Allen Ginsberg wrote the poem “Howl” in mid-1955, purportedly at a coffeehouse known today as the Caffe Mediterraneum in Berkeley, California. Many factors went into the creation of the poem. A short time before the composition of “Howl,” Ginsberg’s therapist, Dr. Philip Hicks, encouraged him to quit his job and pursue poetry full time. He experimented with short simple sentences (parataxis) in the poem “Dream Record: June 8, 1955″ about the death of Joan Vollmer, a technique that would become central in “Howl.” He showed this poem to Kenneth Rexroth, who criticized it as too stilted and academic; Rexroth encouraged Ginsberg to free his voice and write from his heart. Ginsberg took this advice and attempted to write a poem with no restrictions. He was under the immense influence of William Carlos Williams and Jack Kerouac and attempted to speak with his own voice spontaneously. Ginsberg began the poem in the stepped triadic form he took from Williams but, in the middle of typing the poem, his style altered such that his own unique form (a long line based on breath organized by a fixed base) began to emerge.Categories: Poetry by Allen GinsbergBeat poetry1955 poemsAmerican poetry collectionsIndustrial Workers of the World. All credits to Wikipedia.
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