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Allen Ginsberg

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US poet and political activist. His reputation as a visionary, overtly political poet was established by Howl (1956), which expressed and shaped the spirit of the Beat Generation and criticised the materialism of contemporary US society.

Ginsberg – like many of his generation of poets – found his authorial voice via experimentation with drugs, alternative religion, and the hippie culture.

allenginsberg

His poetry drew, for example, on Oriental philosophies and utilised mantric breath meditations.

Ginsberg travelled widely – to Cuba, India, and Czechoslovakia in the 1960s, and China and Nicaragua in the 1980s – spreading his Zen-socialist politics of radical but passive dissent.

His other major poem, Kaddish (1961), dealt with the breakdown and death of his schizophrenic mother. His Collected Poems 1947 – 1980 was published in 1985.

He died on 5 April 1997, surrounded by family and friends in his East Village loft in New York City, succumbing to liver cancer via complications of hepatitis. He was 70 years old.