Page 23 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

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HINDUS / JEWISH AMERICAN POETRY
are, however, beginning to be mentioned again by those inter-
ested in Jewish poets in America). His Jewishness is unselfconsci-
ous, has a humorous edge and strikes one as charming without
being ‘cute.’ An example is:
THE BAGEL
I stopped to pick up the bagel
rolling away in the wind,
annoyed with myself
for having dropped it
as it were a portent.
Faster and faster it rolled,
with me running after it
bent low, gritting my teeth,
and I found myself doubled over
and rolling down the street
head over heels, one complete somersault
after another like a bagel
and strangely happy with myself.
Allen Ginsberg became famous in 1955 when his poem
Howl,
read and published in San Francisco, is credited, if not with
launching the so-called ‘Beat’ movement in American poetry,
at least with putting it on the map of American literary consci-
ousness. The entire first edition of that sensational poem was
confiscated though it was later on cleared of obscenity charges
in the San Francisco Municipal Court. In the 1960’s he became
something of a guru for a generation younger than his own. His
personality has always made him good ‘copy’ for the newspapers,
and his work has thus been widely publicized. His best known
one is probably the strange long poem
Kaddish
which he com-
posed in memory of his mother in 1960. It is remarkably different
from the suite of poems also entitled
Kaddish
in which Charles
Reznikoff describes the feelings provoked during the illness and
death of his own mother (the
Kaddish
of his which I have
quoted earlier in this essay is not part of that su ite).
One of the oddly sympathetic things about Ginsberg is the
feeling he has shown for the older generation. At the height