Six Gallery Reading

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.



10 Comments to “Six Gallery Reading”

  1. The day after the reading, Ferlinghetti (who was not introduced to Ginsberg or any other Beat poets at that time ) sent Ginsberg a telegram at his cottage in Milvia street. He wrote “I greet you at the beginning of a great career. when do I get the manuscript?” exactly one hundred years ago in July 1855, Emerson had written to Whitman in praise of his ‘leaves of grass’ “I greet you at the beginning of a great career’.

  2. there are great similarities between Ginsberg and Whitman.. In his ‘Gay Sunshine Interview’ Ginsberg told Allen Young that Neal Cassady, a former lover, “slept with Gavin Arthur, who slept with Edward Carpenter, who slept with Whitman,” thus establishing a sexual link between the two poets..

  3. hmm..Interesting…I joined Beatdom recently and Im enjoying reading your posts.working on something to contribute for the journal..

    keep howling! 🙂

  4. it was cool to see patti smith, tom waits, lenny kaye and stever earle at the celebration!!!!

  5. nice..I have some very fond memories of ‘city Lights’ place to be..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: