Stuff

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“Howl”, written by Allen Ginsberg, is a four-part poem written in the late 1950s. Allen Ginsberg was an iconic poet of the Beat movement, which sought to “battle against social conformity and literary tradition” (“A brief Guide…”). This movement was composed of mostly writers who tried to shock people into realizing the depth of the human culture by depicting every day occurrences as graphic as possible. These writers didn’t look to justify actions and make them look better than they really are; rather, they wanted to give the reader the most realistic look on human beings after WWII. This meant that they had to create poems and stories that had explicit content. When any work contains explicit content it brings up the question on whether or not to ban the poem or story. This banning of the story prevents it from being read in high schools and colleges around the US. Often people lose track of what the poem truly means because they are distracted by the explicit content it contains. Take for example The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which was banned from high schools and even censored because it had an explicit word used over a hundred times. In my opinion it essentially lost it effectiveness as a story as a whole because of this explicit content: people focused on the explicitness of the story rather than the morals taught. Many people think that “Howl” is similar. Yes, “Howl” has a lot of explicit content; however, it should not be banned from the cannon because this vulgarity helps to convey the full meaning of the poem. A literary work basically is obscene when it contains graphically explicit content or images, vulgar language, detailed scenes of violence and so on. Obscene is an action or language that would be considere... ... middle of paper ... ...is still very effective if read by the correct audience. “Howl” serves as an example of a work of art that might be obscene, but is so to convey a point. It is a common believe that if something is rude, crude, and dirty, it is worthless and no one should watch it. Although, that may be true for some genres, such as reality TV shows on MTV, but poems, books and art like “Howl” that attempt to show raw human actions are quit different. They try to reflect what the society is doing, often displaying their distain. It is very understandable where the scenes described in the poem might offend people, but they shouldn’t let that take away from the true meaning behind “Howl.” A simple solution to this would be to read around these graphic scenes and enjoy the rest of the poem. “Howl” is definitely one of the most obscene poems, but the obscenity is key to its success.

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