CIA Dope Calypso: The Beat Generation

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Hello and welcome to the State Library of Queensland. I’m Alisha Follington, today exploring a poem of the ‘Beat Generation’ era of literature; CIA Dope Calypso by Allen Ginsberg. As the name suggests, CIA Dope Calypso was Ginsberg’s attempt to expose the United States of America’s Central Intelligence Agency’s involvement in the drug trade in South-East Asia.
One of the highest-acclaimed American poets of his generation and founding member of the Beat Generation, Ginsberg’s works reflect his vehement opposition to militarism, economic materialism, sexual repression and bureaucracy. Throughout his life he participated in many civil rights, anti-war, environmental, and gay rights demonstrations. He is considered to be the pioneer of performance poetry, and recorded CIA Dope Calypso
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Revealing their secrets only to those who put in the effort to unveil them.
Ginsberg’s CIA Dope Calypso plays no such games. It is made accessible to all. His objective in writing it very clear; to rip the blinkers from the eyes of the American populace. CIA Dope Calypso is the result of months of painstaking research; shocking facts laid out plainly, putting a spotlight on the peripheral knowledge every citizen has that their government is not utterly benevolent. With this poem, Ginsberg no longer allows his audience to bury their heads in the sand. With this poem, he sets in motion an awakening.
The text is very clearly a call to arms, its tone serious and informative, but unlike the frenetic pace of Ginsberg’s most famous poem Howl, the song is light and playful, not dissimilar to a children’s song. The narrative appeal of the poem is that the audience feels as though they were getting Intel on a prime suspect. Ginsberg drives his message across with a variety of poetic devices such similes, rhymes, repetition, onomatopoeia and
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