A Supermarket in California by Allen Ginsberg

June 18, 2008


Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) is cherished as the pivotal figure between the 50s Beat Generation and the counter-cultural revolution of the 1960s. He was born in Newark, New Jersey the son of a high school teacher and poet, Louis Ginsberg, and Naomi Levy Ginsberg. His early experience included dissent: his mother was a member of the Communist Party and sometimes took her sons along to the local meetings. Her periods of mental illness disturbed Ginsberg greatly, resurfacing in his great elegy to her, ‘Kaddish’ named after the Jewish prayer of mourning. Ginsberg studied at Columbia University where he made crucial friendships with writers such as Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. Ginsberg’s first book of poems, the extraordinary Howl and other poems was published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights press in 1955 and was subject to a famous obscenity trial due to its frank treatment of his homosexuality and explicit content.