In the wonderfully descriptive liner notes for the production, Dr. Pancho Savery, professor of English and humanities at Reed, discusses Ginsberg’s inspirations and creative process, both as a poet and a performer. This audio recording, he writes, is “one of the most important documents in the history of American literature in the second half of the 20th century.”
The audio quality is compelling and astonishingly crisp — you can ever hear Ginsberg flipping the pages of his script, which was, at that point, still a work in progress.
Speaking of that script, the release of this recording comes hot on the heels of the news that rare book dealer Brian Cassidy of Type Punch Matrix recently discovered a previously unknown original carbon typescript of “Howl,” the exact carbon struck on Ginsberg’s own typewriter for what came to be known as the fifth draft. It is that version of the poem that Ginsberg read at Reed, sometimes even skipping over parts he would later revise.