Howl turned 50 this week! The poem that sealed Ginsberg’s fame and shaped a generation of poetics is half a century. Who can resist the pure, unselfconscious energy of Howl? The confidence of it, the determination, the sureness—perhaps rooted in Ginsberg’s knowing that his project was/is a continuation of a grand project started, become American with Whitman, continued with Stein, this grand and biblical writing of America, this desire to capture in full relief, one’s time, the progress or decline; the tenor and tempo.
Hearing Ginsberg read it was an unleashing of sorts for me, recognition of poet as performer, the embodied need to be.
And I love that he refers to the “poles of Canada &/ Paterson, illuminating all the mo-/tionless world of Time between,” Who knew there were so many connections between Canada and New Jersey. New York, sure, every nation can claim that. But New Jersey? Who knew.
Upenn has a manuscript page from Howl here…and I’m trying to find a good audio link.