Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Howl” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.06  ·  Rating details ·  3,463 ratings  ·  204 reviews
Now a Major Motion Picture

First published in 1956, Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" is a prophetic masterpiece—an epic raging against dehumanizing society that overcame censorship trials and obscenity charges to become one of the most widely read poems of the century.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published August 31st 2010 by Harper Perennial
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Howl, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Howl

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,463 ratings  ·  204 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
Disclaimer: Do not read this edition of Howl.
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 that is something to brag about.)
In fact, the illustrations from this edition look like screenshots from film. I don't know which is worse, the animations or the illustrations. Suffice to say
Richard Derus
Dec 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Rating: 4.5* of five

I've shifted my 4.5-star review of this comic book, I mean graphic novel!, to my blog Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.

This is a case where the addition of pictures made a huge and positive difference to my experience of a work. If, like me, you don't want to decode words and interpret pictures because the combination is almost always less than the sum of the parts, here is an exception to the rule.

Beautiful. I understand the poem far better for having read this.

And someone plea
Elly Zupko
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
Five stars for the poem, one star for the graphics and typography. This book is patently NOT the way to read this poem. Howl is momentum; Howl is movement; Howl is a wall of words that knocks you down and ties you up. This book was full of stills plucked from an animation and breaks up the wall of words over hundreds of pages. Both choices disservice both the poem and animation. The poem ends up broken into pieces. The pictures are indistinct and poorly composed, because they were never meant to ...more
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
My first thought in reading Ginsberg’s collection is that it breaks poetical form. On the surface these are angry rambles, with very long lines (not enjambed and from the handful I counted the longest ran to 33 beats), and there is no clear rhyming pattern.

And yet, somehow, in this cocktail of fury and despair poetry is delivered in turbulent harmony.

In places, some of his poems made me think of Walt Whitman’s lilting chanting voice, but it’s a Whitman without optimism. And what stands out is th
Eldan Goldenberg
Nov 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who thinks their disaffection is remotely new.
I read the poem as a teenager, and I've gradually been getting more interested in graphic novels, so when I saw a graphic novel version--with Ginsberg's involvement, so I knew it wouldn't be a horrible hack job--in Powell's recently I couldn't resist.

The poem is just as viciously powerful as when I first read it; though I can only imagine it would have had more impact when it was published, in 1956. The only detail that marks it as in any way dated is the repeated references to typewriters. The
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The old cliche, "ignorance is bliss," has proven untrue for me. I read a graphic novel version of this and it made me hate the poem, because I didn't appreciate the graphic interpretation. My review of the graphic novel: below.

I gave this another chance, and I'm grateful I did. I read the poem here:

Ginsburg isn't showing off, as I accused him in my original, scathing review. The man pours out his feelings. His friend lies dying and he howls his words fro
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Actual rating: 3.5 stars. An excellent read. Dark, haunting, haunted, alive! Haha!
Mike McDevitt
Sep 15, 2010 rated it liked it
I have no use whatsoever for poetry unless it's set to music and called lyrics. So, really, for me, three stars out of five is a tour de force. How I got to this stage of my life without reading beat poetry is easy to explain: I quit college too early, never did drugs save booze, and I am a recluse.
Jul 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: comics-and-gns
I wasn't particularly impressed with this illustrated version. The images were stills from the animation which was created for the movie -- not really GN material. They were nice enough, but didn't translate well to the page, and I wasn't particularly impressed with the way they were laid out. I wonder if they had been pencil drawings I would have liked them better, and found them a more fitting companion to the poem. Eh.
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this as a graphic novel ❤ ...more
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
All due respect to the poem encased in this book. My critique comes from the book as a whole.

Images in this graphic novel were quite literal in their adherence to the words of the poem. So much so that I think my wandering brain suffered for that. The changes from page to page jarred me, especially in Part I.

"Howl" is a better read without pictures at this point.

The final part, the epilogue, nixes my critique with a good mix of imagery that doesn't take the reader out of the poem. (Seriously, th
Karen Bovenmyer
Jun 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
My first exposure to this poem. The art style isn't one I usually enjoy--but I could feel the beat movement in the rhythm of Ginsberg's words.
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
3 stars, rounded up for the great illustrations ...more
Anup Joshi
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Resistance to Twentieth Century Capitalism in Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”

This paper explores how the poem “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg appears as a powerful resistance against twentieth century Capitalism of America. A post world war poem, published in 1956, the poem shows strong distaste for the contemporary consumer culture, warfare and monstrous capitalism. With the rapid urbanization, industrialization and quest to pursue American Dream, working class people started to work hard in America. After b
Althea J.
Aug 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
Howl was one of the most influential pieces of writing I've ever read. It's such a prominent piece of my personal history that I would probably enjoy any attempt at re-presenting it.

I also have a fascination with the Graphic Novel as a medium, and am particularly interested in how it can provide another point of access into material, or how it can penetrate material in a new and interesting way. So obviously, when I saw that there was a GN version of Howl, I had to read it.

I really enjoyed the u
Nada Elfeituri
Jul 12, 2014 rated it liked it
I'm a spatial person. I like picturing in my head the words that I read. Reading Howl as words was not an easy task for me because it comes off abstruse and run-on at times. After realizing there was a graphic novel version I immediately sought it, but I couldn't find it. I did, however, find the video from which the graphic novel emerged, part of the movie adaptation (thankfully available on Youtube).

