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Howl and Other Poems

4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  67,825 Ratings  ·  1,099 Reviews
The prophetic poem that launched a generation when it was first published in 1965 is here presented in a commemorative fortieth Anniversary Edition.

When the book arrived from its British printers, it was seized almost immediately by U.S. Customs, and shortly thereafter the San Francisco police arrested its publisher and editor, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, together with City Lig
...more
Hardcover, 56 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by City Lights (first published 1956)
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The Complete Poems by Emily DickinsonLeaves of Grass by Walt WhitmanShakespeare's Sonnets by William ShakespeareThe Waste Land and Other Poems by T.S. EliotAriel by Sylvia Plath
Best Poetry Books
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317th out of 6,652 books — 44,875 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Bill  Kerwin
Aug 13, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry

Easy to overstimate Allen Ginsberg. Easy to underestimate him too.

There are—if you leave out the political, religious and major historical figures—only about two dozen or so 20th century cultural icons, and Ginsberg is one of them—right up there with Einstein, Bogart, James Dean, and Marilyn Monroe. In the 60's, his face was ubiquitous, and the Ginsberg poster you picked out for yourself showed the kind of Ginsberg you aspired to be: Ginsberg in Uncle Sam hat, naked Ginsberg embracing naked Pete
...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Jul 04, 2011 Paquita Maria Sanchez rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays-n-poems
Preface: Though I enjoyed this book as a whole, the focus this evening will be on Howl. Why this one alone? Simply put, I am writing these jumbled thoughts as a dedication to a friend. Rather, I am dedicating this to a cluster of friends, each of whom have chosen, in one form or another, to leave this earthly plain and shatter vehemently into oblivion. Suffice it to say that this series of words and interpretations will be highly personal, and therefore guided by inflated emotions which have for ...more
R.
Jul 16, 2007 R. rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1974-2002
Allen Ginsberg, a sad and lonely man, wrote this to impress Kerouac, another sad and lonely man.

Over the years, a lot of sad and lonely people haven't gotten over the how much that first fucking line resonates with them.

The whole best minds/generation/destroyed/madness line.

Ten years ago, this was a 5-star poem. Ten years from now, it will be a 3-star poem.

That's just called growing up, folks.

Florencia
Nov 28, 2015 Florencia rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
You will not like this. Like we use to say, vengan de a uno.

So, “Howl”. My rating is based mostly on my experience with that long poem.
I admire any work filled with sincerity and lyrically intense lines (when found). Powerful, raw images that expose an unknown world. I understand this book's historical context and what it represented at the time; storming in with a breath of fresh air, breaking the mold and dealing with some themes and views I also agree with. Well, except for the endless refere
...more
Brent Legault
Nov 23, 2010 Brent Legault rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: the angelheaded, the negrostreeted
Muddled, addled and overrated. In fact, any rating, even a single star or half-moon, is too much for this amateur-hour of a "poem." It might have played well when shouted out to a roomful of arrogant drunks, but on the page it droops, it teeters under the weight of all of those ungainly adjectivies and finally collapses in a fog of its own flatulance. I saw the best minds of my generation ignore this long, long limerick. Now, only nostalgists and know-naughts still cling to its pages of ill-repu ...more
Thomas
May 09, 2016 Thomas rated it it was ok
I feel similar ways about Allen Ginsberg and Adele. While I appreciate the skill behind both of their work, I find both of their material overwrought, contrary to popular opinion. Yes, I see how Ginsberg's poetry revolted against oppressive forces and mainstream, heteronormative America. Its lack of style and nuance still frustrates me. Props to him for lending fire to a revolution that uplifted marginalized voices, even if I myself find his writing unfulfilling and too frantic, despite the posi ...more
Pauline
Jul 16, 2016 Pauline rated it did not like it
My god.

Reading Howl was like getting stuck for an hour in the brain of a rebellious, pubescent, sexist loudmouth. Between every sentence transpires the hubris of being THE NEW POET, and of being A COOL OUTCAST, and a member of that little BOYS CLUB Ginsberg brings up again and again although it weakens his writing every time.

