Until now, the first known recording of Allen Ginsberg reading his thunderous poem “HOWL” was thought to have occurred in Berkeley, Ca. on March 18, 1956. John Suiter, as announced in today’s edition of the Portland, Oregonian, while researching a biography of poet Gary Snyder in the Hauser Library at Reed College (Portland, Or.), has uncovered an even earlier recording dated February 14, 1956. Considering that this tape has been awaiting discovery in the Reed Archives for 50 years, along with the reported “excellent” quality of the preserved tape it is indeed a remarkable discovery.
Quoting from the Oregonian: The night of Feb. 14 [ at Reed ], Ginsberg told his small audience that “the line length... you’ll notice that they’re all built on bop - you might think of them as a bop refrain - the ideal being, say, Lester Young in Kansas City in 1938, blowing 72 choruses of ‘The Man I Love’ until everyone in the hall was out of his head....”
This definitive reference comes directly from the introduction to Kerouac’s “Mexico City Blues“ which became one of the underlying guides for what later became known as ‘bop prosedy’ - the jazz influenced equivalent applied to the ‘spontaneously’ written word.
On Friday March 15, the audio of this important reading of “HOWL,” along with early versions of Ginsberg's poems “Wild Orphan,” “Over Kansas,” and "A Supermarket in California” will be made available for internet listening on the Reed College web site: www.reed.edu
Listen to Ginsberg's reading here:
“HOWL Notes” by Barry Miles
Author contact: email@example.com