Howl and Other Poems

Howl and Other Poems

The prophetic poem that launched a generation when it was first published in 1956 is here presented in a commemorative fortieth Anniversary Edition.When the book arrived from its British printers, it was seized almost immediately by U.S. Customs, and shortly thereafter the San Francisco police arrested its publisher and editor, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, together with City Lig...

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Title:Howl and Other Poems
Author:Allen Ginsberg
Rating:
ISBN:0872863107
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:56 pages

Howl and Other Poems Reviews

  • R.
    Jul 15, 2007

    Allen Ginsberg, a sad and lonely man, wrote this to impress Kerouac, another sad and lonely man.

    Over the years, a lot of sad and lonely people haven't gotten over the how much that first fucking line resonates with them.

    The whole best minds/generation/destroyed/madness line.

    Ten years ago, this was a 5-star poem. Ten years from now, it will be a 3-star poem.

    That's just called growing up, folks.

  • Brent Legault
    Apr 23, 2008

    Muddled, addled and overrated. In fact, any rating, even a single star or half-moon, is too much for this amateur-hour of a "poem." It might have played well when shouted out to a roomful of arrogant drunks, but on the page it droops, it teeters under the weight of all of those ungainly adjectivies and finally collapses in a fog of its own flatulance. I saw the best minds of

    generation ignore this long, long limerick. Now, only nostalgists and know-naughts still cling to its pages of ill-repu

    Muddled, addled and overrated. In fact, any rating, even a single star or half-moon, is too much for this amateur-hour of a "poem." It might have played well when shouted out to a roomful of arrogant drunks, but on the page it droops, it teeters under the weight of all of those ungainly adjectivies and finally collapses in a fog of its own flatulance. I saw the best minds of

    generation ignore this long, long limerick. Now, only nostalgists and know-naughts still cling to its pages of ill-repute. Why?

  • Paquita Maria Sanchez
    Jul 01, 2011

    Preface: Though I enjoyed this book as a whole, the focus this evening will be on

    . Why this one alone? Simply put, I am writing these jumbled thoughts as a dedication to a friend. Rather, I am dedicating this to a cluster of friends, each of whom have chosen, in one form or another, to leave this earthly plain and shatter vehemently into oblivion. Suffice it to say that this series of words and interpretations will be highly personal, and therefore guided by inflated emotions which have for

    Preface: Though I enjoyed this book as a whole, the focus this evening will be on

    . Why this one alone? Simply put, I am writing these jumbled thoughts as a dedication to a friend. Rather, I am dedicating this to a cluster of friends, each of whom have chosen, in one form or another, to leave this earthly plain and shatter vehemently into oblivion. Suffice it to say that this series of words and interpretations will be highly personal, and therefore guided by inflated emotions which have forcefully skewed my view in favor of this poem. It was just too relevant, too well-timed, and exactly what I needed to hear at precisely the moment I was "hearing" it. Then again, perhaps that means that, in my raw state, I actually DID hear it and can give an experience-based, honest opinion founded in emotional relevance (I mean, it's poetry, right?). That is for you to decide, I suppose. Keep in mind, I know this is ham-handed. I find expressing myself to those that I love to generally be difficult, so (since I cannot bring myself to tell them how I feel) I will just spew it here to a bunch of (mostly) strangers. My apologies...it just had to be done. Also, it highlights the reason that I am so keen on this poem (and this collection, which is excellent as a whole).

    As I sat at my desk on Monday evening engaging myself with

    and the internet in varying doses, I received a call from an old friend. This call informed me that our yearly pattern had not ceased its locomotion: another friend had taken his life; another spastic, trouble-making, genuine, crass, rambunctious, unique, ever-smiling, glorious, damaged person had rippled the rivers with what we didn't know about his insides. Like those before him, the type of person that no one forgets, even after a very brief encounter. Those who demanded too much of you; their presence called for your eyes, their voice your ears, and their memory a sturdy bedroll in your cranium. People who will be missed by many, and, oddly enough, exactly the sort of people with the type of pain, obstacles, self-doubts, self-deprecating rants, and self-destructive tendencies that

    addresses. The wonderful and wounded. Or rather, the wonderfully wounded. You are all familiar with the intro, but it begs repeating for the sake of this dedication:

