Thursday, November 30, 2006
"...angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night..."
Since we’ve come to the end of November, it’s my last chance to say something about the Golden Jubilee anniversary of Allen Ginsberg’s monumental poem “Howl,” published by City Lights in November exactly 50 years ago.
I read “Howl” for the first time when I was 17, exploring literature on my own for the first time. It stung me like a wasp bite. I spent countless hours scribbling in composition books trying desperately to emulate its style. I suppose, in a way, I’ve never stopped trying to emulate its style: the long breath, the odd imagery, the dizzy cacophony of language. I owe a great deal to this poem, as a formative experience it helped shape my personal aesthetic and also inspired me tremendously.
If you’ve never read “Howl,” I highly recommend clicking here now and taking the time to experience it. And then as a dessert, seek out an audio version of Ginsberg reading it. Personally, I love the brilliant Kronos Quartet recording.
Here is a NPR story about the anniversary.
Here is a video interview with Ginsberg from 1995.
Here is a link to some Ginsberg You Tube videos.
Here is a Believer article by the travel writer Rolf Potts about why we should also remember the anniversary of Ginsberg’s “Wichita Vortex Sutra.”