Featured Ginsberg Collection: Selected Poems: 1947-1995

For this week of National Poetry Month, we’re celebrating and exploring the life and works of Allen Ginsberg. Today, we bring you our choice for featured collection of Ginsberg poetry.

While many people might recommend Howl and Other Poems from the famed City Lights Pocket Poets Series, I feel that Ginsberg’s Selected Poems: 1947-1995 offers a more well-rounded look at the man as a whole. You can see the arc of his writing from the early days to the mid-1990s. The journey of a poet sometimes is more interesting than reading just one moment in time.

To me, Selected Poems reads almost like a journal – mixed among the poems are block prints, quotes, drawings, photos of influential people and events in Ginsberg’s life, and even songs (music and lyrics), some of which were written in collaboration with Bob Dylan. The poems were personally selected by Ginsberg himself and there is a brief but interesting introduction from the poet where he states:

I’m pleased with the progression of political, devotional, and sexual themes displayed, spiritual paths outline with candor, varieties of verse explored in open “projective” modes and rhymed lyric stanzas…

I wanted realistic poetry, grounded in common ideal emotions of democracy’s citizens, to make bardic prophecy and help end war by affecting the Nation’s consciousness…

All of Ginsberg’s most groundbreaking and controversial poems are included in this collection including “Howl,” “Kaddish,” “Sunflower Sutra,” and “A Supermarket in California.”

What’s your favorite Allen Ginsberg poem?

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