In "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg, how does the author demonstrate his celebration of the counterculture by breaking the conventions of poetry?

Expert Answers info

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write4,539 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

Beat poet Allan Ginsberg's "Howl" is unquestionably a poetic celebration of the counterculture of the 1950s (he first shared it at a poetry reading in 1955). While it is a poem, "Howl" breaks many of the traditional conventions of poetry--which should not be a surprise in a poem that celebrates the unconventional.

Conventions in any form of literature are those elements which define that particular form; in poetry, the conventions include such elements as rhyme, meter, stanza, and the use of figurative language, imagery, and symbolism. This poem is replete with examples of the last two items on the list; in fact, much of the imagery is graphic and does not just appeal to the senses but at times seem to scream at them. For instance:

who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight in policecars for committing no crime but their own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication...

He also uses symbols to represent the culture he and what he calls "the best minds of my generation" are...

(The entire section contains 585 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial