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Using the Collection
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At a Glance
This collection includes approximately 75 unique poems by Allen Tobias, including multiple drafts of some, which incorporate of Ginsberg's suggestions. Ginsberg's annotations include word changes, adjustments to line breaks, questions, suggestions about structure, additional lines, and general supportive comments. In addition, there is Tobias' research file on Ginsberg.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Conditions Governing Access
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
Conditions Governing Use
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts/University Archivist, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Allen Tobias Collection on Allen Ginsberg; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Allen Tobias is a literary scholar, and writer and producer of original and adapted dramatic feature films. He was Ginsberg's first literary secretary, 1966-1969, as Ginsberg began to shift his focus from poetry creation to performance, teaching, and mentoring a next generation of poets. At the time a recent graduate of Columbia College, Tobias had studied with Ginsberg's most luminous teacher, the art historian Meyer Schapiro, and with Ginsberg's classmate Steven Marcus, Trilling's protege and a literary scholar.
Tobias remained close to Ginsberg and his circle, including especially Alan Temko, Tuli Kupferberg, and Carl Solomon, until their deaths. At Ginsberg's bidding, he produced the memorial to Carl Solomon in 1993, and delivered Carl's eulogy, later published by City Lights. In 2002, he co-curated the first important exhibition of the works of Allen Ginsberg and his teachers, at Columbia's Rare Book & Manuscript Library. A poet, Tobias often sent Ginsberg his poetry for comment and critique, as Ginsberg had done with his own mentors. Ginsberg gladly provided comment.
Tobias played a prominent role in pulling together Ginsberg's archive. He had worked as a primary researcher at the home of Ginsberg's father, Louis, and with Ginsberg himself at 408 E. 10th Street in order to bring together materials. He accompanied Allen to his meeting with Ken Lohf, at which a depository account was established in the Columbia University library and his papers moved from his father's home and 408 E 10th to Butler Library. Tobias also corresponded with George Dowden on the first bibliography of Ginsberg and of City Lights in 1980. These experiences, in addition to his role as Ginsberg's secretary for three years and an acquaintance thereafter, put Tobias in a unique position to write a critical biography. He obtained permission from Ginsberg to access his archive at Columbia, including a collection of personal journals. Although the biography itself has not yet been published, Tobias has used his research as the basis for a number of lectures, as well as "The Lion for Real: Allen Ginsberg and Columbia" an exhibition at the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, Butler Library, Columbia University, 2002-2003, and is still continuing to research and write towards a future publication.