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Allen Ginsberg's Buddhist Poetics

Allen Ginsberg's Buddhist Poetics

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Tony Trigilio


280 pages, 6 x 9


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About the Book

Allen Ginsberg’s Buddhist Poetics revives questions of poetics, religious authenticity, and political efficacy in Ginsberg's prophetic poetry. Author Tony Trigilio examines Ginsberg's Buddhism as an imperfect but deepening influence on the major poems of his career.
The first sustained scholarly effort to test Ginsberg’s work as Buddhist poetry, this volume goes beyond biography to contemporary critical theory and textual and historical analysis to show how Ginsberg’s Buddhist religious practices inform his poetry. Trigilio takes us through the poet’s first autodidactic struggles with Buddhism to his later involvement with highly trained teachers, as he follows the development of Ginsberg’s Buddhist poetics.

The book also considers the place of Ginsberg’s poetry in the cultural and aesthetic contexts of his career, covering the rise of an “American Buddhism”; the antiwar, drug decriminalization, and gay civil rights movements; and the shift from modern to postmodern strategies in contemporary U.S. poetry.
Allen Ginsberg’s Buddhist Poetics examines some of the most significant work produced by the poet after he had become a cultural icon and marks a new direction in the study of Ginsberg’s work. Of interest to scholars of Buddhism, American poetry, cultural studies, and Beat studies, this groundbreaking volume fills significant gaps in the scholarly criticism of Ginsberg’s spiritual poetics.


Tony Trigilio is the associate chair of the English Department and the director of the Creative Writing–Poetry program at Columbia College, Chicago. He is the author ofStrange Prophecies Anew”: Rereading Apocalypse in Blake, H.D., and Ginsberg as well as numerous critical essays, reference works, poems, and book reviews. Trigilio is also a cofounder and coeditor of the literary magazine Court Green. 


 “This is the first work that thoroughly and intelligently looks at Ginsberg's poetry in light of his Buddhism. Trigilio deftly combines modern theories of gender identity with poststructural readings of the texts and displays an acute knowledge of the varieties of Buddhist practice.”—Kurt Hemmer, Harper College