Allen Ginsberg in San Francisco
I wrote a paper on Allen Ginsberg in college. I recently found an old computer folder with a bunch of my old college essays and papers and looked through to see if the Ginsberg paper was there. It wasn’t and I was disappointed because I don’t remember much about the paper I wrote, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t touch on Howl which is obviously one of his most historical and influencial works.
While in San Francisco last month, I stopped by his old home on Montgomery Street, where he lived at the time he wrote Howl.
The house was nothing spectacular and certainly didn’t scream “a writer lived here!” In fact, the house is now a preschool or a daycare or something like that. But, anyway, it got me thinking about Ginsberg and his works and about that paper I wrote back in college. I wonder what I thought of him back then. Did I think he was amazing or just an old poet? Did I know that Howl changed the way people viewed literature? Did I know how much of a role it played in establishing freedom of speech? What about his role in gay rights and acceptance? This guy was pretty awesome and I fear the paper I wrote talked about themes of nature or something equally as lame for such a dynamic personality.
So I thought it may be too late to rewrite my paper, but it’s never too late to learn something new. Here are some pretty cool things you might not have known about Allen Ginsberg:
- He listed his lifelong companion, Peter Orlovsky, as his spouse in his Who’s Who entry.
- He was an advocate of marijuana legalization, and, at the same time, warned his audiences against the hazards of tobacco
- His mother was a member of the Communist Party
- His last ever reading was at Booksmith, a bookstore located in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco