Wednesday, February 13, 2008

First 'Howl' Recording Found in Oregon

[Thanks to Thespian Lipstick Lesbian for this info]


What is believed to be the first recording of Allen Ginsberg reading his iconic Beat poem "Howl" has been found at the library of a private college here.

For years, it has been thought that the first recording of Ginsberg reading "Howl" was on March 18, 1956, at a performance in Berkeley, Calif.

But researcher John Suiter has found a recording at Portland's Reed College that predates that by a month, The Oregonian newspaper reports.

Suiter was at the college library in May to research a biography of Gary Snyder, a poet who grew up in Portland, graduated from Reed and was a friend of Ginsberg.

On Feb. 13, 1956, Snyder and Ginsberg read to about 20 people at Reed, and on Feb. 14, they gave another reading that was recorded on tape. At both readings, Ginsberg read a version of "Howl," a few months before publication of the poem that was to make him famous.

At Reed's library, a special collections assistant brought Suiter a box marked "Snyder Ginsberg 1956." In that box he found a 35-minute tape of Ginsberg reading the first section of "Howl" and seven other poems.

"It was completely serendipitous," Suiter said. "I had no idea there was a tape."

Reed has put the recording of "Howl" and the other poems on its Web site ( but it won't be accessible until Friday, when the issue of Reed magazine with Suiter's article is published.

"Howl," which was the subject of a landmark obscenity trial after its publication, has sold more than 1 million copies over the past five decades.

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