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Encyclopedia > Howl
Howl and Other Poems was published in the fall of 1956 as number four in the Pocket Poets Series from City Lights Books
Howl and Other Poems was published in the fall of 1956 as number four in the Pocket Poets Series from City Lights Books
This article is about the poem by Allen Ginsberg. For other meanings see Howl (disambiguation).

Howl and Other Poems is a collection of poetry by Allen Ginsberg. It contains Ginsberg's most famous poem, "Howl", which is considered to be one of the principal works of the Beat Generation along with Jack Kerouac's On the Road (1957) and William S. Burroughs's Naked Lunch (1959). Image File history File links This image is a book cover. ... The City Lights Pocket Poets Series is a series of poetry collections published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and City Lights Books of San Francisco since August 1955. ... City Lights Bookstore, 2007 Co-founded in 1953 by Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, City Lights Bookstore and City Lights Publishers is a landmark independent bookstore and a small press publisher that specializes in world literature, the arts, and progressive politics. ... Howl may refer to: Howl, the album by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. ... Irwin Allen Ginsberg (IPA: ) (June 3, 1926 – April 5, 1997) was an American poet. ... “Beats” redirects here. ... Jack Kerouac (pronounced ) (March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969) was an American novelist, writer, poet, and artist. ... This article is about the novel On the Road. ... William Seward Burroughs II (February 5, 1914) - August 2, 1997; pronounced ), more commonly known as William S. Burroughs, was an American novelist, essayist, social critic, painter and spoken word performer. ... Naked Lunch is a novel by William S. Burroughs. ...

Contents

Background

Bob O. Rosenthal; poet and author; Allen Ginsberg's assistant of 20 years and trustee of the Ginsberg estate; discussing Howl at a 2006 symposium on the work at Bowery Poetry Club, New York City

The poem "Howl" was written in Ginsberg's cottage in Berkeley in the summer of 1955. Many factors went into the creation of the poem. Ginsberg's therapist a short time before the composition of "Howl" encouraged him to quit his job and pursue poetry full time. That summer he experimented with parataxis in the poem "Dream Record: June 8, 1955" about the death of Joan Vollmer. He showed this poem to Kenneth Rexroth who criticized it as too stilted and academic; Rexroth encouraged Ginsberg to free his voice and write from his heart. Ginsberg took this advice and attempted to write a poem with no restrictions. He was under the immense influence of William Carlos Williams and Jack Kerouac and attempted to speak with his own voice spontaneously. Ginsberg began the poem in the stepped triadic form he took from Williams, but in the middle of typing the poem his style altered such that his own unique form (a long line based on breath organized by a fixed base) began to emerge. Ginsberg would experiment with this breath-length form in many later poems. The first draft contained what would later become Part I and Part III. It is noted for relating stories and experiences of Ginsberg's friends and contemporaries, its tumbling hallucinatory style, and the frank address of sexuality, specifically homosexuality, which subsequently provoked an obscenity trial. Though Ginsberg referred to many of his friends and acquaintances (including Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Peter Orlovsky, Lucien Carr, and Herbert Huncke) the primary emotional drive was his sympathy for Carl Solomon to whom it was dedicated (1928-1993); he met Solomon in a mental institution and became friends with him. Ginsberg admitted later this sympathy for Solomon was connected to bottled up guilt and sympathy for his mother's condition (she suffered from schizophrenia and had been lobotomized), an issue he was not yet ready to address directly. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (2592x1944, 885 KB) Summary The author of this image is me, David Shankbone. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (2592x1944, 885 KB) Summary The author of this image is me, David Shankbone. ... Irwin Allen Ginsberg (IPA: ) (June 3, 1926 – April 5, 1997) was an American poet. ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Bowery Poetry Club. ... New York, New York and NYC redirect here. ... Look up Berkeley in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... // The Group, a British poetry movement, starts meeting in London with gatherings taking place once a week, on Friday evenings, at first at Hobsbaums flat and later at the house of Edward Lucie-Smith. ... For other uses, see Parataxis (disambiguation). ... Kenneth Rexroth (December 22, 1905 – June 6, 1982) was an American poet, translator and critical essayist. ... William Carlos Williams Dr. William Carlos Williams (sometimes known as WCW) (September 17, 1883 – March 4, 1963), was an American poet closely associated with modernism and Imagism. ... Jack Kerouac (pronounced ) (March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969) was an American novelist, writer, poet, and artist. ... Neal Cassady, left, with Jack Kerouac, photograph by Carolyn Cassady. ... Jack Kerouac (pronounced ) (March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969) was an American novelist, writer, poet, and artist. ... William Seward Burroughs II (February 5, 1914) - August 2, 1997; pronounced ), more commonly known as William S. Burroughs, was an American novelist, essayist, social critic, painter and spoken word performer. ... Peter Orlovsky (born July 8, 1933) is an American poet best known for being the lover of Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg. ... Lucien Carr (March 1, 1925 – January 28, 2005) was a key figure in the Beat generation, and later an editor for UPI. Carr was a roommate of Allen Ginsberg at Columbia University in the 1940s and met Jack Kerouac through Jacks then-girlfriend Edie Parker. ... Huncke on the cover of his anthology. ... Carl Solomon was a friend of Allen Ginsberg, who met him in a mental institution. ...