The content matter itself weaves in and out of numerous subjects, and if you're not familiar wi
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, inglise-keeles
Um.. I guess poetry really isn't for me... or maybe I was bothered by the fact that a rather short poem was chopped up into parts so that it filled a 200-page book? I liked some of the illustrations.. And I guess that's all that I can actually say about something so short.
Jan 15, 2013 rated it liked it
5 stars for the poem and 1 star for using stills from the movie animation add up to a 3 star review. See the movie, read the poem.
Garrison Kelly
Apr 05, 2019 rated it liked it
It could be that I’m missing something here. It could be that my English degree wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. It could be that Allen Ginsberg is making me feel stupid. But whatever the case, when I tried to piece together the imagery in Howl, all I could say to myself was…”What?!” Sometimes the imagery made sense to me and I could carry on with my reading. Sometimes I had to read it twice or three times and even then my ability to comprehend it was sketchy. The first poem in the book ...more
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's National Poetry Month so I am trying to fill in a few gaps. I'm familiar with the opening of Howl, but I'd never read/heard the whole thing. It seemed most reasonable to listen to Ginsberg read it himself.

It is iconic, and still pretty damned filthy and heretic in its content. Even in today's world where folks are hard to shock, there are surprising sequences within this work. That said, it's worth listening to and reading just to better understand beat poetry and the anger that fueled so m
Lauren (Cook's Books)
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
fifty more shocks will never return your soul to its body again from is a pilgrimage to a cross in the void

I think I've tried to listen to readings of Howl in the past but the stupidly let the time stamp and my lack of knowledge turn me away. Split down across pages like this, I could really get lost in the poetry, enjoying the fact there was no consistent rhyme or rhythm, really just focusing on the words and the contradictions and finding a rhythm in it all the same. Teenage me would have love
Julie Bettina
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Not having read the original poem, I felt this was perhaps not the best way to meet for the first time. The format makes it chopped up and honestly a bit hard to follow, and the illustrations... Well. Not my cup of tea.
Oct 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was first introduced to Allen Ginsberg's Howl when in 2010, in my most fervent time of James Franco obsession, I stumbled into the film about the poem with Franco playing Ginsberg. I was immediately taken my the film and the poem, and ended up reading the original text after watching the film. Since then, I have read it multiple times, but it wasn't until I found this graphic novel from the shelves of my local library, that I became to realize that there was a graphic novel (or I guess graphic ...more
Sep 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Five stars for the poem. I haven't read Howl since my undergrad days, so when I saw this on the "banned books" shelf at the local library, I thought I would check it out. The poem is still powerful, and most who read it walk away with either "That was amazing!" or "What the hell just happened?" I've always thought of it as a jazz solo, seemingly improvised yet all tied together by a specific theme.

The art is just sort of meh. Really, they are just shots from the animation of the Howl film. Compu
Lauren Fichera
Mar 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Undeniably powerful and tragic, Howl is an emotional journey about the madness of humanity and the true beautiful minds of our power-hungry, sinister society. Ginsberg gave me a glimpse of a world I had never seen before, each of his well-chosen words painting a detailed portrait of a place I’ve perhaps been ignorant (or perhaps just innocent?) to. At a time where things weren’t so great, not just for the gay community, Ginsberg (albeit unknowingly) became a voice of the people in a kind of mess ...more
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was intrigued (that this existed) upon finding it used in a comic book store. A reread of "Howl" was definitely long overdue, although my favorite Ginsberg poem is "America" ( The art style grew on me over the course of the book. In particular I enjoyed the image (on pages 26 to 27) for "who passed through universities with a radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war," and though the image for "Moloch" w ...more
Patricia Vocat
Aug 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
A very compelling, a tad mad and an incredibly angry poem, full of shocking imagery wrapped up in beatiful words. A bit like sledgehammers wrapped up in cotton candy swung around by an angry guy.
Some parts will hit you full force, others will just make you frown at the mad weirdness.
Jesse Parks
Jun 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I had to read Howl the other week for my creative writing class. I have to say I quite excited to start it and once I was finished with it, I was sad it was over. Ginsberg did such an amazing job with Howl.
Jakk Makk
Aug 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
TLDRP: if you own a rug you own too much. P.S. U R beautiful, I heart you, and ms U. A musician-friend gave me this in San Francisco when I was young, fun, and liked to stay up late. So I recommend you stay up late with your musician-friend and read this, while we're young, people. Aah-ooo!
Jun 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
One of my favourite poems
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Around the Year i...: Howl, by Allen Ginsberg 1 13 Jun 24, 2016 05:49PM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Book #12: Howl: A Graphic Novel by Allen Ginsberg 1 2 Jan 30, 2013 04:38PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Stuff of Legend, Book 3: A Jester's Tale (The Stuff of Legend, #3)
  • Novels, 1930-1942: Dance Night / Come Back to Sorrento / Turn, Magic Wheel / Angels on Toast / A Time to Be Born
  • The Beats: A Graphic History
  • Blood Song
  • The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition (Peloponnesian War)
  • Molière: A Biography
  • Full of Secrets: Critical Approaches to Twin Peaks
  • My Life As Author And Editor
  • Warhorses
  • The Emily Dickinson Reader: An English-to-English Translation of Emily Dickinson's Complete Poems
  • Hotel Insomnia
  • City of Glass: The Graphic Novel
  • Lisa & David/Jordi
  • Straw for the Fire: From the Notebooks of Theodore Roethke
  • The Velvet Underground & Nico
  • The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion
  • Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins and Seals
  • The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism in the Information Age
See similar books…
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
“The madman bum and angel beat in time with the absolute heart of the poem butchered out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand years” 17 likes
“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,”
More quotes…