ginsberg cover

A complex and many-faceted life is given its due in this photographic portrait of Allen Ginsberg as a poet, spiritualist, friend, and lover of good times from 1980 through 1997. In between, the record of Ginsberg’s fevered and frenetic travels with cohorts documents the poet’s final quarter century. Here is the author of Howl, that 1950’s poem that keeps taking on life as the decades pass, working in NYC, teaching poetics at Naropa, performing worldwide, relaxing and conversing with writers and friends Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Robert Creeley, Amiri Baraka, his elder beat comrade William Burroughs and beat enfant terribe Gregory Corso.

When Felver and Ginsberg were together one feels a sympathetic sense of friendship. Allen, himself a photographer, admired Felver’s ability to step aside and let a scene unfold. The effusive Felver came to know all the Beat poets personally, bridging the gap from photographer to trusted fellow observer. One senses the warmth of these images derive from Felver’s ability to engender intimacy from one artist to another. The photographs are a recollection of America’s most important post-World War II poet, informed by Ginsberg’s sensitivity, his humanitarianism, and his love of life. The Late Great Allen Ginsberg profiles the Ginsberg saga without being insistent, offering a subtle portrait of the great American poet over two and one half decades.

One may think back on Brassai and his documentation of Pablo Picasso, and of many others who have shown a visual devotion. Chris Felver began his poet’s journey because of his thirst for their words and eagerness to show them at work and at play. The Late Great Allen Ginsberg shows a creator and maker getting the job done. Ultimately the series stands as a pictorial tribute to one of America’s finest bards.