Allen Ginsberg passed away on Saturday April 5, 1997 in New
York City. The Cosmic Baseball Association extends its condolences to all of
Mr. Ginsberg's friends. He was a great poet and his evolving vision will be
|"The End" by Allen Ginsberg|
|"Kaddish for Allen Ginsberg" by Anna Marie Kersade|
|from "Mescaline" by Allen Ginsberg|
|"For Father Ginsberg" by Paul McDonald|
|Ginsberg and Kerouac|
|Allen Ginsberg Links|
|Allen Ginsberg at the Cosmic Baseball Association|
Allen Ginsberg was the Wizard of Oz to several post-World War II generations.
An inspired poet he brought a brain, a heart and courage to a generation fragmented by their atomic reality, and afraid of their future.
That Ginsberg is a symbolic icon to so many branches of the counterculture is a testament to his cosmic vision of the world. A so-called poet-laureate of the 1950s Beat Generation, Ginsberg and his comrades Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs launched a movement that fought against the stunned complacency of postwar America.In the 1960s Ginsberg could be found amidst the most important cultural circles. Taking LSD with Timothy Leary in Newton, Massachusetts, attending the Human Be-In in San Francisco, journeying to India. An activist poet he was in the forefront of the anti-war movement.
In the 1970s and 1980s he remained politically active detailing government misdeeds.
Like a wandering Jew, Ginsberg adapted to the changes in the historical and cultural context he was born into. A poet chronicler, his Buddhist message provided comfort and hope to a culture in despair.
This special memorial plate will continue to reflect on the poet Allen Ginsberg.
Additional commentary and poetry, and hopefully some analysis will grace this plate.
Hagiography is appropriate just now. However, Ginsberg was a complex and controversial personality. He has his critics and we welcome those points of view.
Was his queer life an inspiration or a degeneration? A Jew by birth, a Buddhist in soul, an American poet of the first order in fact; a social reformer, a lover, a dharma bum.Maybe above all Ginsberg, like all fine poets, was a clairvoyant voyager guiding our ships full of ego through the narrow straits of combustion to that great good queer land of Oz.
A moloch-free terrain. A dream, of course. But a dream Ginsberg helped fabricate.
I am I, old Father Fisheye that begat the ocean, the worm at my
own ear, the serpent turning around a tree,I sit in the mind of the oak and hide in the rose, I know if any
wake up, none but my death,come to me bodies, come to me prophecies, come all foreboding,
come spirits and visions,I receive all, I'll die of cancer, I enter the coffin forever, I close
my eye, I disappear,I fall on myself in winter snow, I roll in a great wheel through
rain, I watch fuckers in convulsion,car screech, furies groaning their basso music, memory fading
in the brain, men imitating dogs,I delight in a woman's belly, youth stretching his breasts and
thighs to sex, the cock sprung inwardgassing its seed on the lips of Yin, the beasts dance in Siam,
they sing opera in Moscow,my boys yearn at dusk on stoops, I enter New York, I play my
jazz on a Chicago Harpsichord,Love that bore me I bear back to my Origin with no loss, I float
over the vomiterthrilled with my deathlessness, thrilled with this endlessness I
dice and bury,come Poet shut up eat my word, and taste my mouth in your ear.
Allen Ginsberg. NY 1960.
Published in Kaddish and Other Poems, 1958-1960.
The Pocket Poet Series, #14.
City Lights Books, San Francisco. 1961.
Kaddish for Allen Ginsberg
holy holy holy barbarian of a generation
blessed be you faggot on the cock's rim
blessed be you poet and your erotic hymns
and blessed be your words
bless you Ginsberg for your holiness stirs
me inside by the solar plexus
bless you bless us
holy holy holy rants and tantrums
"Death, stay thy phantoms!"
Anna Marie Kersade, April 1997
What happens when the death gong hits rotting ginsbergon the head,what universe do I enter
death death death death death the cat's at rest
are we ever free of -- rotting ginsberg
from "Mescaline" by Allen Ginsberg. 1959.
FOR FATHER GINSBERG
Naomi and Louis
Don't cry anymore,
Underneath the floor,
Please mind the store..."
Does death really exist, Allen?
Within one month foretell
The birth/passing of
And you slipped away
Amidst the chant
"Certain is death for the born
Certain is birth for the dead"
Gray windy April
Now we can pray to you
And know you'll hear us
Working class Bodhisattva
Ginsberg and his mother
Invoke yr aural shakti
And every sentient being
Pulls back the veil
Crouching in front of Muktananda's Portrait
Chanting for a full week
In Dallas Hotel
On each breath
Twenty year reign
Violence does not touch you
NYC '74 mugging
Robbed of $70
Sell poem to Times
Does death really exist, Allen?
