Cover image for Cosmopolitan greetings : poems, 1986-1992
Cosmopolitan greetings : poems, 1986-1992
Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997.
Personal Author:
First HarperPerennial edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperPerennial, 1995.

Physical Description:
xviii, 118 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3513.I74 C67 1994 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Half a century after "founding" the Beat Generation, Allen Ginsberg has written this powerful collection of poems that are suffused with a range of emotional colors that gives Ginsberg's work an elegiac tone.

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 3

Booklist Review

The poems in Ginsberg's new collection are of a piece with their predecessors all the way back to "Howl" in 1955. They're incantatory, cumulative--indeed, often they're just lists of related stuff that Ginsberg thinks of and scrawls down because his favorite maxim, "First thought, best thought," tells him to--and thoroughly self-absorbed. As for subject matter, they're about how awful Allen Ginsberg thinks authority is (especially the CIA and other manifestations of U.S. authority), how awful Allen Ginsberg thinks capitalism is, what it's like for Allen Ginsberg to grow old, where Allen Ginsberg has been lately (all over the globe, as usual), and how much Allen Ginsberg still likes sex (and hopes his anus will hold out--really, read "Sphincter"). Same rant as always, but heck, it sells. How many other poets' books have 20,000-copy first printings? Not Gunn's. He's just not free enough for the crowd that goes for Ginsberg. His career, however, says much for the modernist claim that free verse is a road to artistic liberation. Reading Collected Poems cover-to-cover is an ever richer experience. Gunn began in England as a producer of poems that rhyme and scan immaculately, that are animated by classical and Elizabethan references and allusions, and that despite their frequent concern with love affairs are drab and impersonal. Moving to San Francisco and embracing the gay lifestyle that eroticizes leather wear and motorcycles and that, at least when he joined it, indulged a lot of sexual cruising, Gunn opened up both his verse style and his responsiveness. The city became his setting, its citizens often his immediate subjects, and he addresses both with an intelligence and a warmth superior to those of virtually any other gay poet; you forget he's gay, you overlook homosexual references, you take explicit same-sex affection in stride because the man who's speaking to you is so engaging, his humanity so commanding of respect. When, in the last two books collected here--The Passages of Joy (1982) and The Man with Night Sweats (1992)--he largely returns to formal verse conventions, impersonality and drabness are gone, especially in the powerful elegies and musings about friends who have died of AIDS. ~--Ray Olson

Publisher's Weekly Review

Reading a new collection of poems by Ginsberg ( White Shroud ) is rather like receiving a letter from a beloved and somewhat eccentric friend--you either luxuriate in the details of his latest global adventures and musings, or just feel amazed that he's kept up the frenetic, peripatetic pace for so long. Regardless, Greetings is suffused with a range of emotional colors that gives Ginsberg's work an added depth, a restless energy and ultimately an elegiac tone. Writing from China, Warsaw, Nicaragua and New York City, the poet makes strong statements on two of his favorite subjects, politics (``CIA Dope Calypso'' offers a three-part historical analysis that you can dance to) and sexuality (``To Jacob Rabinowitz'' remembers a lover who ``hardly out of puberty gave me / your ass bright eyes and virgin body a whole month''). Yet the most impressive poems are those in which Ginsberg contemplates his mortality (``I Went to the Movie of Life,'' ``Autumn Leaves,'' ``After Lalon''). His engagement with life and death also produces the powerful ``The Charnel Ground,'' a journalistic meditation on raw New York. Still, Ginsberg's commitment to many aspects of existence is the book's true theme, and gives vitality to what might be seen as his grappling with death: ``I write poetry,'' he tells us, ``because it's the best way to say everything in mind within 6 minutes or a lifetime.'' Author tour. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

With the heft of his Collected Poems (LJ 12/84) bowing many a book shelf and his last volume, White Shroud, (LJ 2/1/87) a poetry best seller, Ginsberg continues to reign unchallenged as King of the Beats. Timed to celebrate that Generation's jubilee year, this collection brings reassurance that the mentor resists mellowing, despite his self-characterization as a ``Senior Citizen waiting for next week's angiogram'' who is ``ignored hypoglycemic,/impotent, gouty, squint-eyed, halfway bald,'' but ``not old/in vain.'' Yet frequent references to age, to its deprivations and urgencies, fail to dampen the enthusiasm of Ginsberg's exhortations, his Whitmanic litanies and excursions, his polemic against ``radioactive anticommunism,'' his career-summing aphorisms (``Inside skull vast as outside skull'') and need to shock. Contemporary at all costs, he'll appropriate the mechanics of rap (``CIA Dope Calypso'') if it serves a subversive intent. To read Ginsberg in 1994 is to expect anything, from cadenced lyricism (``Now and Forever'') to a thanks-but-no-thanks candor (``Sphincter''). It's an expectation he fulfills with a spry consistency.-Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, N.Y. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.