Remembering Allen Ginsberg’s LGBT Poetics and Activism
Part of the 12th Annual Allen Ginsberg Marathon
Sunday June 2, 10am
TPR is pleased to present one hour of the 12th Annual Allen Ginsberg Marathon with the poetry organization, SPLAB. As part of TPR’s new big question How Are We Remembered? Nadine Antoinette Maestas, PhD; Andy Meyer, PhD; and Gregory Laynor will discuss the poet Allen Ginsberg’s contributions to LGBT culture and activism. The presentations will include select Ginsberg poems and discussion with the audience. Whether you are attending the Marathon or just curious about it, this will be a great event that shines a light on the legacy of one of America’s most important cultural figures.
About Allen Ginsberg
One of the fathers of the Beat generation, and an influential 20th century American poet, Allen Ginsberg was a major contributor to modern poetry. He rose to fame during the counter-culture era of the 1950’s and 60’s, challenging the norms of society. While most poets of the time used eloquent language and spoke of things such as the natural world, love or death, Ginsberg’s poems could come off as violent rants, filled with vivid images and obscenities. Not surprisingly, this confrontational method of poems wasn’t necessarily well recieved by the general public. However, Ginsberg would find his place alongside other disillusioned artists of the era, helping shape the Beat generation, alongside fellow poets like Jack Kerouac, Carl Solomon and William Burroughs. These poets expressed anger with modern society, capitalism and the conformity of post-war America.
The wild writing style of Allen Ginsberg and his rebellious personality can be partly attributed to his upbringing in Patterson, New Jersey. His parents were Jewish, although far from traditionalists. His father, Louis, composed poetry as well and his mother, Naomi, was an active communist. She also suffered from mental illness and eventually was committed to a mental asylum, an experience that would have a great effect on Ginsberg. As a young man, he studied in New York, where he would meet the friends that would shape his future, through rebellious acts and discussions on poetry and society. Moving between the counter-culture centers of New York and San Francisco, Ginsberg would develop his poetic style. In 1956, he wrote and performed his most famous work, Howl, explicitly expressing the frustrations of his generation and sub-culture. Ginsberg would go on to play a role in inspiring and propelling the revolutionary spirit of the late 50’s and 60’s. He worked with artists like Bob Dylan, worked to spread awareness of LSD with Timothy Leary and appeared at countless protests and movements. Ginsberg would go on to help evolve poetry, bringing it into the ‘post-modern’ world, and challenging traditions. Throughout his life, Ginsberg would advocate free speech and left-wing ideals and also worked for gay rights, himself being a homosexual. The poems and personality of Allen Ginsberg are essential to understanding the Beat generation and the evolution of modern poetry. His pioneering style changed the structure and norms of poetry in America and across the world.
The SPLAB mission is to promote spokenword performance, develop the audience for poetry, develop resources to support poetry, to do public outreach, and build community through shared experience of the spoken and written word.
The SPLAB membership includes poets, poetry organizations, and individuals that maintain a distinct presence in field of poetry both in the United States and internationally. As the SPLAB gathers support, finances, and staff to deploy its resources it will first concentrate its efforts in the Pacific Northwest, extending to other regions of the US and eventually reaching into Latin America.
Read more about SPLAB here