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Allen Ginsberg

Howl Part I (edited)

This is an edited version of Allen Ginsberg’s reading of “Howl” at Reed College in February 1956; the audio file has been digitally spliced to repair one jarring break near the end of Ginsberg’s reading of Part I.

The unedited original master recording of the poem is also available to facilitate further scholarship and to preserve the integrity of the February 1956 Ginsberg reading at Reed. We suggest that listeners—especially those who have never heard Ginsberg reading “Howl”—begin with the edited version, before listening to the unedited master for comparison.

The decision to provide an edited version of Ginsberg’s reading of “Howl” is justified, in our estimation, for the following reasons. It is most likely that the approximately 20-second gap in the original recording was the result of a recording malfunction—possibly, the reel-to-reel tape recorder failed to record, or the first tape reel ran out. Following the gap in the recording, Ginsberg begins again several lines before his place in the poem when the taping stopped, so it seems clear that he meant the performance to be presented at a later date as a seamless whole, with his pick-up spliced out. We have attempted to accomplish that in the edited version.

February 1956
Reed College