The poem was first performed at the famous Six Gallery in San Francisco. The reading was conceived by Wally Hedrick – a painter and co-founder of the Six – who approached Ginsberg in the summer of 1955 and asked him to organize a poetry reading at the Six Gallery. "At first, Ginsberg refused. But once he’d written a rough draft of Howl, he changed his 'fucking mind,' as he put it". [1] Ginsberg was ultimately responsible for inviting the readers (Gary Snyder, Philip Lamantia, and Philip Whalen -- Michael McClure and Kenneth Rexroth were involved early in the process) and writing the invitation. "Howl" was the second to the last reading (before "A Berry Feast" by Snyder) and was considered by most in attendance the highlight of the reading. Many considered it the beginning of a new movement, and the reputation of Ginsberg and those associated with the Six Gallery reading spread throughout San Francisco.[2] Soon afterwards, it was published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who ran City Lights Bookstore and the City Lights Press. Ginsberg completed Part II and the "Footnote" after Ferlinghetti had promised to publish the poem. "Howl" was too short to make an entire book, so Ferlinghetti requested some other poems. Thus the final collection contained several other poems written at that time; with these poems, Ginsberg continued the experimentation with long lines and a fixed base he'd discovered with the composition of "Howl" and these poems have likewise become some of Ginsberg's most famous: "America", "Sunflower Sutra", "Supermarket in California", etc. The Six Gallery reading (also known as Gallery Six reading or Six Angels on the Same Performance) was a poetry jamming, which occured in the Six Gallery of San Francisco on October 13, 1955. ... This page is a candidate for speedy deletion. ... Wally Hedrick at his home in Bodega, CA, c. ... // The Group, a British poetry movement, starts meeting in London with gatherings taking place once a week, on Friday evenings, at first at Hobsbaums flat and later at the house of Edward Lucie-Smith. ... Young Gary Snyder, on one of his early book covers Gary Snyder (born May 8, 1930) is an American poet (originally, often associated with the Beat Generation), essayist, lecturer, and environmental activist. ... Philip Lamantia (October 23, 1927-March 7, 2005) was a United States poet and lecturer. ... Philip Whalen (October 20, 1923 – June 26, 2002) was a poet and a key figure in the San Francisco Renaissance and the Beat generation. ... Michael McClure, an American poet, playwright, songwriter and novelist, was born in Marysville, Kansas on (October 20, 1932) before moving to San Francisco as a young man. ... Kenneth Rexroth (December 22, 1905 – June 6, 1982) was an American poet, translator and critical essayist. ... Lawrence Ferlinghetti Lawrence Ferlinghetti (born Lawrence Ferling[1] on March 24, 1919) is an American poet who is known as the co-owner of the City Lights Bookstore and publishing house, which published early literary works of the Beats, including Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. ... City Lights Bookstore, 2007 Co-founded in 1953 by Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, City Lights Bookstore and City Lights Publishers is a landmark independent bookstore and a small press publisher that specializes in world literature, the arts, and progressive politics. ...


Overview and structure of "Howl"

The poem consists of three parts, with an additional footnote.


Part I

Called by Ginsberg, "a lament for the Lamb in America with instances of remarkable lamb-like youths," Part I is the best known, and communicates scenes, characters, and situations drawn from Ginsberg's personal experience as well as from the community of poets, artists, political radicals, jazz-musicians, drug-addicts, and psychiatric patients whom he encountered in the late 1940s and early '50s. These people represent what he considers "the best minds of his generation", an ironic and shocking declaration since, in what members of the Beat Generation considered the oppressively conformist and materialistic 50's, those Ginsberg called "best minds" were unrepresented outcasts, what the middle class might consider "worst minds". The shocking aspect of the poem was further enhanced by Ginsberg's frank descriptions of sexual, often homosexual, acts. Most lines in this section contain the fixed base "who". Ginsberg says in "Notes Written on Finally Recording Howl", "I depended on the word 'who' to keep the beat, a base to keep measure, return to and take off from again onto another streak of invention". [3] For other uses, see Jazz (disambiguation). ...


Part II

Ginsberg says that Part II, in relation to Part I, "names the monster of mental consciousness that preys on the Lamb". Part II is a rant about the state of industrial civilization, characterized in the poem as 'Moloch'. Ginsberg was inspired to write Part II during a period of peyote-induced visionary consciousness in which he saw a hotel façade as a monstrous and horrible visage which he identified with that of Moloch. Moloch is the biblical idol in Leviticus to whom the Canaanites sacrificed children. Ginsberg intends that the characters he portrays in Part I be understood to have been sacrificed to this idol. Moloch is also the name of an industrial, demon-like figure in Fritz Lang's Metropolis, a film which Ginsberg credits with influencing "Howl, Part II" in his annotations for the poem (see especially Howl: Original Draft Facsimile, Transcript & Variant Versions). Most lines in this section contain the fixed base "Moloch". Ginsberg says of Part II, "Here the long line is used as a stanza form broken into exclamatory units punctuated by a base repetition, Moloch".[4] Molech Moloch, Molech or Molekh, representing Hebrew מלך mlk, (translated directly into king) is either the name of a god or the name of a particular kind of sacrifice associated historically with Phoenician and related cultures in north Africa and the Levant. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Leviticus is the third book of the Hebrew Bible, also the third book in the Torah (five books of Moses). ... This article is about the land called Canaan. ... Friedrich Christian Anton Fritz Lang (December 5, 1890 – August 2, 1976) was an Austrian-German-American film director, screenwriter and occasional film producer, one of the best known émigrés from Germanys school of expressionism. ... For other uses, see Metropolis (disambiguation). ...


