Allen Ginsberg was one of the most politically engaged writers of his era, with a widespread social and cultural impact that was rare for a poet of his or any generation. In his upcoming book, Katz takes a readable, scholarly look at Ginsberg’s most influential poetry and explores the varied and inventive ways that Ginsberg turned his political ideas and perceptions into powerful poetry. While there have been a number of important, previous biographies of Allen Ginsberg and some excellent recent books and essays of literary criticism examining Ginsberg’s poems, Katz’s book will be the first full-length study focusing primarily on the question of how Ginsberg’s writing works as political poetry and on Ginsberg’s extraordinary influence on political culture over the ensuing decades. As an anthologized poet and longtime social-justice activist himself, as well as a friend of Ginsberg’s who worked with him on a number of poetry and activist projects, Katz brings a unique personal, political, and literary perspective to this project, which we hope will be valuable to students and scholars studying Ginsberg’s poems in college classrooms, as well as to general poetry readers and writers interested in Ginsberg’s work.
Eliot Katz is the author of seven books of poetry, including Unlocking the Exits (1999) andLove, War, Fire, Wind: Looking Out from North America’s Skull (2009). His first full-length poetry book, Space and Other Poems for Love, Laughs, and Social Transformation was published in 1990, with introductions by Allen Ginsberg and Amiri Baraka, and a front cover drawing by Leon Golub. Katz is also the author of two prose e-books, Three Radical Poets: Tributes to Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and Adrienne Rich (2013) and The Moonlight of Home and Other Stories of Truth and Fiction (2013). He was a coeditor, with Allen Ginsberg and Andy Clausen, of Poems for the Nation (2000), a collection of contemporary political poems that Ginsberg was compiling in the 18 months before his death in 1997. A cofounder, with Danny Shot, and former coeditor of Long Shot literary journal, he guest-edited Long Shot’s final issue, a “Beat Bush issue” released in Spring 2004.
The Poetry and Politics of Allen Ginsberg is an inspired work about one very-celebrated poet and political activist by another remarkable poet and activist, Eliot Katz. It is a serious work about the politics and social commitment behind much of Ginsberg’s writings and is long overdue. In this perfectly researched and immensely readable book, Katz has tackled this important aspect of Ginsberg’s work and reminds people in this apathetic and polarized world that raising our voices and becoming involved can make a difference. Ginsberg never shied away from addressing issues head-on and Katz’s book makes his timeless ideas shine through with crystalline brilliance.
– BILL MORGAN, author of I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg
The Poetry and Politics of Allen Ginsberg is the most engaging and rigorous analysis of Ginsberg’s political poetry yet attempted. We find in these pages the astuteness of a literary critic, the contextualization of a social historian, the knowledge of a veteran political activist, the insights of a memoirist, and the aesthetic understanding of a poet. Eliot Katz wears all these hats simultaneously, and the finished product is a pleasure to read. The major strength of the work is its multidisciplinary approach. It will appeal to people interested in literary criticism, Beat poetry, American poetry, political literature, political science, and sociology. I will certainly use this book as a required text in my Beat Generation course. I do not know of any comparable book.
– KURT HEMMER, editor of The Encyclopedia of Beat Literature
Congratulations to Eliot Katz for powerfully presenting his love for Allen Ginsberg, and his respect also for the utter usefulness to poetry and poets that Allen’s life and poetry gives to the world!
– ED SANDERS, Co-founder of The Fugs, and author of America: A History in Verse, and The Poetry and Life of Allen Ginsberg: A Narrative Poem
Eliot Katz’s book The Poetry and Politics of Allen Ginsberg deserves to be part of any academic reading list. It is a labor of love, intelligence and humility. Outside of any classroom, one can almost hear the ghost of William Burroughs drawling, “Edify your mind, my dear.” Pick up a copy of this ground-breaking book.
– MARC OLMSTED, Sensitive Skin Magazine, and author of Don’t Hesitate: Knowing Allen Ginsberg ’72-’97
Reading Eliot Katz’s The Poetry and Politics of Allen Ginsberg, I often felt spellbound… The book may well be the best place to start, the best entry into the life of the most well known poet of our time; specifically, in regards to Ginsberg’s own visionary political poetry… Katz’s The Poetry and Politics of Allen Ginsberg is perhaps the most crucial work published since Ginsberg’s death
– JIM COHN, Big Bridge
Katz’s analysis is readable and enjoyable while offering a scholarly view of Ginsberg’s most influential poems, including “Howl,” which appropriately gets a full chapter here. Katz is able to explicate the originality with which Ginsberg converted his political views into poetry, making them resonate powerfully to his audiences.
– Rain Taxi Review of Books
The Poetry and Politics of Allen Ginsberg is a fully-developed analysis of Ginsberg’s political poetry […] Using multiple approaches, Katz creates a portrait of Ginsberg that emphasizes his political commitment while defining the origins and on-going influences of Ginsberg’s poetics, establishing a proper understanding of Ginsberg contribution to political activism in his lifetime while expounding on how the contribution informs the twenty-first century.
– Journal of Beat Studies
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