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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

15. Poetry of Liberation

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Activities: Author Activities

Allen Ginsberg - Selected Archive Items

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[4999] Anonymous, Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, and Ralph Metzer (Left to Right) Standing in Front of a Ten Foot Plaster Buddha (1965),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-119239].
Beats preparing for a "psychedelic celebration" at the Village Theater in New York City. Beat writers looked to Eastern religions and traditions, finding European-American culture and religions empty of meaning. See Ginsberg's poem "Sunflower Sutra" ("sutra" is Sanskrit for "thread" and refers to Buddhist religious texts).

[5682] Anonymous, Ginsberg Typing (1956),
courtesy of the Allen Ginsberg Trust.
Ginsberg typing Howl in kitchen. Ginsberg first unveiled Howl, one of his most famous and controversial poems, at a poetry reading in San Francisco at the Six Gallery.

[5683] John Doss, Allen Ginsberg at Madame Nhu Protest, 1963 (1963),
courtesy of the Allen Ginsberg Trust and the Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries.
Allen Ginsberg is pictured here in front of City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, after the anti-Madame Nhu demonstration of 1963. Madame Nhu, wife of the head of the Vietnamese secret police, was the official hostess of the U.S.-controlled South Vietnamese government. When a Buddhist monk immolated himself in Saigon as a protest against the government's favoritism of Catholicism (the majority of South Vietnamese were Buddhist), Madame Nhu called the suicide a "barbecue" and offered to light the match for the next one. When she came to the University of California, Berkeley, campus in 1963, she was met with a wide variety of protests.

[7490] Dennis Cook, Allen Ginsberg Reads Howl (1994),
courtesy of the Associated Press.
In the 1950s, Ginsberg shocked America with his poetic manifesto Howl.

[7537] Anonymous, Allen Ginsberg Uncensored Poetry Reading in Washington Square Park (1966),
courtesy of the Associated Press.
Allen Ginsberg was born in New Jersey in 1926 and attended Columbia University; while a student, he was greatly influenced by William Burroughs.

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