Courtesy of American Poems
There are very few types of poetry that I enjoy. Despite finishing an English Literature degree in 2009, we didn’t actually study that much poetry – the majority of teaching was on literary criticism, novels and prose. However, one of the units that I did take (in my third year) was on Contemporary American Literature. We spent a mere week looking at the Beat Generation in the 50′s/60′s and the way they, and the counterculture movement that’s long been associated with them, shifted perceptions across the USA and beyond.
The culmination of the beat poets was Allen Ginsberg’s Howl which bobs and weaves with playful language as it deals with everything from ‘The Man’ to the humble tramp on the street. It’s a remarkable piece of writing, and one that’s found the attention of cinema in a same-name film. Obscene, thought provoking and endlessly critiqued, go listen to Howl being read by Ginsberg himself.
I’m looking forward to the film, purely to see what James Franco, one of my favourite actors, does with the role. Supposedly he’s managed to imitate Ginsberg fantastically getting his mannerisms and vocal quivers perfect. Franco’s a wonderful actor and an often ignored talent – hopefully this and his appearance in Boyle’s 127 Hours will help improve his mainstream appeal. Pineapple Express showed his versatility.
I like Howl so much that when I was in San Francisco for the first time, two years ago, I visited City Light Books and purchased a copy of it. It’s the only book of poetry that I own and the bag it came in is sellotaped to my wall.
Side note – Vincent Cassel who I talked about in the breathtaking Mesrine films is in Black Swan, the film that’s currently doing the Oscar-rounds. You learn something new every day. Concerning the counterculture movement, watch Easy Rider.
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