Reading Howl for the first time…

Howl 1

It was a Tuesday (13.6.17) evening and my 22nd print edition (1969) of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl and other poems” had arrived via Priority Mail. I had been meaning to own this for a while.

I opened the book at random, enter Howl. I Youtubed Allen and searched for his reading of this poem on my phone. I hit play and sat on my bed reading his words and hearing his words. Beat Consciousness streamed through my being…

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,
starving hysterical naked…

 

Source

 

…Who talked continuously seventy hours from park to pad to bar to 

Bellevue to museum to the Brooklyn Bridge,
a lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping down the
stoops off fire escapes off windowsills of Empire State out
of the moon,
yacketayakking screaming…

#GinsbergGlasses

Ali-G SQ13.5.17_SQ_3

 

 

 

 

 

…Who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who came back to
Denver & waited in vain, who watched over Denver &
brooded & loned in Denver and finally went away to find
out the Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,
who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying for each
other’s salvation and light and breasts, until the soul
illuminated its hair for a second…
I’m with you in Rockland
where you laugh at this invisible humor
I’m with you in Rockland
where we are great writers on the same dreadful typewriter
I’m with you in Rockland

It was lengthy punch lines, knocking me out. I continued listening as he read Footnote to Howl.

Holy the sea holy the desert holy the railroad holy the locomotive holy the visions holy the hallucinations holy the miracles holy the eyeball holy the abyss!
Holy forgiveness! mercy! charity! faith! Holy! Ours! bodies! suffering! magnanimity!
Holy the supernatural extra brilliant intelligent kindness of the soul!

 

It was almost 30 minutes of voyeuristic poetry, vulgarity, profanity and some moments had me wincing at the blasphemous lines: “The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy! The nose is holy! The tongue and [insert hidden body parts].” It’s controversial but it drastically shifted the art form of poetry forever.

In his dedication Ginsberg states his and his friends books were published in Heaven. This irks me severely because he’s practically summoning Moloch in his poem…

I like The Beat Beneration because they were pure poetry and they had that enviable university-to-death friendship that I never got to have. I arrived at University and I don’t think anybody knew Burroughs/Kerouac/Ginsberg.  It seems romantic looking back and very literary though I’m sure if I was alive when they were I’d have ran off after the poetry reading as they drank their way into despair and havoc… It’s always hard to champion these Bohemians because they’re so flawed and there’s always a dark side to artists either they are drunkards/insert addiction of choice, had horrific upbringings/lives due to others cruelty or are just plain rotten because we are all sinners. But it’s the art, talent and image I’m shining a light to… Not them as individuals.

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12 thoughts on “Reading Howl for the first time…

  1. Hi Catherine. So nice to meet you. I tend to write stories in I hope a poetry form. For me I am just a simple poet writing is my passion that keeps me sane and alive . Never wrote a book but have written a Paranormal play! Good luck with your first book. I like all things Paranormal! UFO’s! Conspiracy theories! Observing this crazy violent society! One day at a time for me! Peace and Best Wishes. #TheFoureyedPoet.

  2. Brilliant poem of Allen’s – not to forget ‘America’ – I’m sure he would have enjoyed this as he was always passionate about other writers’ work, interpretations, etc. He used to walk and quote William Blake endlessly, amongst others.

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