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Howl and Other Poems (City Lights Pocket Poets, No. 4) Paperback – January 1, 2001

149 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0872860179 ISBN-10: 0872860175 Edition: Reissue

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Editorial Reviews Review

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 so many social taboos that copies were impounded as obscene, and the publisher, poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, was 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 become 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". --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Lately, Ginsberg hasn't always been in top form, but "Howl" remains a masterpiece. White Shroud is the best of his later works.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Pocket Poet Series, Number Four (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 57 pages
  • Publisher: City Lights Publishers; Reissue edition (January 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872860175
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872860179
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.2 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (149 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,160 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Allen Ginsberg was born in 1926 in Newark, New Jersey, a son of Naomi Ginsberg and lyric poet Louis Ginsberg. In 1956 he published his signal poem, Howl, one of the most widely read and translated poems of the century. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, awarded the medal of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French minister of culture in 1993, and co-founder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa Institute, the first accredited Buddhist college in the Western world, Allen Ginsberg died on April 5, 1997.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

155 of 177 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Ellis on October 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of self-appointed critics who, in order to try to convince others of their own individuality and intellectual honesty, feel the need to let everyone know that they consider Ginsberg (and every other so-called "Beat" for that matter) to be an overrated hack and more of a celebrity than a poet and blah, blah, blah, blah. It is true that Ginsberg's style has been imitated by far too many lesser poets who, obviously, don't posess anything close to the man's talent and it is also true that there's an equal number of people who claim to love Ginsberg but have never actually bothered to sit down and really read anything beyond the first page of "Howl." Inetivably, one wishes that all of these presumed literary critics (regardless of where they stand) would just shut up, read the poems for themselves, and form their own opinions regardless of what the current trend is. For if they did, they would discover a very talented poet who, even if he occasionally seemed to be repeating and parodying himself as he got older, still created some of the strongest American poetry of the latter 20th Century. While Kaddish remains his strongest work of poetry, his much more famous poem "Howl" still carries more of a raw, exhilirating anger. Written to be read aloud, Howl is basically a cry against the conformity of 1950s America but the anger found within still reverberates almost half a century later. Certainly, his vision of a drug-abusing community of outcasts wandering along darkened city streets remains as relavent as ever. Like any apocalyptic poem, it can be credibly charges that at times, Howl is superficial and there's not much beyond shocking images.Read more ›
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By OAKSHAMAN VINE VOICE on June 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
I reread this little book before attempting to review it. I remembered that it was a mad mantra of transcendent power from the heart of hell, but I didn't remember how nondated it was. This work is fresher and more relevant than 99% of what passes for poetry today. How can something last nearly 50 years without going stale or becoming trite? How can it be even more real now? Maybe it is because Ginsberg ripped it live, screaming, and bleeding from a place beyond time and beyond space. He tore it from the living bowels of MOLOCH itself and showed it to HIM. After all, what does divine madness know of time?
This poem is transcendence itself. It demonstrates that when you plunge into the deepest pit of hell it either kills you, or perhaps it burns out your insides so that you become a soulless zombie, OR you transcend it and rise howling to become a Mad Poet Saint who can truely encompass the Sacred in the Profane.
Read this poem, and the others like America, A Supermarket in California, Sunflower Sutra, Wild Orphan, and In Back of the Real. It's almost frightening how relevant to daily life it is. If you didn't know it, you would never guess that it was written in the 50's. Of course Ginsberg does invoke, holy eternity in time holy the clocks in space the fourth dimension, in the Footnote. Maybe that's why it's timeless. As Cassady used to say, we know time, yes, we know time....
I wish I would have been there for that first public reading in San Fran with Kerouac running around the audience passing the wine jug. On all the planes, the Gods themselves must have jumped back in shock as a flaming monkeywrench of living poetry was jammed through the spokes of the great quivering meat wheel of conception....
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By PunkItUp on January 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is totally amazing. I have read a lot of Ginsberg's work and I love it all. I am only 14 and I don't get why people think this is so inapropriate! I mean sure, it can get racey at times and maybe for some people it could be too much but it is art! Art is beautiful so why does profanity matter if it is written in an elegant way. And he isn't just swearing for fun, Ginsberg and all his peers were trying to get a message across. That message is a good one, one we should all pay a little more attention to because it applies just as much to today as it did back then in the 50's. The Beat style of writing is inspiring and beautiful, the way the words flow on the page and the rhythm to it all. This collection of poems totally rocks, from his classic and most famous poem Howl, to his firery America, and the wonderful Sunflower Sutra. When I was first introduced to the Beat generation work I thought, oh, okay, this looks sorta interesting... but as soon as I started reading I became utterly imersed. Because of the work of poets like Ginsberg I have been inspired. These writings are what made me want to become a writter and a poet when I am older. Ginsberg was right when he said, "Poet is Priest."

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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 27, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book changed my life.
In my sophmore year of high school, my English teacher read "America," a vicious commentary on tha views of the majority in this country contained in this book, to my class.
I didn't think about this peom again until senior year (though it had stunned my fellow classmates and I). Picking this great pocket edition up at my local bookstore, I had no way of realizing what kind of effect it would have on me.
This book is full of some of Ginsberg's most classic works. His unorthodox style bleeds through the poems whether they are shorter, narrative odes to important figures in his life or sprawling, staggering, frenetic pieces which pull the extremes of life itself into the lines.
Because of this book I am now persuing poetry in college.
This should be required reading for Life in general.
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Howl and Other Poems (City Lights Pocket Poets, No. 4)
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