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The Poem That Changed America: "Howl" Fifty Years Later Hardcover – March 21, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

If the opening lines of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" aren't seared into your brain, they will be by the end of this collection of 26 essays compiled by Shinder, a poet (Among Women) who learned much of his craft as Ginsberg's pupil. It's a shame the poem isn't included, though it feels as if it's quoted in its entirety at various points (the hardcover edition does come with a Ginsberg reading on CD). This collection juxtaposes reflections by writers such as Rick Moody and Andrei Codrescu about the impact of "Howl' on their lives; Billy Collins writes, "...it wasn't a waste of time for a Catholic high school boy from the suburbs to try to sound in his poems like a downtown homosexual Jewish beatnik." Robert Pinsky writes that he was initially elated by the poem's linguistic freedom even more than by its raw emotion. Though everybody gives the poem its due as an American classic, personal reactions dominate, and nearly everyone has a Ginsberg story to tell, even if it's just about being blown away by hearing him read. For those who have been moved by Ginsberg's words, this collection serves as a stirring confirmation. Photos. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

 
"THE POEM THAT CHANGED AMERICA is alive on every page. Ginsberg's "Howl" calls out to who we are at any given moment: bold, driven, tormented; ecstatic, solitary or joined in ecstasy. Ginsberg wanted us respond in our own voices, and because each writer here does, this wonderful book is more than a tribute -- it's a collaboration with the poet himself." —Margo Jefferson, cultural critic

"An absolutely indispensable revelation of how the best minds of succeeding generations considered "Howl." Let's hope that this book too might change America." —Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (March 21, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374173435
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374173432
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #547,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Lindsey Owen on April 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Greil Marcus's review in The New York Times Book Review says it so well: this book is TIRESOME. Most of the contributors seem so in love with their own voices that they don't even listen to Ginsberg's. I found no new critical insights here, but plenty of posturings by the same cronies Shinder features in his other collections. The book will appeal to the same 2,000 (if that) readers who think Sven Birkerts and Carol Muske Dukes are good writers, all evidence to the contrary. It's fun to imagine Ginsberg himself reacting to the egregious bathos collected in this book; he had a low tolerance for phonies, particularly poets intent on nothing but self-promotion.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By BookPhair on March 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The complete poem is in fact included.
A 1956 mimeographed copy follows the intro and preceeds the collection of essays.
It also includes a 32 minute CD of Allen Ginsbergs March 18, 1956 "Howl" public reading.
This is a fine collection of essays from a wide variety of authors/artist that have been influenced by this poem.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Katie Dozier on November 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is full of poorly written essays backed only by the authors' direct ties to the beat generation.

Instead, buy this book ("Howl: Original Draft Facsimile, Transcript, and Variant Versions, Fully Annotated by Author..."), which is cheaper and very very interesting to those fascinated by Howl and Ginsberg, or even just the poetic process.

"Howl Fifty years later" was a great disapointment for me.
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By francis lemfield on December 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book. As I read it, in section after section I again realized how liberating the poem was. Like Marge Piercy, I was confronted by narrow minds who had no idea what poetry could be. I. though, was younger than she, and it took me a while to see the truth while her liberation through "Howl" happened immediately. To me reading this book is like looking at photographs of a wonderful vacation and savoring the joy and delight again.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Margot on April 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
The sad truth is that the "praise" this book offers is never very interesting.

Sorry. Love Ginsberg, hate po-biz.
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