There's a faint, insufferable music of puerility behind it all : most notably when Ginsberg brings up constantly the names of his famous friends, brings down women and (ew!
...more
Duane
Considered a masterpiece of the "beat generation" writers, it reads like the jumbled rambling of a drug crazed alcoholic, preoccupied with sex and spiritual enlightenment, while battling mental instability and depression. But I "get it", and I appreciate the significance of it's contribution to the history of the hipster generation, and how they and their writing influenced the culture of the 20th century.
Robert Hobkirk
Dec 17, 2015 Robert Hobkirk rated it it was amazing
Ginsberg spent years, hunched over his typewriter, working at poetry, sending out poems with little validation for his talent from the gatekeepers of poetry, poetry magazines and literary journals. Then around 1956 City Lights published this little, very little book Howl. A year later Ginsberg got lucky when a plain-clothes SF cop came into the City Lights book Store and bought a copy of Howl, arresting the store manager and subsequently the publisher for dealing in obscene material. Bingo! With ...more
Alfred Bates
Sep 24, 2009 Alfred Bates rated it it was ok
Allen Ginsberg typifies the beat generation. Basically, a large amount of stoned/drunk pretentious hipsters who claimed they hated hipsters. And without much writing skill at that. The only exception to this is Jack Kerouac, who was actually a good writer, and did claim numerous times that he was not a beat. That being said, Howl is one of the longest, most terrible pieces of rubbish I've read in a long time. This deserves less than one star. I must admit, he does manage to incorporate a fair am ...more
Stephen M
Jan 21, 2011 Stephen M rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: poetry
"who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia,

returning years later truly bald except for a wig of blood, and tears and fingers, to the visible madman doom of the wards of the madtowns of the East,

Pilgrim State's Rockland's and Greystone's foetid halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul, rocking and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a nightmare, bodies turned to stone as heavy as the moon,

with mot
...more
Lexie
Feb 01, 2016 Lexie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lexie by: Rory Gilmore
TBR jar pick for January 2016

It's easy to underestimate the Beats now, in this era (of which the better parts, one might argue, they helped bring about). It's easy to dismiss it all as "attempting to shock" and "deliberately aggressive/anarchist/lewd/[whichever other titles have been slapped on this collection over the years]". They're Holden Caulfield, they're Jim Stark, they're Don Quixote tilting at windmills.

But the truth is that the Beats, that Allen Ginsberg, that Howl, was revolutionary a
...more
jo
Jul 21, 2008 jo rated it it was amazing
ah, ranty rants and beautiful language and a deep deep sense of the long poetic sentence. and madness writ large. and industrial dissolution. and that wasteland that is america.
Glire
Many say that this is nothing more than an overrated, incomprehensible bunch of words about sex, alcohol and drugs. And they are right. But poetry is not about words, it's about the feeling they are capable of evoke. And Howl evoke a lot of feelings, at least for me. The eternal search of the meaning of life, the conflicted relation between the fear and mystification of death, the wonders and terrors of growing old.
“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysteric
...more
Daniel Inacio
Vibrante e impulsionante. Que mais dizer? Possivelmente muito.

A edição bilingue da Relógio D'Água motivou-me a ler Uivo e Outros Poemas; nunca antes tinha lido um livro de poesia não lusófona. No fim tem ainda uma secção de notas que elucida sobre factos biográficos, históricos, geográficos, etc, importantes para a compreensão da obra.
[Name Redacted]
Feb 05, 2015 [Name Redacted] rated it did not like it
I have a problem with Allen Ginsberg.

It goes beyond how overrated I think he is, how mediocre his poetry seems to me. The titular poem of this volume in particular.

It goes beyond his adolescent fixation on the prurient and the vulgar.

See, I know for a fact that he was a pedophile.

I studied under one of his friends, someone who admitted that Ginsberg was sexually attracted to little boys -- to the extent that Ginsberg's friends all refused to let the poet be alone (or, in some cases, even aroun
...more
Laura Leaney
Jan 15, 2014 Laura Leaney rated it liked it
I just finished reading an essay about Ginsberg's "Howl," paused to reflect and decided to re-read the poem - as well as the others included in this little book. I like them. They're honest, saturated in Ginsberg's heart-wounds and the social concerns of the post-war generation (which, unbelievably, aren't now all that different from 1954). Reading "Howl" is a little bit like getting dragged into the underbelly of New York by one's peter pan collar and being forced to meet the "angelheaded" and ...more
Steven
Aug 05, 2016 Steven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american, poetry
Nothing like a bit of controversy to keep the establishment ticking over, and in "Howl" it's easy to see why as this was seen as a shocking and powerful piece of obscenity in the eyes of some, but for many more it's viewed as a celebrated manifesto of great importance for the beat Generation of the 1950s that helped to stick a big fat middle finger up to sexual repression and capitalism. This is a vital collection of Ginsberg's work that will always stand the test of time.
Matthew
Oct 28, 2015 Matthew rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Disclaimer: Do not read the edition of Howl illustrated by Eric Drooker.
Drooker may have collaborated with Ginsberg on
Illuminated Poems, but he's also responsible for the unspeakably bad animated sequences in the unwatchable Ginsberg biopic Howl .
(Notice the description advertises that Howl is "Now a Major Motion Picture", as if this is something to brag about.)
In fact, the illustrations from this edition of Howl look like screenshots from film.
Read this edition instead. Or this editi
...more
the mad hatter
Sep 08, 2012 the mad hatter rated it it was amazing
Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl" was probably the dividing line between two Americas, two generations, two sexualities, two cultures. He was of course indicted and arrested and this poem barred from publication - of course again making it sell a lot more copies eventually - but in a way he was America's first great modern poet. The first line became a sort of countercultural national mantra:

