Popmatters: Allen Ginsberg's Journals Offer Insight into Poetry, Culture, and Politics During the Cold War

By Linda Levitt

Iron Curtail Journals (Allen Ginsberg)The reader who is familiar with Howl will find a similar experience in reading Ginsberg's journals: words and scenes rush at you like a tidal wave, leaving you immersed and breathless, then, with surprising immediacy, lift you to another scene, sometimes frantic, sometimes serene. Yet there's a core of Ginsberg's essential being that's always present, threading together these disparate scenarios. Recounting his daily activities has a similar rhythm to describing his dreams. Since these are Ginsberg's journals, no editing has parsed out one aspect of his life from another. The scenes move quickly between dinner parties, walks on the beach, poetry readings, personal worries, and sex. The sexually explicit content is not surprising because it is a celebration of life, breath, ecstasy, and the simply being that was embraced by the Jewish-Buddhist poet.

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