shana naomi's Reviews > Howl and Other Poems

Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg
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Jun 20, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: readagainandagain, queer

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 disciplined rage there was desperate despair, too. i first had the idea to make it into a tattoo a little after the 2004 elections, when i felt torn between, you know, "I'm sick of your insane demands" and "I've given you all and now I'm nothing" and yet filled with resolve and respect for Ginsberg, for being a crazy queer in another time and never even trying not to say so. i wanted to honor that radical beatnik perspective, pre-Stonewall, pre-gay, back when we were still/already queer.

our copy of this is actually MIA, last seen in shoemoney haus I, but i did buy it at City Lights bookstore before i moved to SF, so probably 1999 or 2000. can't remember when i first read it, but somewhere around here i also have an audio recording and i remember at one point Ray put this, or maybe one of the other poems from Howl, on a mix tape for me at the very end.
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message 1: by DS (new) - rated it 5 stars

DS Hendler I LOVE that line, the closing of "America". I have thought about again and again over the years, that weary "I can't go on... I'll go on" going forward with real energy.

I'd like to see your tattoo.


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