Part III

Part III, in relation to Parts I and II, is "a litany of affirmation of the Lamb in its glory" according to Ginsberg. It is directly addressed to Carl Solomon, whom Ginsberg met during a brief stay at a psychiatric hospital in 1949; called "Rockland" in the poem, it was actually Columbia Presbyterian Psychological Institute. This section is notable for its refrain, "I'm with you in Rockland," and represents something of a turning-point away from the grim tone of the "Moloch"-section. Of the structure, Ginsberg says Part III is, "pyramidal, with a graduated longer response to the fixed base".[5]


Footnote

The closing section of the poem is the "Footnote", characterized by its repetitive 'Holy!' mantra, an ecstatic assertion that everything is holy. It can be read as the antithesis of Part II. Ginsberg says, "I remembered the archetypal rhythm of Holy Holy Holy weeping in a bus on Kearny Street, and wrote most of it down in notebook there ... I set it as Footnote to Howl because it was an extra variation of the form of Part II".[6]


Rhythm

The frequently quoted (and often parodied) opening lines set the theme and rhythm for the poem:

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix;
Angel-headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection
to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night.

Ginsberg's own commentary discusses the work as an experiment with the "long line". For example, Part I of the poem is structured as a single run-on sentence with a repetitive refrain dividing it up into breaths. Ginsberg said, "Ideally each line of Howl is a single breath unit. My breath is long -- that's the measure, one physical-mental inspiration of thought contained in the elastic of a breath".[7]


Specific references in "Howl"

Door at the Bowery Poetry Club, a popular haunt for Ginsberg colleagues
Door at the Bowery Poetry Club, a popular haunt for Ginsberg colleagues

"Who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedies among the scholars of war" Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (2263x1347, 709 KB) Summary The author of this image is me, David Shankbone. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (2263x1347, 709 KB) Summary The author of this image is me, David Shankbone. ... Bowery Poetry Club. ... Irwin Allen Ginsberg (IPA: ) (June 3, 1926 – April 5, 1997) was an American poet. ...

  • Ginsberg had an important auditory hallucination in 1948 of William Blake reading his poems "Ah, Sunflower," "The Sick Rose," and "Little Girl Lost." Ginsberg said it revealed to him the interconnectedness of all existence. He said his drug experimentation in many ways was an attempt to recapture that feeling.

"Who were expelled from the academy for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull" William Blake (November 28, 1757 – August 12, 1827) was an English poet, visionary, painter, and printmaker. ...

  • Part of the reason Ginsberg was expelled from Columbia University was because he wrote obscenities in his dirty dorm window. He suspected the cleaning woman of being an anti-Semite because she never cleaned his window, and he expressed this feeling in explicit terms on his window and drew an ironic swastika. He also wrote a phrase on the window implying that the president of the university had no testicles.

"... poles of Canada and Paterson ..." Alma Mater Columbia University in the City of New York is a private university in the United States and a member of the Ivy League. ...

"who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford's floated out and sat through the stale beer afternoons in desolate Fugazzi's..." Jack Kerouac (pronounced ) (March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969) was an American novelist, writer, poet, and artist. ... “Canadiens” redirects here. ... Nickname: Motto: Art is the Handmaid of Human Good Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts Coordinates: , Country State County Middlesex County Settled 1653 Incorporated 1826 A city 1836 Government  - Type Manager-City council  - Mayor William F. Martin, Jr. ... View of Paterson New Jersey 1880. ...

  • Bickford's and Fugazzi's were New York spots where the Beats hung out. Ginsberg worked briefly at Fugazzi's.

"... Tangerian bone-grindings..." "... Tangiers to boys ..."

"who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telepathy and bop kabbalah because the cosmos instinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas" William Seward Burroughs II (February 5, 1914) - August 2, 1997; pronounced ), more commonly known as William S. Burroughs, was an American novelist, essayist, social critic, painter and spoken word performer. ... A view of Tangier bay at sunrise as seen from Cape Malabata Tangier - Avenue Mohammed VI Tangier (Tanja طنجة in Berber and Arabic, Tánger in Spanish, Tânger in Portuguese, and Tanger in French) is a city of northern Morocco with a population of 669,680 (2004 census). ...

  • Mystics and forms of mysticism in which Ginsberg at one time had an interest (the concept of "The Dark Night of the Soul" by St John of the Cross is especially appropriate for "Howl"). Kansas/Kansas City could be a reference to either Michael McClure or Burroughs, but that is uncertain.

From "who let themselves..." to "flashing buttocks under barn and naked in the lake" For the personification of the average Filipino, see Juan de la Cruz, and for another Saint who lived around the same time and area, see John of Avila Saint John of the Cross (San Juan de la Cruz) (June 24, 1542 – December 14, 1591) was a major figure in the...

  • Though it could be a reference to anyone's sexual exploits, it's likely a specific reference to Neal Cassady. "Who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad stolen night-cars, N. C. secret hero of these poems" is definitely a reference to Neal Cassady (N.C.) who lived in Denver, Colorado.

"who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on the showbank docks waiting for a door in the East River to open to a room full of steamheat and opium" Neal Cassady, left, with Jack Kerouac, photograph by Carolyn Cassady. ... Official language(s) English Capital Denver Largest city Denver Largest metro area Denver-Aurora Metro Area Area  Ranked 8th  - Total 104,185 sq mi (269,837 km²)  - Width 280 miles (451 km)  - Length 380 miles (612 km)  - % water 0. ... Nickname: Location of Denver in Colorado Location of Colorado in the United States Coordinates: , Country United States State Colorado City-County Denver (coextensive) Founded [1] November 22, 1858 Incorporated November 7, 1861 Government  - Type Strong Mayor/Weak Council  - Mayor John Hickenlooper (D) Area [1]  - City & County  154. ...

  • A specific reference to Herbert Huncke.

"... and rose to build harpsichords in their lofts..." Huncke on the cover of his anthology. ...

  • Friend Bill Keck actually built harpsichords. Ginsberg had a conversation with Bill Keck's wife shortly before writing "Howl."

"who coughed on the six floor of Harlem crowned with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded by orange crates of theology"

  • This is a reference to the apartment in which Ginsberg lived when he had his Blake vision. His roommate was a theology student and kept his books in orange crates.

