Allen Ginsberg's First Teaching Experience Was as 'Teaching Gorilla' at SF State

Tuesday, August 01, 2017
Black and white photo of Allen Ginsberg winking

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- “I am a really good teacher, naked half the time, with big blue flashes of communication,” Allen Ginsberg wrote Lionel Trilling, his former mentor in Columbia University’s English department, in May 1956, not long before the publication of Howl. Ginsberg, about to turn 30, had just taught for the first time, filling in as a “visiting gorilla” (his phrase, of course) at San Francisco State University.

Photo by Michiel Hendryckx