Ginsberg and the Beats
Highlight from issue 35 American Zen: a personal appreciation by writer Acarasiddhi (Tony Press) who grew up in 1950s California.
This is my favourite page from the new issue of Urthona (issue35 American Zen). As designer it tickled me to present the wild Ginsberg in a simple elegant layout. I hope he would not have minded … But more importantly this is one of the most fascinating articles in the magazine – IMHO.
Allen Ginsberg’s Howl was a poem unlike anything that had come before. A poem that ‘breathed the life of the author’. ACARASIDDHI, who was raised in 1950s California, relives the feeling of California in the 1950s and tells how Ginsberg and the Beats took San Francisco by storm.
Acarasiddhi (Tony Press) of the Triratna Buddhist Order grew up in 1950s California. He was too young to be at the famous reading in City Lights bookshop when Ginsgerg’s Howl was unveiled, but he remembers very well the heady atmosphere of 1950s California when the world was opening up in all directions (land, space, imagination…)
Acarasiddhi goes on to give us a vivid account of Ginsberg’s arrival in California in the lively North Beach area of SF, and how he opened up a completely different way of ‘doing poetry’. Also covered are his subsequent explorations of Buddhism. Acarasiddhi concludes:
“Celebrities come and go. Some dabble in Buddhism. Ginsberg did more than dabble. And as he was such a public man, his practice was both private and public. I suggest that his public practice, combined with his astounding communication skills, presence, and insistence upon honesty, went a long way toward helping re-ignite Buddhism in my troubled country. Disneyland in California still claims to be “the happiest place on earth,” but would that happiness didn’t have an entrance fee.”
Find the full article in Urthona issue 35: American Zen – www.urthona.com