Banned Books Week: Collaborative “Howl” Reading

On Friday, October 1, The University Center for Writing-based Learning will be hosting a marathon reading of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” followed by a round-table discussion about the poem, censorship, book banning etc.

As many of you know, Ginsberg was one of the most well-known poets of the Beat Generation, and his poem “Howl” caused an outrage due to explicit drug and sexual references. In May of 1957, customs officials in London seized over 500 copies of the poem as it was being printed, and Ginsberg was brought to trial for obscenity. In the end, his publisher won the case.

The reading will take place from 12-3 in the Schmitt Academic Center (SAC) pit, with reserved times for reading from 12-2. Each reader will be given 5 minutes to read, and if the poem, from beginning to end, takes longer than the 2 hours, drop-in readers will be welcome to join. At 3, we will move the discussion to a first-floor room in SAC, where we will offer refreshments, and people will be free to speak and to share opinions, historical context, and implications of censorship, book banning, and “Howl.”

If anyone is interested in reading, please email Kim Anderson at with your availability during the 12-2 reading, and she will assign you a time to read based on your convenience. Please arrive at the SAC pit to check in at least 10 minutes before your slot, so that you have ample time to find “where we are” in the reading. Likewise, if anyone would like to bring up any specific issues during the discussion, please email Kim and she will add your topic to the agenda.


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