by Allen Ginsberg
The interviews collected in Spontaneous Mind, chronologically arranged and in some cases previously unpublished, were conducted throughout Allen Ginsberg's long career. Always a candid and engaging subject, Ginsberg considered the interview an art form, as well as an opportunity to get his message across to many people, which, as a student of Eastern religions, he believed was his spiritual obligation. In these interviews, dating from the late 1950s to the mid-1990s, Ginsberg speaks frankly about his life, his work, and the events of his time.
Ginsberg's progressive and controversial views on politics and censorship dominate his interviews, from his conversation with the conservative William F. Buckley on PBS to his comments in the Dartmouth Review about U.S. policy in Central America to his testimony at the Chicago Seven trial. Ginsberg discusses his literary influences, including Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Walt Whitman, and William Blake, and offers insights into his own poetry, particularly his innovations in rhythm, meter, and syllable emphasis. A well-known experimenter with drugs, campaigner for their legalization, and believer in their ability to expand consciousness, Ginsberg here describes his LSD trips and his marijuana highs, and explains how they influenced the creation of "Kaddish" and other works. And he talks about his personal life with candor, revealing details of his sexual affairs with fellow Beats Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, and Neal Cassady, and his longtime relationship with Peter Orlovsky.
Provocative and illuminating, Spontaneous Mind allows us to hear once again the impassioned voice of one of the most influential literary and cultural figures of our time.
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