Most Charismatic #12: Allen Ginsberg

ALL-TIME AMERICAN WRITERS TOURNAMENT

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The poem “Howl” dropped like a bomb on the literary world of the 1950’s.

Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery dawns,
   wine drunkenness over the rooftops, storefront boroughs of
   teahead joyride neon blinking traffic light, sun and moon and
   tree vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brooklyn, ashcan
   rantings and kind king light of mind,

It was a golden age of poets and poetry, dominated by names like Eliot, Frost, Sandburg, Rexroth, Berryman– not to mention a visitor from overseas, Dylan Thomas. But no one had seen anything quite like Beat poetry before.

What made the lot of them stand out was their sense of style. A unique look and way of acting and talking which inspired the derogatory term “beatniks.”

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For the first and only time in American history, poets– literary people– led the culture.

Allen Ginsberg stood at their epicenter. The debut of “Howl” in 1955 before 100 people at Six Gallery in San Francisco is one of the historic events of American literary history.

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Allen Ginsberg is #12 on the list of Most Charismatic American Writers.

NEXT: Also Rans #2
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Writers Tournament: #7 Seeds

ALL-TIME AMERICAN WRITERS TOURNAMENT

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(Stephen Crane.)
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Our latest entrants into the big event:

A.)  Stephen Crane.

For pure writing talent, few American writers match the author of The Red Badge of Courage, “The Open Boat,” and other classics. Decades before Hemingway, Crane saw writing visually, like a painting. His works are expressionist explosions of color and emotion.

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(Art: “Evening Sun” by Otto Dix.)

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B.)  Carl Sandburg.

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Sandburg’s poetry reflected his home base of Chicago: rough-hewn, proletarian, and real. A voice of the Great Depression of the Thirties. An American cultural giant in the Fifties. Thoroughly populist, his clear-but-strong poems were accessible to everyone.

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C.)  J.D. Salinger.

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He’s most widely known for his assigned-in-high school study of adolescence, Catcher in the Rye. But his best work is Nine Stories— nine well-crafted modernist gems of fiction synthesizing those twin pillars of American literature, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. One of the jewels contains the best short story title ever: “For Esme with Love and Squalor.”

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D.)  Kenneth Rexroth.

A forerunner of, and large influence on, the Beats, this San Francisco poet’s uncompromising work was more accomplished. Would Ginsberg’s “Howl” have been possible without the example of Rexroth’s powerful masterpiece, “Thou Shalt Not Kill”?

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Latest Tournament Selections

ALL-TIME AMERICAN WRITERS TOURNAMENT

frost(Photo of a young Robert Frost.)

Have the Tournament judges had it with novelists? This seems to be the case with the latest selections, the #5 seeds, all poets.

A.)  T.S. Eliot

Once THE biggest name in the poetry game– “The Wasteland” remains, perhaps, the most famous of all American poems.

B.)  Robert Frost

Talk about famous poems by famous poets. The title “The Road Not Taken” has become part of the national conversation. For decades Robert Frost was the widely-known face of poetry in America.

C.)  Maya Angelou

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For a couple decades until her death in 2014 Maya Angelou was the face of American poetry– aided by her performances at Presidential inaugurals. Who’ll rise to the forefront to replace her?

D.)  Allen Ginsberg

This beat poet’s entry into the “Most Famous American Poem” sweepstakes is “Howl.” An audacious bid for greatness. Allen Ginsberg never came close to writing another poem with similar impact.

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