howl” too. At least the beginning of it. But maybe it’s because that’s all I’ve read of his work, and because that opening is so well very known. I purchased my copy at City Lights, too, sometime during the last millennium.

Even though I must confess that I haven’t read it all the way to the end, I will note at the same time that I keep my copy of it on top of an old hymnal for a pleasing contrast. For years it was the most visible lyric on the piano.

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