‘Mind is shapely, Art is shapely': The Intuitive Poetics of Allen Ginsberg

Harma, Tanguy. 2022. '‘Mind is shapely, Art is shapely': The Intuitive Poetics of Allen Ginsberg'. In: 15th International IDEA Conference. Hatay Mustafa Kemal University, Hatay, Turkey 11–13 May 2022. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

The works of Beat writers which evolved in a post-Romantic lineage, such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, remain fundamentally heterogeneous in terms of genre, form and content. Yet what they share on a deeper level is a writing method, which they developed at the turn of the 1950s, and which has commonly been referred to as a form of spontaneous prosody. Influenced by the modernist stream of consciousness, but also by the European avant-gardes, and inspired by a number of precepts derived from the American Romantic tradition, this spontaneous method of composition relies on the streaming of the innermost impressions and emotions supplied by first-hand experience, which give the illusion of liveliness and spontaneity.

I will argue that in Ginsberg's poetry, recourse to the modality of the spontaneous pertains to a sense of truthfulness which is both intimate and universal, and which is associated with the intuition of a higher form of consciousness – an intuition, largely Emersonian, which partakes in the representational strategy of the transcendental. I will show that this writing technique, spontaneous in its form, is also mystical in essence; aimed at embodying the visionary impulse within the lines of the poem in the most organic way possible. It will be conceived as the cornerstone of a poetics of intuition through which the poet seeks to pass on his spiritual insights to the reader via the poem – an endeavour that will be seen as an attempt to actualise the Prophetic tradition in the context of post-war America.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


Spontaneous prosody; aesthetic strategy; intuition; visionary; embodied poetics; poetics of breath; transcendental performativity; Prophetic tradition.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


12 May 2022Completed

Event Location:

Hatay Mustafa Kemal University, Hatay, Turkey

Date range:

11–13 May 2022

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

09 Aug 2022 16:00

Last Modified:

10 Aug 2022 15:23



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