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Irwin Allen Ginsberg (Allen Ginsberg)

Born: 1926 AD
Died: 1997 AD, at 70 years of age.

Nationality: American
Categories: Poets, Writers


1926 - Irwin Allen Ginsberg was born on the 3rd of June, in Newark, New Jersey, and grew up in nearby Paterson. His father Louis was a published poet, a teacher, and politically a socialist; his mother Naomi was a Communist radical, but unfortunately her bouts with mental illness (mostly severe paranoia) consumed much of Ginsberg's childhood.

1943 - Enrolled at Columbia University, originally planning to become a labor lawyer, but soon fell in with a literary crowd that included Jack Kerouac a fellow student, Neal Cassady, and William S. Burroughs.

1945 - Began writing seriously, and around the same time he began to experiment with drugs, and had some of his first homosexual experiences.

1948 - Graduated from Columbia and began traveling, visiting Burroughs in Texas; there he was arrested as a reluctant accomplice in his roommates' burglary ring, and voluntarily committed himself to Columbia's mental hospital.

1954 - Moved to San Francisco, and that year met artist's model Peter Orlovsky, who became his lover; their relationship, though nonmonogamous and marked by periods of separation, would prove to be lifelong.

1955 - Read parts of his new epic poem "Howl" at the Six Gallery.

1956 - The local City Lights bookstore, which had just started its own publishing arm, released Ginsberg's first book, the seminal Howl and Other Poems.

1959 - Recorded his first album of poetry readings, also titled Howl and Other Poems, for the Fantasy label.

1961 - Published another lengthy signature poem, "Kaddish," which explored his relationship with his mother.

1970 - His next album was William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience, which set the works of one of his favorite poets to jazzy musical backing; it was issued by Verve.

1974 - Poems of These States. He recorded with John Lennon and Leonard Cohen, and undertook several song-oriented sessions of his own during the course of the '70s, including a collaboration with Bob Dylan.

1983 - Best results of these efforts were finally released in 1983 as First Blues: on former Columbia executive John Hammond's own label. Additionally, Ginsberg performed the song-poem "Capitol Air" in concert with punk rockers the Clash, and appeared on the track "Ghetto Defendant" on their hit Combat Rock album.

1997 - Sadly, Ginsberg contracted liver cancer as a complication of hepatitis, and passed away at his New York City loft on the 5th of April.


Page last updated: 12:44am, 08th Mar '07

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