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Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Machinery of Night Turns Fifty

Er, no, not this blog. Not even its author is fifty.

Thanks to Emily, I now know that Allen Ginsburg's poem Howl turns fifty today. Read about its history here, at the site of the anti-censorship (unless it's someone we don't like) City Lights bookstore.

Howl, of course, gave me the name of this blog:

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night...

I don't really much like Howl, to tell you the truth. It's incoherent, and where it's not, it's nasty, celebrating drug use and the joys of getting sodomized by bikers or candles or whatever. There's also eye-rolling bits like "the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar" and "the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism". Whatever, dude.

However, as I said here, Ginsburg can turn a powerful phrase, which is more than some of your modern poets (example provided at the link) -- who seem to think you can just through in a few surreal phrases and a couple of pop culture references and you're done -- can do.

For personal reasons the phrase "...burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night..." resonates with me, hence the blog name.

Emily also informs us that Norm Geras has declared this "Poetry Day" on his blog, for it is National Poetry Day in Britain.

Tomorrow, time permitting, I'll examine my favorite poem by my favorite poet. Its subject matter is waaaay more controversial than Howl sex-n-drugs. Betcha can't wait.