Poem: Howl and Other Poems by Allen

Literature, as mentioned before, is a kind of lense through which we see the world around us and poetry is probably one of the more powerful lenses we have. In reading “Howl”, I’m sure you have a sense of the vision of America being presented in the poem. Considering the title, one can easily say that Ginsberg’s poem is like a pained and angry cry. Think of the poem, “Howl”, as a symbol of America, but one that’s not often seen or acknowledged. There’s the familiar platitude about history being veritten by the winners and what this platitude implies is not just that there are a select few with power and influence who determine what we remember from the past, but that there are also many, many thousands of voices, who have no power or influence, and who remain silent. This is where literature steps in and gives voice to those whom we don’t often hear from. So, to help you see the kind of vision Ginsberg presents us with in ‘Howl’, it will help to get an idea of the era in which the poem first appeared, which was the 1950s. Watch the following documentary (45 mins) that gives you an overview of the era and then ask yourself, “How is Ginsberg’s poem different from the vision of America presented in the documentary,”

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