Every generation needs an anthem, and for the Beat Generation, it was "Howl." Spewed onto paper in the mid-'50s by a young Allen Ginsberg, the poetic rant began with "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness" and foresaw much of what's come since, from the rise of the counterculture to the backlash of Big Brother.
Fifty years, one groundbreaking obscenity case and a million references later, the work is being celebrated with readings and tributes across the nation, including "Howl": The Poem That Changed America, a free event hosted tonight by Naropa University, the school that Ginsberg helped found in Boulder. "Howl" will be explored in depth during a multimedia community reading that will include archival audio and video excerpts of Ginsberg along with memories shared by attendees Anne Waldman, Randy Roark and Steven Taylor.
"This is a poem that really altered the history of literature in the United States, and it really remains current," says Naropa Summer Writing Program director Lisa Birman. "Every generation seems to rediscover it and finds it to be their own.
"We may not have Allen in body anymore," Birman notes, "but we will have him here in his spirit and words."
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So open your mouth and howl: The event takes place in the Naropa Performing Arts Center, 2130 Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder, at 7 p.m.; for details, call 303-245-4715 or go to www.naropa.edu.
Sun., June 25, 7 p.m.