I can't possibly review this after one reading. I don't know how many readings it will take me to fathom even a fraction of the depths presented within. I've know of Ginsberg for roughly four years. That is all. It may have been during Banned Books Week 2006 that his named would be etched into my brain because of a grad school colleague's enthusiasm for the Beat poets and writers.
Of Ginsberg's contemporaries I've only read maybe the first 100 pages of Jack Kerouac's On the Road (I believe I started it twice) and have watched the film versions of William Burroughs's Naked Lunch, which is fascinating stuff in David Cronenberg's film adaptation. I hear "sexual ambulance" in my head all the time since.
I've never been much of a poetry fan and usually leave my involvement with it is merely my own terrible scribbling of words, usually in free form. Reading poetry is another monster altogether, one I don't often feel equipped to handle its capture, or even a dance with it. Yet, somehow I feel like an annotated version of this poem would be wrong to read just now.
This edition of Howl is a graphic novel. It has many pictures, most of which I avoided. I wanted the poem and nothing else. The essence of it on its own, its naked self. So I avoided averting my eyes from the words as much as possible.
My goal is to seek out an audio recording of the poem. To hear it. Then to hear it while reading it. Perhaps that will bring it to life in a way I won't be able to experience otherwise, allowing me to understand this poem of rebellion against the machine that man has created and been subsumed by, this "civilization" of work, war, and waste.
Image borrowed from the Comic Book Database.