"who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot with eternity outside of time..."

  • A reference to Ginsberg's Columbia classmate Louis Simpson, an incident that happened during a brief stay in a mental institution for PTSD. Simpson later became a celebrated formalist poet. Since he was a formalist in the 50's he's often presented as being Ginsberg's opposite. But they remained friendly with one another throughout their lives. Simpson, who moved away from formalism later in his career, even occasionally, defended Ginsberg's poetry.

"who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits..." Louis Simpson (born March 27, 1923 in Jamaica) is a United States poet. ...

  • Ginsberg worked in several corporate jobs, including advertising firms. Many say it's when he was advised by his psychiatrist to quit his steady job that he was free to write "Howl." This passage also has some prime examples of Ginsberg's "eyeball kicks."

"who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge..."

"who sang out of their windows in despair..." Tuli Kupferberg (born September 28, 1923) is an American counterculture poet, author, cartoonist, and publisher and co-founder of the band The Fugs. ...

  • A specific reference to Bill Cannastra who actually did most of these things and died when he "fell out of the subway window."

From "who barreled down the highways of the past" to "& now Denver is lonesome for her heroes"

  • Likely a reference to Neal Cassady.

"who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals ..."

  • Likely a reference to Kerouac in his first revelation of the double meaning of "Beat" (the negative meaning of tired and broke, the positive meaning of beatific) central to the legend of the origins of the "Beat Generation."

"who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky Mount to tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive or Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the daisychain or grave"

  • The first one could have been many of the beats who regularly went to Mexico and cultivated drug habits. The second is likely a reference to Kerouac who regularly went to Rocky Mount, North Carolina (a specific recounting of this can be found in Dharma Bums). As for the third one, as Ginsberg says in "America" "Burroughs is in Tangiers I don't think he'll come back it's sinister." The fourth is likely a reference to Neal Cassady who was a brakeman for the Southern Pacific.

From "who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers on Dadaism..." to "resting briefly in catatonia" Nickname: Location of Rocky Mount within North Carolina Coordinates: , Country United States U.S. state North Carolina County(s) Edgecombe, Nash Founded Circa March 22, 1816 Incorporated February 28, 1867 Government  - Mayor Frederick E. Turnage Area  - City  35. ... Tangier (in Berber and Arabic Tanja, in Spanish Tánger and in French Tanger) is a city of northern Morocco with a population of 350,000, or 550,000 including suburbs. ... The Southern Pacific Railroad (AAR reporting mark SP) was an American railroad. ...

  • A specific reference to Carl Solomon. Originally this final section went straight into what is now Part III, which is entirely about Carl Solomon.

"Pilgrim's State's Rockland's and Greystone's foetid halls ..." Carl Solomon was a friend of Allen Ginsberg, who met him in a mental institution. ...

  • The first and third are mental institutions where his mother was admitted. She was in Pilgrim's State at the time he wrote "Howl." Rockland is the institution where he met Solomon.

"with mother finally ******"

  • Ginsberg admitted that the deletion here was an expletive. He left it purposefully elliptical so the mind will fill in what it wants. In later readings, many years after he was able to distance himself from his difficult history with his mother, he reinserted the expletive.

"obsessed with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use of the ellipse the catalog the meter (alt: variable measure) & the vibrating plane"

  • This is a recounting of Ginsberg's discovery of his own style and the debt he owed to his strongest influences. He discovered the use of the ellipse from haiku and the shorter poetry of Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams. "The catalog" is likely a reference to Walt Whitman's long line style which Ginsberg adapted. "The meter"/"variable measure" is likely a reference to Williams' insistence on the necessity of measure. Though "Howl" may seem formless, and this is perhaps a purposeful effect of the style, Ginsberg claimed it was written in a concept of measure adapted from Williams' idea of breath, the measure of lines in a poem being based on the breath in reading. Ginsberg's breath in reading, he said, happened to be longer than Williams'. "The vibrating plane" is a reference to Ginsberg's discovery of the "eyeball kick" in his study of Cezanne.

From "who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space" to "what might be left to say in time come after death" Ezra Pound in 1913. ... William Carlos Williams Dr. William Carlos Williams (sometimes known as WCW) (September 17, 1883 – March 4, 1963), was an American poet closely associated with modernism and Imagism. ...

  • A more detailed recounting of the discovery of his own style: the "eyeball kick", parataxis, the ellipsis, etc. "Pater Omnipitens Aeterna Deus"/"omnipotent, eternal father God" was taken directly from Cezanne.

"eli eli lamma lamma sabachthani" For other uses, see Parataxis (disambiguation). ... This article is about the punctuation symbol. ...

  • One version of the last words of Jesus: "Oh God, why have you forsaken me?" Though Ginsberg grew up in an agnostic household, he was always interested in his Jewish roots and in other concepts of spiritual transcendence. Though later Ginsberg was a devoted Buddhist, at this time Ginsberg was only beginning to study Buddhism along with other forms of spirituality. So one can read this last line as an ironic mockery of one of the dominant values of 1950's America (Christianity). But an essential aspect of Ginsberg's poetry, and Beat writing as a whole, is a genuine search for spiritual enlightenment outside of the traditional strictures of religious dogma (see for example Kerouac's relationship to Catholicism).[8]


From "Footnote to Howl": This article is about Jesus of Nazareth. ... The word Jew ( Hebrew: יהודי) is used in a wide number of ways, but generally refers to a follower of the Jewish faith, a child of a Jewish mother, or someone of Jewish descent with a connection to Jewish culture or ethnicity and often a combination... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations · Other religions Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Luther Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Archbishop of Canterbury · Catholic Pope Coptic Pope · Ecumenical Patriarch Christianity Portal This box:      As a...


