50 years ago Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” was published. I read it for the first time while I was in high school. I picked up some sort of beat poetry book and it was one of the poems that had a pretty big impact on me and my writing. It also solidified my intentions to study American literature in college and work on my own writing. I read everything I could by and about the Beat Generation of writers.
I attended the University of Kansas and was fortunate enough to have spent some time with William S. Burroughs, thanks to James Grauerholz. At some point I had shared with James my desire to meet Ginsberg and already had a trip planned to visit New York in May of 1997. James said he would help set it up and then Ginsberg passed away shortly thereafter.
Less than a year later, I’m living in Los Angeles. I have a friend called Rose. I had met her years before in New York while attending CMJ. I knew she made jewelry with Sylvia Plath’s words, but I wanted desperately to make me a ring with words from “Howl.” After some negotiating, she agreed to make it if she could pick out the words. Several weeks later, I had a ring. It’s one of my most prized possessions, not just because it’s one of a kind, but because it was handmade by someone I know. I run into Rose every once in a while and always flash her the ring to make her smile.