allen ginsberg

“Mad to Be Saved”: On the Road as Cautionary Tale

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I’m not here to kvetch about the adaptation of a landmark book into film. That is boring. And I really enjoyed On the Road the movie, which features some truly inspired casting, excellent performances all around, and a much stronger integration of the writer’s voice with the action of the film than, for example, the somewhat clunky Howl. What I am interested in is the way in which On the Road’s spiritual essence has been diluted.

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Can Poetry Heal the Planet?

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There’s a 40-year interval between Stephen Levine’s previous book of poetry and his latest—that’s quite a span. Though his books of prose have found over a million readers, this newest book flies under the radar. Why? One is the still-marginal place of poetry in American culture. For book publishers, the “poetry marketplace” (a kind of oxymoron, since poetry operates largely outside the cash nexus), is largely fueled by writing programs in academia. True, Coleman Barks’ renditions of medieval Sufi poet Rumi captivated a national audience, for a spell. But America’s own living, devotional, mystic poets find a much smaller audience, and slip through the cracks of critical discourse.

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