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At Reed College: The First Recorded Reading Of Howl & Other Poems

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At Reed College: The First Recorded Reading Of Howl & Other Poems
At Reed College: The First Recorded Reading Of Howl & Other Poems


Recorded in 1956 and discovered in 2007, one of the most important audio documents in the history of American literature, from the second half of the 20th century, is available to be heard far and wide in 2021. Allen Ginsberg's first public reading of his epic poem "Howl" took place in October of 1955 at the famous Six Gallery in San Francisco. In attendance that night were Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Philip Lamantia, Michael McClure, Kenneth Rexroth, Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady. Imagine if that evening's readings been recorded! It was long thought that the first recorded reading of "Howl" was the March 1956 reading in Berkeley, California; however, prior to that evening, Ginsberg travelled to Reed College in Portland, Oregon, with Gary Snyder for a series of readings. Reed College, a small liberal arts college founded in 1908 and known for its academic excellence had been attended by the likes of Steve Jobs, Barry Hansen (Dr. Demento), Barbara Ehrenreich, Ry Cooder, Max Gordon (founder of The Village Vanguard), and poet Gary Snyder.Snyder and Ginsberg read at Reed on the nights of February 13 and 14, 1956. The Valentine Day's performance was recorded and then forgotten about until John Suiter, researching Snyder at Reed's Hauser Memorial Library, found it in a box in 2007. Having gotten the material he required for his research, Suiter returned the tape to the box in the library and there it remained for another decade plus. In 2019, when Dr. Audrey Bilger was named Reed College's president (the first female president, no less), she brought with her, her wife, record producer and Omnivore Recordings co-founding partner, Cheryl Pawelski. Omnivore had previously worked with the Allen Ginsberg estate, releasing a comprehensive, expanded 3-CD version of Ginsberg's album, First Blues in 2016 (titled for Omnivore, The Last Word On First Blues), followed by an expanded edition of Ginsberg's 1970 album Songs Of Innocence And Experience in 2017, which made its CD debut.


  1. Name
  2. Epithalamion (Later Published As Love Poem On Theme By Whitman)
  3. Wild Orphan
  4. Over Kansas
  5. A Dream Record
  6. Blessed Be The Muses
  7. A Supermarket In California
  8. The Trembling Of The Veil (Later Titled Transcription Of Organ Music)
  9. Introduction
  10. Howl
  11. Line Pick Up
  12. Howl (Part II)
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