PG was in the audience for the Howl-A-Thon Friday night. He sat in the back row, so he could discreetly leave when he got bored. To his surprise, he stayed to the end.
The scene of the event was the E church in Candler Park. ( This should not be confused with the Existential Church of Stupidity ) The church is a classic granite chapel, originally built for an African American congregation. . PG used to attend a “circle of healing”, that was held in the sanctuary. Some of that magic came back during the Howl-A-Thon.
PG found an updated version of “Howl”, which he called Howl 2011 (a.k.a. the anti howl). He thought it would be fun to read at the event. However, the Howl-A-Thon was tightly planned, and there was no room at the inn. It was suggested that PG read the updated Howl on the steps of the church.
At 7:20 pm, PG stood up, and read I saw the greatest hopes of my Christian nation destroyed…. No body stopped to listen, although a few did yell their approval of key phrases. Most of the time, PG was reading for himself. It had an artistic feel to it. When he went inside, PG introduced himself to someone he had known 13 years ago. This person asked if PG had written that poem.
After a while, the MC smashed a pie pan against the microphone, and the performance began. He introduced Mr. Ginsberg to the audience, noting that the self promoting bard sent a copy of his work to William Faulkner. After this presentation, a young lady stood up and began to read a poem. She alternated reading with another man, until the first part of the show was over.
An evening of reading poems, by a dead Jew, sounds dreadfully dull. The Howl-A-Thon was cleverly staged, and made the time go by fast. The title poem was read by 6 authors, with cheers for the parts that got the work banned in 1956. PG kept an eye on the door, but the police never arrived.
There was one part of the evening that PG would have changed. A young man read a poem about Mr. Ginsberg’s last day job, as a baggage handler at the Greyhound station in San Francisco. (The facility used to have a seedy building next door, The Atlanta Hotel.) If anyone had asked, PG would have said, please turn the intensity down a couple of notches. After the young man was through, the MC asked if anyone had a phone book for him to read.
The high point of the evening was reading Kaddish . The poem is the story of Naomi Ginsberg, the poet’s crazy mother. There is an image of the 12 y.o. Allen riding a bus, depressed because he couldn’t do anything for his mother. To anyone who has grown up with madness, it is a powerful image. The healing magic from 20 years ago came pouring out of the walls, to surround PG in lavender light.
PG left his camera in the car. Pictures , and More pics , of the event are available when you click the link.