cover image Cosmopolitan Greetings: Poems, 1986-1992

Cosmopolitan Greetings: Poems, 1986-1992

Allen Ginsberg, Allen Gisnberg. HarperCollins Publishers, $20 (118pp) ISBN 978-0-06-016770-7

Reading a new collection of poems by Ginsberg ( White Shroud ) is rather like receiving a letter from a beloved and somewhat eccentric friend--you either luxuriate in the details of his latest global adventures and musings, or just feel amazed that he's kept up the frenetic, peripatetic pace for so long. Regardless, Greetings is suffused with a range of emotional colors that gives Ginsberg's work an added depth, a restless energy and ultimately an elegiac tone. Writing from China, Warsaw, Nicaragua and New York City, the poet makes strong statements on two of his favorite subjects, politics (``CIA Dope Calypso'' offers a three-part historical analysis that you can dance to) and sexuality (``To Jacob Rabinowitz'' remembers a lover who ``hardly out of puberty gave me / your ass bright eyes and virgin body a whole month''). Yet the most impressive poems are those in which Ginsberg contemplates his mortality (``I Went to the Movie of Life,'' ``Autumn Leaves,'' ``After Lalon''). His engagement with life and death also produces the powerful ``The Charnel Ground,'' a journalistic meditation on raw New York. Still, Ginsberg's commitment to many aspects of existence is the book's true theme, and gives vitality to what might be seen as his grappling with death: ``I write poetry,'' he tells us, ``because it's the best way to say everything in mind within 6 minutes or a lifetime.'' Author tour. (May)