Allen Ginsberg — as photographed by William S. Burroughs — on the rooftop of his Lower East Side apartment, between Avenues B and C, in the Fall of 1953.
Poetry Dispatch No. 196 | October 7, 2007
Anniversary Edition, #3 In Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of ON THE ROAD
THE KEROUAC KONNECTION, 2007
On this day, October 7th, in 1955, poet Allen Ginsberg read his poem “Howl” for the first time at a poetry reading at Six Gallery in San Francisco. He had never given a public reading before, but he wanted to read the poem out loud before people read it in a book, so he organized a reading with five other poets at a converted auto-repair shop in downtown San Francisco called the Six Gallery. Ginsberg was the second-to-last reader. He was a little nervous, but after a few lines of the poem, he began to chant the words like a preacher, and the audience began to cheer at the end of every line. Kenneth Rexroth, the emcee of the event, was in tears by the end of the poem, and he later told Ginsberg, “This poem will make you famous from bridge to bridge.” Rexroth was right. Lawrence Ferlinghetti published HOWL and OTHER POEMS in 1956, and an obscenity trial made it a huge best-seller. [Source: The Writer’s Almanac]