Cosmopolitan Greetings (Magill Book Reviews)
The dazzling linguistic invention, the heart-cheering spiritual generosity, the seriousness of political purpose and the endearing wry self-conscious humor that marked Allen Ginsberg’s work from the publication of his landmark poem HOWL in 1956 are still present in his latest collection of poetry. Issued on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of his historic meeting with Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, COSMOPOLITAN GREETINGS shows Ginsberg faithful to his visionary goals for humankind while writing from the perspective of a man who sees himself now (in “Personals Ad”) as a “Poet professor in autumn years.”
The great themes and primary concerns of Ginsberg’s life continue to form the substance of his poetic inquiry, but now, the inescapable consequences of time’s passage have added a dimension of rueful reflection to the exuberant physicality and sexual candor that have been a part of Ginsberg’s groundbreaking personal voice and style. As the shape of American literary history now clearly indicates the importance of the best writers of the Beat Generation, Ginsberg’s own reflections on his fellow artists and friends have taken on the added interest of a significant commentary by an energetic advocate for the work he supported and taught.
The deep feeling for longtime friends and the awareness of loss as his contemporaries seem to merge in his mind with prominent older historical personages has not led to a diminution...
(The entire section is 487 words.)
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Cosmopolitan Greetings (Magill's Literary Annual 1991-2005)
Since Allen Ginsberg is in his seventh decade, a professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center and a member of the American Institute of Arts and Letters, it would not be surprising if his important work as a poet were behind him, if he had essentially retired from the field to enjoy the radical shift in literary sensibility that has moved the work of his fellow artists from the outer banks to the strongest currents of American literature. Yet in a volume that collects the poems he has placed in a very wide variety of periodicals and pamphlets since the publication of White Shroud in 1986, Ginsberg’s immediately recognizable, distinctive voice retains the high energy and linguistic invention that has marked his writing since the groundbreaking “Howl” of 1956. This new poetry covers many familiar themes from the perspective of a “poet professor in autumn years,” as he describes himself in “Personals Ad.” The dazzling virtuosity with language, the heart-cheering spiritual generosity, the seriousness of political purpose, and the wry, self-reflective humor that characterize Ginsberg’s extensive output are as striking in Cosmopolitan Greetings: Poems, 1986-1992 as in any previous collection. Nevertheless, Ginsberg, who has always been extremely conscious of his physical presence (“the body/ where I was born”), has brought his concerns with the inescapable consequences of time’s passage into poems illuminating the...
(The entire section is 2113 words.)