1957 October 3

You Can Read “Howl”– Publisher Acquitted of Obscenity Charges

 

Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Shigeyoshi Murao were acquitted of obscenity charges in San Francisco on this day for having published Allen Ginsberg’s now-famous poem, Howl.  The poem is now widely regarded as one of the great American poems, and also the classic statement of the 1950s Beat Generation. Ferlinghetti was the publisher of the poem and also the founder/owner of City Lights Books store, a now famous independent book store in San Francisco. Murau was his assistant. They had been arrested on June 3, 1957 for publishing the poem.

Ginsburg first read Howl publicly on October 6, 1955. And on March 25, 1957 U.S. Customs seized copies of the poem that had been printed in England and were being imported into the U.S.

The City Lights Bookstore is still selling books in San Francisco, and has been designated a historical landmark in the city. Ferlinghetti, moreover, is himself an acclaimed Beat Generation poet.

Hear Ginsberg reading Howl: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVGoY9gom50

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

Visit City Lights Bookstore: http://www.citylights.com/

Read about the case: J. W. Ehrlich, Howl of the Censor (1961)

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

See Ferlinghetti with his attorney, Lawrence Speiser of the ACLU of Northern California: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wtafsite/3976576112/

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