Kaddish and Other Poems: 50th Anniversary Edition

Kaddish and Other Poems: 50th Anniversary Edition

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Author: Allen Ginsberg

Publisher: City Lights Publishers (2010)

Allen Ginsberg's "Kaddish," a poem about the death of his mother, Naomi, is one of his major works. This special fiftieth anniversary edition of Kaddish and Other Poems features an illuminating afterword by Ginsberg biographer Bill Morgan, along with previously unpublished photographs, documents, and letters relating to the composition of the poem.

"As a pandemic rages and we are unable to gather to celebrate our dead, make our minyans, or hold one another’s hands, have our seders, I think of Ginsberg writing Kaddish for his mother. I think of him imagining a journey from bondage to freedom. . . . Kaddish is the perfect poem for these times."

–Laurel Brett

"Kaddish, Ginsberg's ode to his mother after her death, is streaked with references to Judaism and to the funerary prayer recited by a male mourner for the passing of a parent or relative. Like the prayer, Ginsberg’s poem is a celebration of his mother, but it also delves into—and, indeed, dwells on—the darker side of her life. . . . Ginsberg bears witness to his mother's pain and struggles; he intones her name—another act of remembrance—over and over again as if to deify her."

–Maria Eliades

"Kaddish, Allen Ginsberg's most stunning and emotional poem, tells a story that is entirely true. As a young boy growing up in Paterson, New Jersey, Allen watched his mother succumb to a series of psychotic episodes that grew progressively worse despite desperate attempts at treatment."

–Levi Asher

"Kaddish, which Ginsberg wrote between 1957 and 1959 and published in 1961, is, at its core, a poem about a son learning to grieve for his mother. But Ginsberg's emotional and intellectual rawness make this poem an investigation about what it means to grieve, or even to be a son or mother. A deeply intimate portrait of his family's life, Kaddish nonetheless embeds itself in specific historical contexts: of Jewish life in the United States and after the Holocaust, of left-wing political activism before and during the Cold War, of a fiercely independent woman who died as second-wave feminism was only just beginning to be formulated."

–Joshua Logan Wall