Material Wealth in Times Literary Supplement

Times Literary Supplement editor Douglas Field wrote a stellar review on Material Wealth: Mining the Personal Archive of Allen Ginsberg, compiled and annotated by Pat Thomas.

“In the handsomely produced Material Wealth: Mining the personal archive of Allen Ginsberg, Pat Thomas succeeds in showing his subject in new and unexpected ways. After delving into Ginsberg’s extensive archive at Stanford University – which houses hundreds of thousands of the poet’s artefacts – Thomas has curated a chronological scrapbook of the poet’s ephemera from the 1940s to the 1990s: photographs and portraits, posters of poetry readings, political manifestos and accounting statements. Also included are previously unseen poems and unpublished notes, correspondence from friends, publishers and fans, as well as unpublished notes and journal entries – what Kerouac called “sacred naked doodlings”…

Material Wealth includes an informative essay by Thomas on Ginsberg’s prolific music recordings, as well as documenting his collaborations and friendships with Lou Reed, Dylan and the Clash. Ginsberg kept the poster from Patti Smith’s first poetry reading in 1971 – she dedicated the night to “all that is criminal” – and jotted down Yoko Ono’s phone number on the back of his ticket for a Bob Dylan and the Band reunion show in 1974. These beautifully produced images may suggest that he was a hoarder, but it also likely that Ginsberg, who could be both innocent and canny, had one bloodshot eye on posterity and the other on the sale of his archive. His explanation, late in life, that he and his fellow Beats “were just trying to propose our own souls to ourselves” is a reminder that, although he was writing several years before the term “confessional poetry” was coined in the late 1950s, he was well aware of its appeal. Material Wealth opens out Ginsberg’s complexity and charisma and showcases a dynamic poet and public figure, though not always in that order.”

Read more about the book HERE

Read the full review HERE