    I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by

    madness, starving hysterical naked,

    dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn

    looking for an angry fix,

    angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly

    connection to the starry dynamo in the machin-

    ery of night,

    who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat

    up smoking in the supernatural darkness of

    cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities

    contemplating jazz,

    who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and

    saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene-

    ment roofs illuminated,

    who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes

    hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy

    among the scholars of war,

    who were expelled from the academies for crazy &

    publishing obscene odes on the windows of the

    skull,

    who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burn-

    ing their money in wastebaskets and listening

    to the Terror through the wall,

    who got busted in their pubic beards returning through

    Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,

    who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in

    Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their

    torsos night after night

    with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, al-

    cohol and cock and endless balls,

    incomparable blind; streets of shuddering cloud and

    lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of

    Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the mo-

    tionless world of Time between,

    Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery

    dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops,

    storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon

    blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree

    vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brooklyn...

    Perhaps part of what made people feel so invested in and comforted by the beat movement wasn't just the hip facade, the "cool kid," rebel-without-a-cause nonsense, or even the fact that the stream-of-consciousness writing style and (often) lurid subject matter was just "weird" and "fresh." I think a part of it was also the fact that it was purifying, like how they say a fast makes you feel sick at first, and yet in the end more clean. Verbal vomit, is what I mean to get across. Maybe the notion that the cyclical, shrapnel-like thoughts of the scatterbrained, those individuals unnaturally removed from modern society (or even, sometimes, from Reality) still had a niche of people willing to listen to, and maybe even

    them in a million different and ever-changing ways, was a truly comforting thought to many of the insane and irreplaceable, no matter how good or bad they may have been at expressing themselves, and no matter how awful and isolating it may have initially felt to actually do so.

    I certainly related to Ginsberg's underbelly of people. I additionally relate to his pain at their loss. I find great tragedy in the fact that some of the most fascinating people I have ever known thought for so long and so hard that they talked themselves into habits, out of love, and away from a world that endlessly appreciated them. Ginsberg felt this, too...the way that modern society chews up and spits out some of its greatest members simply because they cannot cope with its pressures, its rules and expectations, its ugliness and fright; those who left because they falsely felt that they either were unprepared to endure it, or simply didn't deserve it.

    is a poem for mourning the odd, endless ones. It carves with a jagged blade straight into the bellies of those both saintly and furious, but it is simultaneously the anti-venom for exactly the type if poison that it emits. Embrace in when the time is right (wrong). And please, be good to yourself!

  • Florencia
    Sep 21, 2013

    You will not like this. Like we use to say,

    .

    So, “Howl”. My rating is based mostly on my experience with that long poem.

    I admire any work filled with sincerity and lyrically intense lines (when found). Powerful, raw images that expose an unknown world. I understand this book's historical context and what it represented at the time; storming in with a breath of fresh air, breaking the mold and dealing with some themes and views I also agree with. Well, except for the endless refere

    You will not like this. Like we use to say,

    .

    So, “Howl”. My rating is based mostly on my experience with that long poem.

    I admire any work filled with sincerity and lyrically intense lines (when found). Powerful, raw images that expose an unknown world. I understand this book's historical context and what it represented at the time; storming in with a breath of fresh air, breaking the mold and dealing with some themes and views I also agree with. Well, except for the endless references to drug abuse and alcohol, regarded, through the years, as a source of creativity and a way to express yourself against reigning social conventions; a dangerously infantile waste of a life in some cases. Debauchery, consumption of drugs and alcohol as a statement, a sort of protest against materialism and conformity. Mindless attitudes that make you different, that keep you safely away from anything mainstream and doesn't lead you to an unbearable feeling of emptiness... Sexual liberation—being free of any dogma, any prejudice, being able to enjoy complete freedom to love—understood as sleeping with whoever crosses your street and then writing yourself an ode celebrating those actions; trying to be so different that you end up being as ordinary as any other mortal. It was their times, of course. And this is simply an opinion.

    Anyway, whereas I do appreciate the honesty and the experiences and sentiments that Ginsberg brought to these pages, I feel like many significant matters get lost in a haze of pretentiousness, self-indulgence and not an extraordinary writing (I take away the political context and there's not much to hold onto), in this particular case and from my perspective. A perspective that, needless to say, doesn't epitomize the absolute truth nor tries to. I was not expecting a bunch of puritan euphemisms and songs on a prairie, but it was simply too much and I struggled to finish the whole thing. Even though I always say to myself that literature does not have to be a source of misery so if I am not enjoying a book, I can leave it behind, I did try to finish this one because, well, it had less than 100 pages... don't be so lazy, F.