Now in the bardo
Ginsberg at the Human Be-In
San Francisco January 14, 1967
Trungpa Rinpoche guiding you
Past wrathful dieties
To be with
Where not even dead communists/FBI
Can fuck with you now
The comet seems brighter tonight
Portrait of Allen Ginsberg
by Elaine de Kooning
The tail longer with colors
As you and Jack
Contemplate cosmic debris laden
On moons of Jupiter/Saturn
Your words are true
I do thank you
For inspiring me
To sing this blues..."
by Paul McDonald
April 6, 1997
© 1997 by Paul McDonald.
Ginsberg and Kerouacby the Cosmic Baseball Research Alliance (COBRA)
They were an odd couple from the beginning. One was the son of conservative French-Canadian Catholics from Massachusetts; the other a son of left-wing Jews from New Jersey. Odd, but importantly similar. Both had dominant mothers who exerted a great influence on their sons. Kerouac's mother, Gabrielle, was a strict, very religious sort who never could completely let go of her son. Ginsberg's mother, Naomi, was a communist nudist plagued by psychological dysfunction. And while their respective fathers, Leo Kerouac and Lewis Ginsberg, were not absent or particularly remote, it is clear that it was the mothers that had the more profound influences on their sons.
The immediate link between Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg was Lucien Carr. Carr lived in the same building as Ginsberg while both were attending Columbia University in New York. Carr and Ginsberg met in December 1943 when Ginsberg had wandered the halls of the Union Theological Seminary, which was then used to board Columbia students. Ginsberg had heard the sounds of Brahms' Trio No. One. He followed the music to its source, which was Lucien Carr's room. Kerouac, who earlier had attended Columbia, but had since dropped out, had met Lucien Carr through Edie Parker, Kerouac's girlfriend.
Kerouac met Ginsberg for the first time in the Spring of 1944. Kerouac was eating breakfast at Edie Parker's apartment on the upper west side of New York. This first meeting of Kerouac and Ginsberg was brusque as Kerouac, four years older then the seventeen year old Ginsberg, apparently did his best to intimidate Ginsberg. Kerouac biographer, Gerald Nicosia writes of this initial meeting:
As they sat staring at each other, Allen was impressed with Jack's self-assurance, but he also divined the sensitivity underneath. Jack meanwhile assayed Allen's shallowness. On the surface Allen was everything Jack despised-- a skinny Jewish intellectual homosexual. But Jack's heart opened to anyone who showed real feeling or who spoke honestly of his experiences..
Despite this initial confrontation, there were subsequent meetings that forged a deep and complicated relationship between the two men. Ginsberg has frequently indicated that from Kerouac he learned the importance of writing spontaneously. And in Ginsberg, Kerouac had a tireless fan. (The antibeat commentator, Herbert Gold, has even said that "Kerouac would have just been a face on a T-shirt now without Allen's tireless promotion of him". 
The relationship between Kerouac and Ginsberg remained close during the 1950s as their respective work got published. Ginsberg's "Howl" was published in 1956 and Kerouac's second novel, On The Road was published in 1957. During the 1960s their paths diverged. Ginsberg took on the role of gentle polemical Buddhist poet and became intimately bound up and into the counterculture. Kerouac retreated more and more from his developing fame and into the mania of alcohol.
Kerouac, Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky
Their last meeting occurred in the Fall of 1968 in New York. Ginsberg accompanied Kerouac to a television station where Jack was a guest on William Buckley's Firing Line television show. By the time they got to the studio Kerouac was drunk. He performed poorly on the show. At one point he verbally disassociated himself from Ginsberg who was sitting in the audience. In a drunken stupor Kerouac declared "I am not connected with Ginsberg...and don't you put my name next to his." In some ways, this might have been Kerouac's mother speaking. She never liked Ginsberg and she once threatened to turn him in to the FBI for being a homosexual. 
There are several divergent accounts about what happened immediately after the television show. Some accounts have Ginsberg and Kerouac being quite friendly at a bar together, others suggest that their last moments were more tense and distant.  Nevertheless, it was the last time the two men ever saw one another.
Kerouac died the following year in October, 1969. Ginsberg was one of the pall bearers at Kerouac's funeral in Lowell, Massachusetts on October 24, 1969.
Ginsberg at Kerouac Funeral
October 24, 1969
Despite whatever tension occurred during their final meeting in New York, Kerouac and Ginsberg will forever be linked as pals who exerted a great deal of influence over each other, their generation and their culture.
1. Gerald Nicosia, Memory Babe, page 116.
2. Herbert Gold as quoted in the San Francisco Examiner's Ginsberg obituary, by Larry D. Hatfield. April 6, 1997.
3. Tom Clark, Jack Kerouac, page 172.
4. For accounts of this last meeting between Ginsberg and Kerouac see Nicosia, Memory Babe, page 691; Clark, Kerouac, page 214; David McNally, Desolate Angels, page 338.
