The Word is Beat: Poetry, Jazz, Literature and the Beat Generation "It is the aspiration of much literature that it wants to change the way we look at the world, but few authors and poets have been as influential as the group of writers labeled the Beat Generation. They saw a lot that they did not like about American society in the fifties when they came of age, and they did their best to change it through their literature and a new practice of living."
"It was the greatest piece of writing I ever saw, better'n anybody in America, or at least enough to make Melville, Twain, Dreiser, Wolfe, I dunno who, spin in their graves." After reading Neal Cassady's 16,000 word letter, Jack Kerouac threw out his draft of On the Road and started over, in the style he's now famous for. Ginsberg took the letter and lost it. Kerouac thought it had fallen over the side of a house boat. But now the Joan Anderson letter has been found. [more inside]
Pull my daisy, tip my cup, all my doors are open. Cut my thoughts for coconuts, all my eggs are broken.
Pull My Daisy Robert Frank, Alfred Leslie - 1959. Written and narrated by Jack Kerouac. Featuring Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and Larry Rivers. An account of the making of: The Making (and Unmaking) of Pull My Daisy by Blaine Allan.
Rest in peace, Simon Vinkenoog [Dutch blog w/English option], poet, friend of artists like Karel Appel, translator of Beat Generation figures like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, psychedelic enthusiast and "weed ambassador" of Amsterdam, and author of such guides to hip living as How to Enjoy Reality. One of the European jazz-loving proto-hippies who made the '60s swing and mentored several generations of culture hackers, though he was never widely known in the US.
Gary Snyder, sublime and seminal poet of ecological awareness and activism [YouTube link], Zen appreciation of "ordinary mind" and American speech, shamanistic intimacy with the natural world, and surviving member of the Beat Generation (West Coast posse) at age 78, has won the $100,000 Ruth Lilly poetry prize. "Gary Snyder is in essence a contemporary devotional poet, though he is not devoted to any one god or way of being so much as to Being itself," said Poetry magazine editor Christian Wiman. "His poetry is a testament to the sacredness of the natural world and our relation to it, and a prophecy of what we stand to lose if we forget that relation.” Previous recipients of the Lilly prize include Adrienne Rich, John Ashbery, and W.S. Merwin. [Previously mentioned here.]
Book nerds everywhere will enjoy these scans of cover art from the works of Beat Generation authors William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, and John Clellon Holmes. [more inside]
Kerouac's essential On The Road is celebrating it's 50th year in publication next September. To commemorate, Viking Press plans to publish the raw, unedited "scroll version" that's been touring around the country. The hardcover -- due out somtime next year -- contains "some sections that had been cut from the novel because of references to sex or drugs" along with real names of characters, and "a different first sentence than the published novel, as well as a more abrupt ending."
First draft of 'On the Road' arrives in San Francisco. With pic of Jami and Carolyn Cassady viewing the scroll.
"Without any particular training or background, this patient, just prior to his enlistment, enthusiastically embarked upon the writing of novels. He sees nothing unusual in this activity." Who was the patient? A 21-year-old seaman named Jack Kerouac, who would become the author of On the Road, The Dharma Bums, Dr. Sax, Visions of Cody and many other great novels that you should be reading instead of these gaddam websites. (The diagnosis from the Navy doctors, "schizoid personality," earned Kerouac a discharge.) A hilarious and poignant find from The Smoking Gun.
"Stray Prose" of Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth fame. Semicoherent Bob Dylan review, a paean to Kerouac, and an entertaining interview with William Burroughs. Pretentious, but, uh, you know, if you're into that sort of thing... There's some more stuff of his around his official site
Do you consider yourself a latter-day "beatnik"? Even young fans of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg proudly christen themselves with the tag beatnik these days, apparently unaware that word was originally coined as a term of ridicule by San Francisco columnist Herb Caen. "Beat" was indeed used by Kerouac to denote both "beaten down" and "beatitude" -- a state of revelation. He first heard the word spoken by a Times Square hustler and writer named Herbert Huncke; then another writer, John Clellon Holmes, popularized the term "Beat" in a New York Times article headlined "This is the Beat Generation." But the original Beats did not approve of the term "beatnik" -- combining "beat" with the Russian "Sputnik," as if to suggest that the Beat writers were both "out there" and vaguely Communist -- as this hilarious dialogue [note: MP3 link] between a very young Ginsberg, anthropologist Margaret Mead, and an excruciatingly square talk-radio host makes plain.
Ken Kesey's page, in which: He offers to burn copies of about two hundred minutes of recordings that he made of Neil Cassady, driving the Magic Bus, in 1964. Here's the kicker....no credit cards, no C.O.D.....you order them, they send them, they bill you, you pay them. Trust me, folks, if you're a fan of the Beats, this is amazing stuff. Hearing Kerouac's muse rant into the night while ballin' down the highway is a rare treat indeed.