    A really short book that became too painful to finish. You can imagine. You can also say: "Two stars. Are you out of your mind? This is pure sentiment, pure poetry meant to stir your most hidden emotions." "Oh, grow up" with a Joan Rivers' kind of tone. And I will respect that. However, for me it was not and the only thing I stirred was some benevolent coffee that helped me throughout this arduous journey.

    The rest of the poems were a little less painful; nothing more. I kind of liked “Transcription of Organ Music”. Some good lines, from time to time. “America” is a decent pearl containing the essence of the Beat generation. “Song” was a nice change of pace.

    Beats and me just don't get along. I still have

    to read. I wonder...

    Nov 24, 2015

    * Also on

    .

  • Bill  Kerwin
    Jul 31, 2015

    Easy to overstimate Allen Ginsberg. Easy to underestimate him too.

    There are—if you leave out the political, religious and major historical figures—only about two dozen or so 20th century cultural icons, and Ginsberg is one of them—right up there with Einstein, Bogart, James Dean, and Marilyn Monroe. In the 60's, his face was ubiquitous, and the Ginsberg poster you picked out for yourself showed the kind of Ginsberg you aspired to be: Ginsberg in Uncle Sam hat, naked Ginsberg embracing naked Pete

    Easy to overstimate Allen Ginsberg. Easy to underestimate him too.

    There are—if you leave out the political, religious and major historical figures—only about two dozen or so 20th century cultural icons, and Ginsberg is one of them—right up there with Einstein, Bogart, James Dean, and Marilyn Monroe. In the 60's, his face was ubiquitous, and the Ginsberg poster you picked out for yourself showed the kind of Ginsberg you aspired to be: Ginsberg in Uncle Sam hat, naked Ginsberg embracing naked Peter Orlovsky, psychedelic “Moses” Ginsberg holding up two stone tablets of the Law of “Who to be Kind to,” or Ginsberg protesting in the snow and wearing a big sign that says “Pot is Fun.” He was a hipster, a hedonist and a holy man, standing up for every form of free expression you could imagine, smiling from the walls of every coffeehouse, every bookstore, every other two room apartment that you knew. And it was hard to get past all those posters and just sit down and read the poetry.

    But if you got past all that, it was still hard to separate the political from the poetic. His most famous poem "Howl" was the center of a notorious free speech fight, and many of the later poems, from “America” to “Wichita Vortex Sutra” and beyond, could not be fully understood without some knowledge of the protest movements of the time. However, if you did actually sit down and read some of his poetry--away from the context, away from the intoxicating counter-cultural atmosphere--you might begin to suspect that Ginsberg the Poetry Icon was superior to Irwin Allen Ginsberg from Newark, New Jersey, the guy who actually sat down and wrote what is often—frankly--mediocre verse.

    Part of the problem stems from the length of Ginsberg's free verse line: it is indeed a very long line, habitually a few beats longer than a dactylic hexameter. (Even when he breaks a line into W.C.Williams “triads,” it still seems to be long.) Now poets who choose such a line as their vehicle (Kit Smart, Martin Tupper, Whitman, Fearing, Jeffers, Ginsberg) come off sounding biblical and orotund in long passages which lack lyricism and are often indistinguishable from mediocre prose. (C.K. Williams--perhaps because of his narrative drive--is the notable exception here). When you add to this the fact that Ginsberg delights in improvisation, and once embraced as his model the “no revisions necessary” Kerouac prose style, it is little wonder that many of his lines fail to sing.

    But, as I said, it is easy to underestimate him too, particularly if we “just sit down and read” his poetry, divorcing it from the world of cultural influences and public performance that he loved. For example, if you sit down to read “Howl,” and it seems too ponderous, too much like the prophet Jeremiah wailing for all the pitiful beatnik dead, just stop for a minute and go download some early 50's jazz--Herbie Nichols maybe, or Lee Konitz or the MJQ—and play it quietly in the background while you stand up and recite the poem aloud to yourself—swaying a little, perhaps even snapping your fingers. You may begin to discover unexpected deposits of gentle humor, the occasional pocket of sick humor, and even a little slapstick from time to time, and also sense--knitting the four movements of this magnificent performance piece together—an overarching, self-conscious hipster irony which refuses for even one second to take Ginsberg the Prophet or Ginsberg the Poetry Icon completely seriously.

