Archives For Allen Ginsberg


Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out:

(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to the book…)

[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”center” asin=”0830835989″ cloaking=”default” height=”500″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”333″]

[easyazon_link asin=”0830835989″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”douloschristo-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]The Cultivated Life:
From Ceaseless Striving to Receiving Joy[/easyazon_link]

By Susan S. Phillips

Read an excerpt from this book


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This brief essay by ERB Editor C. Christopher Smith,
originally appeared in the very first print issue of our magazine (Advent 2010)…

We reprint it here today in honor of Allen Ginsberg’s birthday.

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AllenGinsberg-AldrichHow Not To Be A Counter-Culture:
A few thoughts occasioned by a reading of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg’s correspondence

Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg:
The Letters

Bill Morgan & David Stanford, editors

Hardback: Viking, 2010
Buy now:  [ [easyazon_link asin=”0143119540″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”douloschristo-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Amazon[/easyazon_link] ] [ [easyazon_link asin=”B003QMLBW0″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”douloschristo-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Kindle[/easyazon_link] ]

by C. Christopher Smith


I have long been intrigued by the works and lives of the Beat writers, the spontaneity and attentiveness of their works combined with their critiques of the stifling culture of post-World-War-II middle-class American Christianity have been particularly appealing to me. Although the term “Beat Generation” is commonly used to refer to wide array of American counter-culturalists from the mid-1940s to the early-1960s, Jack Kerouac’s assessment in the essay “The Philosophy of the Beat Generation” (Esquire 1958) that the “Beat Generation” was a short-lived phenomenon in the late 1940s among a tight-knit group of friends based in New York City is widely accepted today. In order to understand this movement, if we accept Kerouac’s definition, we would do well to examine the relationships between those in this seminal group of New York friends. Key among those friends are Kerouac himself and Allen Ginsberg, and there is no better way to trace the arc of their friendship than by examining their correspondence. Thankfully, for ones like myself who have an interest in this sort of study, the bulk of the correspondence between these two writers has recently been published by Viking Books. This volume, entitled Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg: The Letters, paints a vibrant picture of the counter-cultural movement spawned among Kerouac, Ginsberg and their New York friends and its infusion across the American landscape in the 1950s and early 1960s.

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On this final day of National Poetry Month, we offer the following recap of posts in this month’s series of poets reading their work…

ALSO be sure to check out our list of 15 poetry classics that are available as FREE ebooks for Kindle/Nook

If you enjoyed these, you might also be interested in last year’s recap of National Poetry Month


[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”0872860175″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”” width=”127″ alt=”Allen Ginsberg”] Remembering Allen Ginsberg who died on this day in 1997.

The first installment in this year’s National Poetry Month series of poets reading their work…

This poem is found in

Howl and Other Poems
Allen Ginsberg

Paperback: City Lights.
Buy now: [ [easyazon-link asin=”0872860175″ locale=”us”]Amazon[/easyazon-link] ] 

My recommendation: Start the video and minimize the window.  Listen to Ginsberg and ignore the ridiculous imagery.

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Allen Ginsberg on Jack KerouacToday is the birthday of beat poet Jack Kerouac, and as a special treat, we are featuring a rare recording of Allen Ginsberg overviewing Kerouac’s life and work.


*** [easyazon-link keywords=”Jack Kerouac” locale=”us”]Books by Jack Kerouac[/easyazon-link]


This recording is part of Ginsberg’s Naropa University Archive Project on



Part One:





Part Two:




ALSO of interest…

[ Allen Ginsberg Sings William Blake ]


Image credit: Tom Palumbo, Creative Commons licensed through Wikimedia Commons


Allen Ginsberg Sings William BlakeOne of the oddest, and yet most extraordinarily fascinating poetry recordings that I have heard in recent years…

A reading by Allen Ginsberg performing William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience.

Songs of Innocence includes: “The Shepherd,” “The Echoing Green,” “The Lamb,” “The Little Black Boy,” “The Blossom,” “The Chimney Sweeper,” “The Little Boy Lost,” “The Little Boy Found,” “Laughing Song,” and “Holy Thursday.”

Songs of Experience includes: “Nurse’s Song,” “The Sick Rose,” “Ah Sunflower,” “The Garden of Love,” “London,” “The Human Abstract,” “To Tirzah” and “The Grey Monk.”

Recording via Naropa Poetics Collection at

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

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Psalm III
Allen Ginsberg

From the collection:

Reality Sandwiches: Poems 1953-1960.
Paperback: City Lights Books, 2001.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Also, don’t miss our recent review of the new book Philosophy of the Beats!

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Continuing our National Poetry Month theme of recordings of poets reading their poems, here’s Allen Ginsberg reading “Ballad of the Skeletons,” with Paul McCartney accompanying him on the guitar.

RIP, Allen Ginsberg, who died on this day in 1997.
Today is the 15th anniversary of his death.

Ballad of the Skeletons
Allen Ginsberg with Paul McCartney

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An excerpt from one of the books to be featured in our
first print edition…  (Have you subscribed? )

Postmodern Belief:
American Literature and Religion Since 1960.

Amy Hungerford.
Paperback: Princeton UP, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]


“A Strong Argument for
Locally-Oriented Communities

A Review of
Harry Smith:
The Avant-Garde in
The American Vernacular.

Andrew Perchuk and Rani Singh, editors.

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

Harry Smith:
The Avant-Garde in
The American Vernacular.

Andrew Perchuk and Rani Singh, editors
Paperback: Getty Research Institute, 2010.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]

Harry Smith - Perchuk / SinghI’ve been thinking a lot in recent months about a church community’s role in nurturing the local culture of its place (see, for instance, my review of Walter Brueggemann’s newest book Journey to the Common Good).  Most recently, I have been thinking about the idea of folk music – i.e.,  music that is distinctive to the people of a place – and its relation to the church.  It seems like there is a lot of good work to be done by churches in discerning a style of music that reflects the people of the place, and at the same time allowing the music of the church to be open to this sort of local folk music – which could come in the form of writing new songs or in the way old hymns or songs are sung or accompanied.  My understanding of what folk music is has been shaped to a large extent by the classic collection The Anthology of American Folk Music (AAFM), which was assembled in the early 1950’s by the eccentric artist and ethnographer Harry Smith.  As I was beginning to reflect more intentionally on the idea of folk music as it relates to the church, I happened to see that the Getty Research Institute had released a new biography of Smith, which will undoubtedly become the authoritative reference work on Smith’s life and work.  This book, Harry Smith: The Avant-Garde in the American Vernacular, reflects the broadness of Smith’s work as an artist and scholar: ethnographer, collector, bibliophile, visual artist, filmmaker, etc.  The book is divided into five parts, the first of which contains biographical essays, the subsequent four engage various aspects of Smith’s work (his films: “Heaven and Earth Magic” and “Mahagonny”; theAAFM”; and finally his use of collage).

The first part of the book is helpful for understanding Smith’s development as an artist, and provides a rich context in which the following essays on his work can be understood.  Smith was born in 1923 in Portland, Oregon and raised by his theosophist parents who encouraged him to explore all the sorts of esoteric philosophies, “which led to an early and ongoing fascination with unorthodox spirituality, comparative religion and philosophy” (16).  The picture that is painted here of Smith is one of a man of extraordinary intellect and endless curiosity who was well-connected with key and cultural figures of his time (especially the poet Allen Ginsberg), and yet much of his life was spent in – or on the edge of – destitution.  Several stories recounted here, for instance, depict Smith as a literal embodiment of Erasmus’ famous epithet: “When I get a little money, I buy books and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.”

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