“When he first read this poem, it was a cultural intervention, and it continues,” says poet Anne Waldman, a friend and collaborator of Ginsberg’s. “It’s a time bomb, and it’s a time piece.”
Ginsberg had a complicated relationship with his own creation.
“I don’t read it often because it’s too much of a bravura piece, and I don’t want to get hung up on it,” he said when he and Waldman were onstage together in the mid-1970s at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, the writing program they co-founded at Naropa University in Boulder, Colo.
“On the other hand,” Ginsberg continued, “I also want to present my best.”