"Holy Peter [Orlovsky] holy Allen [Ginsberg] holy [Carl] Solomon holy Lucien [Carr] holy [Jack] Kerouac holy [Herbert] Huncke holy [William S.] Burroughs holy [Neal] Cassady" [9]


(All quotes taken from http://members.tripod.com/~Sprayberry/poems/howl.txt)


The "Other Poems"

Though "Howl" was certainly Ginsberg's most famous poem, the collection includes many examples of Ginsberg at his peak, many of which garnered nearly as much attention and praise as "Howl"; these include:

  • "America" -- a poem in a conversation form between the narrator and America. When the narrator says "It Occurs to me that I am America", he follows with "I am talking to myself again." The tone is generally humorous and often sarcastic though the subject is often quite serious. He references several heroes and martyrs of significant movements such as the labor movement. These include: Leon Trotsky, the Scottsboro Boys, Sacco and Vanzetti, the Wobblies/IWW. He includes several events of personal significance including his Uncle Max coming over from Russia, William S. Burroughs living in Tangier, and how his mother, Naomi, would take him to Communist meetings when he was seven. "America" can be seen as a continuation of the experiment he started with the long line and fixed base of "Howl". Ginsberg says, "What happens if you mix long and short lines, single breath remaining the rule of measure? I didn't trust free flight yet, so went back to fixed base to sustain the flow, America". Ginsberg said, "Ideally each line of Howl is a single breath unit. My breath is long -- that's the measure, one physical-mental inspiration of thought contained in the elastic of a breath".
  • "A Supermarket in California" -- a short poem about a dreamlike encounter with Walt Whitman, one of Ginsberg's biggest idols. The image of Whitman is contrasted with mundane images of a supermarket, food often being used for sexual puns. He references Frederico Garcia Lorca whose "Ode to Walt Whitman" was an inspiration in writing "Howl" and other poems. In relation to his experiments with "Howl", Ginsberg says this: "A lot of these forms developed out of an extreme rhapsodic wail I once heard in a madhouse. Later I wondered if short quiet lyrical poems could be written using the long line. A Strange New Cottage in Berkeley and A Supermarket in California (written same day) fell in place later that year. Not purposely, I simply followed my angel in the course of compositions". Ginsberg said, "Ideally each line of Howl is a single breath unit. My breath is long -- that's the measure, one physical-mental inspiration of thought contained in the elastic of a breath".
  • "Sunflower Sutra" -- an account of a sojourn with Jack Kerouac in a railroad yard, the discovery of a sunflower covered in dirt and soot from the railroad yard, and the subsequent revelation that this is a metaphor for all humanity: "we are not our skin of grime." This relates to his vision/auditory hallucination of poet William Blake reading "Ah, Sunflower": "Blake, my visions." (See also line in Howl: "Blake-light tragedies" and references in other poems). The theme of the poem is consistent with Ginsberg's revelation in his original vision of Blake: the revelation that all of humanity was interconnected. (See also the line in "Footnote to Howl": "The world is holy!"). The structure of this poem relates to "Howl" both in its use of the long line and its repetition of the "eyeball kick" (paratactical juxtapositions) at the end. Ginsberg says in relating his thought process after the experiments of "Howl", "What about a poem with rhythmic buildup power equal to Howl without use of repetitive base to sustain it? The Sunflower Sutra ... did that, it surprised me, one long who". Ginsberg said, "Ideally each line of Howl is a single breath unit. My breath is long -- that's the measure, one physical-mental inspiration of thought contained in the elastic of a breath".
  • "Transcription of Organ Music" -- an account of a quiet moment in his new cottage in Berkeley, nearly empty, not yet fully set up (Ginsberg being too poor, for example, to get telephone service). The poem contains repeated images of opening or being open: open doors, empty sockets, opening flowers, the open womb, leading to the image of the whole world being "open to receive." The "H.P." in the poem is Helen Parker, one of Ginsberg's first girlfriends; they dated briefly in 1950. The poem ends on a Whitman-esque note with a confession of his desire for people to "bow when they see" him and say he is "gifted with poetry" and has seen the creator. This may be seen as arrogance, but Ginsberg's arrogant statements can often be read as tongue-in-cheek (see for example "I am America" from "America" or the later poem "Ego Confessions"). However, this could be another example of Ginsberg trying on the Walt Whitman persona (Whitman who, for example, called himself a "kosmos" partly to show the interconnectedness of all beings) which would become so integral to his image in later decades. Ginsberg says this of his of his mind frame when composing "Transcription of Organ Music", in reference to developing his style after his experiments with "Howl": "What if I just simply wrote, in long units and broken short lines, spontaneously noting prosaic realities mixed with emotional upsurges, solitaries? Transcription of Organ Music (sensual data), strange writing which passes from prose to poetry and back, like the mind".[10]
  • "In the Baggage Room at Grey Hound"

Some editions also include earlier poems, such as: "Song", "In Back of the Real", "Wild Orphan", "An Asphodel", etc. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Leon Trotsky (Russian:  , Lev Davidovich Trotsky, also transliterated Leo, Lyev, Trotskii, Trotski, Trotskij, Trockij and Trotzky) (November 7 [O.S. October 26] 1879 – August 21, 1940), born Lev Davidovich Bronstein (), was an Ukrainian-born Bolshevik revolutionary and Marxist theorist. ... The case of the Scottsboro Boys arose in Scottsboro, Alabama during the 1930s, when nine black youths, ranging in age from thirteen to seventeen, were accused of raping two white women, one of whom would later recant. ... Bartolomeo Vanzetti (left) and Nicola Sacco in handcuffs Nicola Sacco (April 22, 1891 – August 23, 1927) and Bartolomeo Vanzetti (June 11, 1888 – August 23, 1927) were two Italian-born American anarchists, who were arrested, tried, and executed via electrocution in Massachusetts for the charge of murder and theft. ... William Seward Burroughs II (February 5, 1914) - August 2, 1997; pronounced ), more commonly known as William S. Burroughs, was an American novelist, essayist, social critic, painter and spoken word performer. ... Jack Kerouac (pronounced ) (March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969) was an American novelist, writer, poet, and artist. ... William Blake (November 28, 1757 – August 12, 1827) was an English poet, visionary, painter, and printmaker. ...


