If you could make a movie feel so powerful, so historical, and so eloquently raw all at the same time, I think you’d find yourself watching the film, Howl. Written and directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, and starring James Franco as Allen Ginsberg, Howl is a film that deeply moved me. It combines the recitation of Ginsberg’s most famous poem (Howl) with past and present day Ginsberg, as well as animated imagery. It also depicts the obscenity trials surrounding Howl’s publication by Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Books.
I was first introduced to Allen Ginsberg when my high school english teacher from junior year got out his giant hardcover copy of Poetry Speaks, a vast and I believe rare collection of the poets themselves reading their work, with biographies and other writer’s takes on what their writing meant to the generations. Howl is a poem in four parts, it is a love story to a generation, the naked truth about hypocrisy and material goods, a religious poem, a spiritual poem, a letter to one’s friends and role models, a historical and social reference mind f**k, and finally a jazz rhythm read. He uses what was considered at the time to be crude and vulgar language, and many would say it is still crude and vulgar today. But he spoke honestly and openly about life and became a main reference for a movement that swept a post-war generation, the Beats.
It would have been incredible to sit in the courtroom overhearing the obscenity trial of Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl. One side arguing that the poem has no literary merit because it is obscene, and the other defending freedom of speech and saying the obscenity comes from a known life of obscenities. Ginsberg spent several months in a mental institution and was released after promising his doctor he would not be gay anymore. The first part of the poem is an ode, a remembrance to a man he met in the institution, Carl Solomon, and it may be my favorite portion of the poem.
Do yourself a favor, see this film! It is well acted, well encrypted between court trials, interviews, typewriters, and animation. Ginsberg is someone who spoke out to other writers, who loved poetry and writing in the very pit of his stomach. He and his work, whether you like it or not, have paved the way for expressionist art. See this film!
When did you first encounter Allen Ginsberg? What do you think of his work, is it life or is it just obscene? If you haven’t heard Howl read by Ginsberg, here is a recording of part 1.
Welcome to the 83rd Academy Awards! If you missed the second most watched television event of the year, here are the highlights!
The day went by very quickly, as did my whole weekend. Amidst the rushed grocery shopping, dish cleaning, counter wiping, gift assembling, and cooking *whew* I was able to completely restart my story, beginning the book in a totally different place and adding more dialogue. Woohoo! I read the first page to my mom and best friend and asked for feedback on whether or not it hooked them. Generally, they both really liked it, but did give me one place I could embellish the relationship between characters more intensely and that was appreciated. So that gives me exactly one hour after work tonight to madly edit the first page, print it out, and mail it in to the writing contest at the Writers Institute conference I’ll be attending in April. Nothing like a little deadline madness to tell your procrastination pixies to buzz off! If they’re flying around your work space, please take time to check out Kristen Lamb’s Blog, she has helped me immensely with realistic goal setting, hooking your reader, and gives FREE advice on what to watch for in your story that may make an editor pass on your project.
Since I’m still in a celebrating mood from my Oscar party, “Cheers to Writing Weekends!” that also involve your BFF making asparagus soup, squash risotto with gorgonzola, and chocolate peanut butter cupcakes and your BF helping chop blocks of cheese and doing the dishes! Yay!
I actually had some time to get back into reading blogs by you wonderful fellow writers! Here are my favorites from the past week!
Jillian sparked up a great debate on the mash-up of classic literature with sci-fi themes. What do you think about this new wave of publications? Check out her post, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer Seriously?
Discovered through Freshly Pressed, C C Lester, had a great post on the times she argued over whether she was a writer, or an author, or neither at all. In the end, it was having a loyal reader that meant the most to her, but she’s certainly struck a chord with many of us so check out her post, So am I an Author Yet?
Wendy Matheson just kicked off Women’s History Month for me in her entertaining post, Strength, Thy Name is Woman! It details many inventions that are often accredited to men, but were actually made by women.
For your laughing pleasure, The Hack Novelist writes a letter to the guy holding a conference call in a crowded Starbucks cafe’. I think he eloquently pens what we would all be thinking. 8 Pages and the Conference Call
I’ve also been following the very funny Mark, from Mark My Words as he battles the unemployment offices, takes on the world of freelance writing, and has to fire his maid and buy clothes at a second hand store. Well… you’ll see. Champagne Wishes on a Sparkling Water Budget
Happy writing and reading, friends! Tell me about your weekends! What writing goals did you accomplish? If you found some great blogs this week, what are they? I’d love to cheer you on and check out the posts you love!