Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Howl” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
Allen Ginsberg
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,862 ratings  ·  91 reviews
In the decade before his death, Allen Ginsberg assembled the original typescripts of his prophetic masterpiece Howl, along with revisions and later drafts of each section of the poem; they are reproduced here in facsimile with facing-page transcriptions and notes. Following, and at the heart of this volume, are the poet's meticulous annotations of each verse of the success ...more
Paperback, 194 pages
Published April 1st 2006 by City Lights Books (first published 1956)
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

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,862 ratings  ·  91 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Howl
Melissa Arguello
I love this poem-it changed so much for me, it showed me the possibilities of writing. what it could be. ITs about a friend of Ginsbergs, who was put in a mental institution, and Ginsberg is writng about how society itself has gone mad, how everyone is crazy, the passion of that insanity, the search for stability, the consequence of crazy, maddening liablities when what used to be your mind takes over. It documents the point when the 50's became the 60's, and we as a nation ushered in a new dawn ...more
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Don't 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 edition.

Oct 23, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Just because it's a classic doesn't mean I have to like it.
Apr 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Howl: Original Draft Facsimile" is a different text than "Howl and Other Poems". They should not be combined as the same book. They are two different poems with the same name. The Original Draft has only the text of the original Howl, while the latter book has the highly revised version along with additional poems.
Jan 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-books
came upon this during a break from reading/writing at the library. borrowed the film but didn't watch it. know too little of the beat generation and the censorship fervor this poem created. his words pack a romantic, terrifying, compassionate, melancholy, haunting, angry, in-your-face-and-about-bloody-time wallop.
Jun 14, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Spoiler Alert: Hey Ginsberg, what the FU-
David L
Feb 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Annotated is best. Learning from the annotations itself could take weeks. But if you've ever woke up half naked next to a railroad track in Athens, OH, or to a billy club knocking you off a bench in Hell's Kitchen; if you ever seen the color of music, loved the woblies, or like poetry, this is for you.
Feb 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
He went through more than 20 drafts of 'Howl'.

Wow. That's amazing, right?

I understand it though. And allowing a look at the drafts (similar to Ariel by Sylvia Plath)... man.

So I'm not really reviewing this book as best I can, because damn it, its good, you should read it, hear him recite it, end of poem.
Kevin Warman
Absurd. Definitely absurd and defiant. Interesting to read, but one is left with many questions after finishing.
Susan Fetterer
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the fastest read of a longintensedetailedcomprehensive anniversary edition of a book ever. My eyes are aching.
Howl was written in 1956 by 30 year old poet Allen Ginsberg who’s credited with leading the Beat movement, along with writer friends Wm. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac and several others. Included in the volume are the final text and roughly 18 edited and re-edited drafts, the original manuscripts complete with author notes, footnotes, changes and corrections, an introduc
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Howl itself is a wonderful poem that must be read aloud to achieve its fullest effect. The divine despair of a man confronting a mechanizing society who nevertheless celebrates passionately the madcap lives and even the suffering of his contemporaries. The whole world is holy!

The rest of the volume is devoted to the process whereby Howl was produced and disseminated. It wants only for a more dispassionate or uninvolved historical perspective to situate the poem in its time and place (San Franci
Sean Gaines
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is for those of us who love Allen Ginsberg and specifically the Epic, Generation Defining and Autobiographical poem, Howl.

Honestly, it's not for everyone. This book contains original draft facsimile, transcript, variations of the work, correspondence with William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Neil And others concerning the work. So for those who are not familiar with the histories of those people intertwined and that of the beat movement itself this book might be a little out of context. i
Dan Gorman
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature, favorites
The definitive edition of an epochal poem. The annotated drafts give readers and scholars insight into Ginsberg's writing process (surprisingly non-spontaneous and exacting, for an artist who valued spontaneity). The writings by Carl Solomon reveal the man to whom "Howl" is dedicated. Excerpts from letters flesh out the Beatniks' social world. And the poem itself is a raw cry of compassion for everything marginalized in America. "I'm with you in Rockland!" "Holy holy holy!"
Michael Anderson
I read Howl when I was young and thought it great. I read it again a few years ago and thought it had not aged well. Now I am reading it again and am thoroughly enjoying comparing the different versions of the poem as Ginsberg evolved it. So, while I enjoy the poem less that I once did, I am completely enamored by the book’s depiction of the crafting of a revolutionary (at the time) piece of poetry.
Edwina Callan
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, library-book
My mind is still trying to wrap itself around the "Report from the Asylum" part of this book.
How in the world does anyone survive being put in 50 medically induced comas?
It sounds like a case of the inmates in charge of the madhouse!
Right up there with lobotomy and the cure 'em or kill 'em mindset.
This book is haunting and terrifying … all the more so because it is true.
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, classics
I'm still not quite sure how to feel.
Jennifer Royan
I was surprised at how little I got out of the poem in general and the notes in addition.
Jul 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Poetry intrigues me. No matter what time period it comes from, it always seems to be a shout into the void and Howl is no different. Howl is grasping at straws and fighting against the current and it still feels dangerous. It’s captured the urgency of youth and the horror of growing up weird in a conformist society. It’s ultimate stream of consciousness writing – raw and real and uninhibited.

