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Howl and Other Poems

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  82,566 Ratings  ·  1,412 Reviews
The prophetic poem that launched a generation when it was first published in 1956 is here presented in a commemorative fortieth Anniversary Edition.

When the book arrived from its British printers, it was seized almost immediately by U.S. Customs, and shortly thereafter the San Francisco police arrested its publisher and editor, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, together with City Lig
Hardcover, 56 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by City Lights (first published 1956)
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Bill  Kerwin
Jul 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry

Easy to overstimate Allen Ginsberg. Easy to underestimate him too.

There are—if you leave out the political, religious and major historical figures—only about two dozen or so 20th century cultural icons, and Ginsberg is one of them—right up there with Einstein, Bogart, James Dean, and Marilyn Monroe. In the 60's, his face was ubiquitous, and the Ginsberg poster you picked out for yourself showed the kind of Ginsberg you aspired to be: Ginsberg in Uncle Sam hat, naked Ginsberg embracing naked Pete
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Jul 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays-n-poems
Preface: Though I enjoyed this book as a whole, the focus this evening will be on Howl. Why this one alone? Simply put, I am writing these jumbled thoughts as a dedication to a friend. Rather, I am dedicating this to a cluster of friends, each of whom have chosen, in one form or another, to leave this earthly plain and shatter vehemently into oblivion. Suffice it to say that this series of words and interpretations will be highly personal, and therefore guided by inflated emotions which have for ...more
Jul 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1974-2002
Allen Ginsberg, a sad and lonely man, wrote this to impress Kerouac, another sad and lonely man.

Over the years, a lot of sad and lonely people haven't gotten over the how much that first fucking line resonates with them.

The whole best minds/generation/destroyed/madness line.

Ten years ago, this was a 5-star poem. Ten years from now, it will be a 3-star poem.

That's just called growing up, folks.

Sep 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
You will not like this. Like we use to say, vengan de a uno.

So, “Howl”. My rating is based mostly on my experience with that long poem.
I admire any work filled with sincerity and lyrically intense lines (when found). Powerful, raw images that expose an unknown world. I understand this book's historical context and what it represented at the time; storming in with a breath of fresh air, breaking the mold and dealing with some themes and views I also agree with. Well, except for the endless refere
Brent Legault
Apr 23, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: the angelheaded, the negrostreeted
Muddled, addled and overrated. In fact, any rating, even a single star or half-moon, is too much for this amateur-hour of a "poem." It might have played well when shouted out to a roomful of arrogant drunks, but on the page it droops, it teeters under the weight of all of those ungainly adjectivies and finally collapses in a fog of its own flatulance. I saw the best minds of my generation ignore this long, long limerick. Now, only nostalgists and know-naughts still cling to its pages of ill-repu ...more
Oct 22, 2015 rated it did not like it
My god.

Reading Howl was like getting stuck for an hour in the brain of a rebellious, pubescent, sexist loudmouth. Between every sentence transpires the hubris of being THE NEW POET, and of being A COOL OUTCAST, and a member of that little BOYS CLUB Ginsberg brings up again and again although it weakens his writing every time.

There's a faint, insufferable music of puerility behind it all : most notably when Ginsberg brings up constantly the names of his famous friends, brings down women and (ew!
Steven Godin
Aug 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nothing like a bit of controversy to keep the establishment ticking over, and in "Howl" it's easy to see why as this was seen as a shocking and powerful piece of obscenity in the eyes of some, but for many more it's viewed as a celebrated manifesto of great importance for the beat Generation of the 1950s that helped to stick a big fat middle finger up to sexual repression and capitalism. This is a vital collection of Ginsberg's work that will always stand the test of time.
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
I feel similar ways about Allen Ginsberg and Adele. While I appreciate the skill behind both of their work, I find both of their material overwrought, contrary to popular opinion. Yes, I see how Ginsberg's poetry revolted against oppressive forces and mainstream, heteronormative America. Its lack of style and nuance still frustrates me. Props to him for lending fire to a revolution that uplifted marginalized voices, even if I myself find his writing unfulfilling and too frantic, despite the posi ...more
Rakhi Dalal
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I had goosebumps while reading Howl. It's like nothing I have ever read!
Roy Lotz
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?

On my recent trip to San Francisco I was obliged to buy a copy of this book from the City Lights bookstore. Well, that isn’t the whole story. I visited the store without knowing anything of its history, left with a copy of Galileo’s Sidereus Nuncius, and then shamefacedly returned to pick up this book when my mother informed me, five minutes later, that it is famous for the “Howl” trial. I had heard recordings of Ginsber
Scarlet Cameo
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, draggin themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dinamo in the machinery of night.”