Notoriety

The New York Times sent poet Richard Eberhart to San Francisco in 1956 to report on the poetry scene there. The result of Eberhart's visit was an article published in the September 6, 1956 New York Times Book Review entitled "West Coast Rhythms." Eberhart's piece helped call national attention to Howl as "the most remarkable poem of the young group" of poets who were becoming known as the spokespersons of the Beat generation (Allen Ginsberg, Howl: Original Draft Facsimile, Transcript & Variant Editions, Fully Annotated by Author, with Contemporaneous Correspondence, Account of First Public Reading, Legal Skirmishes, Precursor Texts & Bibliography, edited by Barry Miles [HarperPerennial, 1995], p. 155). On October 7, 2005, celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the first reading of the poem were staged in San Francisco, New York City, and in Leeds in the UK. The British event, Howl for Now, was accompanied by a book of essays of the same name, edited by Simon Warner, reflecting on the piece's enduring power and influence. The New York Times is an internationally known daily newspaper published in New York City and distributed in the United States and many other nations worldwide. ... This page is a candidate for speedy deletion. ... // City Lights Books publishes Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsburg Aniara - Harry Martinson National Book Award for Poetry: W.H. Auden, The Shield of Achilles Pulitzer Prize for Poetry: Elizabeth Bishop: Poems - North & South Queens Gold Medal for Poetry: Edmund Blunden date unknown - Amy Gerstler, poet June 22... is the 249th day of the year (250th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... // City Lights Books publishes Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsburg Aniara - Harry Martinson National Book Award for Poetry: W.H. Auden, The Shield of Achilles Pulitzer Prize for Poetry: Elizabeth Bishop: Poems - North & South Queens Gold Medal for Poetry: Edmund Blunden date unknown - Amy Gerstler, poet June 22... “Beats” redirects here. ... // Frank Bidart: Star Dust, one of the New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year[1] Dan Chiasson: Natural History: Poems, one of the New York Times 100 Notable books of the year[1] Jorie Graham: Overlord: Poems, one of the New York Times 100 Notable books of the...


The 1957 obscenity trial

Howl contains many references to illicit drugs and sexual practices, both heterosexual and homosexual. On the basis of one line in particular This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... Homosexuality refers to sexual interaction and / or romantic attraction between individuals of the same sex. ...

who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy

customs officials seized 520 copies of the poem on March 25, 1957, being imported from the printer in London. is the 84th day of the year (85th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1957 (MCMLVII) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link displays the 1957 Gregorian calendar). ...


A subsequent obscenity trial was brought against Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who ran City Lights Bookstore, the poem's new domestic publisher. Nine literary experts testified on the poem's behalf. Supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, Ferlinghetti won the case when Judge Clayton Horn decided that the poem was of "redeeming social importance". The case was widely publicized (articles appeared in both Time and Life magazines). The trial was published by Ferlinghetti's lead defense attorney Jake Ehrlich in a book called Howl of the Censor. Lawrence Ferlinghetti Lawrence Ferlinghetti (born Lawrence Ferling[1] on March 24, 1919) is an American poet who is known as the co-owner of the City Lights Bookstore and publishing house, which published early literary works of the Beats, including Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. ... City Lights Bookstore, 2007 Co-founded in 1953 by Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, City Lights Bookstore and City Lights Publishers is a landmark independent bookstore and a small press publisher that specializes in world literature, the arts, and progressive politics. ... The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a major American non-profit organization whose stated mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.[1] It works through litigation, legislation, and community... Time (whose trademark is capitalized TIME) is a weekly American newsmagazine, similar to Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report. ... Philippe Halsmans famous portrait of Marilyn Monroe Life generally refers to two American magazines: A humor and general interest magazine published from 1883 to 1936; A publication created by Time founder Henry Luce in 1936, with a strong emphasis on photojournalism. ... Jake W. Ehrlich (1900 - December 24, 1971) was an American lawyer. ...


Other interpretations of Howl

Yowl

Writing in the magazine The New Republic in 1986, Christopher Buckley and Paul Slansky published a 1980s re-interpretation of "Howl", entitled "Yowl". The poem was published to commemorate the 30th anniversary of "Howl"'s publication, and was a parody, both of the Ginsberg original and of the Yuppie lifestyle which their version portrayed. For other uses, see New Republic. ... Christopher Buckley Christopher Taylor Buckley (born 1952) is an American political satirist and author of several novels. ... Yuppies (young urban professionals, or less commonly young upwardly-mobile professionals[1]) is a market segment whose consumers are characterized as self-reliant, financially secure individualists. ...


Howl.com

In 2000, at the height of the dot com boom, Thomas Scoville wrote a parody of Howl, called Howl.com, that was widely circulated via email and the web. It focused on internet technology, the new media business world and the emerging social structures that had accompanied the Internet's rising popularity, such as open source development and technology celebrities. Dot-com (also dotcom or redundantly dot. ... New media refers to forms of human and media communication that have been transformed by the creative use of technology to fulfil the basic social need to interact and transact. ... Open source refers to projects that are open to the public and which draw on other projects that are freely available to the general public. ...


Penny Rimbaud's How?

