Planet Ginsberg Goes East
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Published in: March-April 2019 issue.


Iron Curtain Journals: January–May 1965
by Allen Ginsberg
Edited by Michael Schumacher
Univ. of Minnesota Press. 400 pages, $29.95


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         Ginsberg’s major themes involved madness, homosexuality, drugs, his mother’s mental illness, and his critique of society’s repressive rules and roles. These ideas recur throughout his published works, including his journals. Iron Curtain Journals: January–May 1965, edited with an introduction by biographer Michael Schumacher (Dharma Lion, 2016), is the first volume in a trilogy that’s being published by the University of Minnesota Press. The second volume, South American Journals, will be published in 2019, and the third volume, The Fall of America, in 2021. 

Ginsberg and poet Andrei Voznesensky, Moscow, 1965.
Courtesy the Allen Ginsberg Estate.

        The first volume offers a glimpse into Ginsberg’s thought processes as he traveled to Cuba, Prague, Poland, Russia, and England at the height of the Cold War, long before the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. From the journals we learn about his meetings with young people, literary colleagues, and government officials. His public questioning of repressive state policies regarding homosexuality, drugs, and free speech eventually led to his expulsion from all of the Iron Curtain countries.


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Irene Javors, a frequent contributor to this magazine, lives in Queens, New York.