Cover to Cover with Jack Foley

Cover to Cover with Jack Foley – November 24, 2010

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Jack Foley discusses “Howl” the poem and Howl the movie. “The Howl trial defused (‘cleansed’) Ginsberg’s poem by insisting that it was a work of—capital L—’Literature.’ Howl on Trial defused Ginsberg’s poem by turning it into political propaganda for free speech. San Francisco’s Litquake celebration defused Ginsberg’s poem by leaving out the dirty words. In Howl the movie, the dirty words are left in—one is actually added— but the poem is defused by being carefully and subtly shunted aside. The film is about a courageous ‘individual’ who takes on ‘the establishment’—a not unfamiliar theme in Hollywood films. It is not about the tremendous power of living language to transform a person and to fill him with the deep joy of speech—here, particularly, violent, dirty, shocking, eloquent, person-shaking speech. It transforms a poem which continues to resonate with the power of the outside, the illegal, the disapproved of into still another triumph of what Hollywoodland considers to be the actions of ‘the artist.’”