The right to howl: Poet Mary Dezember
In 1956, Allen Ginsberg shocked the literary world and law enforcement with the publication of “Howl,” a long-lined, sexually explicit cry against mainstream American culture. Also in 1956, the poet Mary Dezember, now a professor at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, took her first breath; 60 years later, she has self-published an homage to Ginsberg, Still Howling, that echoes the four-part form Ginsberg set forth in his poem. “The first part of ‘Howl’ makes a statement and develops a thesis,” she told Pasatiempo. “The second part explores why the situation is happening. The third part is about connection to one another, and the fourth part, the end note, is about redemption and healing.” Dezember takes on the repression of women by men who lie — a common complaint that is often dismissed as a topic for serious literature. “I see the best souls of my sex thrive despite the madness,/defiant Aphrodites rising above the sea,/naked in their wakefulness, determined to love in the charge of night/and the terror of the day,/deciding once again to abandon the search for the soulful man,” she writes in the opening of the poem’s first section. Dezember reads from Still Howling at a launch party sponsored by Strangers Collective, 54½ E. San Francisco St., at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17. Accompanying the reading is an exhibit of original drawings by Ginsberg and paintings by the author’s nephew, Steve Dezember II, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and paints with his wheelchair. For more information, email strangerscollective@ gmail.com. — J.L.
Allen Ginsberg: Drawing for John Feins, photo John Feins