Allen Ginsberg


Fred W. McDarrah (American, 1926 – 2007)
Allen Ginsberg in Uncle Sam Hat [Ginsberg on Central Park Bandstand, 5th Avenue Peace Demonstration to Stop the War in Vietnam], 1966
black and white photograph “poster-card” inscribed by Ginsberg on the verso.
Robert A. Wilson Collection.

In the mid-1960s Allen Ginsberg was known for his long hair and beard. Connoting Biblical prophets, Eastern mystics, and his literary hero Walt Whitman, Ginsberg’s beard was featured in a number of iconic images, perhaps most famously in Fred McDarrah’s photograph of Ginsberg in an Uncle Sam hat, preparing to speak at an anti-war rally in New York in 1966. The image was the basis of a popular poster and a related large-format postcard (seen here). This copy, from the collection of Robert A. Wilson, is inscribed on the back by Ginsberg.

Long hair magazine, 1965
Lovebooks Ltd., London.
Cover drawing by Barry Miles

Allen Ginsberg beard clipping, 1964
Robert A. Wilson Collection

Allen Ginsberg (American, 1926 – 1997)
Allen Ginsberg, four manuscript pages for Scrap Leaves
Robert A. Wilson Collection

In 1968 Diane di Prima and Alan Marlowe’s Poet’s Press published a series of small limited-edition poetry booklets reproducing handwritten text by a number of authors, among them Michael McClure, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, and di Prima herself. University of Delaware Special Collections holds the original handwritten manuscripts for the volumes by Corso, McClure, and, shown here, Ginsberg.

Allen Ginsberg, poet (American, 1926 – 1997)
Robert LaVigne, designer (American, 1928 – 2014)
Kral Majales, 1965
limited edition lithograph on paper, Oyez Press, Berkeley

The title of this poem is Czech for “King of May,” the honorary title bestowed on Allen Ginsberg by university students when he was staying in Prague in the spring of 1965. While the students were celebrating the Beat poet, the Communist Czech government was monitoring his activities. Upon discovering some political writings in his notebook, they forcibly expelled him from the country. He wrote this poem on the plane from Prague to London, where the next day he visited Bob Dylan and the Beatles.

The overtly phallic design for this broadside by Robert LaVigne shows Ginsberg silhouetted naked (except for his sneakers), with the Tibetan prayer bells he frequently played.

Allen Ginsberg, poet (American, 1926 – 1997)
Wes Wilson, designer (American, b. 1937)
Who Be Kind To, 1967
color lithograph on paper
Limited edition, signed. Cranium Press, San Francisco

Allen Ginsberg, poet (American, 1926 – 1997)
Michael English, designer (British, 1941 – 2009)
Message 2, 1968
offset lithograph on paper
Limited edition, Ad Infinitum Limited, London

Poetry broadsides had traditionally been produced for literary enthusiasts by small poetry presses. Allen Ginsberg, however, collaborated with two of the major psychedelic poster artists of the counterculture to produce these vibrant publications. Wes Wilson in San Francisco and Michael English in London were two of the most prominent artists of the youth underground. Ginsberg would become, along with Bob Dylan, one of the most recognized voices, and faces, of the 1960s.