Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Wait Till I’m Dead

Uncollected Poems

by Allen Ginsberg

A crucial new addition to Allen Ginsberg’s oeuvre, Wait Till I’m Dead collects for the first time 103 poems by Ginsberg, some never before published.

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 272
  • Publication Date February 14, 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2632-0
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $16.00
  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Page Count 272
  • Publication Date February 02, 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2453-1
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $24.00
  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Publication Date February 02, 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-9020-8
  • US List Price $16.00

About The Book

Rainy night on Union Square, full moon. Want more poems? Wait till I’m dead.
—Allen Ginsberg, August 8, 1990, 3:30 a.m.

The first new Ginsberg collection in over fifteen years, Wait Till I’m Dead is a landmark publication, edited by renowned Ginsberg scholar Bill Morgan. Ginsberg wrote incessantly for more than fifty years, often composing poetry on demand, and many of the poems collected in this volume were scribbled in letters or sent off to obscure publications and unjustly forgotten. Wait Till I’m Dead, which spans the whole of Ginsberg’s long writing career, from the 1940s to the 1990s, is a testament to Ginsberg’s astonishing writing and singular aesthetics.

Following the chronology of his life, Wait Till I’m Dead reproduces the poems together with Ginsberg’s extensive notes. Containing 103 previously uncollected poems and accompanied by original photographs, Wait Till I’m Dead is the final major contribution to Ginsberg’s sprawling oeuvre, a must have for Ginsberg neophytes and longtime fans alike.

Praise

“Ginsberg has been one of the most influential poets in America in our time . . .  A spectacular career.” —New York Times Book Review

“An intimate new collection from the ‘shy but outspoken Jewish bard,’ as Rachel Zucker dubs him in her artful foreword . . . Wait Till I’m Dead expands our vision, takes us on a wild road trip with the poet and his friends through the second half of the 20th century . . . He reveals his inner life with magnificent range, from traveling epics to lucid haiku . . . Ginsberg’s singular voice, speaking out from the past.” —Diana Whitney, San Francisco Chronicle

“Delights include the opening set of quatrains slamming student Allen’s congressman, a long ramble on America written during a cross-country flight in 1965, a final conversation with old friend Carl Solomon, and enough jokey or philosophical or contemplative or observational short poems to make those who’ve sworn off Ginsberg reconsider.” —Booklist

“Ginsberg is both tragic and dynamic, a lyrical genius, con man extraordinaire, and probably the single greatest influence on American poetical voice since Whitman.” —Bob Dylan

“Ginsberg[‘s] importance is unquestionable. Among his many roles in 20th century culture—’60s protest jokester, Zen ambassador, literary lion—he was also, for many, the gateway poet. These are not unlike other Ginsberg poems–fierce, funny, libidinous, subversive–but here they afford a fresh chronological tour of Ginsberg’s life, which is also one version of the story of the second half of the 20th century . . . The high point is a long poem called ‘New York to San Fran,’ the book’s most ambitious and fulfilled piece. Ginsberg . . . treats everything with an utterly absorbing present-tense vividness, which this book lets us view through grown-up eyes.” —Los Angeles Times

“[A] carefully chosen gathering of Ginsberg’s fugitive pieces . . . [His] spontaneous aesthetic at its liveliest is the heretofore uncollected ‘NY to San Fran,’ a 27-page Whitmanic reverie of hallucinogenic scope . . . Together with the editor’s informative notes, this volume not only complements its larger predecessor but similarly offers an impressionistic micro-history of the 20th-century American counterculture, its restless consciousness and broad emotional register filtered through the unbridled visions of one of its most outspoken icons. Ginsberg fans and scholars alike will appreciate the wealth of new material included.” —Library Journal

“Bill Morgan has really tracked down over a hundred Ginsberg poems that ‘would have gotten away.’ . . . What we come away with is wanting more, and wishing we knew what Allen would say about these complicated times.” —Marc Olmstead, Empty Mirror

Excerpt

Amnesiac Thirst For Fame

An “autograph hound” armed
with a golden platter and a
gun
kneeled before John and
killed the Beatles.

A stringy-haired artist
tiptoed thru St. Peter’s
and unsculpted
Michelangelo’s
polished marble elbow with a
hammer,

Christ defenseless lying in his
stone Mama’s arms.

Staring out of the canvas
under their Feathered Hats

Rembrandt’s Night Watchers
were blind to the Slasher
that tore thru their coats with
a razor.

Did someone steal Mona
Lisa’s smile forever from
the Louvre?

ca. Dec. 8, 1980

Published in Rolling Stone, no. 335, Jan. 22, 1981, p. 70.

Epitaph For A Poet

This single pleasure
I have had:
I sang a song
When I was sad.

But since my lips
Would rot, in time,
I put my singing
In a rhyme.

On other lips
My songs will ring,
Now I am dead
And must not sing.

New York, Aug. 20, 1944

“Epitaph for a Poet” was published in Columbia Jester, vol. 43, no. 9 (Oct. 1944), p. 13.

Thus On A Long Bus Ride

thus on a long bus ride
my soul woke
arm in arm with a youth:
hours of communion
warm thighs
shoulders touching
bodies moved together
as we rode on
dreaming invisibly

San Francisco, April 1, 1955

Published in Take Care Of My Ghost, Ghost. Ghost Press, ca. June 1977, p. 3.