Dagny McKinley: ‘Howl’ poem provides Steamboat with opportunities | SteamboatToday.com

Dagny McKinley: ‘Howl’ poem provides Steamboat with opportunities

Whether you like Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” or not, this poem is providing our community with huge opportunities.

It provides parents the opportunity to check in with their kids and weigh their family values against those in the poem. It provides the opportunity for parents to teach their children how to have a voice when faced with uncomfortable situations — how to approach a teacher or someone in an authority position and say, “Hey, this makes me uncomfortable, can we talk about that for a moment?”

It provides the school the opportunity to evaluate how this poem triggered some uncomfortable emotions and consider giving parents and students the choice to opt out next year. “Howl” also provides an opportunity to explore the Beat generation of poets and look at how they changed what poetry had been up to that point. The poem provides students who don’t relate to Shakespeare, Dickinson or Frost an opportunity to hear a voice that might sound more like them.

The poem may spur someone to think, “I could have written that, maybe I could write poetry, too.” This is what art does. Art give us the opportunity to check in with our beliefs and values, to have conversations with others we might not agree with, to explore new possibilities of what we believe art is or isn’t.

So thank you Allen Ginsberg, for giving our community the opportunity to have a conversation around art. I hope that those who have a reaction to the poem, positive or negative, use this opportunity not to censor art but to understand the power of art to provoke and to explore different ways of thinking and different perspectives.

Dagny McKinley
Steamboat Springs

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