Allen Ginsberg


1997 Paradise Pisces

American Poet


In 1954 Allen Ginsberg was livinig with his girlfriend in San Francisco. He was working and functioning in the normal, conventional sense of the times. Ten years had passed since he first met Kerouac and Burroughs. Steve Silberman, a student of Ginsberg at the Naropa Institute describes the situation:

In December of 1954, Ginsberg -- distraught over an argument with his girlfriend, and slightly drunk -- walked into Foster's Cafeteria, and asked Robert LaVigne, a young painter, about the whereabouts of Peter DuPeru, a North Beach eccentric. LaVigne didn't know where Du Peru was, but the two began a conversation about art, and LaVigne invited Ginsberg back to his apartment. There Ginsberg was transfixed by one canvas depicting a naked young man with a frank, open gaze. "Who's that?" Ginsberg asked. "Oh, that's Peter. He's here," was the reply, and the young man walked into the room. Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky became lovers, taking vows to each other a few weeks later in Foster's Cafeteria at 3 a.m., their promise being "that neither of us would go into heaven unless we could get the other one in," as Ginsberg recalls.

A short time after these events Ginsberg wrote "Howl". (Jack Kerouac gave the poem it's initial title).

From today's perspective, Ginsberg surfaces not only as a major American poet, but also as a voice of moral authority. In the 1950s the poet-moralist championed civil rights. In the 1960s he was at the forefront of the anti-war movement. In the 1970s Ginsberg fought against the U.S. government's involvement in drug smuggling (a resurrected theme of today). In the 1980s Ginsberg was challenging his government's support for Central American dictators. And today, in the 1990s, Ginsberg continues to blend the poetics with the politics.

But of course there are many Allen Ginsbergs in addition to the poet-moralist. A commentator writes of the different sides to Allen Ginsberg: There is the "mean and hungry" Ginsberg and the "preoccupied in cerebration" Ginsberg. Also, there is the "booming bard" ginsberg, the "scholar" Ginsberg, the "fame-crazed" Ginsberg, and the "warmly courteous double-taking" Ginsberg. Still, there is the "generous" Ginsberg, the "statesmanlike" Ginsberg, the "loyal" Ginsberg, and the "fighting for freedom" Ginsberg. There is also the "charismatic" Ginsberg, the "Allen of Ginsberg Industries", the "tired, harrassed, rushed" Ginsberg and finally there is the "poet crazy" Ginsberg. (From Ron Sukenick, Down and In)

The Complex Ginsberg. Hounded by the FBI, deported from Castro's Cuba and the old Czechoslovakia, arrested for obscenity in the land of amore, Italy, he stands today as Whitman did in the last century: a bard of the soul of the times.

Poets, with their metaphors, similies and strange allusions, lay bare the real. That's why they are so important to a culture. Plato found them to be ultimately subversive, and banned them from his edenic Republic. Plato was right, the screaming, hysterical, naked poet cannot help but be subversive. And since there are, as yet, no Edens for us to dwell in, it is best that we listen to the rantings and ravings of the crazed Bards. Ginsberg comes to us as the gentle poet...the matriarchal patriarch for a series of generations. His Buddhist benevolence a defining characteristic.

"The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it." (Walt Whitman, Preface to Leaves of Grass (1855)


Allen Ginsberg

          What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whit- 
     man, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees 
     with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon. 
          In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, 
     I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of 
     your enumerations! 
          What peaches and what penumbras! Whole fam- 
     ilies shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives 
     in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!--and you, 
     Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the 
I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys. I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel? I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you, and followed in my imagination by the store detective.
We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier. Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does your beard point tonight? (I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel absurd.) Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be lonely. Will we stroll dreaming ofthe lost America of love past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage? Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage- teacher, what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe? Berkeley 1955

Allen Ginsberg- Batting Record
YEAR  TEAM      POS    BA    AB     H   HR  RBI
1992  Pisces    1b    .240   350    84    6   38
1993  Pisces    1b    .229   349    80    5   25
1994  Pisces    1b    .256   340    87    9   32
1995  Pisces    1b    .300   237    71    0   18
1996  Pisces    1b    .252   656   165   16   68

      5 Seasons       .252  1932   487   36  181

Allen Ginsberg- Pitching Record
YEAR  TEAM   ERA     W     L    IP   ER   BB     K
1983  Beats  3.60    10     6   110   44   53    58
1987  Beats  4.06     1     9    62   28   27     0

   2 Seasons 3.77    11    15   172   72   80    58

Ginsberg- Cosmic Baseball Player Plate
Published: October 30, 1996
Updated: April 5, 1997

© 1996, 1997 by the Cosmic Baseball Association