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
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
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
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
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 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