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Beat Generation icon Allen Ginsberg was the most famous poet in America. But he was also a theorist, a strategist, and the counterculture field marshal who directed the troops of radical cultural change – revered by Tim Leary, Bob Dylan and John Lennon. It’s hard to overstate just how strange and marginal the Beats were considered at the time, and how profound and pervasive their impact has been. They planted the seeds for open sexuality, psychedelic consciousness, meditation, yoga, environmentalism, green witchery, and more. You can even trace today’s schism between blue and red states to the Beats and the cultural shifts they set in motion.

Steven Taylor, Ginsberg’s friend and collaborator for 20 years, is deeply knowledgeable about what Ginsberg called Secret History — the true but often hidden stories about the roots of our culture. He’s also an accomplished author, poet and musician, and ran the writing program at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University. As a guitarist, he’s performed with everyone from Patti Smith to Marianne Faithful to Don Cherry to Philip Glass, and he was a key member of the seminal underground rock band, the Fugs. He is the editor of the newly released, Don’t Hide the Madness, William S Burroughs in Conversation with Allen Ginsberg.

You can follow Steven Taylor on Instrgram at @mseventy5.