Allen Ginsberg’s Howl: “Jack Kerouac chanted ‘Go, go, go’ in rhythm while Ginsberg read.”

From The Writer’s Almanac:

Allen Ginsberg read his poem “Howl” at the Six Gallery in San Francisco on this date in 1955. The reading was intended to promote the new gallery. The poet Kenneth Rexroth organized the reading, and in preparation, he introduced Gary Snyder to Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg introduced everyone to Jack Kerouac, and they became the core of the group of writers known as the Beats.

Ginsberg was the second to the last to read, and he started at about 11 p.m. He was 29 years old, and he had never participated in a poetry reading before. He started off in a quiet voice. But as he read, he found his rhythm, and he took a deep breath before each of the long lines in “Howl” and then said each line in one breath. Jack Kerouac chanted “Go, go, go” in rhythm while Ginsberg read, and the audience went wild.
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Howl

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,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall. . . .

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