Me pregunto ¿Quién no habrá leído las primeras líneas de “Aullido”? Un poema que influenció ampliamente la poesía norteamericana del siglo XXI, creado y disfrutado más recitado que leído , pero que sobre todas las co
Considered a masterpiece of the "beat generation" writers, it reads like the jumbled rambling of a drug crazed alcoholic, preoccupied with sex and spiritual enlightenment, while battling mental instability and depression. But I "get it", and I appreciate the significance of it's contribution to the history of the hipster generation, and how they and their writing influenced the culture of the 20th century.
Many say that this is nothing more than an overrated, incomprehensible bunch of words about sex, alcohol and drugs. And they are right. But poetry is not about words, it's about the feeling they are capable of evoke. And Howl evoke a lot of feelings, at least for me. The eternal search of the meaning of life, the conflicted relation between the fear and mystification of death, the wonders and terrors of growing old.
“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysteric
Rania Attafi
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
mind blowing! i can't wait to read more of his poetry
I'm on a Beat experiment, of sorts, so bear with me. I'd read Howl a while back, but mostly because my then boyfriend was obsessed with Allen Ginsberg. He was prone to, er, herbaceous recreation, if you catch my drift. We were in a long distance relationship, and asking me to read vaguely psychedelic and experimental poems was his idea of foreplay. So I read Howl, I liked it. I didn't really care much about it beyond that, because I hadn't really wanted to read it then. I read Howl again after I ...more
Timothy Urges
Apr 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ginsberg takes you there.
Robert Hobkirk
Dec 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ginsberg spent years, hunched over his typewriter, working at poetry, sending out poems with little validation for his talent from the gatekeepers of poetry, poetry magazines and literary journals. Then around 1956 City Lights published this little, very little book Howl. A year later Ginsberg got lucky when a plain-clothes SF cop came into the City Lights book Store and bought a copy of Howl, arresting the store manager and subsequently the publisher for dealing in obscene material. Bingo! With ...more
Alfred Bates
Sep 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
Allen Ginsberg typifies the beat generation. Basically, a large amount of stoned/drunk pretentious hipsters who claimed they hated hipsters. And without much writing skill at that. The only exception to this is Jack Kerouac, who was actually a good writer, and did claim numerous times that he was not a beat. That being said, Howl is one of the longest, most terrible pieces of rubbish I've read in a long time. This deserves less than one star. I must admit, he does manage to incorporate a fair am ...more
[Name Redacted]
Feb 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
I have a problem with Allen Ginsberg.

It goes beyond how overrated I think he is, how mediocre his poetry seems to me. The titular poem of this volume in particular.

It goes beyond his adolescent fixation on the prurient and the vulgar.

See, I know for a fact that he was a pedophile.

I studied under one of his friends, someone who admitted that Ginsberg was sexually attracted to little boys -- to the extent that Ginsberg's friends all refused to let the poet be alone (or, in some cases, even aroun
Stephen M
Jan 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: poetry
"who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia,

returning years later truly bald except for a wig of blood, and tears and fingers, to the visible madman doom of the wards of the madtowns of the East,

Pilgrim State's Rockland's and Greystone's foetid halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul, rocking and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a nightmare, bodies turned to stone as heavy as the moon,

with mot
Jul 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
ah, ranty rants and beautiful language and a deep deep sense of the long poetic sentence. and madness writ large. and industrial dissolution. and that wasteland that is america.
Tünde Ecem Kutlu
2nd reading: I understood more references and it only got better.

what can I say? I'm apparently a sucker for beat poetry and anything Allen Ginsberg. this was a very short book of poems and the first one (Howl) was simply amazing. it made me feel so many things so suddenly. the rest of the poems are good as well but Howl was something else.
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lexie by: Rory Gilmore
TBR jar pick for January 2016

It's easy to underestimate the Beats now, in this era (of which the better parts, one might argue, they helped bring about). It's easy to dismiss it all as "attempting to shock" and "deliberately aggressive/anarchist/lewd/[whichever other titles have been slapped on this collection over the years]". They're Holden Caulfield, they're Jim Stark, they're Don Quixote tilting at windmills.

But the truth is that the Beats, that Allen Ginsberg, that Howl, was revolutionary a
anna (readingpeaches)
Apr 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: poetry
i would say "suck my dick" but even that's too much respect for a boring pedophile
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vibrante e impulsionante. Que mais dizer? Possivelmente muito.

