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 ...
From ‘Howl’, by Allen Ginsberg; his famous poem was first read publicly on October 13, 1955
You feel like you are going through the gutter when you have to read that stuff. I didn't linger on it too long, I assure you.
An elocution teacher, at the obscenity trial for 'Howl'
1955 American poet Allen Ginsberg organised a poetry reading at Six Gallery, SF (featuring also Michael McClure, Philip Lamantia, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Kenneth Rexroth) and brought down the house by reading ‘Howl’ publicly for the first time.
“The first printing of Howl was mimeographed by Marthe Rexroth, using the version typed by Robert Creeley, for Kenneth Rexroth's poetry class at San Francisco State College in May 1956. The mimeo includes the title-page, with quotation from Walt Whitman, the dedication to Kerouac, Burroughs, Cassady and Lucien Carr, in addition to 15 numbered pages of poetry, including ‘Howl’, ‘A Supermarket in California’, ‘Sunflower Sutra’ and ‘America’, all unexpurgated. ‘Howl’ is dated at the end of the poem on p.9 ‘San Francisco 1955-1956’; (the next three poems are dated Berkeley 1955 and the last poem is undated)."
Anyway I followed the whole gang of howling poets to the reading at Gallery Six (Six Gallery) that night, which was, among other important things, the night of the birth of the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance. Everyone was there. It was a mad night. And I was the one who got things jumping by going around collecting dimes and quarters from the rather stiff audience standing around in the gallery and coming back with three huge gallon jugs of California Burgundy and getting them all piffed so that by eleven o'clock when Alvah Goldbrook (Ginsberg) was reading his, wailing poem ‘Wail’ (Howl) drunk with arms outspread everybody was yelling ‘Go! Go! Go!’ (like a jam session) and old Rheinhold Cacoethes (Kenneth Rexroth) the father of the Frisco poetry scene was wiping tears in gladness.
Jack Kerouac; Dharma Bums Source