Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Beats Review: Howl by Allen Ginsberg & Eric Drooker





Howl is one of those works of art that every one has heard of. “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness…” . Stirring words that I read somewhere, some place. Thanks to this EVENT however I took the plunge to read the full poem. While searching through the various versions I came across this graphic novel version and snapped it up from my local library.


Here is a sample of Eric’s art:




Howl is definitely a product of it’s time.  Set in a society on the cusp of a  precipice of extraordinary change, Allen shares his observations of men and women seeking meaning and transcendence through sex, drugs and creativity .  The first part of the poem centers around Allen’s observations: the scholar’s and poets  write and pontificate, the travelers discover the  world one railway track at a time and the addict both escapes and transcends their world and pays the horrible price.


With part two Moloch we begin to see Allen’s perceptions of what is the main source of problems in the world in this time period : Corporations, Greed, Industrialized expansion. Where part one is an exploration Part 2 feels very much like a denouncement. It is opinionated and very much in alignment with the views of the Beat generation. The art in this section is stunning! Moloch is represented  as a mechanical bull like creature towering above all, belching flame and fire. Really intriguing shift in tone in this portion.


Part 3 of this poem shows Allen at his most vulnerable and and perhaps lowest point. It is here that the fire has cooled to embers and the reflective tone is back paired with a sense of despair. Allen references Carl Solomon and Rockland as part of his narrative. Carl is a man who has been suffering in a psychiatric asylum. Allen’s prose shines light on the treatment of the mentally il,l and ends with a hopeful note of escape in all it’s forms: physical, emotional, and spiritual.


I really loved reading this poem in a graphic novel format. I think I would have really struggled with some of the meanings without the artist complement.

A great start to my delving into the works of the Beat generation, on to the next read!  


Roof Beam Reader said...

I read "Howl and Other Poems" as my first choice for this even, too. I absolutely loved it. I had read bits and pieces of it before, and had heard some of it read aloud, but never digested the entire thing.

Reading it in graphic novel form sounds awesome and totally appropriate -I think I'll look into getting a copy of this!

park said...