How does Allen Ginsberg incorporate social issues in his writing?
The postwar era was initially a period in which life, at least on the surface, seemed placid. By the end of the 1950s and into the 1960s, several undercurrents that were stirring in the previous decade began emerging into the mainstream discussions of America. These included race issues, the questioning of government, and emerging feminism.
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Allen Ginsberg was active in a transition period in American history, after WWII but before the assassination of President Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. In his poetry, besides experimenting with an almost prose format and a chronicling of the change in attitude by artists and social revolutionaries (largely influenced by the western introduction to eastern philosophies by Alan Watts and others)
“Buddha Death, I wake with you/ Dharma Death, your mind is new/ Sangha Death, we'll work it through (from “Father Death Blues”)
He concerned himself with all the social issues of the day. For example, “the best minds of my generation” were gathering in San Francisco and New York, questioning all the white, straight, male-dominated hegemony of the American political and social scene. In “Crossing Nation”:
“Dr Leary in his brown house scribing Independence, Jerry Rubin arrested! Beaten, jailed/ coccyx broken” etc
Ginsberg voices the resistance to drugs, political protest, and anti-war sentiments (“Vietnam War flesh-heap grows higher/ blood splashing down the mountains of bodies”) of the youth in the late 1950’s.
In “Feb.29, 1958” he states his protest directly: “Stand up against governments, against God/ Stay irresponsible/ Say only what we know & imagine./ Absolutes are Coercion./ Change is absolute.”
His defense of homosexuality and Lesbianism are everywhere; besides his references to Walt Whitman in Howl.
“Sappho's 26 centuries/ of cadenced breathing -- beyond time, clocks" (from 5 A.M.)
It is the opinion of many that Ginsberg was the voice of the changes that were coming in the 1960’s to the U.S.
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