In January 2003 Penny Rimbaud, founder of the anarchist band Crass, performed Ginsberg's "Howl" as part of the first Crass Agenda event at the Vortex Jazz Club in London's Stoke Newington. After the gig, Oliver Weindling, of the jazz-label Babel suggested releasing a recording of the performance. However, Rimbaud was unable to obtain permission from Ginsberg's estate to use the work, and instead rewrote it, updating it as a critique of post September 11, 2001, American culture. Of this work Rimbaud states, "In "How?" I have attempted to confront the innate madness of the 'New World Order': It is, I believe, a madness that even Ginsberg could not have foreseen in his wildest Nightmares". Whilst retaining much of the structure and spirit of the original work, "How?" includes some significant changes, including the substitution of 'Mammon' for 'Moloch', and the word 'wholly' instead of 'holy' in the poem's celebratory 'footnote'. A recording of Rimbaud's "How?", performed live and unrehearsed with a jazz-ensemble at the Vortex Club, was released in 2004. Penny Rimbaud circa 1977 Jeremy John Ratter (born 8 June 1943, Northwood, Middlesex, England), better known under his pseudonym of Penny Rimbaud, is a drummer, writer, poet, former member of performance art group EXIT and co-founder of the anarchist punk band Crass with Steve Ignorant in 1977. ... Anarchism is a generic term describing various political philosophies and social movements that advocate the elimination of hierarchy and imposed authority. ... For information about the anarchist writer, see Chris Crass Crass was an English anarchist punk rock band, formed in 1977[1][2] and based around Dial House, an open house community near Epping, Essex. ... Crass Agenda is the working title of a series of collaborations by ex-members of the anarchist punk band Crass and others. ... The Dalston Culture House now houses the Vortex Jazz Club. ... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ... , Note: For an area with a similar name, see Newington, in the London Borough of Southwark. ... tsOliver Weindling (born 14 September 1955) is a jazz promoter and founder of the Babel jazz record label. ... The Babel Label was founded in 1994 by Oliver Weindling. ... The World Trade Center on fire The September 11, 2001 attacks were a series of coordinated terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001. ... The term new world order has been used to refer to a new period of history evidencing a dramatic change in world political thought and the balance of power. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


Bowel

As an experiment in Antipoetry and in the tradition of re-writing the poem, commemorating the 50th anniversary of "Howl"'s publication, in 2006, Australian writer and poet Bill Pascoe wrote "Bowel". While partly a parody of Howl, it keeps good faith with the original, mixing intensely personal experience, socio-political critique and irreverent profanity.


References in pop culture

  • Quoted in the song "Machinehead" by Bush, on the album Sixteen Stone The first line serves as the bridge in this song, with Gavin Rossdale saying, "I've seen the best minds of my generation/they are starving, hysterical, and naked..." Gavin Rossdale has often cited Allen Ginsberg as an inspiration.
  • In episode #5, Season 2, of TV show Gilmore Girls, Jess notices a copy of "Howl" on Rory Gilmore's bookshelf. She offers to lend it to him and he declines, but later, he returns it to her, saying that he had merely "borrowed" it when she accuses him of stealing it. He also tells her that he has read it many times before.
  • In episode #7F07 of cartoon series The Simpsons, "Bart vs. Thanksgiving", after a nasty incident during the family's Thanksgiving dinner, daughter Lisa writes a poem titled "Howl of the Unappreciated" which begins "I saw the best meals of my generation / destroyed by the madness of my brother. / My soul carved in slices / by spikey-haired demons."
  • In episode #302 of cartoon series Daria, while Daria is volunteering at the nursing home to read to senior citizens, one poem she reads is the first stanza, which results in the elderly people disliking her.
  • Quoted in the song "I Should be Allowed to Think" by They Might Be Giants (on the album John Henry), which opens with the line "I saw the best minds of my generation / destroyed by madness, starving hysterical," and later includes the line "I saw the worst bands of my generation applied by magic marker to dry wall" to the same beat.
  • In the movie Hackers, the protagonist, Dade Murphy, uses the second stanza as a quote that gives him credibility as a member of his high school's Advanced Placement English class.
  • The lyrics to the opening verse of the song Nutopia, featuring vocals by Meg Lee Chin, are an obvious tribute: "I saw the best minds of my generation running on empty, superglued to the T.V., dreaming of prosperity, talking incessantly, saying nothing." Nutopia appears on both the 1997 Pigface album A New High in Low and Meg Lee Chin's 1999 solo album Piece and Love.
  • Quoted by Warren Zevon in a performance of Werewolves of London at Raul's Roadside Attraction in 1988 (and possible elsewhere). He opens the song with the line "I've seen the best minds of my generation, starving hysterical, naked, and walking through the streets of Portland in the rain."
  • During the failed Supreme Court Nomination of U.S. Appeals Court Chief Judge Douglas Ginsberg SNL's "Weekend Update" Anchor Dennis Miller reads a stanza from "Howl" ("I saw the best minds of my generation / destroyed by madness, starving hysterical,"). Seemingly confusing the conservative jurist for the liberal poet, Miller concludes that the jurist sounded to him "like a heavy cat."
  • The lyrics to the opening verse of the Dan Bern song Wasteland are an obvious tribute: "I saw the best of my generation playing pinball / Maked up and caked up and lookin' like some kind of china doll / With all of Adolf Hitler's moves down cold / As they stood up in front of a rock and roll band...". Wasteland appears on his 1993 self-titled debut album.
  • Re-worked by The Fugs as "I Saw the Best Minds of My Generation Rock," currently available on the Fantasy Records reissue of their first album.

