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Allen Ginsberg is one of the 20th century's most influential poets, regarded as a founding father of the Beat Movement and known for works like "Howl."
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Ginsberg also came up with the phrase "flower power," which he used to describe the peace movements that fueled much of the anti-war demonstrations he took part in, including his protests against the Vietnam War.
Ginsberg was an advocate of drug use,
though he would generally walk away from this position after he studied yoga and meditation during a 1962 voyage to India. Ginsberg later converted to Buddhism and founded the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics of the Naropa Institute, which focused on Buddhist teachings. He was also a world traveler, remaining for extended periods of time in Latin America and Europe.
Ginsberg won the 1974 National Book Award for his work The Fall of America: Poems of these States 1965-1971, and over the ensuing years, became increasingly renowned for the importance and influence of his work, receiving accolades like the 1986 Robert Frost Medal. In the 1980s and '90s, he continued to write and worked with musical artists like Philip Glass, Bono, Sonic Youth and the Clash.
Ginsberg died from liver cancer on April 5, 1997, in the East Village in Manhattan, New York. He was 70 years old. A massive collection of his work can be found with the book Collected Poems 1947-1997.
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They were radical, rebellious, experimental…and had a way with words. Starting in the 1950s, the Beat Generation rose to prominence in America, inspiring a culture of nonconformity and social revolution. Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac were some of the more famous faces synonymous to the group, as was William S. Burroughs. Their musings—both "beat up" and "beatific"—left highly influential marks in literature, music, film and ecology.
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