Saturday, November 3, 2012

Howl - Naropa - 1975


After our sophomoric Halloween posting, we thought we'd better do right and post the real thing, Allen Ginsberg's Howl. The recording here (given along with the complete text of the poem) is from the August 1975 Naropa reading (also available here). This presentation is in two parts, the second part, "Part III and Footnote to Howl" may be accessed here.  The Internet Archive version has on it also readings by Anne Waldman and other poems by Allen. It begins with a Prajnaparamita (Heart Sutra) chant ("Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha")  Allen begins his reading about 39 minutes in.. He begins "Howl" at about 41 minutes in.. He precedes it with a reading of William Carlos Williams' "Thursday", ("relating to lineage, I would like to begin my reading with a short poem by William Carlos Williams, who was a great American poetry guru"), and it is followed by a less-high-quality recording (recorded at a different time?) of his own "Ego Confession"  ("I want to be known as the most brilliant man in America..")

from Michael Brownstein's tripartite introduction (there are introductions too for Anne Waldman and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche):  "About Allen Ginsberg, I might say that this here in Naropa is the first place that Allen has stayed, and stayed put in, for more than two weeks at a time. I think that's a very interesting point and says something about the energy in the space here and, given the fact that he otherwise moves fast - "a different lover every night", as he says - that's saying something about this space, bought together under the umbrella of (the) Kagyu tradition (of) Buddhism.  Allen's energies over the years has altered the flow of poetry and one could probably talk for hours about that - but I won't. Certainly, if one includes LIFE, in capital letters, in one's definition of American poetry, one would have to say that he is a [the?] major voice in American poetry today - and if Allen reads "Howl", as I think he's going to, it will be an especial treat tonight.  His last published book was Fall of America, also published by City Lights Books and Allen Verbatim, a book of interviews, and, coming out this Fall, is First Blues, published by Full Court Press.. 

AG:  "For this auspicious reading I would like to begin the reading by reading "Howl for Carl Solomon". I don't read it often because it's too much of a bravura piece and I don't want to get hung-up on it. On the other hand, as the director of the Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, I also want to present my best, at one time or other during the summer session, and also some ears here have not heard this recitation"

Other crucial readings of "Howl" (see our "Streaming Audio" section) may be accessed here and also here


  1. I have a copy of that exact edition, signed by Allen Ginsberg at the Boulder Bookstore in 1979.

  2. This is from 1975, not 1976. Great reading. I still have it on an old cassette tape from long ago.

  3. Oops, Chuck - thanks, August of '75 - thanks for catching that - the date has now been corrected.