Howl! celebrates Ginsberg and all those inspired by his work
by Emily Yang, nyunews.com
May 4th 2011
"Howl! Festival began in response to the changing landscape of the East Village to show what an important community it is and to help artists from the community get their work seen and appreciated, said Jane Friedman, vice president of the Howl! board of directors. "We try to give people a platform to show and perform their work that gives them exposure they might not ordinarily get, which is important for all of them."
The eighth annual festival will be in Tompkins Square Park from June 3 to June 5. This year, the festival coincides with the 85th birthday of the late beat poet, Allen Ginsberg, whose controversial and impassioned poem, "Howl," changed the face of poetry around the world.
"Traditionally, we open [the festival on] Friday night with a reading of his poem," Friedman said, "So this year we're having most of the living beat poets — his contemporaries and his friends — come forth and read the poem together on the stage. We've invited poets all over the country, and some from all over the world, to come and help us celebrate Ginsberg's poetry."
One act showcased will be the Vangeline Theater's dance company, who will perform Butoh, a Japanese dance technique and performance, at Howl!. They've been in the festival since 2005.
There are three traditional performances on Sunday: Hip-Hop Howl!, which showcases a number of different hip-hop acts; House of Howl, featuring eclectic Vogue dance, a fashion show and a vocal performance; and Lowlife, which has a burlesque that's "a little bawdy, but in a very sophisticated, East Village-artistic way," Friedman said.
Additionally, another event, Art Around the Park, will feature a 900-foot-long blank canvas encircling Tompkins Square Park for artists to create their own masterpieces over the course of Saturday and Sunday.
"I'm an advocate of artistic community in the Lower East Side, and believe it's one of the things that makes downtown great," said performer Chris Rael, founder of independent music label Fang Records and current music director of Howl!'s fall festival. Rael will sing and play original rock songs on Indian sitar at the festival. "My performance will give the old timers something interesting familiar from the neighborhood's cultural history and newcomers a style and sound they've never heard before."
"Howl! is important to the people who have made the Lower East Side and East Village their home, and a lot of people who would like to make it their home," Friedman said. "I think it's a unique, loved and well-attended festival. Howl! is always full of surprises."
Howl! also raises money throughout the year for the Howl Emergency Life Project, which provides emergency financial aid and social services to artists in need in the Lower East Side and East Village.
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, May 4 print edition. Emily Yang is a staff writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Original Page: http://www.nyunews.com/news/2011/05/04/04howl/
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