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The Legend of 'Howl'

In which one ecstatic, idol-shattering poem heralded the '60s counterculture--and spawned the myth of its own radical break with the past

Allen Ginsberg, above left, reading in San Francisco on Nov. 20, 1955, and above center, in New York City's Washington Square Park on Aug. 28, 1966. At right, the City Lights Pocket Poets edition of 'Howl and Other Poems.'
Allen Ginsberg, above left, reading in San Francisco on Nov. 20, 1955, and above center, in New York City's Washington Square Park on Aug. 28, 1966. At right, the City Lights Pocket Poets edition of "Howl and Other Poems."
By David Barber
April 30, 2006

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POETRY MAKES NOTHING happen, Auden duly informs us, but when mythology takes over, anything goes. Or so it would seem, to judge by a new collection of essays, ''The Poem That Changed America: 'Howl' Fifty Years Later" (FSG), commissioned by Beat hagiographer Jason Shinder to mark the golden anniversary of Allen Ginsberg's epochal barbaric yawp. (Full article: 1541 words)

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