A edição bilingue da Relógio D'Água motivou-me a ler Uivo e Outros Poemas; nunca antes tinha lido um livro de poesia não lusófona. No fim tem ainda uma secção de notas que elucida sobre factos biográficos, históricos, geográficos, etc, importantes para a compreensão da obra.
Jun 04, 2011 marked it as to-read
Shelves: poetry
The United States Supreme Court has said that obscenity is construed to mean: having a substantial tendency to corrupt or arousing lustful desires. Is the word relevant to what the author of Howl is trying to say? Or did he just use it to be dirty and filthy. He sees what he terms as
"an adonis of Denver. Joy to the memory of his innumerable conquests. Who went whoring through Colorado in myriad, stolen night cars. Neil Cassidy, secret hero of this poem, cocksman and adonis of Denver. Joy to the
Laura Leaney
Jan 15, 2014 rated it liked it
I just finished reading an essay about Ginsberg's "Howl," paused to reflect and decided to re-read the poem - as well as the others included in this little book. I like them. They're honest, saturated in Ginsberg's heart-wounds and the social concerns of the post-war generation (which, unbelievably, aren't now all that different from 1954). Reading "Howl" is a little bit like getting dragged into the underbelly of New York by one's peter pan collar and being forced to meet the "angelheaded" and ...more
Feb 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Tell me comparing your life as the son of two artists in a self-imposed sexed-up exile from the most affluent society on earth to that of a Holocaust victim isn't exorbitantly self-absorbed.

Now tell me this isn't a great line:

"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"

Ginsberg borrows the repetitive syntax of ancient poetry and cryptically personal references to mythologize his yawp, unaware that Voic
Oct 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Disclaimer: Do not 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 editi
Black Elephants
Feb 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
While trying to be more serious on the subject of any kind of literature that I happen to read (per a discussion with a friend), I found myself in Borders, browsing in the poetry section. Generally, I don't bother with bookstore poetry sections. They tend to be filled with "best poetry" anthologies, volumes of Dickinson, Frost and a handful of other great poets, and that's it. I don't have a problem with any of that, it's just that there's not a lot of variety, and I don't believe poetry can rea ...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
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  • A Coney Island of the Mind
  • Lunch Poems
  • The Portable Beat Reader
  • Pomes All Sizes
  • Selected Poems
  • Gasoline & The Vestal Lady on Brattle
  • Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems
  • The Collected Poems
  • A Season in Hell/The Drunken Boat
  • Diving Into the Wreck
  • The Branch Will Not Break
  • Selected Poems of Ezra Pound
  • The Country Between Us
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
“Everything is holy! everybody's holy! everywhere is holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman's an angel!” 197 likes
“Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!
Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!
The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy!
The nose is holy! The tongue and cock and hand
and asshole holy!
Everything is holy! everybody's holy! everywhere is
holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman's an
The bum's as holy as the seraphim! the madman is
holy as you my soul are holy!
The typewriter is holy the poem is holy the voice is
holy the hearers are holy the ecstasy is holy!
Holy Peter holy Allen holy Solomon holy Lucien holy
Kerouac holy Huncke holy Burroughs holy Cas-
sady holy the unknown buggered and suffering
beggars holy the hideous human angels!
Holy my mother in the insane asylum! Holy the cocks
of the grandfathers of Kansas!
Holy the groaning saxophone! Holy the bop
apocalypse! Holy the jazzbands marijuana
hipsters peace & junk & drums!
Holy the solitudes of skyscrapers and pavements! Holy
the cafeterias filled with the millions! Holy the
mysterious rivers of tears under the streets!
Holy the lone juggernaut! Holy the vast lamb of the
middle class! Holy the crazy shepherds of rebell-
ion! Who digs Los Angeles IS Los Angeles!
Holy New York Holy San Francisco Holy Peoria &
Seattle Holy Paris Holy Tangiers Holy Moscow
Holy Istanbul!
Holy time in eternity holy eternity in time holy the
clocks in space holy the fourth dimension holy
the fifth International holy the Angel in Moloch!
Holy the sea holy the desert holy the railroad holy the
locomotive holy the visions holy the hallucina-
tions holy the miracles holy the eyeball holy the
Holy forgiveness! mercy! charity! faith! Holy! Ours!
bodies! suffering! magnanimity!
Holy the supernatural extra brilliant intelligent
kindness of the soul!”
More quotes…