"A LANDMARK EVENT IN
Howl and Other Poems
"I saw the best
minds of my generation destroyed by madness..."
FIRST EDITION, one of only 1000 copies, of one of the most influential
works of modern poetry.
"In October 1955 Ginsberg read the first part of his new poem
['Howl'] in public for the first time to tumultuous applause at the Six
Gallery reading in San Francisco with the local poets Kenneth Rexroth,
Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, Philip Whalen, and Philip LaMantia.
Journalists were quick to herald the reading as a landmark event in
American poetry, the birth of what they labeled the San Francisco Poetry
Renaissance. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who ran the City Lights Book Store
and the City Lights publishing house in North Beach, sent Ginsberg a
telegram echoing Ralph Waldo Emerson's response to Walt Whitman's Leaves
of Grass: 'I greet you at the beginning of a great career. When do I get
the manuscript?' Later Ginsberg wrote that 'in publishing 'Howl,' I was
curious to leave behind after my generation an emotional time bomb that
would continue exploding in U.S. consciousness in case our
military-industrial-nationalist complex solidified into a repressive
police bureaucracy' (Original Draft Facsimile Howl, p. xii).
"Early in the following year Howl and Other Poems was published
with an introduction by William Carlos Williams as number four in the
City Lights Pocket Poets Series. In May 1956 copies of the small
black-and-white stapled paperback were seized by the San Francisco
police, who arrested Ferlinghetti and Shigeyoshi Murao, his shop
manager, and charged them with publishing and selling an obscene and
indecent book. The American Civil Liberties Union took up the defense of
Ginsberg's poem in a highly publicized obscenity trial in San Francisco,
which concluded in October 1957 when Judge Clayton Horn ruled that Howl
had redeeming social value" (American National Biography).
San Francisco: The City Lights Pocket Bookshop, (1956). Introduction by
William Carlos Williams. The Pocket Poets Series: Number Four. Small
quarto, original printed wrappers. Some soiling to wrappers with crease
on front wrapper; printer's error (found in other copies) on pp. 20-21
(ink didn't print near edges, with some text missing). A very good copy. $2800.
Custom boxes available: cloth box = $200; half-leather = $350.