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Poets and Musicians Bring ‘Howl’ to Life

Busboys and Poets and the Split This Rock poetry festival this weekend will host “Howl” in the City, a reading of Allen Ginsberg’s long poem “Howl” by nationally renowned poet Anne Waldman.

The performances will be at Busboys and Poets’ 1025 Fifth St. NW location.

Waldman, a contemporary of Ginsberg’s, will be accompanied with musical improvisation from a string quartet, including Washington-based musician Matthew Hemerlein.

The opening acts for her performance include slam poet Chris August of Baltimore, Venus Thrash of Washington and Kenneth Carroll of Washington. The poets, all inspired by Beat poetry, will read their own work.

“Howl” in the City is being held in honor of the National Gallery of Art’s exhibit “Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg.” The exhibit of more than 75 photographs spans from 1953 to Ginsberg’s death in 1997.

The National Gallery of Art reached out to Busboys and Poets and Split This Rock to put the event together.

Split This Rock contacted Waldman, 65, because she is one of the few female poets associated with the Beats and was a close friend of Ginsberg.

“We tend to think of the Beats as all guys, so it seemed important to me to have a female voice,” said Sarah Browning, founder and co-director of Split This Rock.

The performances will take place at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10 but have already sold out for both 8 p.m. shows. They be purchased at

The event will conclude with a performance featuring Kyp Malone, of the band TV on the Radio, at 10 p.m. Saturday. Admission to the encore performance is free.

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