In one of my uni classes, we talked about this phenomenon called “felt sense”. It’s the idea that if you’
Nov 22, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Jim Morrison meets 'A Beautiful Mind.' I'd rather watch Russel Crowe as a genius/mad math professor getting electric shock therapy than read Ginsberg's overbearing encomium to Carl Solomon and his electric shock therapy. I think I appreciated Kerouac's take on the beat generation more when I happened upon "On the Road" at a used book store, like you're supposed to, as a teenager. But I picked this up at the public library and I like that this edition has Ginsberg's personal edits in various draf ...more
Camille McCarthy
May 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this poem, even though I really disliked "On the Road" and they have a very similar style. I think this is because "Howl" is a lot more profound and it seemed to have a very clear message, while "On the Road" just seemed to be long and rambling without a purpose. They had very similar lifestyles but while Kerouac seems to just be stuck in it, Ginsberg seems to be able to take a step back and see how their lives are so scattered and their intelligence is wasted and looks at the ...more
Jan 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have the Pocket Poets Series "Howl and Other Poems." I just read it for my American Lit class and man why haven't I read Ginsberg before?! I'm a huge fan of the beats (Kerouac and Burroughs in particular). Ginsberg's poetry is brilliant! I love his nods to Walt Whitman, and his breathless style. The stream of consciousness feel to these poems is something I really dig.

My favorite poems included in this little book are:

Howl, Transcription of Organ Music, Sunflower Sutra, America, In the Bagga
David Rullo
Jan 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm rereading this now. What an interesting addition to the Howl poem. How often does one get to see a poem revised or understand exactly what sources, influences, people, places, etc were the original material for that poem? This edition is invaluable. When I first read Howl it made me feel like I could be writer. I recognized the genius but felt I could write like that. It helped me find and recognize my voice. While reading this edition though I really how deep Howl is, how much work went int ...more
Apr 28, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers and rebels
Though Howl was not one of my favourites, I picked this book up because it is a combination of the original typed manuscript (including penned corrections, changes etc) and the full poem.

It was worth it for the glimpse into the creative process from which arose the monstrous rambling mother of all rants.

After reading it, I gained a new appreciation for the poem and the America of Ginsberg at that moment in history. a time of tumult exploding across page after page.
Mike Good
Aug 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anything less than four stars to a book that contains Howl would be unbecoming. That being said, a long, and tedious work, best suited for academic research. There are few things more enjoyable than reading Ginsberg defending the merit of his work to people who received it negatively (Allen Ginsberg to John Hollander, abridged from a 32-page letter). Plus Guillame Apollinaire, and Antonin Artaud seem like pretty good guys(poets who influenced Ginsburg).
Aug 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Venessa
Shelves: non-fiction, poetry
A I love Allen. This book is a MUST for Allen lovers and Ginsy scholars. I have seen a lot of this already (the first reading, legal skirmishes), but still interesting to see in this context. You see all of the drafts, with the changes (He originally had "starving mystical naked" instead of "starving hysterical naked") and I didn't know much abt Carl Solomon but now do. I love Allen. :)
Jan 26, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
You know, i talk a lot of smack on The Beats & i'm generally dismissive about their movement. That's really snobbish of me. I hope i can study it with an open mind. Just cause they're beatnik hipsters with too much groove doesn't mean i might not like a couple lines... ...more
Mar 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read it!

(From the liner)
First published in 1956, Allen Ginsberg's Howl is a prophetic masterpiece-an epicraging against dehumanizing society that overcame censorship trials and obscenity charges to become one of the most widely read poemsof the century.
Midge Pingleton
Apr 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this is out of print now, but you can find versions of it online at used booksellers. I got mine at Amazon. Inside you will find all the drafts of Allen Ginsberg's Howl. It's truly amazing to see it come together. A real work of genius.
Oct 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
..,\."who stood before you speechless & intelligent and shaking with shame
who were yourselves, your own souls' confessions,
your miseries incarnate in madman and bum & angel
preaching neither acceptance nor rejection
neither man nor god,
reality or imagination......
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Songs of Innocence and of Experience
  • Over and Under the Snow
  • Não está mais aqui quem falou
  • Waltz With Bashir: A Lebanon War Story
  • A Lua Vem da Ásia
  • O que ela sussurra
  • A Year from Monday: New Lectures and Writings
  • Catherine Certitude
  • A Obscena Senhora D
  • Da Poesia
  • Ancient Sex: New Essays
  • Russian History: A Very Short Introduction
  • The Necklace and Other Stories: Maupassant for Modern Times
  • Sherwood
  • Someday, Someday, Maybe
  • Naked Lunch
  • Dr. Faustus
  • O Peso do Pássaro Morto
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

Related Articles

Punk rock legend, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, award-winning writer, photographer, activist, and all-around Renaissance woman Patti Smith is...
180 likes · 24 comments
“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” 64 likes
More quotes…