The Responsibility of Allen Ginsberg

Really been itching to post this poem that Helen Weaver wrote a few years ago and posted on her blog for Allen’s birthday this year. So, finally here it is!  While we’re on the subject of Helen Weaver, be sure to check out her recently published memoir, The Awakener published by City Lights. A fantastic fun read.

The Responsibility of Allen Ginsberg

for a friend who said she couldn’t put “Allen Ginsberg” and “responsibility”
in the same sentence

Clearly I have a different definition of the word

I think Allen was one of the most responsible people I’ve known

He was responsible to his Muse

He was responsible to his friends

He was responsible to all the poets who got busted for smoking grass and who he bailed out when he was living in a cold water walkup on nothing a year

He was responsible to his job which was waking people up telling the truth and making his life into poems

He was responsible to all the scared gay guys who now aren’t scared any more

He was responsible to the people who still aren’t ashamed to call themselves liberals or even socialists

He was responsible to New York San Francisco Denver Mexico Canada and all the continent in between

He was responsible to the King’s English and the queens

He was responsible to Blake and Whitman, to Kerouac and Burroughs and Cassady, to Corso and Rimbaud and Artaud

He was responsible to the future which is more than you can say for the motherfuckers who run this country from the banks and boardrooms of Moloch

He was responsible to all the kids who burned their draft cards and went to Canada and to the pacifists of old and to the pacifists who weren’t even born yet

He was responsible to Lenny Bruce and free speech and the Bill of Rights and the ACLU

He was responsible to all the people who got electric shock treatments in the fifties and who died insane anyway

He was responsible to his mother Naomi who served him uncooked fish and an inedible childhood and died in Greystone State Mental Hospital eli eli lama sabachthani

He was responsible to his father Louis also a poet for whom he wrote his most beautiful song Father Death

He was responsible to all of us including people who never heard of him and people who’ve heard of him but never read him and people who’ve read him but can’t spell his name

He was responsible to Life

He was responsible to America and we should be so lucky to have one like him again


  1. Andy Warhol was in a movie with Allen Ginsburg that starred the ultra tragic Edie Sedgwick, called Ciao Manhatter. My childhood nieghbor took me to the Bluebird on Colfax to see Ciao Manhatten, and I moved to New York to become the next Edie Sedgwick. My childhood nieghbor was Marvin Davis daughter Patty, who was studying art at the University of Denver. In New York I ended up at the opening of Studio 54, in April of 1977, and worked throught the Wallace Rogers Talent Agency. You will find me in the book The Last Party, published by William Morrow in 1997, and authored by Anthony Haden Guest..
    Randy Wren
    Denver, Colorado

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