Howl and Other Poems

By Allen Ginsberg with an Introduction by William Carlos Williams

Ginsberg’s book of poetry is a gutteral protest against everything inherent in his generation. Filled throughout with references to homosexuality, drug use, the horrors of industrialism, and the consequences of war, this series of poems is seemingly, and according to William Carlos William’s introduction, all for one Carl Solomon, the man to which “Howl” is directly addressed.

Interestingly “Howl” begins with the line “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,” which Lin-Manuel Miranda appears to have echoed in his line “I am seeing the best minds of my generation waste away in pestilence and starvation” from the Valley Forge track of the Hamilton Mixtape.

Post-modernist poetry isn’t generally my favorite, and although there is obvious skill in Ginsburg’s work I didn’t particularly enjoy it. The constant use of abstract description is probably intended to draw the reader in to Ginsburg’s constructed environment, but for me the departure from understandable syntax was more frustrating than freeing.