IN WORLD CITIZEN, author David S. Wills conservatively estimates that Ginsberg visited as many as 66 countries in his lifetime. Using the poets letters, poems, travel diaries, and journals, Wills concludes that travel played a crucial role in Ginsberg’s discovery of his creativity and poetic voice.
The book is divided into four parts, each of which deals with one or several of the mind-bending trips that Ginsberg undertook during his life. We learn, for example, that his visit to Mexico provided the backdrop against which he conceptualized his most famous poem, “Howl”; and it was during his visit to France in 1958 that he was finally able to write his tragic elegy for his mother Naomi, titled “Kaddish.”
Irene Javors, a psychotherapist based in New York City, is a frequent contributor to this magazine.