Cover image for Death & fame : poems, 1993-1997
Death & fame : poems, 1993-1997
Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperFlamingo, [1999]

Physical Description:
xvi, 116 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3513.I74 D42 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS3513.I74 D42 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS3513.I74 D42 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Allen Ginsberg helped found the Beat Generation, along with Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs in 1944 in New York City. His poetry, especially the masterpieces "Howl" and "Kaddish", formed and influenced a generation of writers, musicians, and poets. Now, on the third anniversary of his death comes this paperback edition of Ginsberg's last verses, written in the years shortly before his death, and including a preface by poet Robert Creeley and an after word by Ginsberg's amanuensis, Bob Rosenthal. With Ginsberg's signature style and singular perspective remarkably present in each of these poems, Death & Fame allows readers one final glimpse into the workings of this extraordinary artist's mind and imagination.

Author Notes

Irwin Allen Ginsberg was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of poet and teacher Louis Ginsberg. In 1948, he received a B.A. degree from Columbia University.

Ginsberg began writing poetry while still in school and first gained wide public recognition in 1956 with the long poem Howl. Howl has had a stormy history. When it was first recited at poetry readings, audiences cheered wildly. It was published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Books and printed in England. Before the printed copies could be distributed, however they were seized by U.S. custom officials as obscene. After a famous court case in which the poem was found not to be obscene, the work sold rapidly and Ginsberg's reputation was assured.

Regarded as the foremost port of the Beat generation (as group of rebellious writers who opposed conformity and sough intensity of experience), Ginsberg's work is concerned with many subjects of contemporary interest, including drugs, sexual confusion, the voluntary poverty of the artist and rebel, and rejection of society. He is a poet with a significant message, and his criticism of American society is part of a long tradition of American writers who have questioned their country's values.

Ginsberg received numerous honors, including a Woodbury Poetry Prize, a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, and a National Book Award for poetry. Ginsberg was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1995 for his book Cosmopolitan Greetings: Poems 1986-1992. Ever the Bohemian, he had numerous occupations throughout his lifetime including dishwasher, porter, book reviewer, and spot welder. He died in April 1997 of complications due to liver cancer.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

This is the last poetry by the most famous American poet of his generation and the most famous of the Beat poets. Its concerns are those of Ginsberg's just previous work in Cosmopolitan Greetings (1994): declining health and approaching death, political violence and hatred, sex, excrement, and the condition of his bowels. Many think Ginsberg's poetry is all ranting and self-obsession. In an afterword, however, Rosenthal points out that Ginsberg read publicly so frequently that he was able "to refine the exact cadence of his lines" as few other poets can; like Whitman's, Ginsberg's verse, often assumed to be raw, is polished if not constrained. As for self-obsession, "Who else do I know so well?" Ginsberg asks, reclaiming his Whitmanian Everymanhood. There is less Buddhism here than in many earlier collections (e.g., the magnificent Mind Breaths, 1978), but even more playfulness in short-lined rock-song and children's-rhyme forms, not to mention "Death & Fame," Ginsberg's vision of his own huge funeral, at which all his lovers recall him. Vale, Allen. --Ray Olson

Publisher's Weekly Review

There has never been an American poet as public as Ginsberg. He bared‘and dared‘all: as Beat, as bohemian, as gay man, as Buddhist, left-winger, East Village stroller‘greeting all with messages of peace, dissent and sex. Despite his unorthodoxies, he belonged very much to a culture he helped build. Above all he was a survivor (unlike many of his compatriots), a seemingly eternal and yet contemporary voice always fresh with headlines. This volume, to be published on the second anniversary of his death, is no throwaway compendium of scattered verses. Rather, it is a perfect capstone to a noble life; the authentic, unmistakably Ginsbergian nature of its themes ("God"; "Excrement"; "Butterfly Mind") mixes effortlessly with remarkably intimate renderings of his approaching death. Though diabetes and heart problems plagued his last years, Ginsberg was not told of his metastasizing liver cancer till a week before he succumbed, during which time he worked on his last poem, "Things I'll Not Do (Nostalgias)," which poignantly lists friends and places and dreamscapes that will be forever unvisited by him. Robert Creeley's short foreword is a dissertation in abstract, reminding us of the inimitable Ginsberg cadences‘"no poet more heard, more respected, more knew the intricacies of melody's patterns." It is "the last mind," says Creeley, of "the enduring friend." And no friend of Ginsberg's will be without this book; no friend of American poetry should be either. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

