Last night I watched the film Howl. In my 20s I got into the work of the beat generation. While I lived in Lexington Kentucky I did go to a poetry reading given by Allen Ginsberg . He was old. He looked like an old safe Uncle. I only remember an anti-smoking poem, that involved putting something other than a cigarette in your mouth.
Th film howl was a bit strange. It was partly an acted interview with the younger Ginsberg about the poem, at the time of an obscenity trail against his famous poem. There were court scenes with evidence for or against the poem. The film makes decided to also use a lot of cartoons in the film to illustrate the poem. This didn't really work for me. Don't get me wrong, I love cartoons -- particularly good for Saturday morning hangovers. But the cartoons in Howl trivialised he poem.
I didn't realize that Ginsberg was mentored and switched him onto beat writing by Jack Kerouac. I somehow thought it was the other way around.
In the 50s this must have sounded dangerous. It still sounds passionate, but does not shock.