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Participating in the Hum Bom! reading at OBS

The killing goes on in Checyna, Somalia, Oklahoma, in Sarajevo. Even the nuclear threat is back. The mad politician logic generated from a basic sleazy contempt for life is stirring again in France and the USA: testing bombs, building better bombs.

Allen Ginsberg's poem Hum Bom! written in 1971 and 1991 is now available on line from the OBS and we want with your help to create a performance that will celebrate the power of the Internet, highlight the opposition to this new insanity, and honour one of the great poets.

Allen Ginsberg has been provoking, amusing, shocking and wailing from the fifties to the present. The Poet Laureate of the world, he is one of the most influential of writers. Dragging minds out of the conformity of the fifties in to the libertarian sixties and all stops beyond, the vitality and the outrageous invention has continued. It is the greatest compliment to say that if Ginsberg had not lived, written and proselytized we would have all been different. In addition to his writings, he has influenced attitudes to ecology, drugs, sexuality and war. His openness, his outrageousness has attracted and influenced artists as diverse as John Lennon, Kronos, Philip Glass, Bob Dylan, Ken Kesey. Always a celebrant of the fullness of life, he has enlarged our sympathies and made the art of creating a poem into an important social event.

Hum Bom! is a strange chant of a poem which gains in power from performance. The OBS wants you to take part, to be in the chorus of voices. We have shared the poem out, and we invite you to record a couple of lines, to send us the recorded file and we will assemble the pieces into the completed poem which will be available for playing at the OBS site.

This is the second venture for the OBS in re-introducing the oral tradition on the Internet. The first Live on Line reading, which featured Pulitzer Prize Winning poet John Ashbery and National Book Award Winner Robert Coover occurred on March 15, 1993, at, in Brookline, Mass. Parts of that reading are also available here.


To participate write to OBS Link Editor Jack Kenny ( and he will send you lines to read. You will need to record your response and email the file back to us ( in one of the compressed sound formats *.au or *.wav (as attachments to the email).

Jack Kenny, the editor of the project, is a freelance writer and an IT adviser in English schools. Hearing a reading by Ginsberg in London in the 1960s Jack counts as one of his key moments. Jack's work has been broadcast by the BBC and he writes regularly for the Times Educational Supplement. He has just collaborated on Highways for Learning, a work that will help teachers to introduce the Internet to their students.

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Cosmopolitan Greetings: Poems 1986-1992
© Copyright1994 by Allen Ginsberg (HarperCollins Publishers, 1994)
Online presentation © Copyright 1995, 1996, by OBS. All rights reserved.
Updated on March 5, 1996; comments to