Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"This is what a poet does..."

It strikes me humorously how radical Allen Ginsberg was thought, by many people back when he was alive and writing poetry. The times themselves, or the churning and turning that was taking place in the American culture at that time I suppose seemed radical to most. Ginsberg I suppose only embodied a part of what was happening behind the everyday America that was sort of like in this giant vat being slowly mixed and turned into something that would one day resemble a quite different America. But Ginsberg verbalized what was happening slowly.

For a long time, we had been moving away from a stricter model of poetry subject matter. The romanticism that so often we equate with poetry was not the only relevant voice and in fact, to many, its relevance even seemed questionable. Perhaps it is the awakening of America that was truly more radical then the singular notion. There are things that quietly occupied the minds of people that turned into reality were quite radical, but they stayed there, quietly, kept to themselves.

Ginsberg was not alone. He was not a sole practitioner in radical thought. Indeed, it was a transformation that preceded him altogether. I think he simply realized what a powerful vehicle we each had at our disposal if we simply unleashed it. And the timing was right. There were others- people who were transforming the world with words. Ginsberg became a very powerful public personification of the thought process of a whole generation of Americans.
He said,

"Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It's that time of night, lying in
bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that's
what the poet does."

This is what Allen Ginsberg showed us, and I believe it has dramatically changed us as people.

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