This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Sixteen Stone is a post-grunge album released by Bush in 1994 (see 1994 in music). ... Gilmore Girls is an American television drama/comedy created by Amy Sherman-Palladino and starring Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel. ... Simpsons redirects here. ... Bart vs. ... The First Thanksgiving, painted by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863-1930). ... Lisa Simpson Lisa Marie Simpson (voiced by Yeardley Smith) is a fictional character on the animated television series The Simpsons. ... For St. ... This article is about the musical group. ... John Henry is the name of They Might Be Giants fifth original album, although it is the sixth disc in their discography. ... John Waters (born April 22, 1946) is an American filmmaker, writer, personality, visual artist and art collector, who rose to fame in the early 1970s for his transgressive cult films. ... This article is about the 1988 film. ... Beatnik is a media stereotype that borrowed the most superficial aspects of the Beat Generation literary movement of the 1950s to present a distorted (and sometimes violent), cartoon-like misrepresentation of the real-life people and the spirituality found in Jack Kerouacs autobiographical fiction. ... Pia Zadora (born May 4, 1954) is an American actress and singer. ... Hairspray may refer to: Hair spray, a personal product used for grooming Hairspray (1988 film), a 1988 film by John Waters. ... Hackers is a 1995 film that follows the misfortunes of the young hackers Dade Murphy (Crash Override/Zero Cool, played by Jonny Lee Miller), Kate Libby (Acid Burn, played by Angelina Jolie) and their friends. ... Advanced Placement (AP) is the term used to describe high school classes that are taught at a college level. ... The onetime frontwoman for the all-female noise unit Crunch as well as a member of the industrial supergroup Pigface, Meg Lee Chin was born in Taipei, Taiwan; after building a radio at age ten, she worked as a sound engineer while studying experimental art and video production at San... Pigface is an industrial rock supergroup formed in 1990 by Martin Atkins and Bill Rieflin. ... Pigface - A New High In Low A double-disc album released by Pigface on August 26, 1997 featuring the work of Martin Atkins, Genesis P-Orridge, Dave Wright, . Tracklist (Disc 1) Pigface - A New High In Low - Disc 1 - Low Radio Bagpipe - (Atkins/Mackey) Kiss King (High High High) - (Atkins... Werewolves of London is a song composed by LeRoy Marinell, Waddy Wachtel, and Warren Zevon and performed by Zevon. ... Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC for short) is an American garage rock band from San Francisco, California, now based in Los Angeles. ... The Fugs second album (1966) The Fugs was a band formed in New York City in 1965 by Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg, with Ken Weaver on drums. ... Fantasy Records is a United States based record label, which was founded by Max and Sol Weiss in 1949 in San Francisco, California. ... Lowell George (born April 13, 1945 in Hollywood, CA - June 29, 1979) was an American musician, singer and guitarist, with the rock group Little Feat and as a solo artist. ... Thanks, Ill Eat it Here is the title of the only solo album by rock and roll singer-songwriter Lowell George. ... This article is about the recording artist. ... Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz (born on August 13, 1926) is the current President of Cuba but on indefinite medical hiatus. ... Marlene Dietrich IPA: ; (December 27, 1901 – May 6, 1992) was a German-born American actress, singer, and entertainer. ... Der Blaue Engel (English: The Blue Angel) is a film directed by Josef von Sternberg in 1930, and is one of the most famous films made by Marlene Dietrich. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Year 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Singer at a modern Hippie movement in Russia Hippie (sometimes spelled hippy) refers to a member of a subgroup of the counterculture that began in the United States during the early 1960s, becoming an established social group by 1965, and expanding to other countries before declining in the mid-1970s. ...

References

  1. ^ Jonah Raskin, American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” and the Making of the Beat Generation
  2. ^ Jonah Raskin, American Scream: Allen Ginsberg's Howl and the Making of the Beat Generation.
  3. ^ Ginsberg, Allen. "Notes Written on Finally Recording Howl". Deliberate Prose: Selected Essays 1952-1995. Ed. Bill Morgan. NY: Harper Collins, 2000.
  4. ^ Ginsberg,"Notes"
  5. ^ Ginsberg,"Notes"
  6. ^ Ginsberg,"Notes"
  7. ^ Ginsberg,"Notes"
  8. ^ Miles, Barry. Ginsberg: A Biography. London: Virgin Publishing Ltd. (2001)
  9. ^ Jones, Bonesy. Biographical Notes on Allen Ginsberg. Biography Project. Retrieved on 2005-10-20.
  10. ^ Ginsberg,"Notes"

Year 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday (link displays full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 293rd day of the year (294th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

Bibliography

  • Charters, Ann (ed.). The Portable Beat Reader. Penguin Books. New York. 1992. ISBN 0-670-83885-3 (hc); ISBN 0-140-15102-8 (pbk)
  • Ginsberg, Allen. Howl. 1986 critical edition edited by Barry Miles, Original Draft Facsimile, Transcript & Variant Versions, Fully Annotated by Author, with Contemporaneous Correspondence, Account of First Public Reading, Legal Skirmishes, Precursor Texts & Bibliography ISBN 0-06-092611-2 (pbk.)
  • Howl of the Censor. Jake Ehrlich, Editor. ISBN 1-11117-504-7
  • Raskin, Jonah. American Scream: Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" and the Making of the Beat Generation. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004. ISBN 0520240154
  • Miles, Barry. Ginsberg: A Biography. London: Virgin Publishing Ltd. (2001), paperback, 628 pages, ISBN 0-7535-0486-3

Jake W. Ehrlich (1900 - December 24, 1971) was an American lawyer. ... Jonah Raskin (born: January 3, 1942), an American writer who left an East Coast university teaching position to participate in the 1970’s radical counterculture as a free-lance journalist, returned to the academy in California in the 1980’s to write probing studies of Abbie Hoffman and Allen Ginsberg...

External links


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