During the 1940s, the founding members of the Beat Movement were exploring their newfound art form: utter self-expression. The now infamous influencers Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and their associates dabbled in drugs, explored Eastern religions and wrote poems, essays, novels and manifestos. Despite an outpouring of literature, the Beat Generation remained largely hidden from the public eye until one night in October, 1955. At a poetry reading, Ginsberg unleashed ‘Howl’ and all hell broke loose.

Ginsberg was a fighter for the underdog. He campaigned against militarism, capitalism and sexual repression. Dealing with drugs, mental illness, and religion, breaking the silence on homosexuality, Howl became a battle cry for the Beat Generation. When it was sold by a bookstore, the publisher and store manager were charged with disseminating obscene literature and it later became the centre of an obscenity trial. It symbolised the new generation of thought battling established 1950s America.

Originally written as performance poetry, the flowing hallucinatory style drew a huge following in print. The startling imagery and content has hooked readers worldwide. Howl stands as a monument to the Beat Generation and the counterculture that laid the way for the freedom of our lifestyles today.

It begins;

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.