"The Letters of Allen Ginsberg"
By Bill Morgan and Allen GInsberg
BY J. EDWARD SUMERAU
Issue #19.48 :: 06/25/2008 - 07/01/2008
"The Letters of Allen Ginsberg"
By Bill Morgan and Allen Ginsberg
Available Sept. 1
AUGUSTA, GA - Eloquent, fascinating, and explosive are all words that
could be used to describe the work of Allen Ginsberg, but beyond any
simple compliment that can be adorned lies the raw spirit of
intellectual curiosity within his words and compositions in this
life. In a stunning display of the mind at work, Bill Morgan has put
together a fantastic collection of insight in the form of "The
Letters of Allen Ginsberg."
Bill Morgan may well be best known for his relationship with Ginsberg
throughout the years. His archivist for many years, Morgan published
his own biography of Ginsberg entitled "I Celebrate Myself: the
Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg" and a collection of
Ginsberg's early journals entitled "The Book of Martyrdom and
Artifice" in recent memory. A talented editor with firsthand
knowledge of the subject, Morgan is able to craft a fascinating
journey through the mind of one of the world's best poetical voices
in this volume.
Allen Ginsberg is a tough subject to settle upon lightly in the first
place. Many readers will remember the power of "Howl" being read
aloud or flying off a page in a youthful exposure to out-of-the-box
thinking, and others will acknowledge his place in literary history
as the confidant to such names as Jack Kerouac and William S.
Burroughs. Whatever the context, Ginsberg's name is synonymous with a
powerful expression of American literary history, and in the course
of this collection, some of his more private discussions are taken up
for the sake of posterity.
Throughout the book, readers will run into literary and artistic
names of merit, and in so doing, may begin to observe the impact of
this man in the creative world of the not so distant
past. Containing letters sent to Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey,
e.e. cummings, William S. Burroughs, Timothy Leary and Duke
Cunningham, this is a collection of history spread out within the
framework of letter writing. Alongside such stars, Ginsberg also
found time to comment on society in letters to Ed Koch and Bill
Clinton among others, and could be found expressing his concerns to
newspapers from The New York Times to The Wichita Beacon. Throughout
the compositions, the clarity and articulation of issues showcased by
Ginsberg can be an intriguing ride through a divergent vision of the
American landscape complete with scars and beauty lining a world of
constant gray between absolutes.
Crafted with supreme care, organized under a chronological format,
and placed together in a series of thrusts from the mind of a master
thinker now gone, this collection of letters serves as a collective
howl into the cognitive recesses within the open-minded free thinkers
Available on September 1, 2008 nationwide, "The Letters of Allen
Ginsberg" provide a pathway to the private mind of a master thinker
compelled to dissect the intricacies of language and social concern
Morgan, Bill and Allen Ginsberg. "The Letters of Allen
Ginsberg." Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Books (A member of the
Perseus Book Group). 2008. 446pp. $30.00 Hardback. ISBN: 9780306814631.
The Letters of Allen Ginsberg Edited by Bill Morgan. Da Capo, $30
(480p) ISBN 978-0-306-81463-1
In 1962 Allen Ginsberg wrote to Bertrand Russell: "All I know is,
I've lived in the midst of apparent worldly events and apparent
transcendental insights, and it all adds up to I don't know what."
Both the worldliness and the transcendence come through in these
letters by the beat poet, published for the first time. As the poet's
biographer and prolific literary archivist, Morgan has selected just
165 out of more than 3,700 letters. They offer a comprehensive look
at Ginsberg's life, from his earliest letter to the New York Times in
1941 to his dying message to Bill Clinton requesting an arts prize
"unless it's politically inadvisable or inexpedient." Ginsberg wrote
at length to just about anyone: Kerouac and other literary
colleagues, of course, but also journalists and literary critics who
failed (in his estimation) to fully appreciate what the beats had
accomplished. The playful, experimental side of his personality comes
through, from his youthful attempts to attract the attention of Ezra
Pound to his experiments with LSD. Ginsberg's admirers will be glad
Morgan has followed the poet's instructions not to "smooth out rough
horny communist un-American goofy edges."