© 1997 by the Cosmic Baseball Research Alliance
The Original Beats
Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs
Ginsberg's explicitly erotic poetry, his use of drugs, his membership in the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) have all been used by his critics to illustrate the point that he was a subversive who spoke of tearing down American values.
A writer for the Public Intelligence Review and Newsletter (PIRN) points out "You just won't find many mourners for Ginsberg among America's Christians, Republicans and conservatives." The author writing under the pseudonym "Natti Bumpo" (presumably in honor of James Fennimore Cooper's hero) associates the following sins with Ginsberg's lifestyle and philosophy: homosexuality, pederasty, insanity, drug addiction, New Age religion, communism, and socialism. Referring to the members of the Beat Generation movement (founded in large part by Ginsberg) Natti declares that "sex, crime, literature, and drugs absorbed the interests of this group."
Ginsburg was gay. He liked young men. But he wasn't quite the madman the government or public thought he might be. He thought drugs could be used to expand the mind and the soul. Ginsberg preached love, peace, and happiness. He used sex, drugs and rock and roll to attain those states of mind.
But, of course, there is a dark side to such a complex poet. Despite preaching peace ("any gesture you take in anger creates more anger") Ginsberg had his hostilities. An observer, critical of the mainstream media's hagiographical reporting at the time of Ginsberg's death points out that Ginsberg had "a hateful tone toward conservatives." There was, no doubt, mutual anger and distrust.
Use the following two links to consider alternatives to the point-of-view expressed on this plate about Allen Ginsberg:
Mongo Bearwolf's "Clearing House for All
Things Ginsberg." This is a first-rate Ginsberg site that contains links
to a wide variety of Allen Ginsberg-related information. There are links
to biographies, bibliographies, Ginsberg poetry, interviews, analysis.
This site also includes the largest collection of links to
Ginsberg-related images we have found on the net. Mongo Bearwolf has done
a fine job of organizing Allen Ginsberg's presence on the internet.
at Literary Kicks
Levi Asher created and maintains
Literary Kicks which is one of the best Beat Generation sites on the
internet. This link takes you directly to the Allen Ginsberg page.
Also, Mr. Asher has put online an Homage to Allen
Ginsberg. This site has selected various posts made to the BEAT-L list
just before and after the death of Allen Ginsberg. Contributions include
poetry, remembrances, and other Ginsberg-related information.
Also, Mr. Asher has put online an Homage to Allen Ginsberg. This site has selected various posts made to the BEAT-L list just before and after the death of Allen Ginsberg. Contributions include poetry, remembrances, and other Ginsberg-related information.
Chris Ritter ("critter") has created the Bohemian Ink website which has information and links to many of the writers and artists Allen Ginsberg and Beat Generation fans and scholars will appreciate. This link is to an Allen Ginsberg memorial site.
Memorial Sites at Yahoo!
A number of memorial sites have appeared since Ginsberg's death on April 5, 1997. This link takes you to Yahoo's index of Ginsberg memorials.
BEAT-L is an email listserv mailing list maintained by Bill Gargan. The BEAT-L list is an unmoderated exchange of Beat Generation-related issues between many people from varied backgrounds. It's a good resource for Ginsberg and Beat-related fact, gossip and opinion. This link will provide additional information about the list and how to subscribe (it's a free list).
|USENET News Group:
A not particularly active newsgroup. Frequently subject to mis- and dis-information. Nevertheless, announcements of Ginsberg and Beat-related events such as book and CD publications are posted here.
Steve Silberman's tribute to Allen Ginsberg. Silberman is currently the senior cultural correspondent for Wired News and was a former student and friend of Ginsberg.
|Allen Ginsberg Rest
A memorial page from an organization called Mushroom Enterprises.
A collection of poems written by fans of Allen Ginsberg. Some of these poems are very moving. There is also a companion site called A Patti Smith Babelogue Honors Allen Ginsberg.
Ginsberg Memorial Page
Bill Philibin is DeadBeat and this memorial page is part of a larger site that explores Mr. Philibin's interests. The Ginsberg page has links to other memorial sites and a listing of memorial events in cities around the world.
Allen Ginsberg's corporeal death will have no impact on his cosmic playing
status. Ginsberg is the starting firstbaseman for the 1997 Paradise Pisces.
Ginsberg 1997 Player
Ginsberg 1996 Player
Ginsberg 1995 Player
Ginsberg 1997 Player Plate
Ginsberg 1996 Player Plate
Ginsberg 1995 Player Plate
Allen Ginsberg went 3-for-4, with two doubles and an RBI when the visiting Pisces defeated the Wonderland Warriors by a score of 6-1 on Monday April 7, 1997. Click Here to see the Official Game Report which includes a scoresheet and box score detailing Ginsberg's performance.