Why Ginsberg Matters

Why Ginsberg Matters

Question begging aside, does another dead poet matter?

Why Ginsberg Matters

Not long ago, OK, a while back, maybe two-three summers past, I stumbled on an old copy, dumped on the web as an MP3, of a recording, originally analog, of Allen Ginsberg himself reading his epic poem, “Howl.”

Why Ginsberg Matters?

My history with that poem comes from a more modern era, with a nod to the present, but to this day, I still don’t see the obscenity. Must be a 50’s sentiment.

If there are, indeed, more Millennials than Boomers, then the “angel headed hipsters” should be aware of roots. Freedom of speech. Current trends in music, all of that source? Roots go back to our non-violent poets.

(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel absurd.)

    From “A Supermarket in California.” Ginsberg, Allen, Berkely, 1955.

My affection runs deep for these texts. Unsure I’ve ever covered the story about my current copy of “Collected Works.” At the end of the formal education, I found that copy in a bookstore, and I just couldn’t justify the expense, at the moment. Had to budget and save in order to collect that copy. Over the years, it’s served as a touchstone, and I’ve got weird notes from strange and terrible times squirreled away inside. It’s one of the few books that I can’t seem to part with.

Leafing through the text, I’m amused that portions were deemed “obscene,” and by that same standard, much of what passes for “pop culture” should be damned, equally.

Why Ginsberg Matters

The orignal article that prompted this was a short op/ed, possbily just link-bait, but the idea caused me to think, stop, pause, analyze. What made that one text so important?

Part of its meaning, to me, was the opening lines to “Howl,” heard it for the first time, maybe thirty or more years after it was published. Those lines still gives me chills, a very visceral reaction to a piece of poetry. Part of it is the notion that it was outlawed. Part of it is, as a work of art, it moves me on some level. Perhaps it’s that intangible, soul essence that the art touches, the words move.

These are our roots, buried in dirt, maybe, but still the foundations upon which we build.



Kramer Wetzel

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