Essay on Howl by Allen Ginsberg

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"Howl": How the Poem Came to Be and How it Made Allen Ginsberg Famous

When Allen Ginsberg sat down at a secondhand typewriter in 1955 and began the first of his many subsequent drafts of "Howl," he had no idea of the controversy it would cause. I fact, he didn't even set out to write a formal poem and especially not one that he would consider publishing. Instead, what the 29 year old began would materialize into his most famous literary work and the cause of a much publicized trial debating the first amendment right to freedom of speech. The events of Ginsberg's life and the events going on in the world around him inspired and prepared him to write "Howl," but perhaps one of the most important factors contributing to the poem and the
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(Eberhart and Ginsberg 32)

As with most of his life, the time period prior to and during which Ginsberg wrote Howl was characterized by a lot of activity and emotions were often running high. In the spring of 1954 Allen had been staying with Neal and Carolyn Cassady in San Jose, but after finding Neal and Allen engaged in oral sex in her house, Carolyn told Allen to leave (Cassady 246). He did, and wound up in San Francisco where he worked in market research for a year and was terribly unhappy about the direction his life was going. He had been going through psychoanalysis and one day he told his psychiatrist of his dissatisfaction. He told of how what he wanted to do was "stop working forever... and do nothing but write poetry and spend the day outdoors and go to museums and see friends" (Simpson 70). That same night he wrote a report to his company telling them about how they could save a lot of money by replacing him and his two secretaries with an IBM. He was fired and was compensated with six months of unemployment wages. This provided him a great opportunity to be able to spend time writing his poetry.

Also around spring of 1955, he had been living with his lover and partner Peter Orlovsky. They had been going through some hard times, despite their vows to each other. Peter had become moody, refused to sleep with Allen, and was planning a trip to Long Island to see his brothers who were going through severe problems (Schumacher 199). When
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