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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Appreciation #1

“William Burroughs” by D.C. Miller

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ALL-TIME AMERICAN WRITERS TOURNAMENT

The most cerebral of post-war American writers, William S. Burroughs belongs to the tradition of literary rebels and exiles, and perhaps was its last representative. Only his earliest books fall under the definition of novels, but he invented a new kind of writing, a form of anti-novel, or theory-fiction, conceived in terms closer to deprogramming then self-expression. With a typewriter, a needle and an independent income, Burroughs stood apart from mainstream society, observing it with an unflinching gaze. From Naked Lunch through the Nova Trilogy his work describes a search for escape. He states his own position in the introduction to Queer. “What are you rewriting? A lifelong preoccupation with Control and Virus. Having gained access the virus uses the host’s energy, blood, flesh and bones to make copies of itself. Model of dogmatic insistence never never from without was screaming in my ear, “YOU DON’T BELONG HERE!”
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D.C. Miller’s twitter address is @dctv_od