Howl Ginsberg Analysis

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The Formation of the Beat Generation Through “Howl” Poetry is usually seen as a “pretty” form of writing. For the Beat poets of the 1950s and Allen Ginsberg, that is not the case. Their works signify a period of anti-censorship in poetry––a time of criticism for mainstream society. Ginsberg’s “Howl” is one poem of particular significance from that time period. On a superficial level, Ginsberg’s three part poem “Howl” appears to be his own adaption of the Beat era in which certain people are experiencing certain events and are condemned by the views of mainstream society concerning aspects such as drug use, homosexuality, and expression through literature. Despite what it seemingly appears to be on the surface, the poem can also be read as …show more content…
The Beats, however, were advocates of such practices, as described by Ginsberg throughout “Howl.” The Beat poets were “who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes,” “burned alive in their innocent flannel suits on Madison Avenue,” and treated with “the concrete void of insulin Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psychotherapy occupational therapy pingpong & amnesia” (Ginsberg 7, 56, 67). They were thrown into madhouses and ignored by the rest of the world. The Beats embraced this rejection and used it to cultivate their own form of literature. Because the Beats were rejected by mainstream society, they were no longer forced to conform to the restraints of mainstream literature. They created their own works based off of their own experiences and beliefs, which were different from those experienced by the poets who were generally accepted by mainstream society. The Beats were able to turn these negative situations into inspirations to become “the best minds of [Ginsberg’s] generation” and to produce works unlike any others during the period (Ginsberg 1). They rose out the ashes of their own demise, dusted themselves off, and banded together to become the Beat generation. They were no longer criticized for their beliefs and practices, but instead were looked up to because of …show more content…
For the Beats, they “lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston seeking jazz or sex or soup” because it meant a great deal to them (Ginsberg 28). The jazz and blues style of the Harlem Renaissance were just as important to the Beats as sex was to cure their loneliness and soup was to fill their bellies (Boundless). Ginsberg also describes the Beats being reincarnated “in the ghostly clothes of jazz” which can be interpreted as the Beats rising up out of the death of jazz (Ginsberg 77). However, jazz was not dead but very much alive and acknowledged by the mainstream at the time (Chastain). The death that is being referenced here is actually the “dying” breed of the Harlem Renaissance writers caused by the hardships that they faced when they were first exposing themselves to the ridicule criticism of mainstream society. Because it was this “death” that crafted the Harlem Renaissance generation into who they are as highly influential individuals, it was this same sort of foundation that the Beat generation sought after. They formed their own identity––almost as an extension of the Harlem Renaissance generation––from the same exclusion that the Harlem Renaissance writers faced when they were viewed with scorn and

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