Allen Ginsberg: Big Beat Bibliography
AG's Big Beat Bibliography


Cover page of xeroxed "Big Beat Bibliography" handout by Allen Ginsberg (n.d.).


Reading is the essential prerequisite to writing. The Beats were voracious and far-flung readers first and foremost; perhaps the last great readers in the Age of Books. Pre-dating the computer revolution, the advent of search engine net googling, and the digitization of the text, Allen Ginsberg compiled numerous bibliographies and reading lists during his tenure at the Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. As he wrote in one of these hand-outs, "Celestial Homework: Specialized Reading List for 'Literary History of the Beats,'" over half the students in his 1977 Beat Literary History Course hadn't read much. In characteristic fashion and tuned in to the wave of alternative scholarship, alternative research, alternative thought-forms, alternative knowlege in the air, Allen offered "suggestions for a quick check-out & taste of antient scriveners" whose works were reflected in Beat literary style, as well as specific suggestions for what beat pages to dig into." These typewritten, and sometimes annotated pages, were handed out to students in classes.The works cited were in those days part of a vast underground academy.

In grateful collaboration with Ginsberg scholar, poet, and Kerouac School alumni Randy Roark, The Museum of American Poetics has assembled this exhibit of materials. Culled from Randy Roark's personal archive of student papers saved from his days attending Naropa, three items by Allen Ginsberg are presented: 1) "Big Beat Bibliography," 2) "Celestial Homework," and 3) "Suggested Reading List."

—Jim Cohn ( 20 June 2006)


Big Beat
Big Beat

Celestial Homework

Suggested Reading




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