"If you've an ounce of strength, use it to look inside," Ginsberg says in a 1996 poem, written as his health was failing. Chronologically arranged and judiciously edited, this volume collects poems from January 1993 through March 1997. Built around Ginsberg's trademark concerns, we find explicit homosexual erotica, with parts of the body that are usually kept hidden brought to the forefront. But Ginsberg's tenderness and caring is also much in evidence, as in "New Stanzas for Amazing Grace," a song reaching out to the homeless. In 21 poems written during the final month of his life, Ginsberg captures the child's sense of enchantment, often turning to whimsical rhyme; whether it's five pages of couplets pointing out CIA involvement in drug wars or giving advice to readers in poetry slams, we're returned to a time when putting words on paper was pure enjoyment (assuming the reader can overlook extensive annotations). Every book by Ginsberg should be in most libraries, but this one is essential.‘Rochelle Ratner, formerly with "Soho Weekly News," New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The publication of this volume, which contains several memorable poems from one of the 20th century's greatest poets, is a landmark event. Ginsberg was without peer in the community of poets for his world-changing use of the prophetic voice, now virtually absent from the contemporary poem. In his foreword, Robert Creeley writes, "Our friend gave his whole life to keep faith with Whitman's heartfelt insistence, Who touches this book touches a man.' " Ginsberg wrote these poems during his last five years; he wrote "Things I'll Not Do (Nostalgia)," a stirring poem, just six days before he died. This book can be read as a graph of the poet's decline--as playful, musical, and provocative as the rest of his work. There are lines like "Beethoven is about one man's fist in the lightning clouds" (from "Is About") and "I dreamed I dwelled in a homeless place" (the first line of "New Stanzas for Amazing Grace"). Ginsberg's constructive, mind-opening influence will ramify for as long as poems are written. Well edited, the volume also contains a useful afterword by editor Rosenthal, along with detailed notes and an index of titles and first lines. Recommended for all libraries. L. Berk Ulster County Community College

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Forewordp. xv
New Democracy Wish Listp. 1
Peace in Bosnia-Herzegovinap. 4
After the Partyp. 6
After Olav H. Haugep. 7
These knowing agep. 8
C'mon Pigs of Western Civilization Eat More Greasep. 9
Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bushp. 11
Tuesday Mornp. 12
Godp. 14
Ah Warp. 15
Excrementp. 16
New Stanzas for Amazing Gracep. 18
City Lights Cityp. 19
Newt Gingrich Declares War on "McGovernik Counterculture"p. 20
Pastel Sentences (Selections)p. 21
Nazi Capishp. 25
Is Aboutp. 27
The Ballad of the Skeletonsp. 29
"You know what I'm saying?"p. 34
Bowel Songp. 35
Popular Tunesp. 36
Five A.M.p. 38
Powerp. 39
Angerp. 40
Multiple Identity Questionnairep. 41
Don't Get Angry with Mep. 42
Swan Songs in the Presentp. 43
Gone Gone Gonep. 44
Reverse the rain of Terrorp. 46
Sending Messagep. 48
No! No! It's Not the Endp. 50
Bad Poemp. 53
Homeless Compleyntp. 54
Happy New Year Robert and Junep. 55
Diamond Bellsp. 56
Virtual Impunity Bluesp. 57
Waribaship. 58
Good Luckp. 59
Some Little Boys Dontp. 60
Jacking Offp. 61
Think Tank Rhymesp. 62
Song of the Washing Machinep. 63
World Bank Bluesp. 64
Richard IIIp. 67
Death and Famep. 68
Sexual Abusep. 71
Butterfly Mindp. 72
A fellow named Stevenp. 73
Half Asleepp. 74
Objective Subjectp. 75
Kerouacp. 76
Hepatitis, Body Itchp. 77
Whitmanic Poemp. 78
American Sentences 1995-1997p. 79
Variations on Ma Rainey's See See Riderp. 82
Sky Wordsp. 83
Scatalogical Observationsp. 85
My Team Is Red Hotp. 87
Starry Rhymesp. 88
Thirty State Bummersp. 89
"I have a nosebleed ..."p. 94
"Timmy made a hot milk"p. 94
"This kind of Hepatitis can cause ya"p. 94
"Giddy-yup giddy-yup giddy-yap"p. 94
"Turn on the heat and take a seat"p. 95
Bop Sh'bamp. 96
Dreamp. 97
Things I'll Not Do (Nostalgias)p. 98
Afterwordp. 101
Notesp. 105
Index of Titles and First Linesp. 113