“Howl,” 2013

i’ve often wondered this, but how would “howl” read in in 2013? published in 1955 when allen ginsberg was 29, one of the most iconic poems of the 20th century and of american history? what would it would like if these kind of lyrics were translated to our generation?

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving
hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry
fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the
starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the
supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of
cities contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels
staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkan-
sas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes
on the windows of the skull,
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in
wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall,
who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt
of marijuana for New York,
who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise Alley, death, or
purgatoried their torsos night after night
with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and
endless balls…”

I want to see someone try something that grand and sweeping, not any twee masturbatory shit like Tao Lin, but something that could speak in a sweeping way to our generation in that kind of electrifying and still shocking at times language. I don’t want a return to the 60s — since I think the spirit of progressivism and focus on the real potential of a better future is alive and well, and we’re armed with a far more sophisticated pool of data and the disillusionment of our adolescence, combined with the feeling we’re on the verge of real breakthroughs as a society at whole. That’s the poem I want to read. Anyone up for the challenge?

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~ by Benji on 15 December 2012.

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