cover image Collected Poems 1947–1997

Collected Poems 1947–1997

Allen Ginsberg, . . HarperCollins, $39.95 (1189pp) ISBN 978-0-06-113974-1

Counterculture icon, beat apostle, Buddhist chanter, heir to William Blake, unapologetic explorer of intoxicating substances, world traveler, political protest leader, celebrant of gay sex, chronicler of New Jersey Jewish heritage and of Lower East Side post-hippie bohemians, Ginsberg (1926–1997) became by the midpoint of his career the most famous American poet of his era. At first hardworking and tormented, later on a spontaneous, welcoming mentor, the writer who in Howl (1956) "saw the best minds of my generation starving hysterical naked," and who mourned his psychotic mother in the wrenching title poem of Kaddish (1960) kept creating entertaining (if not quite so innovative) poems, for almost three decades after he rose to fame. This first complete collection of Ginsberg's work reproduces his 1980 Collected Poems —including all the extensive notes: here are "Howl" and "Kaddish" and the great anti–Vietnam War poem "Wichita Vortex Sutra"; here too are the poems about Prague and Cornwall, Benares and Shanghai and the Australian outback, the songs and chants in quatrains (with sheet music) and the unashamed odes to beautiful young men. This complete edition adds White Shroud (1986), Cosmopolitan Greetings (1994) and the aptly titled Death and Fame : Last Poems (2000). A hefty, vivid and important tome, it should remind us just how much Ginsberg accomplished. (Oct.)