Monday, October 09, 2006

"Howl" turns 50 -- a celebration of Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, City Lights, and Free Speech

from City Lights Books in San Francisco comes the following announcement...


-------Wednesday, November 15th, from 5:30-7 pm

In 1956, City Lights published Allen Ginsberg's Howl and Other Poems. Soon after, City Lights publisher & owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti and City Lights store manager Shigeyoshi Murao were arrested, charged with publishing and distributing "obscene material." What followed is one of the most important first-amendment battles of the 20th century, with City Lights emerging victorious. Allen Ginsberg became a house-hold name, City Lights was known worldwide, and the court decision set a crucial precedent for subsequent free speech battles.

Please join City Lights as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of Howl and Other Poems at a special event on Wednesday, November 15th, from 5:30- 7 pm, at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. Special Guests include: Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Artistic Director for Youth Speaks, reading from "Howl" followed by a panel discussion with Bill Morgan, editor of Howl on Trial: The Battle for Free Expression and author of the new biography, I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg, Al Bendich, the attorney who successfully defended "Howl" at the original trial in 1957, Dorothy Ehrlich, Executive Director of the ACLU-NC, and Jason Shinder, Editor of Howl: Fifty Years Later.

The Club is located at 595 Market St, San Francisco, 94105.Get more info and advance tickets here: & (415) 597-670015654005.htm

Yes, indeed, the publication of Ginsberg's poem "Howl" was "one of the most important first amendment battles of the twentieth century." That said, the road to publishing "Howl" was paved by precedent setting publication of James Joyce's great "Ulysses," and the brave sacrifices, struggles, and triumphs of Mr. Joyce, of course, as well as Sylvia Beach, as it wasn't until 1933 that "Ulysses" was allowed into the U.S., thanks to the landmark ruling of Judge Woolsey.

One wonders, given the current climate or repression and censorship, if what is widely regarded as the greatest novel in the English language would be allowed on our shores today. Alas, the fight to protect and preserve the First Amendment, my friends, is in its infancy.