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Journals mid-fifties : 1954-1958 /

Main Author:
Other Authors: Ball, Gordon.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: HarperCollins, 1995
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These journals offer an account of Ginsberg's emotional life: his homosexuality; his love affair with Peter Orlovsky; and the death of his mother. Rich in intimate detail and reflection, the journals provide an engaging portrait of one of the most influential American poets in the making.

Review by Booklist Review

Few would accuse Ginsberg of terseness: in his poems, prose, and public appearances, words stream forth, profligate and unstoppable. He has also been, since the '50s, highly aware of being "near the center of a whirlpool of energy" and tenacious in keeping a record, not of conversations ("Kerouac had done that" ), but of his "own changes of self-nature and perceptions." This book, drawn by editor Ball, with Ginsberg's cooperation, mainly from 10 notebooks, fills gaps between previous volumes: Journals Early Fifties Early Sixties (1977) and Indian Journals (1970), which covered parts of 1962 and 1963. It thus takes Ginsberg from San Jose and San Francisco to the Arctic, Mexico, and New York and then to Morocco and Europe, and it sketches the period when he was working on both "Howl" (published in 1956) and "Kaddish" (published in 1961). Journals Mid-Fifties includes dream narratives and poem drafts, emotional observations about lovers and friends, pungent commentary on literature and politics, and, to enhance it all, contemporary photographs and reproductions of notebook pages. Recommended for libraries where Ginsberg's earlier journals have found an audience. . --Mary Carroll

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Poet Allen Ginsberg moved to San Francisco in 1954 and a year later, with his reading of Howl, helped launch a poetry renaissance. His disgust with America's mindless materialism, his quest to unite eros and mystical spirituality, his struggle to accept his homosexuality, and his attempts to reconcile the imagination with mundane reality are recurring themes in these freewheeling journal entries, which Ball‘who also edited Allen Verbatim‘compiled from 10 notebooks. Ginsberg's anguish over the death of his mother, Naomi, in 1956, reflected in poems and jottings, culminated in his elegy, Kaddish, early portions of which appear here. In 1957 he and his lover, Peter Orlovsky, embarked on travels through Morocco, Spain, Italy, Amsterdam, Paris. Along with exquisite impressions of North Africa, Alaska and the Arctic, this journal, studded with scores of poems, records Ginsberg's friendships with Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso and William Burroughs, his dreams, his poetic theorizing and his meditations on love, suffering and metaphysics. Illustrated. $20,000 ad/promo; author tour. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Ball, editor of Ginsberg's Journals: Early Fifties, Early Sixties (Grove/Atlantic, 1993), here edits his subject's writings from the formative years of his artistic development. The reader receives a glimpse into the mind that composed Howl, and Other Poems (1956), Kaddish, and Other Poems 1958-1960 (1960), and Fall of America (1972). The journals show drafts of these poems, along with other poems, dreams, sexual encounters, spiritual musings, and various literary thoughts. The journals also document Ginsberg's travels to Alaska, Europe, and Mexico while providing extensive documentation of Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso, Gary Snyder, William Burroughs, and other artists who made up the Beat Generation. Ball does an excellent job of introducing each section of this account, which portrays one of America's most influential poets of the 20th century.‘Tim Gavin, Episcopal Acad., Merion, Pa. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Irwin Allen Ginsberg was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of poet and teacher Louis Ginsberg. In 1948, he received a B.A. degree from Columbia University.

Ginsberg began writing poetry while still in school and first gained wide public recognition in 1956 with the long poem Howl. Howl has had a stormy history. When it was first recited at poetry readings, audiences cheered wildly. It was published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Books and printed in England. Before the printed copies could be distributed, however they were seized by U.S. custom officials as obscene. After a famous court case in which the poem was found not to be obscene, the work sold rapidly and Ginsberg's reputation was assured.

Regarded as the foremost port of the Beat generation (as group of rebellious writers who opposed conformity and sough intensity of experience), Ginsberg's work is concerned with many subjects of contemporary interest, including drugs, sexual confusion, the voluntary poverty of the artist and rebel, and rejection of society. He is a poet with a significant message, and his criticism of American society is part of a long tradition of American writers who have questioned their country's values.

Ginsberg received numerous honors, including a Woodbury Poetry Prize, a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, and a National Book Award for poetry. Ginsberg was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1995 for his book Cosmopolitan Greetings: Poems 1986-1992. Ever the Bohemian, he had numerous occupations throughout his lifetime including dishwasher, porter, book reviewer, and spot welder. He died in April 1997 of complications due to liver cancer.

(Bowker Author Biography)

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