August 1

Every day is full of birthdays, but today has five famous folk’s birthdays that I mark. Since they are all dead, is today more of an anniversary?

On top of my list is Herman Melville who was born on this day in 1819 in New York City in a family of Revolutionary War heroes and once-prominent merchants. In Herman’s time, the family was in decline and in financial instability. His own literary career also began with success and attention but despite writing masterpieces such as Moby-Dick, the end of his career was in almost total obscurity.

Allen Ginsberg was born in Newark, New Jersey, and grew up in nearby Paterson. He was the second son of Louis Ginsberg, a schoolteacher and sometime poet, and the former Naomi Levy, a Russian emigree and fervent Marxist.

Though they both wrote poetry and it was very different, Ginsberg admired Melville’s poetry. “I think he’s one of the four great poets of the nineteenth-century – Dickinson, Melville, Poe and Whitman. His work in poetry isn’t as well known, but it’s great.”  

There are some songwriters born on this day who might be considered, if not poets then poetic.  Ramblin’ Jack Elliott  (born Elliot Charles Adnopoz) was born in Brooklyn in 1931.

Poet and rocker  Jim Carroll was born in New York on August 1, 1949.

The third musician and songwriter was Grateful Dead guitarist, Jerry Garcia, born in 1942 on this day in San Francisco.

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A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

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