Something to Howl About

I recently started and run a writer’s/discussion group, in a shoreline town here in Connecticut. As a result, I’m always looking for wonderful free literary stuff, to share with my group. Well, ParisReview.org the well known literary magazine, of course demands a subscription. They do, however, offer up something very special; The DNA of Literature can be found at ParisReview.org/literature.php. The DNA of Literature is a compilation of every interview the magazine has ever done with writers, since the inception of the magazine, some fifty years ago. Yes, folks it’s clickable and free. You can click on an author, and read the interview in its entirety or download it to a PDF file, in which case you’ll need adobe reader. At my writer’s group, for the reading assignment I told everyone to go to the website, choose the author’s interview of their choice and be prepared to discuss the following week. For my assignment I opted to read an interview with Allen Ginsberg, the Beat Poet, who penned such opuses as “Howl” and “Kaddish”. I chose Ginsburg because I have never read anything by him, also because I felt that he brought to an audience a culture that was widely unknown, even to those who were not familiar with his body of work. Well, sans tuning in, turning on and dropping off, I do stand enlightened and in awe. I find Allen Ginsburg both repulsively alluring and prolifically foretelling. He likens Haiku to experiencing a certain explicit sexual act. Ginsburg romanticizes the illicit use of hallucinogenic drugs; “You can experience a whole gamut of possibilities of universes, including the final possibility that there is none”. His study and subsequent understanding of the painter, Cezanne is truly remarkable to read. During the course of this interview, (which takes place in 1966) he discusses the results of America’s foreign policy, being that most non-Americans hate America. I find this fascinating on two different levels; one is that this is a topic that is au currant, forty years later; also because Ginsburg felt that the poet William Blake had purposely built a “time capsule” with which to speak to him, he inadvertently has built a time capsule with his rhetoric. His insights then were a testament to something that perhaps in hind sight, post 911, could have stood to be paid a little more attention to today. 2006 marks fifty years since Allen Ginsburg wrote” Howl”. According to Citylights.com “there will be readings and celebrations throughout the U.S. and the world to mark this landmark poem”âÂ?¦ In lieu of finding any local celebratory readings this writer suggests adamantly, one gets a copy of a book that was published earlier this year, “The Poem That Changed America “HOWL” Fifty Years Later”. The book was edited by Jason Shinder” a former assistant and friend to Mr. Ginsburg.

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