From his conversation with the conservative William F. Buckley on PBS to his testimony at the Chicago Seven trial to his passionate riffs on Cezanne, Blake, Whitman, and Pound, the interviews collected in Spontaneous Mind, chronologically arranged and in some cases previously unpublished, were conducted throughout Allen Ginsberg's long career. From the late 1950s to the mid-1990s, Ginsberg speaks frankly about his life, his work, and major events, allowing us to hear once again the impassioned voice of one of the most influential literary and cultural figures of our time.
About the Author
Allen Ginsberg was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1926, a son of Naomi and lyric poet Louis Ginsberg. As a student at Columbia College in the 1940s, he began a close friendship with William Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and Jack Kerouac, and he later became associated with the Beat movement and the San Francisco Renaissance in the 1950s. After jobs as a laborer, sailor, and market researcher, Ginsberg published his first volume of poetry, Howl and Other Poems, in 1956. "Howl" defeated censorship trials to become one of the most widely read poems of the century, translated into more than twenty-two languages, from Macedonian to Chinese, a model for younger generations of poets from West to East.
Ginsberg was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, was awarded the medal of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French minister of culture, was a winner of the National Book Award (for The Fall of America), and was a cofounder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute, the first accredited Buddhist college in the Western world. He died in New York City in 1997.
Carter is an actor, writer, and director.
Edmund White is the author of the novels Fanny: A Fiction, A Boy's Own Story, The Farewell Symphony, and The Married Man; a biography of Jean Genet; a study of Marcel Proust; and, most recently, a memoir, My Lives. Having lived in Paris for many years, he has now settled in New York, and he teaches at Princeton University.
"Readers of this collection may find that they are no longer the same after having encountered [Ginsberg] in its pages."
-New York Times Book Review
"A valuable and extensive collection, intelligently edited."
-Kirkus (Starred Review)
"Spontaneous Mind brings readers closer to Ginsberg the man ... both compelling and entertaining to read."
-Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
" [A] comprehensive, essential volume ..[the] interviews are like keys to the many rooms of [Ginsberg's] expansive consciousness."
-Michael Schumacher, author of Dharma Lion
"SPONTANEOUS MIND is an uncensored perspective on Allen Ginsberg's life, work and the events of his time."
-Charleston Post & Courier
"Ginsberg's verbal dexterity is such that he never gets hemmed in by people who would rather have him easily pegged."