Monday, July 09, 2007

Howl at Fifty

Another occasion to celebrate- Allen Ginsberg's poem Howl was tried for obsenity fifty years ago. One of the best-known American poems, Howl is a stunning achievement, still, and worth hearing a recording of, if possible. My favorite Ginsberg poem, and one that absolutely has to be heard in recording as it was sung, is Kaddish. The beat mystique can be a bit overdone, but Ginsberg was an American treasure, an ecstatic queer saint. On the occasion of Ginsberg's passing, Kurt Vonnegut wrote: "Let us be frank, and admit that the greatest poetry satisfies few deep appetites in modern times. But the appearance in our industrialized midst of a man without guile or political goals or congregation, who was doing his utmost to become wise and holy, was for many of us a surprising, anachronistic feast for our souls."

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