"Howl" by Allen Ginsberg is considered one of the greatest American poems ever written. Its author, not yet 30, joined the ranks of the great poets of the 20th Century, almost as soon as the poem was published. To this day, years after his death, he is arguably the most well known poet the United States has ever produced. He resides with Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allen Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and sits next to Bob Dylan.
He personified the "poet" in American minds: rebellious, promiscuous, liberal, intelligent, troubled. As Einstein personifies The Scientist, Ginsberg is The Poet.
This week on From the Vault we look back at the poem that made the man; We look at the poem that got people arrested for its controversial language when first published, and we do it without playing the poem in its entirety - since it is still illegal to air "Howl" on America's airwaves without language edits.
From the Vault is presented as part of the Pacifica Radio Archives Preservation and Access Project, funded in part by an award from the GRAMMY Foundation and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission at the National Archives and Records Administration, and past grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, and the American Archive funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, along with the generous support of Pacifica Radio Listeners. We also thank our partners and collaborators at the Pop-Up Archive, Amara, Other Minds Archives, George Blood Audio, and the California Audio Visual Preservation Project.