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Reality Sandwiches by Allen Ginsberg Review

Title: Reality Sandwiches

Author: Allen Ginsberg

First published January 1, 1963

104 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9780872860216 (ISBN10: 0872860213)

Rating: 3.95


Reality Sandwiches is a collection of Allen Ginsberg’s most iconic poems and writings, taking readers on a journey through his wildest dreams and musings. From wild nights in New York’s Lower East Side, to drunken escapades in Havana and brooding in Mayan ruins, Ginsberg’s writing captures the essence of his travels across the United States and beyond.

This wind-up book of dreams, psalms, and journal enigmas offers a glimpse into the poet’s mind, with nude minutes and sex daydreams on the West Coast, airplane visions of Kansas, and beer notations on Skid Row. This comprehensive collection brings together poems scattered across fugitive magazines from 1953 to 1960, offering a unique insight into one of the 20th century’s most celebrated poets.

About the Author

Irwin Allen Ginsberg, an American poet and leading figure of the Beat Generation, is known for his long, incantatory works such as Howl (1956) and Kaddish (1961). Ginsberg was born to Louis Ginsberg, a Jewish member of the New York literary counterculture of the 1920s, and Naomi Ginsberg, a nudist who supported the Communist party.

Growing up, Ginsberg was exposed to progressive political perspectives, but his mother’s mental health struggles also gave him empathy and tolerance for those with mental illness.

As a high school graduate, Ginsberg considered Edgar Allan Poe his favorite poet, but he later developed a love for Walt Whitman. He attended Columbia University in the 1940s and became friends with William S.

Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and Jack Kerouac, who would later become leaders of the Beat movement. This group led Ginsberg to a “New Vision” of art, which he defined as the fullest, most individual expression of oneself.

Ginsberg had an auditory hallucination of William Blake reading his poems, which he called his “Blake vision.” He claimed that no drugs were involved, but later admitted to using drugs to recapture the feeling. In 1954, he moved to San Francisco and became involved in the poetry scene there.

He gained worldwide attention for his poem “Howl,” which was banned for obscenity but eventually overcame censorship trials.

Ginsberg was involved in political activism, including protests against the Vietnam War and advocating for free speech and gay rights. He studied under gurus and Zen masters in the 1960s and 70s and went on to publish numerous collections of poetry.

In 1993, he received the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres from the French Minister of Culture and co-founded the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute in Colorado. Ginsberg passed away in 1997 from complications of hepatitis.

Editoral Review

Reality Sandwiches by Allen Ginsberg is a masterful collection of poems that challenges conventional ideas and norms with its exceptional creativity and style. Ginsberg, a prominent member of the Beat Generation, published the book on January 1, 1963, paving the way for a new era of poetry.

Reality Sandwiches is an iconic work of Ginsberg’s contributions towards society and the liberation of the human spirit. The book is a collection of over sixty poems covering a wide range of topics, from revolution, politics, sex, drugs, and the human experience.

Ginsberg uses his distinct and unapologetic voice to delve into the complexities of the human condition, challenging norms and values with insight and raw emotion. The poems are characterized by their experimental style with unique structures and stanzas.

One of the most striking aspects of Reality Sandwiches is how Ginsberg uses his writing to critique American society and its oppressive structures. He explores the harsh realities of life, including the Vietnam War and the rise of the military-industrial complex.

However, Ginsberg’s writing also reflects a promise of hope and revolution, with themes of community and social activism running throughout the book. Ginsberg’s literary legacy stretches far and wide, and his works continue to inspire generations of writers and poets.

There is no denying the historical and cultural significance of Reality Sandwiches, especially in the context of the counterculture movement of the 1960s. From a critical perspective, Ginsberg’s writing is undeniably exceptional, particularly his use of imagery and metaphor.

Every poem in Reality Sandwiches is layered with meaning and significance, inviting readers to engage with their inherent contradictions and complexities. However, some of the poems may come across as overly abstract and challenging to interpret.

Additionally, at times, the relentless exploration of themes can become overwhelming for readers. Nonetheless, Ginsberg’s lyrical writing style allows readers to fully immerse themselves in his world and engage in rewarding introspection.

Reality Sandwiches is a must-read for anyone seeking to challenge their perception of the world and the power structures that govern our everyday lives. Ginsberg’s work inspires introspection and self-reflection, while offering a vision of hope and freedom.

The book is best suited to readers with an interest in 1960s American society and politics or anyone seeking poetry that challenges the status quo. Overall, Reality Sandwiches is a masterpiece of poetry that deserves its place in the pantheon of revolutionary literature.

Its exploration of societal structures, personal identity, and radical ideas remain both timely and timeless, making it an essential read for any lover of literature. The book deserves a rating of 4.5/5 for its compelling language, unique style, and the unapologetic voice of Allen Ginsberg.

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