Wednesday, December 06, 2006

As for that new Ginsberg bio...

Marco Roth says that Bill Morgan's I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg is just your usual hagiography, cheering the poet on as he puts his queer shoulder to the wheel. Roth makes an interesting point at the top, though:

Fifty years after "Howl," Ginsberg's poetry often bores on the page. Gary Snyder described "Howl" as a ponderous list that Ginsberg, when he read it aloud, somehow managed to hoist up and fly overhead as gracefully as a kite. It's a wonderful image that captures Ginsberg's sublimity and the sense that his poetry, more than a honed craft, was really an act of indefatigable will.

Or maybe a stand-up comedy act? That's what Ginsberg's reading of "America" is, as heard on In Their Own Voices: A Century of Recorded Poetry. I love listening to it; Ginsberg turns his images into zingers, punch lines, goofy non sequiters as the audience howls.

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