Annually arriving between the Fringe festival of bizarre off-Broadway theater and the New York Film Festival for well-heeled cineastes, the HOWL! Festival is a three-day arts extravaganza in the East Village’s Tompkins Square Park, dedicated to the memory of beat poet Allen Ginsberg and presented for nouveaux bohemians who get in free.
But it’s more than just a palate cleanser between fests. HOWL! is a simultaneous throwback and flash-forward that tosses cultural elements together into a giant, jivey be-in for high-def artsy-crafty appreciation. And it starts, aptly enough, with some longtime New York poets (like John Giorno and Anne Waldman) reading Ginsberg’s hallucinatory and historic “Howl” this Friday, September 10, when a whole new audience can decide for themselves if the poem is good-obscene, bad-obscene, or not obscene at all.