HOWL-all the info

September 22, 2010 § Leave a comment



Howl,  the breakout poem of Allen Ginsberg made him very famous indeed. First published on May 16th in 1956, it shocked many. Lawrence Ferlinghetti wrote about it, “Howl” is the most significant single long poem to be published in this country since World War 11, perhaps since Eliot’s Four Quartets…“Howl” commits many poetic sins, but it was time.” (Evergreen Review, Winter 1957)

Ginsberg was the undeclared leader of a group of wild, damaged, freedom-loving and searching young poets and writers in the 1950s, christened the Beats- with Jack Kerouac (On The Road), Neal Cassady (Pull My Daisy), Gregory Corso (Gasoline)- Bob Dylan recalls seeing him in Greenwich Village in his autobiography Chronicles) -and William Burroughs (Naked Lunch) being the best known and most notorious.

(My favourite part of Howl is the funnier imagery- the depiction of the ones who tried to step outside time and shed their watches, only to have alarm clocks fall on their heads for the next ten years. And the ones who slashed their wrists three times in succession and failed to die, so gave up and opened antique shops, where they were afraid they were getting old. Priceless.)


A dramatic recreation of the early years when Ginsberg wrote Howl in California, and the subsequent obscenity trial is captured in this enterprising film, shot in fourteen days.

All the info on Howl from Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman.

Take a look at this gallery of photos by the poet-Allen Ginsberg Photography


“They danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”

  • Part One, Ch. 1, On The Road written by Jack Kerouac

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