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Beat Poets

As part of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I’m kicking off a week of Writing in Metaphor and Imagery here at Savvy Verse & Wit. The week will focus on poetry and writing and feature an abundance of contests as well as an interview with Jill Celeste of The Magic Lasso. All BBAW contest deadlines will be Sept. 19 at MIDNIGHT EST.

Today’s post takes us back to the poetry of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s with the Beat Generation.

The Beat Generation of poets, sometimes called beatniks, emerged between the 1940s and the early 1960s. I often think of them as representative of that time period in history because of their visceral images and their emphasis on emotional topics, drug use, and sexuality. When asked about the beat poets, many cite Allen Ginsberg as the prime example of the movement because many of his poems seek to deconstruct the capitalist and conformist values present in U.S. society during the 1950s and 1960s. His most famous poem is “Howl” and it is one of the longest poems I’ve read.

Here’s a few lines from this famed poem, I will let them speak for themselves:

“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 . . .”

Check out this video of “Howl” as read by John Turturro:

Ginsberg and other Beat poets took their emotional responses to the aftermath of World War I and expressed them in unconventional poetic forms; many of these poems bucked poetic tradition of stanza lengths, rhyme, and other conventions. Much of the Beat generation hailed from San Francisco, Calif., and another poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who I will highlight later in the week, was brought up on obscenity charges one year after Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Press published Ginsburg’s “Howl and Other Poems” in 1956.


***”Howl and Other Poems,” part of The Pocket Poets Series, is the first book I am offering as part of my first BBAW contest this week. The contest deadline is Sept. 19 at midnight EST. ***

To Enter: Leave a comment here and tell me what you remember about the Beat Generation of poets if you are old enough to remember them or what you learned about the Beat Generation of poets. Otherwise, you can leave a comment with two lines of a beat generation poem with the name of the poet. For an additional 2 ENTRIES blog about this contest.

***Don’t forget to enter Diary of an Eccentric’s contest for The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold and The Choice by Nicholas Sparks, Deadline is Sept. 30.