Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Thoughts on Howl

The movie Howl about Allen Ginsburg's poem is around these days in the US, and about to open in the UK. I haven't seen it, but I certainly know the poem. I do some work with high school students, and it's a very popular piece for them in performance, which is rather remarkable, considering that in its day many thought it actionably obscene. Times change. This article provides interesting background. 'The compound heaviness of all this – insanity, death, crime, self-loathing, literary failure – lifted one day in August 1955, when Ginsberg sat at his desk in Montgomery Street, in the North Beach area of San Francisco, a stone's throw from City Lights bookstore, and typed this line: "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving, mystical, naked . . ." ; More...

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