Grabhorn-Hoyem Howl (Robert LaVigne)

Robert LaVigne – cover illustrations for Grabhorn-Hoyem edition of Howl for Carl Solomon (1971)

Everybody’s familiar with this:

but who is familiar with this?

Andrew Hoyem and Robert Grabhorn‘s rare 1971 printing of “a fine edition of “Howl“,
with new additions and corrections”, “in a limited number of copies” (275, to be precise,
altho’ several copies were misbound and the remaining 20 sets of sheets were subsequently bound some years later in a new cover design which did not include LaVigne’s breath-taking illustration)

“This book”, the publishers declare,  “comprises the text of  “Howl” as it was published in 1956 with recent minute revisions by the author and the addition of a related poetic fragment, “The Names”, written in 1957, published in the Paris Review for Spring 1966 and here first collected with the poem.”

Allen’s “Note”:

“Howl‘s random catalog of heroic archetypes of Heroic Seeker persons generalized and abstracted their nature for poetic/surrealist imagery, sometimes with absurd humor I thought struck humane balance with the apocalyptic manners described.Later, I began autobiographical chronicle of Howl’s same radiant persons living & dead to specify Names and deeds in extended eulogy – an embodiment of Howl‘s abstractions. This Fragment, composed 1957 to initiate Epic, completed itself immediately in Lyric rhapsody. Living friends mentioned therein objected to such direct subjective invasion of private names were later mixed up & falsified poetically, others required no mask. The poem was printed after a decade with approval of all living concerned.”

Some miscellaneous excerpts from “The Names”:

Huncke who first saw the sun revolve in Chicago survived into middle-aged Times Square/ Thief stole hearts of wildcat tractor boys arrived to morphine brilliance Bickford table midnight neon to take a fall/arrested 41 times late 40s his acned skin & black Spanish hair grown coy and old and lip bitten in Rikers Island Jail/as bestial newsprint photograph  we shared once busted, me scared of black eye cops Manhattan/you blissful nothing to lose digging the live detectives perhaps even  offering God a cigarette/ I’ll answer for you Huncke – I never could before  – admiring your natural tact and charm and irony – now sad Sing Sing/whatever inept Queens burglary you goofed again let God judge his sacred case /rather than mustached Time Judge steal a dirty photograph of your soul – I knew you when -/ & you loved me better than my lawyer who wanted a frightened rat  for official thousand buck mousetrap, no doubt, no doubt – / Shine in Cell free behind bars Immortal soul why not/ Hell the machine can’t sentence anyone except itself, have I to do that?/It gives jail, I give you poem, bars last twenty years rust in a hundred/ my handiwork remains when prisons fall because the hand is compassion.”…

Joan in dreams bent forward smiling asks news of there living /as in life the same sad tolerance, no skullbone judge of drunks/asking whereabouts sending regards from Mexican paradise green where life & death are one/as if a postcard from eternity sent with human hand, wish I could see you now, it’s happening as should/ whatever we really need, we ought get, don’t blame yourself – a photograph on reverse/ the rare tomb smile where trees grow crooked energy above grass -. you died early-old teeth gone, tequila bottle in handgun infantile paralysis limp, lack love, the worst – / I dreamed such vision of her secret in my fresco bed , heart can live the rest by my , or her, best desire – love”…

“Mix living dead, Neal Cassady, old hero of travel love alyosha idiot seek-train poems, what crown you wear at last/ what faceless reward for patience and pain, what golden whore come secret from the clouds, what has god bidden for your coffin and heart someday/ what will give back your famous arm, your happy catholic boy eye, orphan torso shining in pool hall & library, intimate spermworks with old girls downtown rockabilly energy, what Paradise built high enough to hold your desire, deep enough to encompass your cock kindnesses, soft for your children to pray, 10 foot iron wheels you fell under?……”


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