"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked"

"Howl" presents a view
...more
Milo
Jul 19, 2011 Milo marked it as to-read
Shelves: poetry
The United States Supreme Court has said that obscenity is construed to mean: having a substantial tendency to corrupt or arousing lustful desires. Is the word relevant to what the author of Howl is trying to say? Or did he just use it to be dirty and filthy. He sees what he terms as
"an adonis of Denver. Joy to the memory of his innumerable conquests. Who went whoring through Colorado in myriad, stolen night cars. Neil Cassidy, secret hero of this poem, cocksman and adonis of Denver. Joy to the
...more
Black Elephants
Feb 17, 2009 Black Elephants rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
While trying to be more serious on the subject of any kind of literature that I happen to read (per a discussion with a friend), I found myself in Borders, browsing in the poetry section. Generally, I don't bother with bookstore poetry sections. They tend to be filled with "best poetry" anthologies, volumes of Dickinson, Frost and a handful of other great poets, and that's it. I don't have a problem with any of that, it's just that there's not a lot of variety, and I don't believe poetry can rea ...more
Minyoung Lee
Nov 11, 2012 Minyoung Lee rated it really liked it
Perhaps it was fate that brought me to this random hotel room in San Francisco, that happened to have a copy of Howl on the bedside table, in lieu of a Bible. And it was definitely fate that compelled to read this collection of poetry out loud, despite being tired and droopy eyed from the airplane that surely lives off passengers' livelihoods. I am glad that fate let me meet this collection of poetry and I am ashamed that I have not known this until now.

As a foreigner with very slim knowledge of
...more
James
May 11, 2016 James rated it it was amazing
Shelves: verse, beat-lit
The weight of the world
is love.
Under the burden
of solitude,
under the burden
of dissatisfaction

the weight,
the weight we carry,
is love.

Who can deny?
In dreams
it touches
the body,
in thought
constructs
a miracle,
in imagination
anguishes
till born
in human--
looks out of the heart
burning with purity--
for the burden of life
is love,

but we carry the weight
wearily,
and so must rest
in the arms of love
at last,
must rest in the arms
of love.
Nick
Mar 02, 2015 Nick rated it liked it
Tell me comparing your life as the son of two artists in a self-imposed sexed-up exile from the most affluent society on earth to that of a Holocaust victim isn't exorbitantly self-absorbed.

Now tell me this isn't a great line:

"in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea-journey on the highway across America in tears to the door of my cottage in the Western night"

Ginsberg borrows the repetitive syntax of ancient poetry and cryptically personal references to mythologize his yawp, unaware that Voic
...more
Tiffany
Jan 28, 2014 Tiffany rated it it was amazing
Today, I reread this book to teach it in my English 343 class. During lunch, I chatted up a first-year student about the book--she'd not read it nor heard of it, but emerged, out of my brief description, ready to cross the path to the bookstore and pick up her copy to read in her (all too brief) leisure time. On the way back to the office, I passed one of my students in the class, and asked him, "Excited about Howl tomorrow?" No, he told me. I don't really like the Beats. I kinda got over them i ...more
shana naomi
Jun 20, 2007 shana naomi rated it it was amazing
Wiki just taught me this:

The poem's ending is also highly optimistic, a promise to put his "queer shoulder to the wheel," although the original draft ended on a bleaker note: "Dark America! toward whom I close my eyes for prophecy, / and bend my speaking heart! / Betrayed! Betrayed!"


