To celebrate the 60th anniversary of Allen Ginsberg reading Howl at the Six Gallery, San Francisco on 7 October, 1955 readings are being held around the world.
Be a part of these international gatherings celebrating Ginsberg and join Anthony Lawrence, Bronwyn Lea, Brentley Frazer and Eleanor Jackson with Adam Pettet as master of ceremonies for readings from Ginsberg’sHowl and Other Poems.
Ginsberg first performed Howl at the Six Gallery in San Francisco on October 7, 1955. The reading was conceived by Wally Hedrick — a painter and co-founder of the Six — who approached Ginsberg in mid-1955 and asked him to organize a poetry reading at the Six Gallery. At first, Ginsberg refused. But once he’d written a rough draft of Howl, he changed his ‘fucking mind,’ as he put it.
Ginsberg was ultimately responsible for inviting the readers (Gary Snyder, Philip Lamantia, Philip Whalen, Michael McClure and Kenneth Rexroth) and writing the invitation. Howl was the second to the last reading and was considered by most in attendance the highlight of the reading. Many considered it the beginning of a new movement, and the reputation of Ginsberg and those associated with the Six Gallery reading spread throughout San Francisco.
Soon afterwards, it was published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who ran City Lights Bookstore and the City Lights Press. Ginsberg completed Part II and the Footnote after Ferlinghetti had promised to publish the poem. Howl was too short to make an entire book, so Ferlinghetti requested some other poems. Thus, the final collection contained several other poems written at that time; with these poems, Ginsberg continued the experimentation with long lines and a fixed base he’d discovered with the composition of Howl.