Experimental Writing Seminar: Constraints & Collaborations. In addition to setting out a few dozen writing exercises, the online syllabus for an introductory course taught by Charles Bernstein (poet and co-editor of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E) links to a variety of poems, poetry generators, and prose experiments on the web. [more inside]
"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]
Holiday’s urbane, martini-loving editor, Ted Patrick, and visionary art director, Frank Zachary, gave postwar America a passport to the glamour of travel, packing the magazine with big-name talent: Hemingway, Steinbeck, Kerouac, Cartier-Bresson, Steichen, et al. But, in 1964, tragedy would ground their flight. [more inside]
Hart Crane was a poet, one who was known by and friends with other notable poets. The poet e. e. cummings claimed that "Crane’s mind was no bigger than a pin, but it didn’t matter; he was a born poet" (Google books preview). Tennessee Williams said he could "hardly understand a single line" but insisted he wanted to be buried at sea at the "point most nearly determined as the point at which Hart Crane gave himself back." Crane had his critics — Marianne Moore and Ezra Pound come to mind, and William Carlos Williams wrote "There is good there but it’s not for me" — but Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg used to read "The Bridge" together, John Berryman wrote one of his famous elegies on Crane and heavyweight Robert Lowell included his “Words for Hart Crane” in "Life Studies." Science/Fiction author, James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon) also wrote that "nobody seems to have noticed that Hart Crane really was the first space poet," quoting lines from his epic The Bridge in the story Mother in the Sky with Diamonds. Those are all words by other people, why not read a few from Crane? [more inside]
In literature, there are two key sorts of annotations: marginalia, or the notes jotted down in the margins by the reader, and additional information formally provided in expanded editions of a text, and you can find a bit of both online. Annotated Books Online is an on-line interactive archive of early modern annotated books, where researchers can share digitized documents and collaborate on translations. For insight into a single author's notes, Melville's Marginalia provides just that. For annotations with additional information, The Thoreau Reader provides context for Walden (linked previously), The Maine Woods, and other writings. Then there's the mostly annotated edition Ulysses, analysis of Joseph Conrad's Nostromo, and the thoroughly annotated US constitution (twentieth amendment linked previously). More marginalia and annotations inside. [more inside]
On The Road, On The Screen: 'A large part of On The Road’s powerful and ongoing appeal undoubtedly stems from the lyricism of its language -- as opposed to its linearity, or even narrative coherence. Translating this to the screen could quite simply be impossible. Indeed, one suspects it is the reason that, up till now, so many screenwriters have failed in turning Kerouac’s text into visual form.'
In reflecting on the project, McAllister feels “caught between the intimacy of each individual response, and the pattern of the cumulative replies.” The question remains: Why did they answer? McAllister claims no credit, describing his survey form as “barely literate.” He recalls that in his cover letter (no examples of which exist) he misused the word precocious—he meant presumptuous—and in hindsight he sees that he was both, though few writers seemed to mind. “The conclusion I came to was that nobody had asked them. New Criticism was about the scholars and the text; writers were cut out of the equation. Scholars would talk about symbolism in writing, but no one had asked the writers.” Sixteen year old boy dislikes English homework, goes outside the chain of command.
One Fast Move or I'm Gone : a documentary of Kerouac's Big Sur features a soundtrack by Ben Gibbard & Jay Farrar.
And I say: That little ole lonely elevator girl looking up sighing in an elevator full of blurred demons, what’s her name & address?” [more inside]
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]
Ginsberg's Celestial Homework is the reading list Ginsberg handed out on the first day at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics as "suggestions for a quick check-out & taste of ancient scriveners whose works were reflected in Beat literary style..." Founded in 1974, Ginsberg taught at the school until his death in 1997.
Kerouac becomes a bobblehead. From the sports promoters in Lowell, Massachusetts, to the literati, everybody thinks it's a terrific idea. "Certainly, Jack would love it," says the executor of his estate.
Vout-aroonee with a Floy-Floy. Slim Gaillard was immortalized by Jack Kerouac, wrote great songs, was a jive pioneer and even appeared in Charlie's Angels.
On The Road... coming to a theater near you (scroll down in link). Francis Ford Coppola is working on a film adaptation of Kerouac's classic (?), starring Brad Pitt. Genius? Heresy? I can see the Barnes & Noble tie-ins now...