60th Anniversary of the Howl Verdict

Today is an historic day.  The 60th anniversary of the landmark Free Speech verdict. On this day in 1957, Judge Clayton Horn declared that “Howl” was not obscene.

As he announced:

“I do not believe that “Howl” is without redeeming social importance. The first part of “Howl” presents a picture of a nightmare world; the second part is an indictment of those elements in modern society destructive of the best qualities of human nature; such elements are predominantly identi­fied as materialism, conformity, and mechanization leading toward war. The third part presents a picture of an individual who is … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 335

William Blake and the Age of Aquarius, a stunning new show opened this past week at the Block Museum at Northwestern (Evanston, Illinois). Above is a reproduction of the catalog cover. The exhibition, curated by Northwestern University art professor, Stephen F Eisenman, is a breakthrough exhibit, exploring, for the first time,  “the impact of British visionary poet and artist William Blake on a broad range of American artists in the post-World War II period”  (notably, (but by no means confined to), Allen Ginsberg and fellow members of the Beat Generation – Allen as promoter and propagandist, conduit and curator, … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 323

“Driving The Beat Road” Jeff Weiss recent detailed (and profusely illustrated ) survey, in The Washington Post, “in search of surviving members of the Beat Generation“,  is another  (well, we keep using this term, but it’s true) – “must-read”.

Weiss recounts the circumstances and the details of his interviews (conducted earlier this year) with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, Diane di Prima, the novelist Herb Gold (“Gold would be the first to tell you that’s he’s not a Beat, but his legacy and historical context remain inextricable from his more well-branded peers”), and, in conclusion, … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 318

Anniversary of Allen Ginsberg’s birth tomorrow. Anne Waldman and guests will be celebrating it at the Fox Theatre in Boulder

Meanwhile in NYC (from 3-9) at the Howl Happening Gallery (also celebrating the upcoming re-release of the Ginsberg-Blake Songs of Innocence and Experience on CD)  – Ed Sanders, Steven Taylor, Ernie Brooks & Bear 54 and readings by Bob Rosenthal, Bob Holman, Hettie Jones, David Henderson, Basil King, & other surprise guests.

Speaking of Anne Waldman, how about this? – the Anne Waldman comic! – “the story of Anne Waldman in her … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 309

The Best Minds of My Generation: A Literary History of The Beats As Taught by Allen Ginsberg is just out (this past Tuesday) from Penguin Books in England. Next Friday, Grove Press will publish the American edition.  Interesting to compare the covers perhaps – the more sober UK edition, the more brash, more jazzy American? – Either way, it’s another essential Ginsberg book.   Reviews are already highly positive:

Publisher’s Weekly – “A gold mine for anyone interested in beat literature . . . Ginsberg reads and thinks like a poet; interested in language and style, he abandons narrative to … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 308

Heads-up for next Friday! (Friday April 7) – Ginsberg Green – “A spoken word & musical gathering honoring the life and Green activism of Allen Ginsberg” – a unique celebratory event, organized by our good friend Patrick Warner, scheduled to take place at The Sprinkler Factory in Worcester, Mass, starting approximately 6 o’clock.

The event will include Ann Charters (reading from Lospecchio Press’ Best Minds – A Tribute to Allen Ginsberg),  Gordon Ball (reading from his Cherry Valley memoir, East Hill Farm), and  Warner himself reading  “selected Ginsberg texts & interviews that exemplify & manifest Ginsberg’s Green … Read More

Instigating the Howl Trial – March 25, 1957

Sixty years ago today, the US Customs, in the person of Collector of Customs, Chester MacPhee, confiscated five-hundred-and-twenty copies of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”  – a pivotal moment  

From Bill Morgan‘s  Howl on Trial – The Battle for Free Expression:

“The Collector of Customs, Chester MacPhee, confiscated 520 copies [of Howl ] because, as he said, “The words and the sense of the writing is obscene…you wouldn’t want your children to come across it.”   U.S. Customs Law required a Federal Judge, upon application of the U.S. Attorney,  to grant permission to destroy the books. But, as [City Lights publisher, … Read More

A Portfolio of Lawrence Ferlinghetti

{Lawrence Ferlinghetti, aged 22, 1941, University of North Carolina yearbook]

[Lawrence Ferlinghetti, during World War II. Normandy Invasion, 1945]

[Lawrence Ferlinghetti, on the announcement  of the Howl Trial Verdict, October 3, 1957]

[Lawrence Ferlinghetti -Photograph by Harry Redl, 1958]

[Lawrence Ferlinghetti, in City Lights Bookstore  1959, (aged 40)]

[Lawrence Ferlinghetti, 1960]

[Lawrence Ferlinghetti in London, 1965]

[Lawrence Ferlinghetti, book-jacket – An Eye on The World, 1967]

[Lawrence Ferlinghetti – Photograph by Ilka Hartman. c.1971]

[Lawrence Ferlinghetti – Photograph by Ilka Hartman. c.1971]

[Lawrence Ferlinghetti, c.1982 – Photograph by Chris Felver]

[Lawrence Ferlinghetti, c.1982 – Photograph by Chris Felver]

[Lawrence Ferlinghetti … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 307

[Am I Going Anywhere? – artwork, 1990, by Allen Ginsberg  (courtesy of Steve Silberman)]

Michael Schumacher‘s revelationary collection of fugitive pieces, First Thought, Conversations With Allen Ginsberg, out just this month is a must-read.  Here’s an excerpt (Allen on the necessities of drug legalization) – but there’s so much more.

[Allen Ginsberg Campaigning For Drug Reform, New York City, 1963 – Photograph by Benedict Fernandez]

Lawrence Ferlinghetti will celebrate his 98th birthday next week. Here he is interviewed by Penelope Bloom Aprile a student at San Francisco’s  Yick Wo Elementary School.

From the interview:

PBA: … Read More