It’s odd. I woke up today and thought about the Six Gallery Reading. I’m not sure why I thought about it. I guess I’ve never really considered the date; only the reading and its consequences. I picked up a book about Kerouac (Jack’s Book, Gifford and Lee) to continue my reading into Kerouac’s love life, and stumbled upon a few stories about Kerouac before and during the reading. “Weird,” I thought. “I keep coming back to the Six Gallery Reading.”
Later today I decided to Google it. I don’t know why; I just had the inclination.
It turns out that today is the anniversary of that famous moment in literary history. Not particularly significant anniversary – just the 55th. But it’s odd to me that I thought about it. I guess the date stuck in my otherwise sieve-like memory.
For those of you whole don’t know, the Six Gallery Reading is notable as the first public performance of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl.” It was in fact his first ever poetry reading, and he had only just written “Howl” a few weeks earlier.
The reading was pivotal in the history of the Beat Generation and the San Francisco poetry scene. Philip Lamantia, Michael McClure, Philip Whalen, and Gary Snyder also read, although it was Ginsberg who stole the show and catapulted himself into a literary celebrity. Lawrence Ferlinghetti telegrammed him after the show to offer his services as publisher. Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady were also in attendance – with Kerouac famously beating the bottom of a wine jug and cheering on the performers.