    As you probably can tell, I love “Howl.” I think it is a masterwork of American poetry, unique and irreplaceable. This collections also contains four shorter pieces almost as good: ”A Supermarket in California” (an encounter with Walt Whitman “eyeing the grocery boys”), ”America” (a love letter to the USA and a protest poem at the same time, ending with the memorable line, “America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel), “Sunflower Sutra” (a conversation with Kerouac in Frisco about a gray dead sunflower which ends with a “sermon” proclaiming that “we are all beautiful golden sunflowers inside”), and “In the Baggage Room at Greyhound,” Irwin Allen Ginsberg's farewell to a job he obviously hated.

    These five poems make up only 70% of this small 50 page collection, and the rest of the poems included here I don't think are worth reading at all. (But then I didn't experiment with jazz in the background. So I just might be underestimating Ginsberg once again.)

  • Pauline
    Oct 22, 2015

    My god.

    Reading Howl was like getting stuck for an hour in the brain of a rebellious, pubescent, sexist loudmouth. Between every sentence transpires the hubris of being THE NEW POET, and of being A COOL OUTCAST, and a member of that little BOYS CLUB Ginsberg brings up again and again although it weakens his writing every time.

    There's a faint, insufferable music of puerility behind it all : most notably when Ginsberg brings up constantly the names of his famous friends, brings down women and (ew!

    My god.

    Reading Howl was like getting stuck for an hour in the brain of a rebellious, pubescent, sexist loudmouth. Between every sentence transpires the hubris of being THE NEW POET, and of being A COOL OUTCAST, and a member of that little BOYS CLUB Ginsberg brings up again and again although it weakens his writing every time.

    There's a faint, insufferable music of puerility behind it all : most notably when Ginsberg brings up constantly the names of his famous friends, brings down women and (ew!) vaginas, and of course relapses into phallic metaphors every two pages.

    Love-child of an angsty teen, a 1950's jock and a wannabe anarchist, the book is always on the verge of being good, always grazing brilliance for a word or two, for a verse or two, and then back to complacent, biographical, drunken mediocrity.

    I heard so much about his poetry. I heard so much about the Beats Generation. My bookstore has a special, swagger section just for them pretty boys, you know. The more I read them though, the more I see how terribly overrated they are, just as a bunch of privileged bullies would be in a common high school.

    For a reason I cannot begin to fathom, they just kept up the illusion going in the literary community instead of peaking at 17.

    I don't see what Ginsberg brings to the table; what he invented, what he created with this; I don't see, read, feel the HOWL he's trying (is he even trying?) to express.

  • Thomas
    Jan 22, 2016

    I feel similar ways about Allen Ginsberg and Adele. While I appreciate the skill behind both of their work, I find both of their material overwrought, contrary to popular opinion. Yes, I see how Ginsberg's poetry revolted against oppressive forces and mainstream, heteronormative America. Its lack of style and nuance still frustrates me. Props to him for lending fire to a revolution that uplifted marginalized voices, even if I myself find his writing unfulfilling and too frantic, despite the posi

    I feel similar ways about Allen Ginsberg and Adele. While I appreciate the skill behind both of their work, I find both of their material overwrought, contrary to popular opinion. Yes, I see how Ginsberg's poetry revolted against oppressive forces and mainstream, heteronormative America. Its lack of style and nuance still frustrates me. Props to him for lending fire to a revolution that uplifted marginalized voices, even if I myself find his writing unfulfilling and too frantic, despite the positive impact of its shock value.

  • Steven  Godin
    Aug 02, 2016

    Nothing like a bit of controversy to keep the establishment ticking over, and in "Howl" it's easy to see why as this was seen as a shocking and powerful piece of obscenity in the eyes of some, but for many more it's viewed as a celebrated manifesto of great importance for the beat Generation of the 1950s that helped to stick a big fat middle finger up to sexual repression and capitalism. This is a vital collection of Ginsberg's work that will always stand the test of time.