Which only makes me more excited about my long-ago decision to get "america I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel" inked on myself (today!). it's strangely reassuring to know that even in the middle of that dis
...more
Clark Phillips
Jun 21, 2009 Clark Phillips rated it did not like it
I really wish I could give this piece of garbage less than zero stars. Unfortunately, 1 star will have to suffice. I don't really care what other poems are included in this book, the main offense is "Howl," a complete and utter waste of time. Supposedly one of the Beat Generation's greatest contribution to American literature, I believe the poem should have been renamed "Yawn." The poem itself is incomprehensible. I understand that the poem is MEANT to be incomprehensible, but behind this, there ...more
E. Chainey (Bookowski)
Aug 01, 2015 E. Chainey (Bookowski) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbt, Şiir, 2015-tr-books
Tekrar okunmalı!

Kapitalizme, Emperyalizme, Savaşa, Heteroseksizme, Tektipçiliğe karşı "kafası güzel" bir duruş!

***
Molok! Yalnızlık! Pislik! Çirkinlik! Külkovaları ve elde edilemez dolarlar! Merdiven diplerinde çocuk çığlıkları! ordularda hıçkırarak ağlayan oğlançocukları! Parklarda gözüyaşlı ihtiyar adamlar!

Molok! Molok! Kabus Molok! sevgisiz Molok! Zihinsel Molok! Molok ezici yargıcı insanların!

Molok akıl almaz zindan! Molok kurukafa bayrağı çekilmiş ruhsuz hapishane ve elemlerin kurultayı! Yap
...more
Hadrian
Apr 29, 2011 Hadrian rated it liked it
Shelves: american, poetry
I might have considered this 'raw and intense' once upon a time. But now I am increasingly starting to think that manufactured drama and phony rebellions and the whole era of the 1950s-60s are becoming as banal and useless as the materialistic society it hates. What is to be done.
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Howl the Movie 7 50 Sep 21, 2014 03:59AM  
The Fiftieth Anniversay of Howl 12 76 Sep 21, 2012 04:58PM  
Banned Books Club : April's Book 4 36 Apr 04, 2012 04:14AM  
  • A Coney Island of the Mind
  • Lunch Poems
  • The Portable Beat Reader
  • Pomes All Sizes
  • Selected Poems
  • Gasoline & The Vestal Lady on Brattle
  • Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems
  • The Collected Poems
  • A Season in Hell/The Drunken Boat
  • Diving Into the Wreck
  • The Branch Will Not Break
  • Selected Poems
  • The Country Between Us
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Irwin Allen Ginsberg was the son of Louis and Naomi Ginsberg, two Jewish members of the New York literary counter-culture of the 1920s. Ginsberg was raised among several progressive political perspectives. A supporter of the Communist party, Ginsberg's mother was a nudist whose mental health was a concern throughout the poet's childhood. According to biographer Barry Miles, "Naomi's illness gave A ...more
More about Allen Ginsberg...

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“Everything is holy! everybody's holy! everywhere is holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman's an angel!” 182 likes
“Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!
Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!
The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy!
The nose is holy! The tongue and cock and hand
and asshole holy!
Everything is holy! everybody's holy! everywhere is
holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman's an
angel!
The bum's as holy as the seraphim! the madman is
holy as you my soul are holy!
The typewriter is holy the poem is holy the voice is
holy the hearers are holy the ecstasy is holy!
Holy Peter holy Allen holy Solomon holy Lucien holy
Kerouac holy Huncke holy Burroughs holy Cas-
sady holy the unknown buggered and suffering
beggars holy the hideous human angels!
Holy my mother in the insane asylum! Holy the cocks
of the grandfathers of Kansas!
Holy the groaning saxophone! Holy the bop
apocalypse! Holy the jazzbands marijuana
hipsters peace & junk & drums!
Holy the solitudes of skyscrapers and pavements! Holy
the cafeterias filled with the millions! Holy the
mysterious rivers of tears under the streets!
Holy the lone juggernaut! Holy the vast lamb of the
middle class! Holy the crazy shepherds of rebell-
ion! Who digs Los Angeles IS Los Angeles!
Holy New York Holy San Francisco Holy Peoria &
Seattle Holy Paris Holy Tangiers Holy Moscow
Holy Istanbul!
Holy time in eternity holy eternity in time holy the
clocks in space holy the fourth dimension holy
the fifth International holy the Angel in Moloch!
Holy the sea holy the desert holy the railroad holy the
locomotive holy the visions holy the hallucina-
tions holy the miracles holy the eyeball holy the
abyss!
Holy forgiveness! mercy! charity! faith! Holy! Ours!
bodies! suffering! magnanimity!
Holy the supernatural extra brilliant intelligent
kindness of the soul!”
161 likes
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