1955 October 6

Allen Ginsberg Reads “Howl” for the First Time


American poet Allen Ginsburg gave his initial reading of the famous poem Howl at the Six Gallery, in San Francisco on this day. The poem, a classic statement of the Beat Generation, is now regarded as one of the most important poems in American history. When first published, however, it was censored. Copies of the poem, printed in England, were seized by U.S. Customs on March 25, 1957. Then, the publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti and his assistant were arrested on obscenity charges in San Francisco (June 3, 1957). They were acquitted on October 3, 1957.

Ginsburg first read Howl publicly on October 6, 1955.

Ferlinghetti, himself a noted Beat Generation poet, was the founder and owner of City Lights Books, now a San Francisco landmark.

See and hear Ginsberg read Howl: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVGoY9gom50

If you are in San Francisco, be sure to visit City Lights Books: http://citylights.com/

Learn more about the great poet: Bill Morgan, I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg (2006)

Visit the Beat Museum in San Francisco: http://www.kerouac.com/

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