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I refuse to give up my obsession. / America stop pushing I know what I’m doing.

October 24, 2011

Post title a quotation from ‘America’ by Allen Ginsberg, 1956

This isn’t so much an update as a massive shameless plug, but such are the days we live in.

My review of Starry Rhymes (a retrospective anthology of new poems, collected in tribute to Allen Ginsberg on the 85th anniversary of his birth) is available for your perusal at Sabotage Reviews right now.

Reviewing this led me unsurprisingly to a more involved reading of Ginsberg himself. For some reason I’d always resisted the famed top dog of Beat poetry — I’d dabbled in Burroughs at 17 and even experimented with the cut-up method, chopping a Plath and a Blake poem into word-confetti and making a poem out of the jumble. But I think coming to university in a town so populated with Americans soured my enthusiasm for the Beats before Ginsberg really got onto my radar. So many jazz-eyed all-American boys* saw Kerouac and Allen himself as the crux of literature, it put me off. The beatnik age had passed and for all that I devoured On the Road and Naked Lunch, I couldn’t put that much romance into brass and Benzedrine.

I’m sorry Mr Ginsberg for not giving your work my time earlier. My slender Penguin Selected Poems has taught me the error of my ways. While I still think there is a lot more to get excited about in the here and now of new poetry, I must — especially given my recent embracing of America and her rollercoaster of vibrant emerging writing — acknowledge the debt the world owes to this feverishly talented poet.

I’m grateful to the two Claires: Askew and Trévien, for putting Starry Rhymes in front of me. And of course to Allen Ginsberg for his patience with the boy with no howl and no ear for jazz.

 

 

*including one boy in particular, who’ll pop up again VERY SOON in the forthcoming Queer Issue of PANK, containing a big confessional-poem-shaped overshare by myself.

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