In fairness, Blackwell's on a typically self-conscious Oxford evening was always going to struggle to evoke the spirit of San Francisco's Six Gallery on October 7th, 1955.
Then, Jack Kerouac was taking the door money. Now, there's a bookish young chap gently smiling a welcome as you hasten down to the Norrington Room.
Back then, a new generation of angry young American poets found a meaningful voice, whose collective howl still echoes through our culture today. 60 years on, even the still-fresh, muscular poetry of the burgeoning Beat Generation cannot entirely break through an altogether more polite British take on righteous rage.
So it was hard to overcome an initial sense of disappointment. The event was advertised as an exact replica of the 'Six Poets at Six Gallery' reading that took place 60 years ago to the day. Most famously, that evening saw Allen Ginsberg give the first reading of his seminal work, Howl.
We read of whoops and hollers from the audience. We know from recordings that poets like Ginsberg, Philip Lamantia and Michael McClure could be strident, intense readers. Which made it a shame that the volunteers chosen to read the poems in 2015 were expressive, but rather difficult to hear. The gentle tone of things somewhat inhibited all but the most determined of hollerers among us.
There was also a dazzling light shining at us from behind the readers, which made it hard to see them. And there was a fair bit of background noise from elsewhere in the shop. It all began to feel a bit clunky.
But you make of these things what you will and the prevailing mood was stoutly one of infectious affection for the spirit of the event. Perhaps 'exact replica' had over-stated the intention.
Sure enough, by the time poet Dan Holloway stood up to read Howl itself, we were all set for the undimmed rollercoaster ride of Ginsberg's outpouring of anger, humour, sadness and irony. It was a nicely judged reading; no attempt to imitate Ginsberg, simply one poet's interpretation of another's work.
It was gripping and convincing, albeit decidedly English, and we were all in forcible agreement when Holloway was implored to read the Footnote To Howl as an encore.
Organiser James Orton was unable to be there, due to illness – he must have been furious, bless him – which perhaps further accounts for the slightly last-minute feel to things. Hannah Chinnery deputised nobly for him.
In the end, it was all over too soon, a sure sign of a successful evening. It was a worthy homage, made a little more piquant by the realisation that Howl could be written tomorrow and still be relevant.