Reality Sandwiches

Reality Sandwiches

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First edition

Reality Sandwiches is a book of poetry by Allen Ginsberg published by City Lights Publishers in 1963. The title comes from one of the included poems, “On Burroughs’ Work”: “A naked lunch is natural to us,/we eat reality sandwiches.” The book is dedicated to friend and fellow Beat poet Gregory Corso. Despite Ginsberg’s feeling that this collection was not his most significant, the poems still represent Ginsberg at a peak period of his craft.[citation needed]
Poems in this collection include:

“My Alba”
“The Green Automobile”
“Siesta in Xbalba”
“On Burroughs’ Work”
“Love Poem on Theme by Whitman”
“Malest Cornifici Tuo Catullo”
“Dream Record: June 8, 1955”
“A Strange New Cottage in Berkeley”
“My Sad Self”
“I Beg You Come Back & Be Cheerful”
“To An Old Poet In Perú”


1 Selected works

1.1 “On Burroughs’ Work”
1.2 “Dream Record: June 8, 1955”
1.3 “To An Old Poet In Perú”

Selected works[edit]
“On Burroughs’ Work”[edit]
According to legend, while Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac were editing Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs, Kerouac suggested the title; when Ginsberg asked what it meant, Kerouac said they’d figure it out later. This is perhaps an attempt at understanding. It is unusual for a Ginsberg poem because it is so overtly metaphorical. This is likely a purposeful deviation from his normal style since he, for example, ironically calls symbolic language and allegories useless “dressing” and “lettuce.” The style overall suggests a parody of formal poetry. He uses allegories and near-rhymes: “those” and “Rose”; “us” and “lettuce”; “visions” and “prisons,” and so on. The form would be considered an imperfect ballad stanza, with the first and third lines in each stanza being nearly an iambic tetrameter and the first and third lines being nearly iambic trimeter. This is a traditional form used, for example, by William Wordsworth. The mistakes in the meter are likely purposeful; Ginsberg’s early poetry suggests that he was fully capable of writing metered poetry. But this is perhaps not only an homage to Burroughs but an homage to Ginsberg’s mentor William Carlos Williams. Williams encouraged Ginsberg to break away from meter and focus only the object with no “symbolic dressing.

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