1957 June 3

You Can’t Read “Howl”! Publisher of Now-Classic Poem Arrested


Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and publisher of City Lights Books, and owner of City Lights Bookstore, along with Shig Murao, manager of the store, was arrested on obscenity charges for publishing Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl. Ginsberg was not arrested. Ferlinghetti and Murao were acquitted on October 3, 1957, in a great victory for freedom of expression.

Howl is now regarded as one of the great American poems, and the classic statement of the 1950s Beat Generation. City Lights Bookstore was designated a landmark in San Francisco in August 2001.

Read about the case: Bill Morgan, Howl on Trial: The Battle for Free Expression (2006)

Hear Ginsberg reading his famous poem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkNp56UZax4

Visit City Lights Books in San Francisco: 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco: http://www.citylights.com/

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

Read: Fredrick S. Lane, Decency Wars: The Campaign to Cleanse American Culture (2006)

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