Monday, June 3, 2013

Happy birthday, poet Allen Ginsberg

It is the birthday of Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg (1926), who is best remembered for his epic poem, Howl (1956), an extended criticism of conformity and capitalism in the United States. It became a central subject in a celebrated obscenity trial in 1957 for its frank depiction of heterosexual and homosexual sex acts. However, a judge ruled that the work was not obscene. The work contains stories about Ginsberg's friends, including Neal Cassady , Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Peter Orlovsky, Lucien Carr, Herbert Huncke, and Carl Solomon. It was first presented publicly on October 5, 1955 at a reading at the Six Gallery in San Francisco, leaving the audience in awe. City Lights Bookstore owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti subsequently published the poem along with several others in a volume called Howl and Other Poems (1956).

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