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Author Topic: Ginsberg's "Howl" turns 50
Hephaestion
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posted 07 October 2005 03:39 AM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
(San Francisco) In the years after he wrote "Howl," Allen Ginsberg alternately described the poem as a song of spiritual liberation, a homage to art, an ode to gay love and a lament for his mentally ill mother.

The Beat poet who defined his times with the salvo, "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness," gave perhaps the most adroit explanation, however, upon publication of the original facsimile edition of the tour de force that had launched his career more than three decades earlier.

"Howl," he advised readers in his preface, was meant to be an "emotional time bomb that would continue exploding."

From: goodbye... :-( | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Hephaestion
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posted 07 October 2005 03:48 AM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
In 1955, America was fighting a war with a seemingly sneaky and nebulous enemy, outsiders were fighting what they saw as mind-numbing conformity at home and consumerism reigned as everyone raced to buy the latest gadget or gas-guzzling automobile.

At that time, poets were mainstream and crowd-pleasing or largely ignored outcasts. And it was one of those outcasts whose celebrated poem smashed America's happy facade and painted a world that began with "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness . . ." and continued with extended metaphors and visceral descriptions of how people were destroying each other.

Fifty years ago today, Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl" helped launch the Beat generation and changed the way Americans viewed poets and society. The poem's effects are still felt in the way poets write, the way young people see their world and the way art is perceived and performed.

"It seems like there's so many parallels between then and now, 50 years later," said Ken Sanders, one of the event's organizers. As with the hunt for modern terrorists, civil liberties were at the forefront of the '50s as Joseph McCarthy hunted for communists among his fellow citizens, Sanders said, and America was getting involved in a war with a faraway nation that appeared to pose a threat to democracy, if not immediate national security.

Tonight, as part of the Great Salt Lake Book Festival, performance poet Alex Caldiero will recite "Howl" on a stage organized to look a bit like the cafe/gallery setting in which the poem was first read.

It's one of many commemorative events around the world; of course, there will be numerous events in San Francisco, where "Howl" was originally unleashed that fateful Friday night, but even England and other far-flung places are planning them.


Salt Lake Tribune

From: goodbye... :-( | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
mayakovsky
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posted 07 October 2005 04:51 AM      Profile for mayakovsky     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
For me a large part of 20th century poetry is Ginsberg. While not leaving out Mayakovsky, Yevtushenko and Milosz. I first read 'Howl' as an 18yr old undergrad, didn't get a thing. I thought it was shite. A few years later I read it and became a Ginsberg fan. It influenced my own work, even when the long form and the long line was no longer hip. He was a part of the beats but he transcended them because he was a genius and committed. The accounts of the original reading of 'Howl' take your breath away. A nerdy, nervous, gay man, gets up and reads his poem.
From: New Bedford | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
RP.
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posted 07 October 2005 08:20 AM      Profile for RP.     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Favourite Ginsberg line (don't think it's from "Howl")(a poem called "America" perhaps?)

quote:
America, I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel

I love "Howl." Yeah, dig it.


From: I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 07 October 2005 08:39 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Far. Out.

My cohort caught the ebb-tide of the Beats and then segued on from there, some of us. Few North American writers haven't absorbed their influence in some way or other, however they've transformed it.

So here's to Ginsberg and Howl, and to all the coffee-houses and the good people who howled along in them, from the Purple Onion in San Francisco to the Depression in Calgary to ... [fill in your own favourite coffee-house] ...

Now, where is my black turtleneck?


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Boom Boom
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posted 07 October 2005 09:24 AM      Profile for Boom Boom     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think I first read Ginsberg in 1968, as well as Kerouac and Ferlinghetti. By that time I had listened to Dylan, the Beatles, and the Stones, as well as the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin, and all the folk and blues legends. Dig it, man.
From: Make the rich pay! | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
Willowdale Wizard
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posted 07 October 2005 09:59 AM      Profile for Willowdale Wizard   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
i feel honoured to have been at his last toronto appearance at convocation hall.
From: england (hometown of toronto) | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged

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