//Howl and Other Poems (City Lights Pocket Poets, No. 4)

Howl and Other Poems (City Lights Pocket Poets, No. 4)

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Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems used to be at first published by City Lights Books in the Fall of 1956. Due to this fact seized by U.S. customs and the San Francisco police, it used to be the subject of a long court trail at which a series of poets and professors persuaded the court that the book used to be not obscene.

Howl & Other Poems is the single most influential poetic work of the post-World War II era, with over 1,000,000 copies now in print.

“Howl used to be Allen’s metamorphosis from quiet, brilliant, burning bohemian scholar trapped by his flames and repressions to epic vocal bard.”—Michael McClure

“It’s the poet, Allen Ginsberg, who has gone, in his own body, through the horrifying experiences described from life in these pages.” —William Carlos Williams

“At the height of his bardic powers, Allen Ginsberg could terrify the authorities with the mere utterance of the syllable “om” as he led street throngs of citizens protesting the Vietnam War. Ginsberg reigned as the raucous poet of American hippiedom and as a literary pioneer whose freewheeling masterwork “Howl” prevailed against government censorship in a landmark obscenity trial 50 years ago.” — New York Times

“Fifty years ago, on October 3, Pass judgement on Clayton Horn ruled that Allen Ginsberg’s great epic Beat-era poem HOWL used to be not obscene but as a substitute, a work of literary and social merit. This ruling allowed for the publication of HOWL and exonerated the poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who faced jail time and a fine 50 years ago for publishing ‘HOWL.'” — Pacifica.org

Allen Ginsberg used to be born June 3, 1926, the son of Naomi Ginsberg, Russian émigré, and Louis Ginsberg, lyric poet and schoolteacher, in Paterson, New Jersey. To these facts Ginsberg adds: “High school in Paterson till 17, Columbia College, merchant marine, Texas and Denver copyboy, Times Square, amigos in jail, dishwashing, book reviews, Mexico City, market research, Satori in Harlem, Yucatan and Chiapas 1954, West Coast 3 years. Later Arctic Sea go back and forth, Tangier, Venice, Amsterdam, Paris, read at Oxford Harvard Columbia Chicago, quit, wrote Kaddish 1959, made tape to leave at the back of & fade in Orient awhile. Carl Solomon to whom Howl is addressed, is a intuitive Bronx dadaist and prose-poet.”


The epigraph for Howl is from Walt Whitman: “Unscrew the locks from the doors!/Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!” Announcing his intentions with this ringing motto, Allen Ginsberg published a volume of poetry which broke such a lot of social taboos that copies were impounded as obscene, and the publisher, poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, used to be arrested. The court case that followed found for Ginsberg and his publisher, and the publicity made both the poet and the book famous. Ginsberg went on from this beginning to grow to be a cultural icon of sixties radicalism. This works seminal place in the culture is indicated in Czeslaw Milosz’s poetic tribute to Ginsberg: “Your blasphemous howl still resounds in a neon desert where the human tribe wanders, sentenced to unreality”.