We Are All Writers On the Same Dreadful Typewriter as Allen Ginsberg

by Jenny, Executive Editor

4/2 - Richard Siken Tells Me We'll Never Get Used To It, by Po, EIC
4/3 - William Carlos Williams: This Is Just To Say, by Layah, CD
4/4 - We Are All Writers On the Same Dreadful Typewriter as 
Allen Ginsberg, by Jenny, EE 

The first time I read Howl was aloud, in my AP Literature class during my senior year of high school. The class took turns reading from Part II, sometimes referred to as “Moloch,” and I didn’t know the gravity of what was being said as the other students passed around phrases that only years later would become so important to me.

[Howl, Part I, 1-47]

This past year, I acquired an original facsimile of Howl, and have found it interesting to compare the published version with what was originally copied down. I’ve discovered so much from reading the original facsimile and its appendices cover-to-cover during my designated reading time, which is ironically during “chapel hours” at my university.

What have I discovered? I know about Lawrence Ferlinghetti; he is the editor, publisher, and defender of Howl over decades of its legal trials and their repercussions. I am thankful for this man. Howl was written for Carl Solomon, an intimate friend and contemporary of Ginsberg, and Ginsberg cites the works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Christopher Smart, Guillaume Apollinaire, Kurt Schwitters, Vladimir Mayakovsky, and Hart Crane as inspirational in the creation of Howl. The original manuscript was produced on standard typing paper, in a sparsely furnished apartment at 1010 Montgomery Street in San Fransisco.

Howl is comprised of four parts, three primary passages and a footnote to the poem. I’ve read these words in my head, out loud, alone, in circles of friends. I’ve sought the true meaning behind these concepts religiously. No longer does one need to be the Blake-light scholar to understand his or her culture. I believe that what Ginsberg has written is timeless; it is a response to the rigidity of 50’s culture but also a response to the rigidity of my experiences, especially in my late teenage years.

I could tell you that the consumption of these words has inspired me to graffiti abandoned train cars in the dark, and that would be true. But the impact has been so much more lasting than that.

I’m no Kerouac, I’m no Cassady, I sure am not Carl Solomon, but I’ve found the contents of Howl to be more encapsulating and relevant than really any other piece of poetry I’ve encountered. I’ve worn the ideas and so have my fellow poets. I tell them that we are all writers on the same dreadful typewriter. I know a girl who signed a letter to me once, “I’m with you in Rockland.” I suppose we’ve developed our own lexicon, a unique method of verbal sparring. Through this infrastructure has bloomed everything we’ve created.

I’m with you in Rockland,

Read the full text of Howl here.

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LANDFILLS is a grassroots literary, arts and culture online collective based in Chicago. All work is original, except the featured images that accompany text posts (which are blatantly stolen from tumblr.com). Complaints should be directed to Po via Twitter.
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