Apr 19, 11
Read in April, 2011
"I have seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked"
Yeah, well, so have I. I just didn't feel compelled to write about it.
Whilst waiting for Middlemarch to arrive I sought out a slim volume from the bookshelf and rediscovered a "pocket poets" edition of Ginsberg's classic that Tom had bought for me from City Lights bookstore in San Franscisco in 2003, still with a charming letter tucked in the jacket.
I'm not normally much of a poetry fan, and generally find the format constraining, but re-reading Howl hit me between the eyes and in the stomach as much as it did the first time. The raw honesty of the writing, the turns of phrase ("cold-water flats" and "unshaven rooms") and outright filth ("with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls") make it easy to see why this book tested the Californian police for so long.
"A Supermarket in California" ("Who killed the pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?") "America" and "Transcription of Organ Music" continue the angst-ridden diatribe, tinged with beautiful optimism ("And the Creator gave me a shot of his presence to gratify my wish, so as not to cheat me of my yearning for him")
Reading Howl takes not much longer than writing this review, and brings the timeless beat sensitivity vividly to life. Put a poet in your pocket today.