  • Scarlet Cameo
    Sep 19, 2016

    Me pregunto ¿Quién no habrá leído las primeras líneas de “Aullido”? Un poema que influenció ampliamente la poesía norteamericana del siglo XXI, creado y disfrutado más recitado que leído , pero que sobre todas las co

    Me pregunto ¿Quién no habrá leído las primeras líneas de “Aullido”? Un poema que influenció ampliamente la poesía norteamericana del siglo XXI, creado y disfrutado más recitado que leído , pero que sobre todas las cosas es tremendamente egoísta y socialmente masiva. Para Allen todo se trata de su círculo, de aquellos con los que convivió y cuáles fueron sus experiencias, se alejó de la rítmica y se enfocó en el sentimiento, y es por ello que terminó marcando una época por la sensación de desazón que desprenden sus versos, de que el mundo te ha traicionado, pero que al final te da esperanza.

    Dividido en cuatro partes, las tres primeras son sucias, apasionadas y tristes, la última sección lo deja claro: no están solos. Sin importar si están en el psiquiátrico o en las abandonas calles de la ciudad, en la locura o en la drogadicción se tienen a ellos mismos y su libertad para ser, hablar y estar.

    Para mi Aullido es un poema directo y maravilloso, que muestra a los marginados y a los olvidados como sólo otro individuo marginado podría haberlo hecho.

    ...

    Quien hayan leído algo acerca de Ginsberg sabe de la gran influencia que tuvo Walt Whitman sobre él, y este poema puede ser tanto una oda a su persona como una visión de la sociedad común, de las situaciones del día a día, y dela transformación del mundo para bien o para mal.

    Este es especial. Personalmente creo que junto con Aullido fue mi favorito. Es una conversación directa con América, donde Allen expone su sensación de traición, de desasosiego, de haber dado y no recibir nada a cambio. Conforme leía mi cabeza no deja de pensar en

    de Bruce Springsteen, ambas tienen ese mismo mensaje expresado desde la singularidad a la colectividad, sólo que aquí no hay música audible que nos haga omitir la letra, aquí todo es directo.

    Otros poemas de la colección son Transcripción de música de organo,Sutra de girasol y En la consigna de Greyhound. Todos ellos son buenos pero carezco de notas respecto a ellos debido a que los leí mientras iba de pie en el metro a las 8 de la mañana, por tanto no puedo reseñarlos de manera correcta sin que se me mezclen los mensajes de cada uno.

    Esta colección incluye además algunos primeros poemas los cuales difieren considerablemente respecto a los anteriores por su estructura: aquí se mantiene la rítmica clásica, la longitudes más corta y hay un mayor uso del sentido figurado, no obstante el sentimiento triste y perdido esinamovible.

    Al final esta es una colección que merece ser leída (al menos por Howl y America), ya sea que te guste o no la poesía, porque el trabajo de Ginsberg es distinto de la poesía clásica, más cercano a una buena conversación que a un compilado de versos que disfrutar en tu soledad.

  • sweet jane
    Oct 02, 2016

    Τα λόγια είναι πολύ μικρά για να χαρακτηρίσουν το έργο του Γκίνσμπεργκ, αλλά είναι αρκετά για να επαινέσουν την εισαγωγή, την μετάφραση και τον σχολιασμό αυτής της έκδοσης. Ο Γιώργος Μπλάνας μας χάρισε τις πρώτες μεταφράσεις του Μπουκόφσκι, οπότε είχα ήδη επαφή με την εξαίρετη δουλειά του. Παρόλα αυτά, ο λεπτομερής και εύστο

    Τα λόγια είναι πολύ μικρά για να χαρακτηρίσουν το έργο του Γκίνσμπεργκ, αλλά είναι αρκετά για να επαινέσουν την εισαγωγή, την μετάφραση και τον σχολιασμό αυτής της έκδοσης. Ο Γιώργος Μπλάνας μας χάρισε τις πρώτες μεταφράσεις του Μπουκόφσκι, οπότε είχα ήδη επαφή με την εξαίρετη δουλειά του. Παρόλα αυτά, ο λεπτομερής και εύστοχος σχολιασμός του με βοήθησε να

    περισσότερο τις διαστάσεις του Ουρλιαχτού.

    *Έκπληξη αποτέλεσε η μετάφραση του Δημήτρη Πουλικάκου στο ποίημα

    . Ο Δημήτρης εκτός από μεγάλο μούτρο, είναι

    καλός μεταφραστής!