Monday, October 7, 2013

Howl Debuts

On this day in 1955, Allen Ginsberg read "Howl" for the first time. It was published the following year.

The Beats published for adults, but their work was my favorite in high school, and probably remains required reading for artsy angsty teens everywhere.


Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg. I saw the best mind of my generation, destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical.... This is the poem.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac. This rather autobiographical novel details Jack and Dean's travels driving, hitchhiking, and hobo-ing across the country, looking for Dean's father and the meaning of life.

The Portable Beat Reader edited by Ann Charters. This is a great anthology of beat writers, showing a wide range of work-- a great introduction, and a wonderful book to carry around to coffee shops.


The Typewriter Is Holy: The Complete, Uncensored History of the Beat Generation by Bill Morgan. This biography of a movement focuses not only on the impact of the movement and the writing it produced, but also the dark side of their personal lives-- the drugs, the booze, and the sex that destroyed them.

This Is the Beat Generation: New York-San Francisco-Paris by James Campbell. The first cut-up was a murder, the final cut-up was Burrough's literary cut-up technique in the 60s. In between, was the Beat generation, as explored by Campbell.

The Birth of the Beat Generation: Visionaries, Rebels, and Hipsters, 1944-1960 by Steve Watson. The design of this one (pull-out boxes, lots of photos) makes this the most teen-accessible history of the Beats. Out-of-print, it's worth finding in your local library.

What are your favorite Beat writers?

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