Allen Ginsberg: The Beat Generation

1459 Words6 Pages
Aleksandar Cirkovic
Professor Kurt Hemmer
English 102-055
7 May 2014
Allen Ginsberg was born in Newark, New Jersey on June 2nd, 1926. He experienced a very troubled childhood. His mother, Naomi, suffered from multiple mental illnesses and was institutionalized several times. These problems left Ginsberg feeling emotionally distraught and confused. This is reflected in Ginsberg's later poems since the mother helped to determine his overall character and outlook in very important ways. In his adolescence, he began to feel an increased awareness of his homosexuality which he kept very private until his twenties. Ginsberg was first introduced to poetry by his father who was a high school teacher and a poet. However, it was not until Ginsberg’s affiliation with William Carlos Williams that he began to attain a severe interest in poetry. Williams became something of a mentor to the young Ginsberg. Ginsberg’s literary choice was further influenced by Lionel Trilling and Mark Van Doren, whom which he had made acquaintances with through classes at Columbia University. Columbia is actually where he established powerful friendships with writers William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and Jack Kerouac. “This group, along with several West Coast writers that included Kenneth Rexroth and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, among others, would form the core of the Beat movement” (The Beat Generation vol 2: 363). To be understood, the Beat movement, also called the Beat Generation, was an American social and literary movement that originated in the 1950s. The members of this movement, including Ginsberg, were self-proclaimed as "beat", which was originally meant to describe them as weary, downtrodden individuals. This meaning later took on a more musical sense t...

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...ortant to understand when examining the Beat Generation since many of its readers sympathized with the message that the pocketbook poem successfully conveyed, allowing Ginsberg to have great influence on his future actions towards the Beat movement.
After visiting Kerouac in Mexico City in 1956, he returned to New York with him. From there, he began promoting “Howl” and the literary works of other Beat writers. By 1957, Ginsberg began traveling frequently. He visited Burroughs in Tangier and went on to Spain, Italy, Vienna, Munich, and Paris. Paris is where he wrote much of Part IV of “Kaddish”. It is believed by some that these travels are what caused his writing imagination to gain traction all over again. Ginsberg
Moreover, Ginsberg took on the roles of prophet, guru, political activist, and social critic. He became a supreme model of an alternative lifestyle.

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