After befriending Beat icons Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs and Neal Cassidy while attending Columbia University, Ginsberg followed Cassidy to San Francisco and erupted onto the scene with his now legendary reading and 1955 publication of Howl, a long prose poem in the tradition of Kerouac, and his 1950 novel On the Road. Ginsberg became one of America’s best-known contemporary poets due in part to his prolific output in diverse media.
Our document discusses Ginsberg’s “Plutonian Ode,” a 1978 poem written to protest nuclear armament, which invokes American poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892), an inspiration to Ginsberg.
Allen Ginsberg and Walt Whitman
In his youth, Eörsi had supported the Russian Communist rule of his native Hungary but was later jailed for helping incite the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 with his ideological poetry. After his release from prison, Eörsi was banned from publishing his own work turning, instead, to translating works by Goethe, Brecht, Shelley, Keats, Lorca, and Ginsberg. “Ginsberg was popular and appreciated in Hungary, his intrinsic message of individual freedom resonated with Hungarian youth, writers, and artists who lived under Communist dictatorship. With poetry celebrating democratic sensibilities and championing free expression, Allen Ginsberg was well-represented in Hungarian publications, aided by the enthusiastic translations of Eorsi Istvan,” (“Looking for Ginsberg in Hungary, lescaret.blogspot.com).
In addition to his prolific output, Ginsberg influenced the literary landscape by teaching creative writing at several universities and co-founding a summer writing institute, the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, at the Buddhist Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. Ginsberg’s poetry and political activism, both in and outside the U.S., made him one of America’s best-known counterculture representatives.
For 20 years, poet Bob Rosenthal (b. 1950) served as Ginsberg’s secretary and, after his death, became his literary executor and biographer.
Written on the verso of two pages of typescript over which Ginsberg has written “recycled” and which appears to be a story about a sexual encounter. Ginsberg has added his black-ink stamped address at the top of the first page. Folded and in very good condition.