SIFF – Howl, June 12, 7PM at the Egyptian

James Franco is Allen Ginsberg, poet laureate of the Beat generation, in this celebration of the work that captured a cultural moment and defined a literary scene. Academy-Award winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (The Celluloid Closet, The Times of Harvey Milk) blend narrative, documentary, and animation to achieve a kaleidoscopic portrait of the man and his art. A recreation of the very first reading of “Howl” to a beatnik crowd at San Francisco’s Six Gallery in 1955 is juxtaposed with a simulated interview with the poet; brief dramatizations of Ginsberg’s life and loves are interspersed with scenes from the landmark obscenity trial that followed the publication of the poem. Dialogue taken verbatim from court recordings as well as transcripts of an interview Ginsberg gave to Life magazine provide insight into his time in a mental institution, his struggles with his homosexuality, and his determination to live and write with vital honesty. Throughout the film, hallucinogenic animated sequences by former Ginsberg illustrator Eric Drooker give brilliant visual life to the poem that pushed the boundaries of art to become one of the great poetic achievements in American literary history.

About Splabman

Poet & interviewer Paul E Nelson founded SPLAB (Seattle Poetics LAB) & the Cascadia Poetry Festival. Since 1993, SPLAB has produced hundreds of poetry events & 600 hours of interview programming with legendary poets & whole systems activists including Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Joanne Kyger, Robin Blaser, Diane di Prima, Daphne Marlatt, Nate Mackey, George Bowering, Barry McKinnon, José Kozer, Brenda Hillman & many others. Paul’s books include American Prophets (interviews 1994-2012) (2018) American Sentences (2015) A Time Before Slaughter (2009) and Organic in Cascadia: A Sequence of Energies (2013). Co-Editor of Make It True: Poetry From Cascadia (2015), 56 Days of August: Poetry Postcards (2017) and Samthology: A Tribute to Sam Hamill (2019) Make it True meets Medusario (2019), he’s presented poetry/poetics in London, Brussels, Nanaimo, Qinghai & Beijing, China, has had work translated into Spanish, Chinese & Portuguese & writes an American Sentence every day. Awarded a residency at The Lake, from the Morris Graves Foundation in Loleta, CA, he’s published work in Golden Handcuffs Review, Zen Monster, Hambone, and elsewhere. Winner of the 2014 Robin Blaser Award from The Capilano Review, he is engaged in a 20 year bioregional cultural investigation of Cascadia and lives in Rainier Beach, in the Cascadia bioregion’s Cedar River watershed.
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