The Book Review: Allen Ginsberg and I


“That tree said I don’t like that white car under me, it smells gasoline. That other tree next to it said O you’re always complaining you’re a neurotic you can see by the way you’re bent over.” – Allen Ginsberg 

I woke up this morning and I felt sick. Just this little cold one gets sitting in the car for too long with the air-condition blasting in the face. Not really sick as in stay-in-bed-and take-tons-of Nyquil-sick. Just blah-get-out-of-my-way-sick. (sorry Jean). So I made myself some breakfast that I did not really enjoy because my taste buds are sick as well I believe and I thought about what I can possible make out of a day like this. Sitting miserably in the kitchen my husband walks in and showed me “Allen Ginsberg’s ‘White Shroud” originally signed by Allen Ginsberg with one of these little cartoons he usually put on the cover page. Well I do LOVE Allen Ginsberg. With his poem “Howl” and of course the movie based on said poem I was hooked. I read basically everything by him. Front to back. I watched everything on Allen Ginsberg on Youtube. There is a great documentary on Youtube :

My husband knows all this and bought this book for me. Classic. So, Jean walks in with this book and all I did was – I cried. Maybe due to me not feeling well or or or… who cares. But it was just so awesome. I asked him: “Is it mine?” And he said: “Of course my love!” How awesome is this?! I read the book almost instantly. Believe it or not, I have not heard about it nor have I even read any of these poems. Overall I can say that it is a pretty interesting collection of his poems. One particular poem “Love comes” I read out loud to my husband and he said: “Well, it is Ginsberg, he has his own style!” which is true indeed. His politically inflamed passion and his dramatic flair is just well… Ginsberg.

I think that his biggest achievement was “Howl” but “White Shroud” hits a few high marks that come pretty close to this poem. Was it Faulkner who wrote once that the best writers are those who try and dare and take risks and even if they fail they are still better than those who play it safe. In none of his books/poems was he afraid to take risks. He just wrote what he thought. Simple as that. Did this make him look silly? Maybe for some but who cares. Some poems in this book I must say I was scratching my head thinking c’mon Allen, you are not really trying to write something here. He was the first to admit that he got caught up very often in these demands of just being Allen Ginsberg (His poem “I’m a Prisoner of Allen Ginsberg”). I believe this is the reason why he put more talent and effort in some of his poems and just bothered less with others. In his poem “Going to the World of the Dead” for example I thought that he just did not care about what he had written:

Excerpt: …”Your Nuclear Bomb

Ho Ho Ho

Let go your Disaster your Death

Let go Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho

Ho Ho Ho Ho

Ho Ho Millionaires of Mexico

Ho Ho Ho Millionaires of Nicaragua Let go Let go.”

I think this collection offers a good cross-section of his range. My favorites include “White Shroud”, “Industrial Waves”, “I am a Prisoner of Allen Ginsberg”, “Those two”, “In my kitchen in New York”. So overall I believe it is worth reading if one is a fan of Ginsberg’s work. My mom would hate it hahahaha! It is a good look into the mind of a radical who is trying to come to terms with getting older and leftover success and baggage.

And thank you again my love. For making this day special even though I do not feel well. <3

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