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Louis Ginsberg (1895–1976)[1][2] was an American poet and father of poet Allen Ginsberg.

Louis Ginsberg
Born(1895-10-01)October 1, 1895
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedJuly 6, 1976(1976-07-06) (aged 80)
OccupationEnglish teacher, Poet
Alma materRutgers University
SpousesNaomi Levy Ginsberg
Edith Ginsberg
ChildrenEugene Brooks Ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg


Personal lifeEdit

Louis Ginsberg was born in Newark, New Jersey on October 1, 1895, to Pincus Ginsberg and Rebecca Schectman Ginsberg.[3] His siblings included Abraham (Abe), Rose, Clara, and Hannah (Honey). Louis was stimulated to write poetry by Margaret Coult, a high school teacher who had him read Milton's L'Allegro or Il Penseroso, and write a poem like it. He retired from Central High School in 1961, although he began to teach grammar and composition at the Paterson, New Jersey extension of Rutgers University until 1976. Louis and Naomi[4] had two sons, Eugene Brooks Ginsberg[5][6][7][8] in 1921 and Allen Ginsberg in 1926, both of whom became poets.[9] Their marriage ended in divorce due to Naomi's institutionalization for mental illness. Her illness was the focal point for Allen's poem Kaddish, in which he wrote: "and Louis needing a poor divorce, he wants to get married soon".[10] Louis married Edith Ginsberg[11][12] in 1950 with whom he spent the rest of his life. Louis died on July 6, 1976,[13][14][15] and his son Allen, who learned to rhyme from his father,[16] wrote the rhyming poem, Father Death Blues for him on July 8, 1976 over Lake Michigan. The last stanza of this poem appears on Allen Ginsberg's gravestone,[17] which is between the gravestones for Louis and Edith.[18]

Portraits of the Ginsberg family were taken by photographer Richard Avedon and exhibited at the Gagosian Gallery[19][20] and the Israel Museum.[21]


Louis' poems appeared in The Nation, The New Republic, The New York Times, Munsey's Magazine, The Forum, Rutgers' Alumni Quarterly, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Contemporary Verse, The Masses, the New York Evening Post, Argosy, the Newark Evening News and other periodicals, as well as in Modern American Poetry: A Critical Anthology, Third Revised Edition (1925) and Modern British Poetry, both edited by Louis Untermeyer. Louis' first book of poetry, The Attic of the Past and other Lyrics,[22] was privately published. He subsidized the publishing of The Everlasting Minute in 1937. In 1970, William Morrow and Company published Morning in Spring, his third book and the first book that he did not have to subsidize. Allen Ginsberg wrote the introduction to this book. Louis' last book, Our Times, was never published on its own. Michael Fournier collected and edited his poems, including those that would have been in Our Times.[23]


A lost poem by Louis Ginsberg, entitled Microscope, was found in a copy of the seventeenth edition of Simon Henry Gage's book The Microscope in the Rare and Manuscript Collections at Cornell University.[24][25]


Louis Ginsberg published puns in the Newark Star Ledger under the heading "Keep an O'Pun Mind". He often asked and answered, "Is life worth living? It depends on the liver." His collection of puns was never published but they can be found in Box 2, Folder 9 in the Louis Ginsberg Papers at Stanford University.[26] Louis Ginsberg, who died of liver and spleen cancer, told his son Allen Ginsberg, "I never thought my pun would come back to bite me."


The letters written between Louis Ginsberg and his son Allen Ginsberg were edited by Michael Schumacher and published as Family Business: Selected Letters Between a Father and Son.[27]


  1. ^ Morgan, Bill (2006). I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg. New York: Penguin Books. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-14-311249-5. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  2. ^ Harris, Neil (2013). Great Writers: Allen Ginsberg. New York: Chelsea House. ISBN 978-1-4381-4836-6. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  3. ^ Brooks, Eugene (1992). Paterson's Principal Poet in Louis Ginsberg: Collected Poems. Orono, ME: Northern Lights. pp. 23–35.
  4. ^ Brooks, Lyle. "Naomi Ginsberg". Find a Grave. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  5. ^ "Eugene Brooks, 80, a Lawyer and Poet". The New York Times. July 18, 2001. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  6. ^ Brooks, Lyle. "Eugene Brooks". Find a Grave. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  7. ^ "Eugene Brooks, Brother of Poet Allen Ginsberg". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  8. ^ Spencer, Ashley (May 17, 2012). "Author's nephew visits PC's Senior English Class". Paladin Press Newspaper Blog. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  9. ^ Brooks, Eugene (1973). Rites of Pasaage. Introductions by Allen Ginsberg and Louis Ginsberg. Plainville, NY: Eugene Brooks.
  10. ^ Ginsberg, Allen. "Kaddish: For Naomi Ginsberg, 1894—1956". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  11. ^ George, James (May 4, 1997). "Stepmother, Wife, Muse". The New York Times. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
  12. ^ George, James (October 30, 2000). "Edith Ginsberg, an Anchor For Poet Stepson, Dies at 94". The New York Times. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
  13. ^ "Louis Ginsberg, 80". The New York Times (Section 4, page 11). July 9, 1976.
  14. ^ "Louis Ginsberg Dies". The Village Voice (page 36). July 19, 1976.
  15. ^ Kramer, Sylvia (July 29, 1976). "Poet's inspiration: A tribute to Louis Ginsberg" (page 9). Jewish News.
  16. ^ "Howl (2015)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
  17. ^ "Allen Ginsberg". Find a Grave. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  18. ^ Brieba, Lorenzo. "Allen Ginsberg". FInd a Grave. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  19. ^ "Inside the counter-culture: An intimate look at Warhol, Ginsberg and friends through the radical lens of legendary photographer Richard Avedon". Daily Mail. May 18, 2012. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  20. ^ "Richard Avedon Murals & Portraits May 4 - July 27, 2012 at the Gagosian Gallery". Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  21. ^ "Avedon's Eye: An interview with James Snyder, director of the Israel Museum". Sotheby's. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  22. ^ Ginsberg, Louis (1920). The Attic of the Past and other Lyrics. Boston: Small, Maynard, and Company.
  23. ^ Fournier, Michael, ed. (1992). Louis Ginsberg: Collected Poems. Orono, ME: Northern Lights.
  24. ^ "Focusing in on a Forgotten Poem". Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. October 28, 2013. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  25. ^ Wayne, Randy (2013). ""Microscope" A Lost Poem by Louis Ginsberg" (PDF). The Microscope. 61 (2): 85–87.
  26. ^ "Guide to the Louis Ginsberg Papers, 1920-1976". Online Archive of California. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
  27. ^ Ginsberg, Allen and Louis (2001). Selected Letters Between a Father and Son. New York: Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781582341071. Retrieved August 28, 2016.

External linksEdit

  • Letter (8 April 1956): Allen Ginsberg to Louis Ginsberg [1]
  • My Visit with Allen Ginsberg and Louis Ginsberg by Alan Ziegler [2]
  • Louis Ginsberg Guests In Allen's 1975 NAROPA Class - Part One [3]
  • Louis Ginsberg Guests In Allen's 1975 NAROPA Class - Part Two [4]
  • Louis Ginsberg Papers [5]
  • Correspondence concerning Louis Ginsberg's bookplate collection, 1958-1968 [6]